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The tower "Su Casteddu de su Dinai" seen from the west and south with the route line.
Photo by Maurizio Oviglia
September 1985 - Roberto Mochino onsighting the crux pitch of the route, an overhaning offwidth grade 6b at the time but which now would more realistically be graded 6c. At the time we only owned 3 Friends: #2, #3 and #4!
Photo by Maurizio Oviglia
April 1985, Maurizio Oviglia and Cecilia Marchi posing beneath the tower, a few days after becoming engaged and just before establishing the difficult climb American Graffiti. The photo was taken by unfortunate Mondo Liggi who succumbed to an illness less than a year later.
Photo by Mondo Liggi

Climbing in Sardinia and a bit of history: Even heroes feel fear... 30 years later


30 years after the first ascent, Maurizio Oviglia returns to "Anche gli eroi hanno paura - Even heroes feel fear" the route first ascended by Alessandro Cattaneo, Beppe Domenichelli, Mondo Liggi, Cecilia Marchi and Bruno Poddesuin in Sardinia's Sette Fratelli massif in 1983 and freed by Oviglia and Roberto Monchino in 1985. This is a pleasant way to remember (in perspective) how we were in the past and also look forward into the future.

To the east of Sardinia's capital Cagliari there is a wild, little known granite massif set in one of the island's largest oak tree forest. If you look at these mountains from the city you can roughly make out seven granite towers and all know this area as the 7 Fratelli, the Seven Brothers, even though amongst the local population this area is certainly more famous for its mushrooms than its climbing. There was however a moment when these rocks, more than anywhere else in Sardinia, witnessed the "Californian revolution". This was back in the early eighties and in Sardinia there were only a handful of rock climbers. Some of them had heard of Yosemite and these seemed the most suitable outcrops to try and play the American game...

In 1983 one of these towers, perhaps the finest and known locally as "Casteddu de su dinai", a group of Sardinian's made the first ascent of one the hardest, daring routes of all. The two teams that attacked the crack system were comprised of all of Sardinia's best but nevertheless they were forced into resorting to aid in a couple of sections. At the time this certainly wasn't considered shameful in any way, on the contrary, one couldn't get more Californian than that! The gory, pumpy and unprotectable grade VI climbing on the third pitch convinced the group to call their route Anche gli eroi hanno paura - Even heroes feel fear.

Two years later, during my military service, I became good friends with those climbers. In September 1985 Mondo and Cecilia told me about this route and after an epic battle I managed to climb it completely free. It was one of the hardest climbs I'd ever done. My friend Roberto Mochino climbed it onsight, belayed by Cecilia. I took photos of him from a rock nearby and when he reached the summit he decreed "6b", according to the particular grading system we used back then, inspired by Patrick Berhault... After that day we never returned... so that 6b remained etched in our memories. A few years later Gian Carlo Grassi wrote to me, stating that he was preparing a book about monoliths and asking me whether I had any ideas for Sardinia. I didn't hesitate for an instant and sent all the information about "Castello del Denaro"...

May 3, 2013. Here I am again, at the base of this route to see if it's possible to celebrate its 30th birthday in the best way possible, i.e. in repeating it. I’d been here about 4 months ago together with Simone Sarti to check it out and pinnacles seemed completely covered with moss, almost unclimbable. So much so that I'd decided to exclude this area from the guidebook I'm slowly but surely preparing about Sardinia's multi-pitch climbs. But today the sun was shining, it was hot, and things looked completely different from 4 months ago. The cracks on pitch 1 were dispatched with ease, they even felt pleasant. We now reached the start of the crack on the terrible third pitch. I obviously couldn't remember anything any more, but I set off convinced, saying to myself "anyway, it's only 6b!" Instead I had to fight for over an hour to figure it out, climbing free, with today's gear (except for a Friend #5 which I hadn't taken with me). Completely exhausted I dragged my way through the final chimney with the last Friend a long way off, thinking about how hard the 6bs of yesteryear are. Had I become an old fart or were we just unwitting? It's almost as if I struggled more here than on a 7b sports climb! I climbed away from my last Friend and then climbed back down, failing to summon the courage to face the final offwidth. When I mantled onto the beautiful top I hurt all over, it was almost as if I'd fallen under a bulldozer. Even Fabio, who managed to climb it in some way or other, stared at me and said ... this can't be 6b! Yes, I say, maybe it's 6c, but what difference does this make? Perhaps no one repeated this route during the last 30 years, so certainly no one will complain about the grades now!

While abseiling off Fabio invested an hour brushing the first pitch and then another hour to clean the trail. It was almost as if we were going to return the following day... "Ma kandu mai!" goes a saying in local dialect! Who knows, who knows, maybe I'll be back to clean that pitch a bit better and maybe replace the pegs... The setting sun kissed the tafoni of the most magical of the Seven Brothers pinnacles. And I gladly indulged in a flood of melancholic memories...

by Maurizio Oviglia





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