|Cristian Brenna, best known for his interminable list of hard sport routes and excellent competition results, is currently searching for something new. This quest has led him to the Mount Sibillines National Park, where on 20 November he made a headpoint ascent of Is not always Pasqua, Italy's hardest trad route, first climbed by Mauro Calibani in October 2002, and graded E9 7a. |
His ascent, as Cristian writes, wasn't the coolest. Then again, there'll be a good reason why these routes are labelled "hard", won't there?
Is not always pasqua E9 7a
by Cristian Brenna
It's strange putting sensations down on pen and paper after having done a route. I dreamt of repeating Is not always pasqua as soon as I saw Mauro's photos, and every time we met this dream was fuelled by his adventurous stories of climbing the line.
I spent two days working the route, trying to find a sequence that best suited me under Mauro's guidance. At the end of the second day I managed to climb the entire route on toprope, now all that was missing was the ascent from below.
On Thursday 20 November, after a rest day, I find myself at the base of the route once more, together with Mauro, Amanda for the photos and Ric for the video. After warming up I abseil down the line to place the gear, and unlike Mauro I use a no. 5 Friend which seems safer... other than that the pro is identical.
I wait for half an hour and then start, reach the rest before the first crux section, and then continue through the hard moves, admittedly not particularly well, but then again this is the hardest section. I clip the friend and nut and start off once more, climb through the second crux and suddenly I'm on the slab above. But without realising what happens I... fall. All I can do is shout s "lower off" and, feet firmly back on the ground, shout...
I try to analyse what went wrong and I realise that I had put too much weight on my right smear; it slipped off and down I went. Mauro, Amanda and Ric try to calm me down and for about 20 minutes we even manage to laugh about it. Although, looking back now, there's not too much to laugh about as you can seriously hurt yourself.
I start off again and this time all goes well, or almost, because as i climb the nut slips out of the pocket. I would have fallen onto only the friend, but thankfully I don't and suddenly I'm on top shouting for joy. I lower off and clean the route, leaving it in its original state. With just a few additional chalk marks.
About the grade. I have no experience of English grades and therefore cannot confirm the E9 7a. But on a French scale, I can confirm it relates to F8b, or Fb 7c/7c+ boulder.
Is Not Always Pasqua - But at times Easter comes early.
by Cristian Brenna