Mayan Smith-Gobat repeats Donnafugata on Torre Trieste, Dolomites
Mayan Smith-Gobat, together with David Falt, has made the third free ascent of Donnafugata on Torre Trieste, Civetta, Dolomites. 750m, 8a in a ground-up, in a 32 hour single push with no bivy gear. Falt provides the report.
Donnafugata, the master line up the immense Torre Trieste in the Civetta range of the Italian Dolomites has received a notable, important repeat by Mayan Smith-Gobat from New Zealand and David Falt from Sweden who in a 32-hour push climbed the line on 19 and 20 July. Established by Christoph Hainz and Roger Schäli in 2004, first freed by Mauro Bubu Bole in 2007 and subsequently repeated by Andrej Grmovsek and Luka Krajnc in June 2009, despite its beauty this amazing 750m line has only seen a handful of ascents. In all likelihood Mayan Smith-Gobat's repeat is merely the third free ascent and what makes her ascent all the more remarkable is that she managed to on-sight all but two of the pitches on this 23-pitch outing, which were then sent second go. David Falt for his part led a few of the easier lower pitches and seconded all but two pitches which he jugged with jumars. At this point we should add that this is the first female ascent of this superb route, but allow us to say that what the highly talented Kiwi - best known for her massive El Capitan free ascents in Yosemite – achieved is a beautiful and important undertaking, regardless of gender.
DONNAFUGATA by David Falt
As a team we want to start by collectively lifting our hats off to the creators Christoph Hainz and Roger Schäli who had the vision and energy to open such an incredible route on such an imposing wall. Donnafugata must be rated as one of the most interesting challenges in the Dolomites and we truly believe this route deserves far more credit and ascents. Yes it's exposed, but fairly safe compared to some of the other amazing Christoph Hainz creations I have climbed in the Dolomites.
We reached Rifugio Vazzoler at around 8pm on the 18th of July. At 4.15am we left the hut and at around 5am we started climbing. We brought an ultra lightweight backpack that we duct-taped so we'd be able to haul it. We carried no bivy gear and only two liters of electrolyte water plus a few bars and energy gels.
We arrived at the top of pitch 14, just below the 8a crux pitch at around 2pm. Here we stopped and relaxed for about 20 minutes and then headed up what we thought was the 6b+ corner before the 8a pitch. However, we were off-route, too far to the right on a old classic, so after some scouting around and some wild traversing to the left we managed to rap back down to the belay at the top of P14 and traversed to the correct belay of Donnafugata.
Mayan set off on what we now thought was the 6b+ pitch but she soon understood that she was on the 8a pitch and that previously we must have unintentionally linked P13 (7b) and 14 (6b+). After climbing and figuring out the moves Mayan lowered off and rested for about an hour or so, then headed back up in her smaller red Dragons we had brought specially for this pitch. Although she climbed smoothly to clip the chain at around 7.15pm, Mayan stated “ I felt very tired before heading up the pitch, and was doubtful that I could climb it that attempt. However once on the pitch I felt solid through the first part of the pitch, although I really had to dig deep, fight and keep perfect mental focus to make the last 10m meters to the chains!”
I then jugged up to the belay and we had a look at the following pitch, but given the lateness of the hour we decided we'd best rap back down to the comfortable ledge just below and spend the night there in order to rest. And recover as much as you possible since we had little food water and no bivy gear... Mayan wanted to give herself the best possible chances to on-sight the remaining three difficult pitches graded 6c, 7a, 7b.
Just before 6am the next morning we both jugged back up to the belay of P15 and Mayan headed off on the 6c… This proved a hard one! I jugged this pitch. The next pitch is a hard 7a followed by THE last hard pitch graded 7b. Let's just say you need to be one hell of a climber or beta monster to do this one on-sight. Mayan did it second go and without going into details it would be fair to say that you need to give as much as you did for for the 8a pitch... It’s a hard technical pitch on amazing holds and there are some scars so either some holds broke off or it's a 7b sandbag to say the least!
The following pitches are nice but on P20 we managed to get lost once again as the line became much less obvious at this point. So after wasting some time trying to get on the right line we finally ended up in a chimney system, about the same grade as the last three pitches of Donnafugata but probably far less nice… We toped out at around 1pm with a few drops of water and half a food bar. Only the descent to go… We were back at the Vazzoler hut at around 5pm after a total of 38 hours on the move.
The route is of exceptional quality and the climbing is sustained on mostly good rock with some very technical and demanding pitches even if they are in the 7th grade. As far as we know this was the 3rd free ascent and first female ascent and what is most likely one the hardest climbs ever by a woman ground-up in the Dolomites.
It is worth noting that we had virtually no information other than a picture taken from our computer screen and the description on the planetmountain.com as well as a the grades of the individual pitches scribbled down onto a small piece of paper...
As Mayan's partner and with some previous Dolomites experience I cannot express how impressive this effort was by Mayan. She had to dig deep both mentally and physically to pull off such a huge effort on such a committing undertaking. To be part of this world-class effort was epic fun!
Mayan Smith-Gobat began climbing aged 16. She became the first climber in New Zealand to climb 8a, then 8b, 8b+ and in 2009 8c with her redpoint of L’arcademicien ar Ceuse in France. She is known above all for her big wall ascents which include the second female ascent of the legendary Salathé Wall up El Capitan in Yosemite.
Born in 1970, David Falt is a Swedish alpinst based in France. David has been on a few Himalaya expeditions with attempts to Shani Peak in 1989, Hunza Peak in 1991, G4 2009 and Kwangde North Face in winter 2010. David has has climbed in Patagonia and extensively in the Alps in winter where among other things he has climbed Gabarrou Silvy on Sans Nom (ED3 WI6 6c M7 A1, 1000m) in a day in winter. David has also previously climbed in the Dolomites where he has done The Fish and Tempi Moderni on Marmolada South Face, The Swiss route on Cima Ovest, The Hasse Brandler on Cima Grande, Da Corte Vecchio Aldo – Nobile 7c+ on Cima Picolissima.
Mayan Smith-Gobat would like to thank her sponsors: Adidas, Five Ten, Petzl, Ems power cookies and Blue Water ropes.
David Falt would like to thank his sponsors: Metolius, Patagonia, MOON Climbing and Cliff Bar.