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The new guidebook by Manolo: In Bilico... suspended between climbing history and the rock climbs in the Primiero Dolomites


A new guidebook by Manolo to the Primiero Dolomites has just been published. A preview to the book and the wizard's latest climb: the first free ascent of Pappagorgia at the crag Bilico in Val Canali, Italy.

416 pages, hot off the press. 53 crags. More than 1000 routes, of which 244 are multi-pitches. Countless topos and sketches (very beautiful), plus numerous photos, some historic, that span the entire evolution of sport climbing. And then of course there's the author: Maurizio Zanolla, aka Manolo. This, in short, is the resume of "In Bilico", in delicate balance, an evocative title to the new guidebook not only because it recalls that beautiful and incredible sheet of rock suspended up there between the "folds" of Val Canali in the Italian Dolomites.
With this introduction we might already have said everything, or almost, as a new guidebook published by Manolo is, in itself, a minor event and a certain guarantee. But there is of course the subtitle: "suspended between climbing history and the rock climbs in the Primiero Dolomites". Yes, because the book includes stories about the area's climbing history written by the "Wizard" himself. The history and those stories that he (and others) engraved into the rocks of his Primiero Dolomites. One anecdote not to be missed is how he discovered the legendary Totoga crag where he forged important stepping stones in the evolution of sport climbing, such as the amazing Il Mattino dei Maghi, Lucertola schizofrenica, and Terminator...
But "In Bilico" is not just the story of Manolo. This guidebook is, in fact, testimony to all those who have loved the Primiero crags and, at the same time, an act of love for those rock faces and the climbs. Proof for this stems from the fact that over 2 years were needed to collect all the material, as well as the verve and precision with which Cristina Zorzi, Manolo's wife, took care of the graphics. Add to this the beautiful photos by Walter Bellotto, Paolo Calzà, Daniele Lira, Oskar Piazza, Narciso Simion and Manolo. And the extraordinary collaboration with award-winning cartoonist Paolo Cossi who drew the beautiful Baule topo. And there is of course the beautiful cover drawn by Jimi Angelo Trotter, with Manolo searching for an impossible balance (hovering, in fact) that seems to be the perfect synthesis of thought applied to climbing.
By the way ... one often says that climbing (and alpinism) is the combination of thought and deed, but adding a little love and imagination certainly wouldn't hurt, either. And this guidebook, one page after the next, captures your attention and confirms this theory. All that remains to be said therefore is that this guidebook was produced by Manolo himself - just like the previous one published a decade ago - and that it will be distributed directly by the award-winning family Manolo & C. But before signing off and wishing you a great read and happy climbing, we like the idea of combining Manolo's recent editorial effort with his latest climbing achievement. The route is called Pappagorgia (double chin) and was freed just a few days ago? Where? Unsurprisingly at Il Bilico...

PAPPAGORGIA, at Bilico with Erik Girardini
(June 2013)
by Manolo

After the first ascent of "Roby Present" last spring a series of injuries almost stopped me from climbing completely but the latest, far more serious than expected, stopped me without the almost. I couldn't do much, not even shovel snow outside my house even though it snowed every day and so this really might be a good reason to get some serious work done on my guidebook. Only now though do I realise how much I still had to do, there was much, much more than I'd originally thought and had it not been for Cristina and for that injury, I certainly wouldn't have finished it, not even by the end of summer. But there was also something else left unfinished ... nothing all too important, but nevertheless unfinished business.

I walked up to the Bilico crag to check the track. The last scree slope seemed steeper and more unstable than usual, but the view from this incredible boulder was absolutely fantastic and the unfinished project on the right tempted me once again. I hadn't climbed for months and maybe I should have waited a little longer, but I gave it a go just to try the moves. These, of course, made me suffer but proved great fun nevertheless. Unfortunately the rock was still a little wet but the moves proved encouraging; they weren't irresistible after all and my fingers also seemed up to it. So now, I wondered, how would they fare in a single push?

Erik had never been up here and was curious. He too hadn't climbed for a while and was keen on starting again. This certainly isn't the easiest places to start but we decided to give it a go. I abseiled off the top, placed the quickdraws and tried the moves once more... Hmmm! I was still a bit tired from the time before but it didn't seem too bad and the face was bone dry. Erik tried some moves, lowered off, coiled the rope and then invited me to give it a go. But I no longer felt so convinced...! Those twenty-five metres now seemed completely different. I tied in but didn't feel at ease, with the rope no longer above me all of a sudden I was gripped by a fear of falling, of the void... and also of the pain.

The start isn't too difficult, just slightly overhanging but not exaggeratedly so. As I breached the roof and got established on the slab above the crimps became relentlessly small and to clip the rope I had to surrender to a tiny, elusive foothold. I no longer felt confident and secure on this sort of terrain and a forgotten and convulsive trembling shuddered through my body, accompanied by fatigue and pain, but fortunately I reached a decent rest and regained some lucidity.

When I restarted I searched for a rhythm that I failed to find, the holds were all mixed up on this hieroglyphic rock. Lactic acid began to bite as the pain increased. But suddenly I was no longer afraid of falling, I no longer looked down into the void and not even around the arete. I was simply absorbed into resisting, curious to see where my energies would take me. My fingers no longer managed to crimp and became increasingly open handed. The pain got stronger and stronger and I continued upwards only thanks to the friction on my skin. The lip surprised me like a punch.

These were the last twenty-five metres, now I've really finished!

The grade? I'm definitely not capable of giving it a grade. It's not extremely difficult, but not extremely easy either... beautiful, I'd say.

IN BILICO... tra le falesie di Primiero
Text: Maurizio Zanolla
Translation: Luca Gasparini
Topos: Maurizio Zanolla and Cristina Zorzi
Background: tessitura ARTELER di Mezzano, where Lucia, Zita and Carmen (like janas sarde) wisely wove colorful patterns.
Photos: Maurizio Zanolla, Walter Bellotto, Paolo Calzà, Daniele Lira, Oskar Piazza, Narciso Simion
Cover: Jimi Angelo Trotter
Graphics: Cristina Zorzi
With the help of: Tiziano Albertella, Enrico Bettega, Walter Bellotto, Pieralbino Loss, Mario Tomas, Narciso Simion, Gianattilio Turra, Paolo Zecchini
First edition: June 2013
Produced by: Osteria taci cavallo editing
In Bilico

...fra la storia ed i racconti delle vie nelle falesie del Primiero.
Italian, English
Author: Maurizio "Manolo" Zanolla





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