La Lavagna and Luca Zardini's school of climbing
Two new sports climbs by Luca Zardini: "La lavagna" (8c) and "Attila" (8b+) at Lavagna del Col Drusciè (Lago Ghedina, Cortina d'Ampezzo, Dolomites). Put in other words, Luca "Canon" Zardini and the never-ending school of rock climbing. The report by Luca Zardini.
To tell this "little" story I’ve got to begin by saying thank you. This is usually done at the end… but I’ll say it now: a big thanks goes to legendary Michael Ossi. We joined forces once again to share an adventure that, without his support and enthusiasm, would not have been possible! Nice one Miguel!
I think it was back in 1987, I’d only been climbing for a little more than two years. Our training consisted of devastating pull-ups and deadhang sessions, while long summer days were spent making endless traverses across "Sasso di Colfiere", close to Lake Ghedina. This was one of the first sports crags in the area and we often met up to talk about climbing legends, back in the days when climbing development was in full swing, where the enthusiastic winds of change could be felt even up there.
From the exposed north-facing Colfiere "stone" a shield of beautiful smooth rock can be seen above Col Drusciè, just a bit higher up from where we used to trash our skin after school. It was during one of those afternoons that, driven by curiosity, I adventured up to this sheet of rock. This foray left its mark on my "THINK PINK" trousers, a must-have piece of clothing for all 80’s climbers, as I fought my way through bushes and past pine trees to reach the base of the crag.
I arrived breathless and looked at the sheet of rock, only about fifteen meters high; the view from up there was amazing, sweeping across the entire Ampezzo valley all the way down to San Vito di Cadore; but what impressed me most was the fact that the rock looked far too smooth! At that time, given my training and experience, I struggled to make out a line of holds that could be climbed, and so somewhat disappointed I plunged back down past the pine trees to finish making holes in my favorite trousers.
Almost twenty-eight years passed before I returned, walking one September afternoon along the easier approach, to Col Drusciè and that sheet of rock that in the meantime had earned the nickname "la lavagna", the blackboard. As I looked at it now, so many years later and with a wealth of experience to draw on, things seems completely different. I noticed that it could be climbed, above all the central section, the angle was practically perfect and the rock quality outstanding!
A few days later I returned once more with Michele Ossi, my climbing partner for the last twenty years, and a drill. Three project quickly saw the light of day… one harder than the other! The routes were short, intense, on small holds (above all crimps and sidepulls) where careful footwork is paramount!
I started attempting the easiest of all three, the middle one, only last December, when the weather was perfect even up here in the mountains.
I struggled to decipher the right sequences, body positions and small footholds, so much so that the first attempts were difficult and frustrating. But, as time passed, gradually the climbing became more fluid and I began to believe I’d manage to finally climb that blackboard!
In fact, during my attempts I carefully cleaned the route and kept discovering new hand and footholds here and there on this route which, seen from below, really does resemble a blackboard with tiny white chalk tickmarks...
Everything worked out perfectly on 1 February, an exceptionally hot day marked, as is often the case, by ups and downs. Every tiny detail was important for the successful outcome of this project which, once again, had been characterized by various turn of events that perhaps made it even the more beautiful and exciting!
As to the difficulty or the "grade" of this pseudo "blackboard test", I reckon it’s a solid 8c, possibly slightly harder. Having said that, given the height-dependent long reaches to the few hand, I had a hard time suggesting a grade for this route
A few days later I managed to free the second route: "Attila" an 8b+ with a difficult and interesting starting boulder crux followed by 20 intense moves that lead, without a rest, to the lip of the crag. Beautiful!
The road is open and classes will continue in the near future, the important thing will be not to end up behind the blackboard!
Thanks to Alessandro Fiori and Filippo Menardi for the splendid photos and to Paolo Specchier for the "magical belays"…