After the first free ascent of Free Itaca at the hands of Cristian Brenna and Marzio Nardi, the Valle dell'Orco is in the limelight once again. This time its thanks to 22-year-old Didier Berthod, who has freed the trad route "Greenspit" above the village of Rosone.
The line, a 12m horizontal crack, was bolted in the 1980s and left incomplete with a belay at mid route. In August this year Berthod removed the bolts and, adding one on the ledge above the lip, tried to free the pitch armed with a series of friends. Then, on 14 September, the Swiss managed to link the painful series of handjams to the belay. Congratulations.
Didier suggests the following about the route grade: "This route could correspond to a 5.14a (8b+) in THE valley... (Yosemite, Editors Note). Indeed, the grades of crack routes on each side of the Atlantic are very different. For example, famous routes such as «Entrez dans la Légende» (8a/5.13b) or «Les Intouchables» (7c+/5.13a), both located in the Mont-Blanc massif, would rather fit a 7b/5.12b grade! The lack of experience of this kind of climbing can explain a part of the gap. With difficulties of 5.14a/8b+ on trad, "Greenspit" is without a doubt one of the most difficult crack climbs in Europe. The redpoint was done with pre-placed gear. European crack grading would possibly suggest a 9a... To reflect this huge gap I decided to grade it 5.14 (8b+/9a). Repeats will make this more precise..."
On limestone Didier has climbed various 8c's and one 8c+. Granite cracks include "Phoenix" (Yosemite, 5.13a), "Cosmic Debris" (Yosemite, 5.13b), the first ascent of "L'Histoire sans Fin" (Petit clocher du Portalet, Switzerland,), and the first ascent of "Ave Ceasar" (Petit clocher du Portalet, Switzerland, 7c).