Welcome to the club, a 9a by Luca 'Canon' Zardini at Cortina
On 03/10/2009 Luca Zardini made the frst ascent of "Welcome to the club" at the Campo boulders at Cortina d'Ampezzo which he believes is 9a.
Luca Zardini's latest ascent has a particular story. Firstly because "Welcome to the club" is situated on the crags at Campo and Volpera - more precisely on the boulders at Campo just outside Cortina d'Ampezzo - exactly there were Zardini took his first vertical steps many years ago. And also because those boulders contain the climbing history of the last thirty years: a history which in Cortina was written largely by the Scoiattoli climbing group and which Zardini is a member of. In short, this is a story which represents a synthesis of rock climbing, from aid to free.
A section of the route had been climbed with the use of aid by the Scoiattoli Bruno Menardi and Roberto Gaspari 27 years ago. In 2007 another member of the group, Walter Bachmann, rebolted the line and it was up to Zardini to free the route. He did so and created "Welcome to the Jungle" which, after the first repeat at the hands of Alessando Fiori, has now settled down at 8b+. "Welcome to the club" on the other hand represents a step further still, as it climbs the first section then breaks off right for another12 extremely spectacular moves. As Zardini states, the circle has now been closed. A relevant detail: this circle symbolically contains the entire climbing evolution of the last 25 years.
We almost forgot: the location, the forest which holds the Volpera and Campo boulders, is truly magic and the route climbs an impressive 45° blank sheet of rock. The moves are beautiful and the grade put forward is 9a... One thing is certain: it's definitely a superp and exclusive trip!
"WELCOME TO THE CLUB" 9a
by Luca 'Canon' Zardini
Welcome to the Jungle... which isn't anything other than the thick and particular forest at Campo di Volpera characterised by many overhanging boulders strewn here and there and on which I've been able to "powerfully" vent my desire to climb around Cortina d'Ampezzo.
It all began in 1982 when Bruno Menardi "Menego" and Roberto Gaspari "Moroto" pegged and aid climbed a 45° degree overhanging boulder. The route was abandoned for numerous years and we reassessed it in spring 2007 when Walter Bachmann, a mountain guide from Cortina and Menego's nephew, reequipped it.
The old aid route is called "Welcome to the Jungle" and I suggested the grade 8c. This summer it was repeated for the first time at the hands of young Alessando Fiori who downgraded it to 8b+ seeing that he used a "nice" pocket at half-height which I had totally ignored...
Shortly after my first ascent Michele Ossi and I equipped a short but extremely intense variation to "Welcome...", sensing that it would be possible to create a new and interesting project. The route climbs almost the entire 8b+ to a discrete rest, then deviates right for another 4 meters with reachy and spectacular moves up nice compact rock.
I needed more than two years and more then 30 attempts spread out over this entire period to send these final 12 violent moves, because of their precarious nature but also because it was difficult to find perfect conditions. These proved fundamental to complete a circle which was started 25 years ago when the route was first climbed using aid.
Everything ran smoothly on 3 October. The weather was beautiful with perfect autumn friction and belayed as usual by Michele I finally managed to stick that fateful dyno. Located right after the rest, it had spat me out each time inducing me to think that another winter would come and go before I'd finally send the route. I finished up the final physical moves with great grit and determination and reached the top absolutely empty!
"Welcome to the Club" is the name of this latest creation and I've put forward the grade 9a. I'd like to extend my sincere thanks to Michele, Alessandro and Luca for their help.
Luca Canon Zardini