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Manolo climbing Roby Present 8c+/9a, Val Noana, Pale di San Martino, Dolomites
Photo by Paolo Calzà
Manolo climbing Roby Present 8c+/9a, Val Noana, Pale di San Martino, Dolomites
Photo by Paolo Calzà
Manolo climbing Roby Present 8c+/9a, Val Noana, Pale di San Martino, Dolomites
Photo by Paolo Calzà
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Manolo and Roby Present, new climb in Val Noana


On 24 March 2012 Maurizio "Manolo" Zanolla made the first ascent of Roby Present (35m, proposed grade 8c+/9a) in Val Noana (Pale di San Martino, Dolomites). Established by Manolo, the route is dedicated to his friend Roberto Bassi.

Passions never end. Just like talents. What else could we add about Manolo? And how could we describe his "sixth sense" for climbing which seems boundless? Perhaps by starting with those emotions which the art of climbing provide, to those who know how to listen. Manolo dedicated Roby Present to a friend, the unforgettable Roberto Bassi who left us a long time ago. And this alone, for those who can remember back to those days, suggests a great deal. According to Manolo, Roby Present is a "beautiful" route . All that's left to do now is follow his emotions...

by Maurizio "Manolo" Zanolla

There was no way of knowing what would have happened but, in the end, just when it all seemed over (and with this I mean that the only move I had to do was clip the rope into the chain) I fell, together with all those months of uphill struggle, incredulous and completely drained of all motivation; this was simply too much. I'd have to do it all again, completely everything. I would have preferred to have fallen a thousand times off one hold lower but, like this, what was easy had became impossible once again, distant, unattainable. I tried to react and once again the learning process was considerable.

Here and there a couple of rain drops fall onto the meadow and this worries me, but the forecast for tomorrow seems even worse so I decide to head off. As usual there's not a breath of air up here but at least today it's not as warm as it was recently. I place the usual four quickdraws but I don't try the first hard move, I don't want to be influenced in any way by the outcome. I pull the rope. Then I set off. It all starts well, almost too well and in the blink of an eye I'm at the rest. After a minute though my heart begins to throb, I hear it beat hard, it seems to explode. I think this may be due to that sudden awareness of perhaps succeeding which vests me with subtle tension, but I'm not sure... but I fail to calm it all down. I could, or rather, I should wait, but I'm terribly impatient and set off once more. All of a sudden those crimps which made me suffer for so long come my way, one after the other, they hesitate, then continue, accelerate, then come to an end and then, then I clip the rope into the belay chain.

Roby Present is a beautiful route, in a tranquil setting, just 10 minutes from home and 10 minutes from the road. I can go there whenever I want, when I can spare a moment, when I feel on form or simply when I want to watch the sun glitter off the backs of the swallows and this, every now and then, makes me feel good and is more than enough. It's a 35m route up a series of almost furious crimps, interrupted by a good rest, or at least this is what it seemed to me.

The grade? Without even realising this is the first thing Alessandro asked me when I first sent the route. I replied "I don't know" and this, in all honesty, is what I still think now.

Ciao Roby, this one's for you!

Thanks to al those who patiently held my rope: Walter, Giacomo, Guido, Cristina and in particular to the young talent - Alessandro Zeni - with whom, up here between the ups and downs, I spent a beautiful winter.






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