Gabriele Moroni, the fruit of the devil
Gabriele Moroni talks about Il frutto del diavolo 8c+/9a, his new route bolted and freed at Bus de Vela close to Arco, Italy.
Gabriele Moroni needs no introduction. He is one of the world's strongest climbers, both on plastic and on rock, on boulder problems and on sport climbs. Many know him for representing Italy in competitions and winning podium positions in the World Cup, and ever since a tender age (he's 23 now!) Moroni has never ceased to explore crags and bouldering areas dotted throughout the world. His route and bouldering curriculum proves this amply, and of late - in September and October - he carried out a series of hard ascents at crags close to Arco and Trento in Northen Italy. This time they were not mere "repeats" or "first free ascents"; these routes gave, above all, free reign to his creativity, for Moroni took part actively in searching, preparing and then, as a final act, freeing these new routes, "his" new routes. He shared this experience with climbing partners Valerio Ballardini and Jacopo Larcher, and this is how the routes Belzebù Climbing Team 8c, La Gabi 8c and Scoglio de Capri 8b+ saw the light of day. As did Bombo Balla, an 8b+ freed by Jacopo Larcher and then confirmed (alias redpointed) by Moroni. In the end Moroni was also dominated by that beautiful "obsession", the one where a route doesn't leave you in peace until you've freed it. The route in question is Il Frutto del Divalo, the fruit of the devil, where the name says it all and for which Moroni has suggested the "respectable" 8c+/9a grade. From our point of view the actual difficulty of the route is the least interesting thing of all. Check out Moroni's report to understand what we're on about.
IL FRUTTO DEL DIAVOLO by Gabriele Moroni
After the traditional summer stint in Ceuse and crags nearby I was bored of the usual crags and repeating local hard routes... and despite being on holiday with great friends and above all having visited the most beautiful crag in the world I was feeling rather demotivated.... After freeing Elementi di Disturbo (the hardest route at Gressoney) I felt that the usual emotion I always get when repeating routes. I was unsatisfied. I find it more fun to search for "my" routes instead of concentrating on projects already bolted but left for climbers who have greater chances of freeing them! Trento proved to be a major change, a massive motivation drive... loads of fantastic limestone and plenty of completely natural projects to be freed! A beautiful little city and above all a great climbing community.
Ever since the start of summer Valerio Ballardini, a local new router, had been going on at me about "futuristic" projects close to home, and curiosity got the better of me! So after the European Championship in Innsbruck I decided to stop off in Trento in mid-September to check out with my own eyes what the area holds. I was stunned by the quality of the projects and the rock! In the beginning I'd thought I'd spend just a coupe of days or perhaps a week in Trento and Arco, but in the end I realised that time flew by between one route and the next, between one crag and the next. Five days were spent in Sicily at a climbing festival and, with one thing leading to the next, along came my "definitive" return home at the end of the season... At the start of November... It's incredible how quickly a month and a half can fly!
In the beginning I concentrated my efforts on freeing projects previously bolted by Valerio. But after a short while Jacopo Larcher and I created Belzebù Climbing Team 8c, La Gabi 8c, Scoglio de Capri 8b+, while Larcher freed Bombo Balla 8b+ and I confirmed the grade... All the routes are completely natural, not even one of the holds have been consolidated with sikka... a rarity here in Italy. A real blessing!
After freeing these routes I began trying far more ambitious projects such as "Big Jump Project", a route bolted by Rolando Larcher with a really smooth central crux... Rolando had managed all the moves on this beautiful route and the quality of the rock is truly incredible. Unfortunately the middle section is completely devoid of holds so he decided to glue a small pebble to get past this! A short while later, thanks to my bouldering mentality, I discovered an original sequence which involved a Mega Dyno and avoided the pebble altogether! Rolly agreed to removing the hold and so this route is completely natural, too, and highly futuristic... Despite having repeated the dyno a couple of times, linking it on the redpoint is a completely different ball game. In fact I can't wait for next year's season to being to try this ambitious project!
One day I was attracted to a virgin line in the middle of the yellow and black overhang... Valerio and I managed to make out some holds from below but you never can tell until you're up there! So I rigged a static rope and tried to keep close to the overhang... I was in seventh heaven! It seemed as if there was a line of holds... pinches, slopers, small pockets and some edges! Fantastic! I immediately grabbed the drill and started placing the bolts... after a long day's work, some cliff hanger whips in my face and a friend which hit me on the head I set foot on firm ground once again... tired and exhausted and unfortunately without the power to try the moves immediately.
From that point onwards the obsession set in. I couldn't think of anything else and was up there the next day to clean and try the first moves. The first 10m are pretty intense, circa 7c+ to a fairly good rest. The next 5m were impossible that day, especially a couple of moves off a rounded two-finger pinch to grasp an edge and place your foot really high... But I realised that it would go, it was doable! There's an excellent rest at mid-height which seems to have been created specifically for the second section, very bouldery and touch and go, with a really blind move to stick a smooth pinch and climb into a small corner! The last section is easier but there are those final 2 or 3 "pumpy moves" that if you're tired...
I was extremely excited! The route seemed climbable, and also quickly. And it was probably slightly harder than the others I'd freed up to now. But on day three I realised that I'd been stupid! Perhaps it was the adrenaline, or who knows what else, but it had seemed easy at first! And to add to my misery, a foothold on the crux upper section had broken. I had noticed that it would break but I really didn't want to add any sikka. In fact, the route is 100% natural. Luckily though I was on form and on the third day I started to try it from below. I finally managed to climb all the single moves and began to mechanise the sequences. The route felt in my grasp and I tried to perfect the upper section after the rest.
After another two days of attempts I kept improving each go and really felt ready. It was cold, the end of October, and the route lay in the shade for most part of the day. We lit a fire to keep us warm and dry out the skin on our hands... when they were warmed to a T I understood that the time was ripe for a proper attempt. It all ran smoothly and I didn't make a single mistake... I'd mechanised everything perfectly and they lowered me off after circa 10 minutes! What incredible satisfaction! I still can't believe that there can be such perfect routes and that I was the one who brought it to life... unearthing the line, bolting it, cleaning it and, after a couple of days of hard work, freeing it! I'm still lost for words!
I've called the route "Il Frutto del Diavolo"... I think the name is perfect and my friends know why! It's always hard to give a grade after a first ascent but once again I believe a slashgrade is obligatory until the first repeat! That's why I suggest 8c+/9a for this jewel!
See you next time!