Maurizio "Manolo" Zanolla has returned to last year's breeding ground, the Vette Feltrine in the Dolomites for another balancy journey up a long series of elusive holds. The Italian climber made the most of the stifling June to now add a startling new 150m testpiece next to last year's creation called "Solo per vecchi guerrieri". First ascended from the ground up, the 150m "For old warriors only" weighs in at a massive 8c/9a and 7c/8a obligatory.
Manolo needed five days to come to grips with the route, the first two completely on his own, the remaining three in the company of his climbng partner Federico Gorda. To date Manolo has found the solution to the first act of this enigma which he hopes to free completely in the future. He had the following to say about the experience:
SOLO PER VECCHI GUERRIERI
by Maurizio "Manolo" Zanolla
The climbing is extremely demanding mentally (but strangely, given the angle, also physical) which "emptied me completely" not only due to the way it was first ascended but also due to the style of the almost obsessive balancy climbing on just a few milimeters of rubber... a sort of of "Bain de Sang" at 2000m with 300m of void beneath you which you simply can't ignore... in part due to the rather... airy bolting. I couldn't have asked for anything better and it is as if this wall had waited for me for all my life.
It has everything I've ever searched for... an unknown, nameless face close to home and a line which is Mother Nature's work of art up extraordinary quality rock. Add to this the fact that it almost guessed my age... it faces south. Not too long, but a massive massive drop nevertheless (the route starts above a circa 200m high roof) with technical, highly technical climbing. It's a journey against the current of the incredible water drops which slowly form up here before beginning to slide downwards ever so slowly, without any energy whatsoever, before picking up speed and precipitating and sculpting the rock more generously. The first part of the face is the apotheosis of “goute d'eau” and optimism, higher up though they pretty much disappear, leaving only small pockets dotted here and there which offer a ray of hope to that impressive barrier.
The route was bolted from the ground up and it wouldn't have been possible to place anything else (perhaps a couple of friends only) and I like this. Perhaps it's the most beautiful route I've ever climbed and had it been longer then perhaps it would have simply been too much. The first two pitches (those climbed alone) are the ones where the pro is more runout. Higher up difficulties "change" and apart from a couple of sections the hard moves are maximum 1 meter, 1.5 meters above a bolt so it's much more like sports climbing.
It'll be hard to free the route and I hope that my fibre gives me a hand because the final two pitches are truly impressive, in particular the last one which thankfully has the only advantage of partial rests prior to every difficult section which reduce the continuity ands stamina which would otherwise be suffocating.
We can split the final pitch into 4 sections, the first starts off intense and could be 8a/b which is immediately followed by a mentally demanding 7b/c obligatory section. After this there's a slight rest, followed by harder moves which could be 8a boulder, 7c/8a obligatory and then the last section, 15m of 8b... Obviously I could be wrong, fear, the cliffhooks, the void, my current form, age etc etc are all factors and the final grade will only come about with a free ascent. And if someone wants to give me their opinion I'd obviously be pleased to hear what they think.
It's a shame that Federico, despite having a camera wrapped around his neck, didn't take any photos... there was simply too much tension between one bolt and the next and when I wasn't in flight I was clipped to a "shitty" cliffhook. Thanks Federico, also for having encouraged me knowing full well that I would have fallen right on top of you.
by Maurizio "Manolo" Zanolla
VETTE FELTRINE, CIMA SENZA NOME (2000m)
"SOLO PER VECCHI GUERRIERI"
Extraordinary route to the right of athe arete "Bisogna essere veloci per inseguire le nuvole".
F.A: Manolo and Federico Gorda, estate 2006 (1st two pitches Manolo alone)
Grade': 8c/9a max; 7c/8a obbl.
Gear: bolt protected, 10 quickdraws and 1 60m rope
Getting there: from Aune take the steep forest road north (closed to traffic) and continue straight at the fork following the red and white 810 markers to Casera Monsampiano. The road ends at a hut and a path leads steeply through the woods into the Aune valley. After circa 1 hour the pathheads left: leave it and continue straight up the valley following cairn markers to te base of the acqueduct. Traverse right along the meadows which become steeper as you reach the airy shoulder (1.5 hours from Aune). From this shoulder (start of "Bisogna essere veloci per descrivere la nuvole") traverse to the center of the exposed wall and reach the start of the route by scrambling up broken rock (30m of fixed rope).
Photos: The drop from the third pitch of "Solo per Vecchi Guerrieri"; the face and the route (on the left); Manolo and Federico Gorda (ph Diego Dalla Rosa).