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Berni Rivadossi on his spectacular route.
Photo by Nicola Noè
Adam Ondra freeing Climb for Life, the first 9a in Sicily.
Photo by Nicola Noè
The two first ascentionists: Adam Ondra and Berni Rivadossi
Photo by Nicola Noè
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San Vito Lo Capo Climbing Festival 2012 and Sicily’s first 9a


Nicola Noè’s report of the recent San Vito Lo Capo Climbing Festival 2012 and Climb for Life, the first 9a sport climb in Sicily freed by Adam Ondra.

The curtain doesn’t want to fall on the recent Climbing Festival in Sicily’s San Vito Lo Capo. And how could it? The images of those days are more vivid than ever. Those of Saturday’s rain showers which could do nothing to diminish the fun and enthusiasm of the climbers, their hand chalked white, wearing ochre red climbing pants splashed in hues of clay. And the colours of the sunset, those evening strolls down the St. Vito high street, with all its bars and restaurants that welcome all climbers after their days’ work.

Sunday is worth a special mention. Parco Cerriolo hosted the final of the Top Marathon, won by Daniela Feroleto among then women and an amazing Marco Ballerini among men, whose talent has been unquestioned ever since he took part in the first organised rock climbing competition back in Bardonecchia.

Another momentous event in Sicilian rock climbing was about to take place a mere 200m away. A few days beforehand Adam Ondra, accompanied by Berni Rivadossi, had discovered, bolted and cleaned a new "had and pure" up through the cave at Parco Cerriolo. Word spread far beyond San Vito and so the cave was filled to the brim with those watching him check out the moves and make the first two attempts only to be stumped by the difficult crux at half-height. While some thought the show was over and left, others rushed to the cave, including those who’d just taken part in the Top Marathon.

The weather conditions changes, the wind picked up and the clouds rolled in. It was 14.00 and Adam decided to give it another go. He climbed quickly to the knee-bar rest, then fought doggedly against the crux, like someone who knew he wouldn’t get a second chance soon… the next morning he’d leave Sicily for Norway. He climbed this section with just the right determination and precision and managed to stick it! The pressure was now on, people cheered and everyone knew – he in particular – that it was now make or break with the second crux up ahead. He’d worked those moves in his mind the night before and had thought of sharing on a left-hand sloper, using a different sequence therefore. And at the lip of that cave he proved that wanting is succeeding: this sequence change, the intensity of the moves, his few attempts previously all forced him to give that little bit extra which only true champions can do in moments of difficulty. He moaned, screamed in anger, suffered, more than once he seems more off than on, but he never gave up, fought to the bitter end, and once again he was proved right and, while the liberating applause echoed round the cave he pulled through the cux and reached the chain.
This is the great story of Climb for Life, the route which promises to be the first 9a in Sicily and yet another beautiful page of sport climbing history. Less than half an hour later and the roles are inversed. Now Berni Rivadossi climbed, belayed by Adam Ondra and another cave project fell, bolted during those days by the strong Italian: a solid 8b+.

As the expression goes... how to round off a simply amazing festival in style.

Nicola Noè





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