Generazioni a Confronto, new aid climb by Fantini and Pezzol on Sasso di Fontana Mora
Angelo Fantini and Diego Pezzoli have made the first ascent of the aid climb Generazioni a Confronto (IV, 5c, A1/A2), Sasso di Fontana Mora, N Italy.
3 great new pitches up the North Face of Sasso di Fontanta Mora, the outcrop close to Gandellino above Bergamo in Northern Italy, climbed over a period of three days this autumn by Angelo Fantini and Diego Pezzoli. What makes it special: the route was climbed using aid and Fantini, who forged the first pitch "climbing masterfully”, is 73 years old. Not bad at all. For Pezzoli this proved an unforgettable experience, a sort of Back to the Future in which he was young Marty McFly, while Fantini the mad inventor Doc Brown. But we don't want to reveal too much, Pezzoli will now explain the plot.
GENERAZIONI A CONFRONTO by Diego Pezzoli
"Diego, set the destination time and operate the time-space circuits!
Power at point twenty-one gigawatts needed to activate the flux capacitor ... this time I'll take you back in time!!!" Me, Diego, in the role of Marty McFly in "Back to the future ", and my mate, Angelo, a bizarre old man with white hair, 73 years according to his birth certificate and a 40 years-old build, in the role of Dr. Emmett Brown.
Date: 20th September
Angelo picks me up at Clusone, at 7.00 in the morning, with the DeLorean, which, not to attract attention we disguised in a nineties Panda, and we go towards, at a "unrestrained” speed , towards the place on the gps: Gandellino. The sky is completely cloudy and there’s threat of rain. It doesn’t matter. Angelo says to go up and, abandoned the car, we move towards the "rock" of Fontana Mora. It will take almost two hours to reach it, since the weight to carry on on our shoulders: 20 kg each. Me, with my faithful Krukonogi sack, filled so much as if it was near to explode, and Angelo with a fifties backpack that if it could talk and tell about old experiences it would make envious a lot of mountaineers. In them, materials which common most ages, from micro thin piton to the 20 cm long one for the grass "patches" , from the sky hook to lead, from cams to fix.
So we reach the wall and we find a place where we can easily change our clothes. The sky is more and more black. We have already identified the line where to climb up, a number of steep but compact steps, on the left of the disturbing yellow centred amphitheatre. "Diego, belay in my way, don’t use the grigri...and use two ropes!!"
"Okay Angelo, but show me how to do..." And so he puts two pitons at the base, it makes a strange knot with the ropes and stop them with a machard-knot.
"Now you are free to take pics and eat a sandwich" says Angelo.
So the climbing starts, with a short projection of some meters on the grass ledge, and it goes on on a beautiful rock session, I watch him with attention: he wears tracksuits pants and sweatshirt , a full harness of large dimension, a white helmet ones of the first models, boots that have made mountaineering and two stirrups with metal steps. It’s like to see an old picture of Walter Bonatti, an awesome throwback. Going up, concentrated on what to do, he tells me about some funny moments that happened to him, as that time on the Tredenus, Gruppo Adamello, during the first expedition of the ascent of the route Solinas with Battista Pezzini and Fedele Corrent, who has never used the stirrups before. "I hear Fedele mumbling, look at him and I see him, weighting loading the other one on his neck!"
I went on looking at him with attention. He takes the hammer out from the harness, removes from the loops (sling on the neck) a small piton, with delicate movements but precise, he puts it in almost un-visible holes in the wall, cross his legs and he stays in perfect balance. He now retrieves this instrument almost unknown to him, a sky hook, he doesn’t ask for explanations and use it in order to win the traverse and put another little piton. He dances on that stirrups, he doesn’t hesitate and he moves easily. Time is marked by the beating of his hammer and from the rain, which now is falling incessantly, he stumbles on the grassy slopes, thinks about a jump, but goes on falling.
Luckly, my mate has an umbrella which guarantees me a dry waiting at the base, while belaying him. Instead he is at the repair under the steep rocks above him. Angelo alternates a good piton, a bad one for progression, a medium one, a step on sky hook and so on till going over the first part lightly steep.
"Tinn!" the small sky hook goes out from the flare hole. Still in balance on the stirrups, he turns the body half turn to the vertical axes and with a flicks of abs he goes back to the right position.
"Here it starts the adventure of Mr. Bonaventura.. fiu … fiu ..." He intones at full voice a nice melody and whistles loudly, a sign that is going well, a sign that the fear or anxiety for the climb is not touching him at all. All right, but I had no doubt! A cross of a couple of feet separates him from the future first belay anchor. Put a good piton, he moves to the left: cliff, cliff, piton, piton.,
"Diego, belay made! Give me some minutes and the you can reach me"
Put on the aiders, fixed the jumars, the vertical path starts. I go over the grassy ledge, reach the first protection, a very good piton, and I take it off with a few shots to the outside.
"You will see, with the next one you won’t need the hammer, says Angelo" Forget it, as soon as I take it in my hands, I scroll it right and left and I retrieve it easily. After 15 minutes, I am to a couple of meters from Angelo, at the last piton. No other protections separate us, so I have to proceed as if I were leading, and after 2 steps on cliff I can belay on the anchor. Angelo tells another funny anecdote:
"it was a Saturday afternoon and two guys from Milano arrive at the Albani Hut and ask the guardian: is this the Galbani Hut? The answer is direct "Yes Gorgonzola”"
I go for the next pitch. I remember that from the belay anchor I placed, in a wonderful hole, the Purple Totem cam, my favourite colour also, and from here I’ve gone, after a cliff step, to a dihedral crack still with cams. But now it’s late, the plan for the day is to go down, and come back the day after with sleeping bags and food, and climb also on Monday there. I make a provisional belay anchor with pitons and rappel. In descending, not more loaded from all the material, but full of excitement and enthusiasm for our adventure, we talk about the difference between the old aid climbing style and the modern one. Angelo tells me about how easy it would have been if people would have counted, among the material of that time, cams like Totem or the amazing Bird beak, and he agrees with me that they are the best variant of piton ever made, Arrived at the car, we get back to the present and we postpone to the day after our meeting. Always at 7:00 for the departure time.
Date: 21st September
The sky also today alternates black clouds with blue sky moments. We walk over our steps and we arrived at the point where we were yesterday: I put a cam, a piton and I don’t see anything else.
"Angelo, now what can I do?"
"Can't you place the little pitons? Holes, are there any?"
"There’s one but it’s flare...the cliff cannot stand! wait...I’ve got a lead!"
"Yes, I put a lead! I need it just to arrive to a good crimp where to hang the cliff"
"good, i am comfortable here"
It’s just started raining, but it’s not my turn, blessed overhangs!
"stong! stong! stong!"
I load it with caution, and , getting up properly, I reach the good crimp from which, in spite of myself, I don’t see again alternatives. I look in the nearby and I decide for a concrete safety step, the only fix not of the belay anchor. I have not wanted to put rivets, as with this protection, I take the possibility of a future free climbing and I do not let myself be afraid for the step.
The nit follows a series of steps, fun but safe, on a cam, pecher, piton and rurp till the belay anchor. "Come! You can climb up!"
Now Angelo is expert, in order to reach the first belay anchor he has tried the jumars for his first. As a matter of fact, he has always been the man of the prusit for the ascending in aid climbing. He starts to clean, he take off easily cams and pitons and, when he arrives to the lead, he remains amazed about its functionality.
"Diego, this load a lot, I wouldn't have never said that!"
He puts a little effort to clean the Bird beak, enhancing again the function, and he reach me at the belay. We are in the fog, it rains, but we do not care a lot a I leave soon for the third pitch. After a little traverse on good piton, I proceed for some feet and re-cross to the right in order to reach a good crack, at the end of which I make a provisional belay and we rappel to spent the night.
We have an abundant dinner, tank to Giusi (Angelo wife) for the meticulous foodstuffs preparation and we lie down in our sleeping bags.
Me, with a sleeping bag stuffed with goose down, with a limit of extreme temperature of – 26°, and an air mattress beach model. I lay inside with underwear and t-shirt.
Angelo, with a sleeping bag a down (don’t know of what is was made!) sleeping bag with a temperature limit not known and a rubbish bag as isolation from the ground. He lays inside fully clothed.
Time: 22 September
At 6.30 the clock alarm sounds, a rock collapse from the central amphitheatre, at 20 meters from where we are, makes us awake.
Fast breakfast and go, climb up the ropes suspended, struggling!
I go up to the provisional belay and Angelo to the official one, 15 meters below me.
Now I go through a compact slab, with good piton and pecker, and then climb up a nice big crack downwards with cams, at the end of that other 3 meters of slab and I decide to belay.
Once reached me, Angelo lets me go up and I climb up through a vertical, and not so nice climbing, through not-stable rocks and grass. I make a belay with 3 pitons.
While coming, he tells me about an episode about the strong alpine guide from Colere, Placido Piantoni.
"He was carrying a client on an easy route in Presolana, where the rock is break by grassy steps. The client, being in difficult situation, blessed saints, but in spite of that the progression gives him problems. Placido, impatiently, shout at the guy: "don’t care about saints and Virgin Mary and pull the "sespega” (dialect local word for grass!)”."
Together we look at the next pitchess, they look interesting.
We are half way of the wall practically, but it’s the moment, again, to rappel; we cross to the left, through grassy vertical ledges, lead from Angelo experience who moves like a chamois, leading me, who instead I look like a wild boar trudging through the mud along this steep terrain.
At the end we rappel from a little tree for 30 meters.
We go down, with the idea of coming back next year, but in 3 weeks we are there again, worried about how to reach the belay at the half of the wall.
Date: 18th/19th October
From his experience, Angelo takes with him an axes and I lent him my Russian fi-fi rock (similar to an axes). As if he was ice climbing, I out the axes in the grass, hook his feet at the few good stable footholds and he moves easily and light till the little tree of the rappel. An exposed traverse takes us to the point where we arrived. I take all the material I think I can need, and I start a section of shaky and unstable rock. I put some Bird Beak, which widen the crack as I put them inside it, I reach a little ledge and I go up in a dihedral, technical to protect, but in somehow still makeable with protections. At the end of the dihedral, I realize the the upper part looks like the first section. I stay hanged for other 2 minutes.
"Angelo, I'm worried that higher up the rock isn't good at all, and it’s not worthwhile!"
"to the left? Cannot you get over it?"
"I could follow the wet dihedral for a couples of meters but, at the end, I would meet again bad rock, with the risk of make it fall on you"
I go over a bit, with a step on a Bird Beak.
"Sorry Angelo, I am afraid we have to stop! We have created 3 beautiful starting pitches and already the fourth did’nt make me crazy…in my opinion, if we go over, it ends for a bad route!"
"Diego, keep calm, I started feeling it already down here! Aahahah!"
Angelo doesn’t seems to be worried, while I, I'm sorry because I'm finishing this awesome adventure with a very special person.
"The adventure of Mr. Bonaventura ends… fiu fiu fiu" whistles Angelo.
We rappel for 60 meters from the third pitch, where we have decide to end of the route, "Generazioni a confronto” generations in comparison. This is what we call our new route, since we thought and it and exprienced just this. Two people of different ages joined by the same quest for something new, for something different.
Thanks to Eleonora Delnevo and Sara Ongaro for their support.
Furthermore, thanks to: Krukonogi (www.krukonogi.com) – Rab (www.rab.uk.com) – Totemcams (www.totemcams.com) – Zamberlan (www.zamberlan.com) – Grande Grimpe (www.grandegrimpe.it) – SistemaCasa (www.sistemacasaweb.it)