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Via Gianni Ribaldone: like a sculpture
Photo by Ivo Ferrari
Via Gianni Ribaldone: a sea of rock
Photo by Ivo Ferrari
Via Gianni Ribaldone: searching for a climbable line
Photo by Ivo Ferrari
Via Gianni Ribaldone: logical slabs
Photo by Ivo Ferrari

Mysterious Dolomites: Ivo Ferrari and the climb Gianni Ribaldone on Spiz di Mezzo


Ivo Ferrari and the route Gianni Ribaldone, established on Spiz di Mezzo in the Zoldo Dolomites by H. Steinkötter and A. Mazzenga.

Sometimes I stop and think... perhaps not too often, but every now and then I do. I repeat an infinite number of routes each year, I'm not a first ascentionst at heart and while I've established some new routes, to do so you need time and a Friend willing to "play" you. My ideal climbing partnership broke up years ago and I transformed into a "repeater" after having followed the Master apprenticeship, up and down the great alpine classics, from Mont Blanc to the Dolomites, and one foggy day I climbed off-route during a solo.

I've always enjoyed long routes, of course there even longer ones, but I'm not cut for those, I love finding no in-situ gear and having to place my own pegs, searching for threads to be cleaned, losing time threading pegs from uncomfortable positions. This is my form of alpinism, the one which makes me feel good, but at times I stop and think... perhaps not too often, but every now and then I do.

I'm walking up the steep path that leads to the Carnielli bivouac, beneath the West Face of Spiz di Mezzo, the sun hasn't reached us yet but the heat has already taken possession of the air. Silvano is ahead of me, he's on form today while my usual pace seems not to want to follow me...

We discovered the line we want to repeat browsing through the new guidebook by ace climber Pierangelo Verri who with his friends has described routes not climbed too often, unfashionable and... so we opted for Spiz di Mezzo and the "almost" mysterious line forged by Steinkötter and Mazzenga the year I was born. I'd met Heinz at Trento; organised by Sosat, the history of Croz dell’Altissimo in the Brenta Dolomites was on the agenda and this enabled me to talk to "important" climbers about alpinism in the Dolomites... Heinz and I didn't talk about Mountains, but work, unemployment, the crisis, a big man, tall and strong, with white hair and a beard, someone who transmits serenity, strength and intelligence and I was pleased to be here to repeat one of his creations...

I set off convinced as usual, the first section led straight though black slabs contoured by yellow slabs, up beautiful rock, my shoes seemed to smear perfectly. There was no particular line upwards, I needed to carefully interpret the past with modern moves and every seven, eight metres a small thread allowed me to "feel safer". Right in the middle of the slab a peg indicated the way forward. Decisiveness was needed, but we'd come to climb and... however much it may happen to be, we always bring it with us.

The ropes slid forward searching for the climbable, I enjoyed the route, almost invisible from below and yet logical once inside it. The shade provided by the West Face helped us from becoming drained during these strange and sultry days, the holds were sharp and generous and while our fingers rested our forearms got blasted... towards the end the rock transformed, became less good but but after a short traverse and a pumpy overhang the angle eased off, we were on the summit, all around us majestic mountains, the entire Dolomites with all her peaks and pillars, the green of the forests down below, a true natural wonder.

We knew the descent and returned easily to the bivy, the sun dried the last drops of sweat as I reached the car, another day drew to a close, now all I had to do was play with my children. But even if I do it rarely, after having seen a friend... I find myself contemplating.

A big hug to Silvestro Strucchi, Friend and Companion of a "perfect" moment.

Via Gianni Ribaldone
Spiz di Mezzo, Zoldo Dolomites
Heinz Steinkötter - A. Mazzenga 10 August 1968

di Ivo Ferrari

PS: If you can, give it a go...

01/08/2013 - The Sunflower of the Dolomites: Ivo Ferrari and the Pilastro Girasole on Cimòn della Pala
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09/07/2013 - Alpinists who make the difference: via Stenghel at Torre d'Ambiez by Ivo Ferrari
01/07/2013 - Alta Val Masino and Venti Polari di Ivo Ferrari
12/04/2013 - Sperlonga, rock climbing, memories and beauty by Ivo Ferrari
03/01/2013 - Hellzapoppin', a journey through the history of climbing Ivo Ferrari





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