Luce di Primo Mattino, Larcher makes first free ascent on Piccolo Dain
On 18/04/2013 Rolando Larcher made the first free ascent of Luce di Primo Mattino (435m, max 8a obl. A0), the route established by A. Andreotti, B. Menestrina e M. Furlani in 1991 on Piccolo Dain (Sarca Valley, Italy).
A rock face for all seasons, a sort of "physical memory" that accompanies a climbing, and also life, journey. Perhaps for Rolando Larcher the great and symbolic Piccolo Dain represents this, too. A mountain he knows well, a rock face he has come back to time and time again. Suffice to say that of the 17 routes that began with historic Via Detassis and finished with Sogno di Amelie, 3 were first ascended by Larcher while a further 4 were freed by the Italian climber, to which one must a the fact that he has free climbed 16 of them, seeing that the only one left to climb is "Amelie". A mountain face where you can seek refuge and find yourself therefore. Proof of this, were proof still to be needed, can be found in the 435 metres of Luce di Primo Mattino, First Light, the beautiful and challenging route climbed back in 1991 by Andreotti, Menestrina and Furlani up the face which in many respects has become the symbol of the entire Sarca Valley The route's distinguishing features: surprisingly beautiful rock and a 7/8 metre finishing roof, high above the DOC Dain void.
LUCE DI PRIMO MATTINO by Rolando Larcher
Of all the rock faces in the Sarca Valley, Dain is the one I love most, the most slender and beautiful, the one that always makes my heart skip a beat, providing me with fantastic days filled with fun, friendship and climbing. The first time I laid my hands on this face was back in November 1983 when I repeated the historic route Canna D'Organo, while the last time was on 18 April when I redpointed luce di Primo Mattino. 30 years of pure joy, during which time all the routes here have helped me evolve as a climber, accompanying and enriching my life.
On a more pragmatic note, Dain is also a lifeline close to home. The wind always blows up here, even when it gets too hot to go cragging and in the afternoon shad the friction becomes perfect. And during "monsoon" seasons like this one, when all other crags seep Dain only needs a glimmer of sunshine to come into condition. And it is because of this year's wet conditions that I returned to Dain earlier than usual, continuing my project to repeat all the routes that have been freed on this face. A project which, rather than being devised for a real reason, happened to come about. Luce di Primo Mattino was on the agenda this season, First Light established by the late Andrea Andreotti together with Bruno Menestrina up the first third and then completed together with Marco Furlani.
On 10 April, the first day of sunshine during this bizarre spring, I reached the base of the route together with Francesco Mich, eager to find out more about this line. I managed to onsight everything up to the penultimate pitch just before the roof, where a short white overhanging crimpy section got the better of me. I quickly worked the moves, brushed the holds and then sent it on my second attempt. Another beautiful pitch marked by water droplets led to the roof and ensuing shad and bitter cold.
Word had it that this was the big question mark pitch, but I remembered that while establishing Ultima Fiamma in 2007 (which shares the same belay) I had seen some good holds, so I was fairly confident I'd manage to find my way up. While waiting and belaying in the wind I'd got cold so I shook my arms and tried to warm up asbest i could before setting off. I took off my jacket, handed to to Franz who immediately put it on above his own... The roof was reminiscent of the climbing at Erto and I spent an hour having fun, discovering the moves, toothbrush in hand, to find a way through. Just as I had hoped there were enough holds and, strung together, they gave the pitch quite a grade, but due to fatigue, cold, and another pitch to reach the top we opted to continue on up, leaving the redpoint for another occasion.
After a week's wait along came a fantastic day, really warm, almost summer. The team changed, this time there were three of us, "Gippo" Luca Giupponi, Herman Zanetti and myself. We had to huddle together at the belays, but like this it was much easier and fun. Knowning what lay in store meant that the atmosphere was relaxed, the only uncertainty that required concentration was way up there, but I'd think about that later. Between one joke and the next we gained height and took the opportunity to talk about the grades of the individual pitches. We also climbed into the shade, but today was a completely different season and the shade provided relief.
Then it came down to it, I rehearsed the moves and placed the quickdraws, Gippo gave it a go and then it was my turn to crimp down hard. With all the void beneath you, this pitch is spectacular and challenging but fortunately not quite as hard as I had thought and I easily reached the belay. One more pitch to the summit, a pleasant formality. We topped out and celebrated, all the routes on Dain had been freed!
Thanks to Franz, Gippo and Herman for their friendship.
Despite some vegetation low down, this route offers surprisingly good quality rock from start to finish.
I used 18 quickdraws during the first free ascent, a number of friends and a few wires as well as small-medium Totemcams.
TOPO: Luce di Primo Mattino, Piccolo Dain, Sarca Valley
ITALIAN VERSION: this artcle first appeared in the Italian version of Planetmountain on 24/04/2013