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Simone Saiu climbing Venuto al Mondo (6b+, 6a+ obbl).
Photo by Corrado Pibiri
The XIII pillar of Doloverre di Surtana with th routes Seven Cams, Patty and Venuto al Mondo
Photo by Maurizio Oviglia
From the top of Seven Cams one can see onto Tiscali.
Photo by Maurizio Oviglia
The famous Surtana limestone. On pitch 4 of Seven Cams.
Photo by Maurizio Oviglia

Sardinia: Doloverre di Surtana, 4 new rock climbs

11.12.2013 by Maurizio Oviglia

Maurizio Oviglia covers the latest news about Doloverre di Surtana, the most popular multi-pitch climbing area in Sardinia.

Doloverre Surtana, or simply Surtana as all climbers tend to call it, is certainly the most popular place in Sardinia for long multi-pitch rock climbing. This is undoubtedly due to the difficulty of the routes, as most are in the region of grades 4, 5 and 6, the sheer beauty of the limestone that has no rivals elsewhere on the island and the length of the climbs as these are rarely longer than 5/6 pitches. And, last but not least, there's that easy access...

But let's start at the very beginning for the benefit of those who don't know this small vertical paradise. Surtana is a (relatively) small valley in the Supramonte massif that connects the large valleys of Oddoene (Dorgali) and Lanaitto (Oliena). On the Lanaitto side lies Tiscali, the famous village that perhaps deserves somewhat more international attention than it has seen in the past (only recently have attempts been made to stop the looting, for example)... The sidse of this this circa 2km woody valley are bordered by thirteen beautiful limestone pillars, most on the south side, some on the north... It was Alessandro Gogna who catalogued them with Roman numerals and reported about the routes for the first time in his rock climbing "bible" Mezzogiorno di Pietra.

The first routes on Surtana were forged by a group of Roman climbers, namely Fabrizio Antonioli, Massimo Frezzotti, Fabio Delisi and Olimpia Iorio who in the seventies climbed the easier routes that still today are extremely popular, in particular for those learning the basics of rock climbing and those in search of quiet, classic routes. At the end of the eighties and during the early days of sport climbing therefore, two important pillars were bolted from above, namely "Patty" (presumably Smith) and "Trans Surtana Express". Shortly afterwards the Remy brothers got up to their usual tricks and left their mark with the beautiful "Coup d’Epée" and "Porc et Pique", both on the Trans Surtana pillar. In the years that followed noteworthy routes include "The Sound of Silence" by Paolo Pezzolato from Trieste and "Paradise" by Swissman Louis Piguet who bolted this line from above. Talking of paradise: it's interesting to see how often this word recurs in the Surtana route names... More recently, there have been numerous interesting new additions by the partnerships Pibiri - Erriu and Bruno Vitale - Giorgio Mallucci (two Romans once again!).

New routes have been established on a regular basis over the last few years - proving how important this magnificent area is for European climbers - and despite there being more than 50 routes there is still plenty of potential for new stuff. It is with this in mind that I'll now introduce four new routes climbed not long ago, two on the easy and obvious north pillars, strangely (and probably) never climbed before, and another two on the XII and XII south pillars.

The first two routes were put up by Sebastiano Motta and Carla Preveri. On 23 September they climbed "Paradiso Ritrovato", 160m up to grade V on the I pillar on the N side, just beyond the Monte Oddeu arête. The next day and on the north facing XI pillar they put up "Sa serra ‘e Tiscali". Once again classic grade IV terrain, 320m high. Both routes have no in-situ gear and the first ascentionists hope they remain like this.

The route put up by Maurizio Oviglia and Fabio Erriu on 14 November is a slightly more complex affair. Located opposite Sa Serra ‘e Tiscali, it climbs along the edge of the XIII pillar, close to an old two-pitch sport climb. Apart from one 10m section, the new "Seven cams" is totally independent and clean, i.e. it needs protecting with trad gear. The name comes from the only gear the first ascentionists had that day (since they hadn't planned on climbing something new) while the difficulties are max VI+ (VI obl) in 170m. Last but not least, the latest gift comes from Corrado Pibiri who, with new entry Simone Saiu, put up "Venuto al mondo" to the right of "Patty". Once again 5 pitches, this time bolt protected, with difficulties up to 6b+ (6a+ obl). Some nuts and friends up to 3BD will be found useful.

Surely though, as I write, someone is already thinking about adding another new route to Surtana. Given the season, this would be a great present to put under the tree. Maybe even a nice Supramonte oak tree.

by Maurizio Oviglia

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