Raptor: Sardinia's Right Wall climbed by Maurizio Oviglia
Maurizio Oviglia talks about the first ascent of Raptor at Jurassic Park in Sardinia. A 25m high 7b trad climb reminiscent of the famous Right Wall, first climbed by Pete Livesey on Dinas Cromlech in Wales.
On a trip to Wales in 2005 I visited Dinas Cromlech in the Llanberis Pass and was immediately taken in by a series of routes of unquestionable beauty. Apart from their obvious historical importance, while climbing beautiful Cenotaph Corner (first ascended back in 1952 by Joe Brown! At almost 6b+!) I became fascinated by the walls to either side of the corner which seemed to have been sliced clean by a knife, 50 metres high and dominated by a perfect, 90° central corner. A true gift of Mother Nature! That day I managed to onsight the superbly classic Left Wall, but had to settle with looking at, but not laying hands on, the wall to the right which hosts the beautiful "Right Wall" and other impossible looking climbs. "Right Wall" was first climbed in 1974 by Pete Livesey and offers fairly continuous climbing, roughly 7a past a series of difficult obligatory sections. A true masterpiece of British, and European, trad climbing and that day I simply didn't dare to give it a go (here's to being honest!). But ever since then the route has always been a dream of mine. And would I ever find something similar in Italy?
January 2012 - Jurassic Park is a granite crag hidden amongst the folds of Sardinia's eastern coast. A dozen or so lines were bolted at the end of the nineties but since then it hasn't been particularly popular with climbers and almost forgotten about altogether, partly due to its complicated access. In the end getting there proved almost impossible since the area to the south was closed off in connection to an investigation concerning the Quirra Polygon. I was determined to see whether the cliff could do with some restyling and so Fabio and I found a way to reach it from the north (Tertenia). We painstakingly created a new path and reached the base of the large, 70m high splendid golden granite face. Its hallmark feature: a perfect corner on the right that supports an incredible, slender tower.
I was excited and immediately launched up the "Stonosauro" corner, bolted by Enzo Lecis about 10 years ago. After 7 or 8 metres of easy climbing I reached the first hanger and noticed it was made of aluminum which had defoliated and become unreliable. Stupidly I continued, thinking that maybe the next ones would be better or that there would be a different type of bolts. But instead they got worse and the climbing became more difficult. The corner is by no means easy and the higher I got, the worse things became! The hangers were in such poor shape that they certainly wouldn't have held my weight so I couldn't abseil off them. Which meant that I climbed the entire 6c corner practically solo! I calmly made my way upwards, doing the splits and hoping to find a decent belay, otherwise who knows what I'd done! Incredibly at the belay I stumbled across two stainless steel bolts (thank goodness Enzo had had a premonition!) and lowered off. Ooof, that was enough "sport climbing" for today!
We located a series of cracks which fortunately hadn't been bolted and then Fabio and I made the first ascent of "Grillosauro", a wonderful three-pitch route with difficulties up to 6c. But my attention was captured by a line of thin cracks just to the left of the corner. A perfect, incredibly beautiful virgin wall. Would I ever be able to climb it with trad gear only?
During the months that followed we focused on the obvious slender pillar. We rebolted it completely, made a pleasant little video and took some spectacular photographs. But my "Right Wall" (in this case, the line to the left of the corner) was always there, watching me. The view from above, as I abseiled off, looked frightening. A first set of cracks was followed by a smooth, vertical wall with only a few little cracks here and there. It appeared to be somewhere in the 7b/7c region! I thought about handing the baton to someone better than me, even talked to Mauro Calibani. But ten days ago I finally summoned the courage and decided to give it a go. I equipped a belay at the end of the pitch and tried it on toprope. The first section, 6c+, went smoothly enough. But after a good rest the wall suddenly became blank. I tried a sequence but failed to get much higher. Trad seemed out of the question, and I began to doubt whether I'd be able to climb it at all! But as often happens you stumble across a solution, it was simple, but it had taken a little to find. By using a side pull instead of a crimp I managed to stretch up and - as if by magic - reach the tiny crack above. Having unlocked the sequence I quickly climbed it on toprope and graded it 7b... What remained now was to climb it mentally!
23 May - I'm on the crux, protected by a microfriend, in truth bomber, but it stops me from holding the sidepull. I repeatedly curse at my fat fingers, deformed by 30 years of climbing. I try again and again to hold some "terrible intermediates", but to no avail. I'm slowly dying, my heavy arms try in vain to hold the crimp "invaded" by that friend. Failure is inevitable... Hanging on the rope, I try an alternative solution. Instead of a friend, I decide to place a micronut... Certainly not as good, but this leaves room for my fingers... A quarter of an hour's rest and off I go again. This time I succeed and happily reach the belay, thanks also to today's exceptional conditions: the mistral wind had blown at almost 100 km/h and completely dried the rock face! Now even Sardinia has its Right Wall, a dream of mine has come true. A mere 40 years after great Pete Livesey, which provides food for thought! But the important thing is to get there, sooner or later! :-)
Jurassic Park – Raptor: 25 m, 7b (E5/6b) – Only Friends and two small nuts. Bolt belay. First ascent Maurizio Oviglia
Current access to Jurassic Park: From Cagliari or Tortoli take the SS125 to Tertenia, then follow the road to Marina di Tertenia. At the coast, follow signs for Porto Santoru south. When the asphalt ends, continue along the dirt track for about 4 km, after which normal cars cannot continue. Either continue or foor or in a 4x4 for about 25 minutes, the face is in view at this point. Continue past it, past a beautiful granite face with typical tafoni features and some bolts. You can reach this point in a 4x4. Shortly after a small dry river bed a path leads off to the top of the small granite face. A mule track leads West past hairpin bends, into the bracken. Make sure you stay on the right track. This leads to below the base of the face, traverse along this rightwards through the forest. As soon as possible scramble up through the forest to reach the base of the routes. (25 minutes from the dirt track, about 50 minutes from where normal cars park).
by Maurizio Oviglia