Manolo and his Fragile Heroes in Val Noana
On 5 March 2011 Maurizio "Manolo" Zanolla freed Eroi Fragili (8c, 30m), a new route he bolted in Val Noana (Pale di San Martino, Dolomites) next to another of his creations, Stramonio.
30 meters which help you understand that heroes can be fragile, too... As usual what is striking about Manolo's routes is the greater picture. In other words, all that what increasingly seems to be simply background information, perhaps even something irrelevant. But from that magnificent terrace high up in Val Noana, Eroi Fragili seems to recount a different sort story. First and foremost, it talks about a search, about a relationship with the rock face and that what surrounds it. It talks about a long "effort" to clean the rock which transformed into a courtship. It talks about something which, therefore, has more to do with the love for climbing, due to its uniqueness, a love for those singular and unrepeatable moves rather than the grade they are represented by. Fragile Heroes is about that wind which pushes those clouds in one direction only. It's about that fire which warms you before the final attempt. It's about that surprise, mixed with unhoped for happiness, of a successful ascent which comes about when you least expected it. And, then, it's also about a number which, although we like to believe explains everything, instead seems insecure and fragile. Just like heroes are, at times.
EROI FRAGILI 8c by Manolo
It's a place way up high, beautiful, a small nest right in front of the most magnificent pyramid in the Feltre Dolomites. It's extremely sunny and, as early as the end of January when the days begin to stretch the sun shines on the peaks just enough to pleasantly inundate the rock face with light and warmth when, lower down, shade and ice reign supreme. Eroi fragili rises upwards for 30m along a slightly overhanging wall and is cleanly split, luckily or unluckily so, into two sections by a good rest.
The first section is very varied and fun and not particularly demanding, serves as an excellent warm up and its end leads to a break which enables you to get ready for the final section which is "decidedly" abnormal for a slab. This last section is rather physical, not technical at all, a sort of "Campus Board" on good crimps, bar the finish where you have to suddenly remember that you're on a normal slab which in some way or other makes the grade.
After having freed Stramonio 8c last year I laid hands on the old project I'd bolted there, right next to it. I swapped almost all the bolts and gave the route a severe clean. Unfortunately I didn't get much time to try it seriously because the rains started, rendering the central section unclimbable. But nevertheless I managed to understand what lay in store and had succeeded in climbing both sections separately. But that central meter remained unclimbed and it simply didn't want to dry out.
Then the winter came... I didn't train much and I didn't even climb for three months. It was a sort of hibernation, an attempt to heal old injuries and scars. And so the first day back on the route proved shocking. The second, too. Slowly but surely though my finger strength returned and I managed to climb the single moves, all that was missing was enough stamina. When I climbed it with just one rest I understood the route's secret. Now all I needed was patience. Perhaps I'd be successful after all.
The other day was one of those days when you get up and the last thing you want to do is climb. A couple of laps on the climbing wall confirmed that I'd have been better off stacking wood but by now I'd got it all organised, even if I didn't remotely hope it would serve as good training.
It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, the wind pushed the clouds in one direction only, and after four o'clock the sun disappeared, leaving the rock luke warm and dry, almost perfect. I didn't even warm up too much, it seemed useless, and I set off... The first section felt particularly easy and I reached the rest feeling incredibly good. So I shook out for as long as possible before setting up the crux section.
I climbed the first boulder problem perfectly, but from here onwards the lights can go out in an instant. I continued climbing... began to believe, I even caressed the final hold and then... I was in the void, fell even further than I thought I would as a "maillon rapide" had opened. Perhaps I should really go back home, I was annoyed, I had held the final hold, it simply isn't possible to throw a route away like that I thought to myself. But then I considered what I'd just done and I decided to be extremely happy, I'd already climbed more than I thought possible.
The sun had left the crag and in the shade it seemed a lot colder. I decided to give the route another go and we lit a fire. After 50 minutes I set off again, reached the rest, more tired than before but I didn't really feel too bad. I had trouble on the first boulder crux but continued, not concentrated because I felt as if I didn't really stand a chance. Perhaps it's because of this that I reached the final moves once again.
I was completely calm, executed the final sequence perfectly but reached up wrongly and only just managed to stick the final edge with a tiny bit of skin. My body began to warp dangerously, unfortunately it's something which happens all too often, something which I've felt many times before but from below came a "STICK IT!!!" Just a couple of millimetres of skin had kept me clinging on but that STICK IT!!!, a times even ridiculous, made me stick to the rock. My thumb managed to reach the other fingers and I the belay.
Maurizio "Manolo" Zanolla
I would like to thank those who accompanied and had enough patience to belay me: Zorten, Walter, Giacomo and Cristina
Thanks to: La Sportiva, Grivel, Montura
To reach the base of the crag in Val Noana (Primiero Dolomites, between Imer and Mezzano) where the first reach the sector Pindoli (5 minutes from the road), walk rightwards beneath the base and scramble up the obvious scree gully to reach the forest above the crag. From here continue up the narrow gully to the obvious path which leads to the crag. Stramonio and Eroi Fragili is reached by ascending the fixed rope (walk-in: 15/20 minutes from the road). The crag is somewhat exposed and recommended for experts, as there are circa a dozen routes from 7b to 8c.