David Lama, Bellavista and Voie Petit
Double takings for David Lama, who in just a couple of weeks repeated two important routes in the Alps, Bellavista 8c on the Cima Ovest of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo and Voie Petit 8b on Gran Capucin.
The tour up these two emblematic peaks began in the Dolomites, on the route first ascended by Alexander Huber alone and in winter in 1999 with difficulties up to A4. The German had then returned in July 2001 and freed the line at 8c, while as some may remember, the route repeated the following summer in an "unconventional" manner by an irrepressible Mauro Bubu Bole during his incredible vertical Sturm und Drang period.
Lama's first attempt on the route dates back to circa three weeks ago, during which he fell once on the crux pitch. He then climbed the 8a above before retreating. Together with Peter Ortner he returned a few weeks later and made a swift repeat of the route, falling once in the roof before redpointing this crux pitch. The two then continued upwards and reached the summit at sunset. After the ascent Lama wrote: "With his route Alexander set a milestone in the mountaineering history of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo. The first time I attempted the route many hand and footholds were marked, all the gear was in-situ and so my work was made a lot easier. A first ascent requires much more than a repeat. Respect for this great route!"
A few weeks later Lama travelled to the roof of Europe and the Voie Petit, first ascended in 1997 by French aces Arnaud Petit and Stefanie Bodet up the East Face of Grand Capucin. At the time one pitch remained with a point of aid and this was freed by none other than Alexander Huber in 2005 at 8b. On 30 June Lama travelled to Mont Blanc together with Daniel Steurer and the next day they crossed the Valleé Blanche and the Glacier du Geant. An on-sight attempt was cut short on the crux pitch, and since Steurer began to feel the effects of the altitude - the route is located at more than 3000m above sea level - the two rapidly descended. But there was little time to recuperate: at 6.00am the following morning Lama was already at the first belay. The entire ascent ran smoothly, the 8b crux proved unproblematic and all the other pitches were on-sighted. The duo reached the 3838m high summit in the early afternoon and during the abseil descent they were greeted by a pleasant surprise: a chance meeting with Arnaud and Stéphanie, on their route once again, 13 years after their first ascent!
Talking about this chance encounter, it's interesting to note that Arnaud Petit and Stefanie Bodet shot to fame as (great) climbing competition athletes. Lama, one of the current stars on the world climbing circuit, shares a similar background, and yesterday in Chamonix the Austrian placed 12th in the first stage of the Lead World Cup 2010 and he is now eagerly awaited in this weekend's Arco Rock Master.
Returning to the relationship between competitions and alpinism, it has to be underlined that Lama has dedicated much time and energies to the mountains and multi-pitch routes. Many will remember that this winter he travelled to Patagonia to free the Compressor route on Cerro Torre, and the project was accompanied by a film crew who intended to make a film about the climb. But Patagonia is and always will be Patagonia and the attempt was thwarted due to bad weather... Furthermore, Lama and the expedition were heavily criticised by a large spectrum of the mountaineering world for the fixed ropes left in-situ and, above all, new bolts added to the mountain which is perhaps the world's symbol of alpinism.
Just as lead climbing has its rules - Lama is certainly extremely capable of adhering to them even at the cutting edge - so too does alpinism, and the style and history of alpinism simply cannot be ignored. Perhaps after the experience on Cerro Torre this is now somewhat clearer to Lama.