New modern mixed climb in Valnontey
The 12-13/1/2013 Enrico Bonino, Giancarlo Bazzocchi, Elio Bonfanti and Andrea Fazzari made the first ascent of "Dio li Fa... e poi li accoppia" 60m, M5 WI5 5c + RX) a new mixed climb in Valnontey (Cogne, Valle d'Aosta, Italy).
"When we repeated "Sogno di uno gnomo" the week beforehand, we couldn't help but notice the line to the right, which alternated sections of rock and ice up a 200 metre high face." The "place" is the Valnontey and the new line established over two days by Enrico Bonino, Giancarlo Bazzocchi, Elio Bonfanti and Andrea Fazzari up the gully immediately to the right of "Sogno di uno gnomo, the beautiful icefall first climbed in 1993 by A. Graffi and P. Tamagnini. The new route stands out for its beauty, its perfect frozen corner on pitch 5 and also the need, as Enrico Bonino explains in his report "a certain experience in placing nuts, friends and pegs."
DIO LI FA… E POI LI ACCOPPIA by Enrico Bonino
Gian Carlo Bazzocchi and I have now become regular partners (when it comes to alpinism, of course). We share the same ideas, the same enthusiasm and the same vision... when we go travel around just a single glance reveals that we both want to climb "that white streak" above us, often not fully formed, lost somewhere on one of the thousands of faces in the Alps.
Without wishing to seem too arrogant, this year we weren't particularly keen to repeat the "usual" icefalls we've climbed in the past simply because of the unfavourable conditions at the start if winter. Rather, we were motivated by the desire to climb mixed lines and big mountain faces. Climbing in mountains certainly provides the chance to improve and gain experience.... but the winter period for mixed routes at altitude is short and tormented by storms, and what with work and poor weather, the chances to climb up high end up being few and far between. Fortunately more and more dry-tooling areas have been developed over the years (especially abroad by our French cousins...) which enable climbers to improve their technique and their understanding of climbing rock with ice axes, on routes which are protected - some better, some worse - by bolts. What we lack here in Italy - and what can instead be found in Chamonix on the "Rive gauche" of the Argentiere glacier - is a sector where, in addition to technique, climbers can learn how to protect themselves on mixed terrain.
It is in this return to "trad" era that Gian and I have become more and more interested in establishing mixed routes which can really act as a training ground for modern mixed routes at altitude. When we repeated "Sogno di uno gnomo" the week beforehand, we couldn't help but notice the line to the right, which alternated sections of rock and ice up a 200 metre high face. The only question was whether the central section might be worth climbing so as to link the two sections of obvious ice at the start and at the end of the route. As this is exactly how "Dio li fa... e poi li accoppia" came into being: aware of the fact that it might well be a waste of time, we set off to check it out, uphill with the help of our friends Elio Bonfanti and Andrea Fazzari.
The route has a certain logic about it and can be protected almost entirely with trad gear, as was our original aim. Where this proved impossible 3 bolts and a peg drastically reduce the risk of injury. Despite this in-situ gear however, the route requires a certain experience in placing nuts, friends and pegs, especially on the final pitch (... which being up ice may obviously vary depending on conditions!) as the first few metres are steep, delicate and truly dodgy. We thought long and hard about the difficulty of this last pitch so as to grade it properly: the vertical section probably doesn't exceed WI 4+, but due to its fragile nature it requires so much experience that those who climb this grade probably wouldn't succeed here. And so, to avoid unpleasant surprises, we decided to grade it WI 5.
Giampiero Bertotti and Tachi Pesando made the first repeat and were enthusiastic about the route and confirmed both its committing nature and overall beauty. We'd like to thank them once again for having retrieving our ice axed we'd forgotten at the top (hence the name "God makes them... and then puts them together" in reference to me and Gian!). Basking in euphoria after having finished the route and concentrated on sorting out the unstable boulders close to the belay, we made fools of ourselves by leaving our gear on the final belay!
Advice and constructive criticism are always welcome. Have fun climbing!
Thanks as always to the sonsor Scarpa and Patagonia for the gear.
TOPO: Dio li fa... e poi li accoppia, Cogne, Valnontey