Baba Jaga, new aid climb up Pinnacolo di Maslana
The report by Diego Pezzoli about the first ascent of Baba Jaga (V 6a A2+, 180m),a new aid climb up the Maslana pinnacle, above Valbondione, Italy.
Probably the first modern aid climb in the valleys above Bergamo in Northern Italy. This, in brief, is Baba Jaga, the aid climb established between 2013 and this year up the splendid Pinnacolo di Maslana by Diego Pezzoli – on a roll after his aid climbing in Russia and Norway – together with Alberto Gentili, Eros Milesi and Pietro Cocchetti. This 4-pitch outing breaches difficulties up to V 6a and A2+, and obviously requires a vast selection of RURPs, Beaks, Hooks, Heads, Lost Arrow as well as nuts, micronuts, Friends etc.
BABA JAGA di Diego Pezzoli
An afternoon of few years ago, I was walking into the woods that leads to the Serio’s Falls through the picturesque village of Maslana.
It was an autumnal day, gray and misty, so much that I immediately lost the trail.
Suddenly, as I arrived at now at a channel, I noticed on the left side upstream, a strange construction. It was very foggy, but I'm sure that what appeared in front of me, even at that distance, was placed on two huge chicken legs.
Intrigued, I went into the wilderness. It was getting thicker and thicker, as much as the darkness that blew out all my doubts, so much to forcing me to spend the night in the cold, accompanied by terrifying noises.
Unexpectedly, a white dressed man riding a horse with white harness went through at full gallop and a bright dawn surprised me. So I continued to walk on towards the supposed house driven by the desire to know and clarify what I had seen. At a certain point I saw t another night coming at trot, this time all decked out in red on a red horse.
The sun rose then up.
Only late in the evening, after passing the grassy slopes, hard rocks, a thunderstorm and hail, I get to the upsetting home. I don’t hide, fear had taken possession of me, when unexpectedly a last knight all black dressed arrived on a black horse. It became night again.
A strong wind started to blow, trees and rustling leaves announced the arrival of a scary witch. The woman was traveling on a flying mortar with a pestle in his hands which she used as a rudder and a silver birch broom with which she erased the traces behind her.
Baba Jaga, that was his name
Actually she was following me and she put me through harsh tests from a long time. She sensed that I was searching for knowledge with all my strength.
Indeed, I unwittingly wanted her help. Usually, it’s a dangerous action that requires preparation and purity of spirit.
The old omniscient woman, lady of time, of death and life, decides to save me, and in order to reward me for my perseverance, she gives me even a tool similar to a claw, saying that in the future it will be helpful and it will help me to deal with very difficult situations.
For fear of not being taken seriously, I didn’t tell anyone that experience ...
Believe in the beauty of our own dream
It all began three years ago when I discovered the aid climbing ...
The idea of opening a route on the east wall of the Pinnacle of Maslana fascinated me, especially because of the steep smooth wall and because no one had still put his hand on it.
A couple of years went by, and before me my friend Fulvio and his mates went on that wall opening the awesome and difficult route "La Fiamma", further increasing the urge to throw myself on that jutting wall.
So, coming back from a great trip in Norway, I called Alberto Gentili, a strong aid climber, asking to join me for this new vertical trip.
We started at the end of August, a Saturday after lunch, loaded as if we should never come back, towards the predetermined goal. in the background a beautiful sun, not even a cloud.
I have identified more or less the line and we decide, even if it's late, to start the first pitch.
After a first flake/crack climbable with cams, even if it sounds empty because it is a big flake stuck on the wall, one brushstroke at its end indicates on the left the way to follow; armed with a lead and chisel, put into Michelangelo’s shoes, I skillfully work on it making it adhere completely to the wall.
I'm proud of myself, it's a great job and I got slowly over on it after having previously tested; two cliff after I decide to put a bolt because I believe that if I felt it this point I would go crashing into the flake sorting out a lot of hurt.
I’m safe, but now it's late and, with Alberto, we decided to go to the cave and get ready for the night.
I cannot remember ever having been so warm, I slept with only his boxers over the sleeping bag, and during the night, a dormouse went on my feet: Baba Jaga began to make feel her presence.
The next day we wake up early and we start again from where I had rappel down; after several cliff, rivets, pecker, rurp, three bolts and some cams, that engage for about five hours, I reach the solarium through 45 meters of a beautiful and technical pitch.
The sky was completely clouded and a threatening storm is approaching. After about twenty minutes from when Albert joined me at the belay point, it starts to rain. We're rappelling from the grassy slope under the start of the route and even the hail hits us with violence. We arrive at the cave completely soaked and we think this is still fault of the old witch who wants us to give up from our goal, so we go back home under the rain, but in anyway happy for the result so far.
A few weeks later, full of enthusiasm, we return to the route, but this time with just one day available. The approach is always painful, for the very heavy loads, but the desire to put the hands on the second length make feel zero fatigue.
I ask Alberto if he wants to go on with the next pitch, but it’s a period in which he’s confused and he doesn’t feel like venturing ... there’s a hand of a woman! So I go on, from the belay of “La Fiamma” at the solarium I move to the left a few meters, I climb up and put a couple of cliffs, I plant a pecker, I get up in the stirrups and I place a micronut, take off from 'the harness a lead and smear it into a crack. I have to be calm, I cannot make mistakes, a misstep now and I would end up with my back on the ledge to the left of the solarium.
I run the test on the lead as from a manual and I go over it. As I get up a little I place a micronut and a great pecker saving my ass. I keep going on placing more pecker, cliffs, one bolt, rurp, piton, other cliff, rivets and put another bolt.
The sky is still gloomy and the wind blows a lot. Having cold, I ask Alberto to give me the jacket with the rope of service. However, while dressing, the camera falls out and it runs through the southern edge, tossing here and there. Enervated from what was happened, but mostly because Albert doesn’t feel very good, we decided to go down and go back home. I am increasingly sure it's still the fault of the witch.
Unbelievably, and for my happiness, the camera reported no serious damage.
Alberto, for above-mentioned problems and for work commitments in the weekend, won’t be able to assist me in the end the way but I'll keep it updated step by step.
Several Saturdays after I go back with my friends Eleonora (Lola!) Delnevo and Antonio Giudici to climb another ten meters of the second and endless pitch. I reach a slab and I decide to free climb it, but I don’t have brought with me the climbing shoes. … the usual disorganized guy!
Sure to come back the day after I leave all the materials to the solarium. Obviously the weather will get worse just walked to the cave to start! Luckly, more than me, but with the intent to climb other routes to the Pinnacle, Pietro Cocchetti, Eros Milesi, Davide Maida and Andrea Gnecchi came to the Pinnacle. They will be helping me as sherpas to carry the material down.
Eros will help me after to make the final piece of free climbing (a 5’6 meters of an exposed slab) and to equip the belay of the second pitch.
Weeks still go by, the snow covers the mountains and we are in November.
I don’t want to give up before the end of the year and that's how I still ask Eros for help, he follows allowing me to make the third pitch: a beautiful oblique cross, where move, and a little of fear, by placing my usual wizardry wrapped in a striking and frightening foggy weather, on a day when the sun should have sent a note of apologies.
I put a new anchor belay and I see the pines about fifteen meters from me. I would like to continue, but it's late, so we go down again on a glorious aerial rappelling, with fifty meters we arrive exactly on the solarium.
I cannot resist, in the following days I often contacts Eros, and I take a day off from work and the 27th of November we go to the Pinnacle. The strategy is to climb New Age, descend from the summit to stop at the third anchor belay and bring the witch to account.
We thought we had everything under control, already with the taste of victory ... we start climbing New Age with -6 ° C and two backpacks beautifully loaded; the first pitch goes fine, but in the second pitch Eros, an easy slab but poorly protectable, having a shoe wet from the snow, falls for ten meters and stops with his back on a plant next to me.
Luckily the backpack work as a pillow cushioning the fall!
He feels pain and feels a little hard to breathe, so we call the helicopter, which promptly reaches us and carries him to the hospital. He would manage with bruises and no broken bones; that’s a hard young climber!
Going down, I am worried for my mate who hesitate to tell me about his condition, I always think of her: Baba Jaga. I know, there still her putting me in probation! Damn it!
2013 comes to an end.
The winter goes by, months as well, and in June, coming back from a great trip in Yosemite, we return again to the attack, this time me and Pietro Cocchetti.
We respect the original plan to climb New Age, and come down to the belay of the third pitch. I leave to Peter the command, even if he never made aid climbing. I explain a few things to him hanging in the air, place the Russian stirrups at the knees, and the say to him what to do in every step.
He manage it very well and brings me to the summit with a nice pitch of twenty meters.
I climb the pitch cleaning it up and join him with a smile of joy; a big hug to celebrate the beautiful climb and satisfaction for both. Then run down to the car.
Baba Jaga has allowed us to meet her and this time it was for us a source of advice ... I hope it's the same for future adventurers
Thanks for their valuable contribution to: Eleonora Delnevo, Antonio Giudici, Davide Maida, Andrea Gnecchi, GianPietro Rodari.
A special thanks to: Grande Grimpe www.grandegrimpe.it, Krukonogi www.krukonogi.com, Totemcams www.totemcams.com, Zamberlan www.zamberlan.com, Climbing Technology www.climbingtechnology.it
TOPO: Baba Jaga, Pinnacolo di Maslana