|At the end of October and start of November the Italian Mountain Guide Pietro Dal Prà travelled to Sardinia to climb "Hotel Supramonte" (8b max - 7c obl.). The route was established by Rolando Larcher and Roberto Vigiani in 1998 in the Gole di Gorropu and was repeated by Stefan Glowacz earlier this year. On 3/11/2000 Pietro Dal Prà managed the third ascent and in doing so also freed the 5th pitch.
Pietro's thoughts about his climb are published below and are followed by those of Paolino Tassi who recounts things from the "privileged" belayer's perspective.
|"I'm in Sardinia enjoying life and what this island has to offer, and everything is made even more enjoyable after a great climb. So here I am, enjoying the local "cannonau" wine, the pecorino cheese and going for quick dips in the sea, thinking about the fantastic climb I freed a few days ago in the Gole del Gorropu.
"Hotel Supramonte" is an excellent route, one of those that are great fun and immensely satisfying, that really are worth travelling to. Beat Kammerlander , an old hand at playing around on things like this and still madly in love with all types of climbing , was the ideal partner for this massive, beautiful wall on the Punta Cucuttos.
It is situated in an isolated and highly evocative canyon and for three days we really enjoyed ourselves, climbing for two days and taking photos the third.
Pietro dal Prà and Lynn Hill
photo F. Tremolada
The impressive wall at Punta Cucuttos
photo N. Hobley
|On my second attempt I managed to climb the hardest section which had already been freed. The third pitch, given 8b, is no more than 8a+ in my opinion and the same grade as the next pitch. The fifth pitch hadn't been freed and it was obviously the hardest section of the route. It is less overhanging and physical than the lower pitches but more technical and far more fingery than muscular. Even though the crux section is very short I reckon it's 8b.
When Beat "abandoned" me to go off climbing with his girlfriend I managed to convince a great friend of mine, Paolino Tassi, to climb the route with me. He hadn't climbed much recently because of an accident but with his help I worked the crux pitch. When I had all the moves I was too exhausted and my fingers too trashed, so we spent two days at the seaside before returning.
The Sardinian holiday atmosphere had got to us and we started really late, especially since we didn't think we'd climb the entire route. But that day I climbed well and I sent all the pitches first go, including the hardest pitch. Lorenzo Nadali was next to us on a static rope - he had climbed the massive aid route "Isolitudine" immediately to the right of "Hotel Supramonte" and was now busy taking photos.
|When I freed the fifth pitch it was getting late and I decided I had to finish the route at all costs, so I asked Lorenzo to attach his clothes and what little food he had to the fixed rope that came down on the opposite side of the canyon. I on-sighted the sixth and seventh pitch and reached the eighth, two relatively easy pitches away from the finishing pedestal, but it was too dark to continue without a headtorch. At 17.30 I abseiled into the dark to the beautiful niche that gave the route its name and waited for the night to end, without a sleeping bag and with hardly anything to eat. When day broke I climbed the final pitches feeling sleepy and dazed, and then abseiled back down the route.
"Hotel Supramonte" is a really special route (my congratulations to Rolando Larcher and Roberto Vigiani) which, even though it takes a steeply overhanging line, is never too physical. All the hardest sequences, apart from those on the fifth pitch, don't require much intuition. The bolts are spaced like those at a crag - they get more run-out higher up, but never excessively so. This route is a pleasure to climb and I recommend it to anyone who is good enough, especially the really strong climbers of the latest generation.
Some technical advice: take three or four long quickdraws or slings to reduce the rope drag. Fix a 60m rope between the second and fourth pitch if you want to work the route, since this is helpful for the abseil. If you go when there is little daylight, like I did, then start early!
Bye and have good fun climbing"
Pietro Dal Pra
The start of the Gole di Gorropu
photo N. Hobley
|"A view from below", or the hard life of the belayer
by Paolo Tassi
Well, in the beginning it should only have been four pitches, two abseils, perhaps I'd get to see some impressive falls like three days ago, and my day's work belaying would have finished. The idea of being capitulated into space, after months of being forced to remain horizontal, caused my stomach to turn a bit but jumaring four pitches would be O.K.
But that day Pierino was transformed. He climbed like caterpillar, everything looked so easy - it was harder for me to jumar than for him to cling onto those tiny holds. While I was in the hanging belay rolling up cigarettes I heard Piero recite the moves like a rosary, and he didn't get any of them wrong! Then, finally, on the fifth pitch, the one with the impressive falls… a cigarette, a pat on the back, Pierino who completely chalks his hansds up and off he goes… with plenty of slack, I'm ready for his whipper, the abseil and the sea…
But no, spread out like Nutella on a slice of bread he reaches up, steps high, crouches low and reaches the top! Fantastic! And what now?
After thinking for a second he invites me to sleep in the Hotel and the keys to the room are my jumars. What can I do?I can't take this toy away from him, he's simply too happy. Let's go! He continues his dance and I my pirouettes in space. Soon we arrive at the Hotel, one more pitch though before going to sleep, so that everything is ready for the next day.
The room reserved for us is beautiful and our dinner, not the best to say the least, sets our minds adrift in a thousand directions, thinking about the climb, friendships, climbing partners and more. What a great world it is up here. The next day, after two more pitches, we reach the finishing pedestal: this route is exactly the opposite from all others I've ever climbed.
All things considered it was a great adventure, I was able to admire where the best climbers climb, I lost all sense of direction dangling in space, and I was part of one of my friend's Great Days, in a fantastic world…
(above: Paolo Tassi - (photo arch. Guide Alpine Cortina)
interview with Pietro Dal Prà, January 99