Senza piombo, clean mixed climb in Val Lunga, Dolomites
The Austrians Albert Leichtfried and Benedikt Purner have made the first ascent of Senza piombo in Val Lunga (Dolomites); a difficult mixed route protected only with trad gear and presumably the first M10 in the world established in this clean style.
In 2006 Albert Leichtfried and friends made the first ascent of Illuminati in Val Lunga, the beautiful mixed route for which the Austrian put forward the grade M11+ WI 6+. At that time the route was considered one of the hardest multi-pitch mixed climbs in the world and to protect the sheer overhang Leichtfried had placed a series of bolts. Over the years the route has established itself as an important testpiece, but this January Leichtfried returned to the same valley, this time together with strongman Benedikt Purner, to climb a line a mere 15 minutes from Illuminati which promises to be a step forward in their quest for harder difficulties and a style which is as clean as possible.
The two began the climb on 27 January; a first M6 pitch was followed by a nice WI 5 pitch which led to beneath the overhang proper. Purner took over the lead and he decided to set off without pegs and bolts "I was quite surprised" explained Leichtfried "but Benedikt has surprised me more than once in recent years thanks to his immense ability. And once again I wasn't disappointed, he simply never gave up! After what seemed like an eternal struggle he managed to send the third pitch, M9, clean, and on-sight. Just brilliant!" Leichtfried took over for the next pitch that led to the hanging drip and after two falls onto camming devices and with nerves evidently in tatters, the time had come for a retreat.
Three days later the two were back at the base of the route and this time everything ran smoothly: the M10 crux pitch was dispatched without pegs and bolts while the final pitch, back on ice, caused some concern because of the warm temperatures despite its more "modest" WI 4 grade. The name of the route? Senza Piombo - without lead - seemed fitting.
"With our Senza piombo we have managed to climb what is probably the first M10 route in a clean style" Leichtfried said, adding. "A dream has come true. All the training and difficult mixed routes were only a sort of preparation for this day, to focus all our abilities into one single climb."Clarification by Albert Leichtfried on 15/02/2013
As I explained in my report, at the start our original intention wasn't to climb the route clean right from the outset. So on the first day two bolts were placed , 1 at the 3rd belay and 1 above this belay. When however it became clear that the route could in fact go clean, the bolts were removed and the route was climbed without them three days later.
INTERVIEW: Senza piombo, the interview with Albert Leichtfried 06/02/2013