AlexAnna, new route by Rolando Larcher on Marmolada, Dolomites
At the end of August 2008 Rolando Larcher completed AlexAnna (700m, 8a+/8b, 7b obl.), a new route up Pilastro Lindo on the SW Face of Punta Penia (Marmolada, Dolomites).
Rolando Larcher's latest creation certainly could not pass by unobserved. In late August the Italian climber established a new route which bears his hallmark style: an attempt to use as much natural pro as possible, hard technical difficulties (8a+/8b with 7b obligatory) and, above all, the nigh mythical location on the Lindo Pillar high on the SW Face of Punta Penia on the Marmolada.
The new route is named after Rolando's two children and, as he himself explains "takes a line between the classic Soldà and the Larcher-Vigiani (another top route first ascended by Larcher and Roberto Vigiani in 2000, Editor's note), the 17 pitch route is 700m long and the first three pitches are shared with the historic Soldà - since it's almost impossible to free climb through the steep initial overhangs."
Larcher continues "to make the first ascent I needed a total of 6 days, 4 last year and 2 this summer which turned out to be extremely unstable weather-wise. I always led the route and for these 6 days I need to thanks Michele Cagol, Michele Paissan, Francesco Mich and Roberto Pedrotti, four willing friends who patiently belayed me through the cold at 3000m. But a special thanks must also go to Alex and Andrea, the hut wardens at Capanna Penia and Rifugio Contrin, for their support."
Naturally the place of honour goes to the person who came up with the idea and who managed to put it into practice. "The planned route was very ambitious and uncertain: steep overhangs followed by compact slabs, rendered all the more difficult by my attempt to climb the line in trad stile and to reach the summit only after having freed all the climb. Above all I used my trad rack, but were this proved impossible I resorted to placing bolts. In total I used 11 bolts (hand placed) where there were simply no other forms of protection. I also added 2 bolts per belay. And in the end I can say that my project turned out well: an incredible and miraculous theory of hand and footholds led me to the summit..."
Rolando specifies "the difficulties were remarkable, but the prevailing hardship was the cold due to the altitude and exposure. I managed to on-sight the first half of the route with difficulties up to 7a+, while on the second half I always managed to climb free but with a series of rests due to continuous difficulties which I estimate somewhere in the region of 8a+/8b, with some sections7b obligatory."
In truth the project is not completed since Rolando wants to close the circle and redpoint the route in a single push, even if prevailing weather conditions might force Larcher add the finishing touch in summer 2009...
In the meantime though AlexAnna has been created and the description "an incredible and miraculous theory of hand and footholds led me to the summit..." indicates that the line contains all the DNA to become a reference point for those in search of beautiful and demanding lines first ascended in a great style. Talking of which... Larcher mentioned a row of bolts he discovered close to his final pitch. But this is obviously another story and a completely different style of ascent.