Shakti, new route for Riccardo Scarian
On 17/10/2011 Riccardo Scarian carried out the first free ascent of Shakti (200m, max 8b+/8c, obl. 7c/8a), the route he had established in August 2011 with various partners up the SW Face of Picco delle Aquile, Monte Coppolo, Valnuvola.
"It is, put simply, a jewel, up splendid rock, offering climbing with varied from steep overhang to technical slabs, above an impressive voice in a wild yet at the same time relaxing environment." Put in the game of numbers: 6 pitches with maximum difficulties in the region of 8b+/8c and obligatory 7c/8a, established ground-up on spectacular and "unknown" rock. This, in short, is Shakti, the new route which Riccardo Scarian & Co first ascended up the SW Face of the Picco Senza nome on Monte Coppolo in Valnuvola. This beautiful valley is located on the border between the Trentino and Veneto regions in Northern Italy and is practically virgin territory, a small rock "eldorado" which Scarian fell in love with and which inspired Shakti which, unsurprisingly, means "energy, power"... and is "my most beautiful and demanding route to-date."
SHAKTI by Riccardo "Sky" Scarian
Shakti. The word comes Sanskrit and means energy, power. And it's also the name of the route I dedicate to myself and all those I share and have shared special moments with in the past. The route climbs an unnamed peak which forms part of Monte Coppolo and which we dubbed Picco delle Aquile (Eagles Peak) due to the eagles which constantly observed our progress.
Val Nuvola is a valley which lies on the border between the Trentino and Veneto regions, famous for its beans and which ascends all the way to Passo del Brocon. A friend of mine, Mario Tomas "Lo Zio", first talked to me about this place more than a year ago. He's constantly on the lookout for new climbing areas and he told me about its great potential, about the 200m high virgin walls, of its incredible rock, of the smooth slabs and steep overhangs... it seemed to have all the ingredients I was searching for. The months flew by and it took an injury in July - fortunately nothing serious - for me to find the rime for a reccie during this enforced convalescence which happened to coincide with his holidays. I was on the road to recovery with a sore knee and bruises, and we set off.
I remember it well... I was with Mario and Pol; we ascended the gentle path and begun to catch a glimpse of the first rock faces, which seemed fairly interesting, but Zio shut us up and told us to keep calm because the best was yet to come! After half an hour we reached the col from where we admired the marvellous amphitheatre. I begun to carefully observe the rock faces through my binoculars and dream of imaginary routes, but I was immediately drawn to an overhang half-way up the face and from then on my eyes never left this spot. This is how I began to carefully study the line of my dreams. I carefully tried to unlock its potential, discover its secrets, and made out slabs, thin cracks and vertical sections which seemed climbable. The big question mark was the large overhang and on closer inspection I seemed to make out a series of pockets which ran out right at its lip. This was enough though to give me an uncertain chance of success, and so I firmly decided that I'd at least give it a go...!
I started establishing the like together with Cristiano on 12 August and right from the outset we realised that climbing it in "trad" style was simply out of the question, so all that remained was to climb and continue climbing, using cliff hangers only to place the bolts. Some say that climbing is the slowest form of movement, well, I think they're right! At most I managed to establish a pitch and a half a day. On day 3, together with my inseparable friend Pol, we reached the overhang and I needed a full day to climb in, of which three hours were spent resolving the obligatory section rounding the lip. The result is a superb pitch with an obligatory section which I believe is somewhere in the region of 7c/8a.
The next time on the route I had to reclimb the first three pitches seeing that I hadn't left any fixed ropes... gosh, what an obligatory section... I'd forgotten that magical sequence and I needed another two hours to unlock the key. I was devastated, perhaps also because of the intense heat, and on the next pitch I didn't get any further than half-height. I returned once again with Pol and things were much the same: no fixed ropes, but at least this time we brought them with us for future use. I climbed up the first three pitches, this time more easily. Then I completed pitch 4 with some difficulties and, completely spent, we decided to abseil off our fixed ropes. Pol and I returned anew, jumared up the fixed ropes to reach the top of pitch 4 in the blink of an eye, I then prepared the gear... and set off convinced... perhaps that I'd be able to finish the route that very same day. Difficulties seemed to ease off from there but... whoops, this wasn't to be! Just after half-height I was confronted with a beautiful smooth slab.
Only after countless falls did I manage to understand its secrets and climb past, thanks to an immense rush of adrenaline which shook me from my head to my toes: just when I was about to dyno to what I believed was a good hold, at the end of the sequence and with my last pro way below me, the crimp I was holding snapped in half! I felt the void sucking me in and heard Pol scream up to encourage me to go for it!!! My mind was already concentrated on the fall but in utter desperation I dynoed and miraculously I stuck the hold, suspended one-handed on the jug, screaming at the top of my voice. Once I calmed down I finished off pitch 5. Our throats were dry and so we opted for the cool beers in the bar. I'm not sure whether I was happy or not, but I noticed that the last pitched eased off considerably and the next time on the route we finished it off in no time at all. What remained was to complete the circle, to free my most beautiful and demanding route to date. It is, put simply, a jewel, up splendid rock, offering climbing with varied from steep overhang to technical slabs, above an impressive voice in a wild yet at the same time relaxing environment.
The first free ascent. 17 October 2011, I woke up at 6:20, it was still dark outside... but the day had all the makings of being spectacular! I made coffee and breakfast while dawn appeared and confirmed its splendid autumn vest. I said goodbye to Giorgia who wished me luck and picked up my friend Pol. Today was the last chance of doing the route with him (this was really important for me) because he'd then set off for a fortnight and these fantastic days were going to come to an end soon. We stopped off at Lamon for the usual coffee and continued to Val Nuvola, parked the car and ascended the gentle path. The air was cold and brisk and we walked up quickly, reaching the base of Eagles peak in perhaps less than 40 minutes. I'd fallen off the crux twice the day before... just a hair's breadth away from sending the route, but perhaps today was going to the the big day. I noticed that I had both great energy and metal strength... Shakti! I set off, determined, and everything seemed easy. I sped up the first two pitches and reach the second belay along with the first rays of light, fantastic! I took in the panorama and waited for Pol to reach me. And an eagle flew overhead to bid us good morning! Next up was “the roof”, a fantastic pitch which happens to be the crux of the route. I set off concentrated and managed to climb quickly and precisely... at 11.45 my dream had come true! A mere three pitches were needed to crown it all. I didn't know precisely how hard the next pitches were because I had only climbed them when establishing them. I had a vague idea but this proved wrong and after a long battle I had to give up, study the moves and lower down to the belay. I rested for half an hour on route's most airy and uncomfortable bealy. Pol started to have doubts about whether I'd succeed but I was certain, I had to be certain! I pulled the ropes and set off, climbed quickly, lightly, in the hope that I wouldn't slip off suddenly and managed to reach belay number four...! Pitch 5 was a bit easier, I sent it first go, and this was followed by the standing ovation slast pitch. I'd done it! Pol was as happy as I was and, perhaps still somewhat incredulous, we abseiled off and lay down in the sun and enjoyed the moment! And then we returned home... a good bottle of wine had been waiting for us for quite some time!!!
I would like to thank those with whom I shared splendid days on Shakti: Mario Tomas “lo Zio”, Cristiano Marinello, Igor Simoni, Michele Gaio, Giampaolo Corona, and in particular legendary Paolo Loss “Pol” who at almost 60 years of age continues to share and inspire many an adventure.
Thanks to: La Sportiva, Montura, Black Diamond, Revò, Gabel.
- ROUTE TOPO SHAKTI