What does climbing mean to you?
I'm in love with climbing because of the beauty of the moves, because of the sensations it gives me and the feeling of freedom I experience. And this is even more the case, the higher up I am! There are many single elements which, put together, make this sport unique: the actual physical movements, the fascination surrounded with achieving a goal, the natural beauty of the climbing areas, and so on ...
After 15 years of climbing, I continue to discover something previously unknown, unimagined. It's incredible! So every time I go climbing I expect something new, unexplored - even when I repeat the same routes in my local crag. Skiing doesn't give me this sensation - only climbing does!
Some may argue that this is because climbing is my passion, but I'm convinced that, objectively speaking, climbing offers something more - how else could you explain why so many people really live for this sport.
That what pushes me to climb and do dangerous routes is also, in part, an ideal. The need to live experiences which in some way are greater than everyday life. The need, every now and then, to scream, to be, to feel profoundly different, on a higher plane. This is certainly the big psychological difference between a sports climber and a "complete" climber.
Can you give us some examples of "complete" climbers?
I have great respect for Yuji Hirayama as a sports climber - at the moment he's the best. He wins the World Cup, is really strong at bouldering and all types of sports routes. And he trained for two years to do Salathè onsight and did it in indisputable style, probably one of the greatest achievements in climbing!
Another is Lynn Hill, who excels all-round, too. Her ascent of the Nose was an incredible feat. The idea of climbing all 35 pitches in a single push was inspirational. Yuji tried to repeat this but, even though he's stronger, he failed. For once, morphological factors played an important role.
A third is Beat Kammerlander; I went to the Rätikon with him last year. It's an incredible place, a suspended valley. Beat's one of the few to do certain things - for that he's really impressive. I tried his Silbergeier (multi-pitch 8b+ climbed from the ground up) which I'd love to do next summer. There are enormous run-outs and 20m falls! You really need to able to climb to do his routes - you need nerves of steel, stamina and great technique. Perhaps this too is what "complete" climbing is all about.
Above all though, I have the greatest respect for all those who try to bring high technical standards into the mountain environment; there it's not always possible to eliminate the risk factor - especially in the Dolomites.
Pietro at Toulumne Meadows
What do you mean by a "complete" climber?
Someone who excels in all different mountain environments, someone who feels just at home on granite as on limestone, on single pitches as well as multi-pitches, on big walls or boulders. This, aside from the number of meters or the danger of the pitch, is what I mean by a "complete" climber.
In Yosemite in 1997 I did Salathè in two days. The next day I climbed Midnight Lightening. Then, three days later, I did my hardest onsight in Tuolomne Meadows (Clash of the Titans, 5.13b), which has bolts but also requires nuts for protection.
That, for me, is "complete" climbing.
Pietro leading Variante Italia, Marmolada, Dolomites
Do you have any projects, any dreams?
When I think about climbing, I always dream about the mountains, not the summit itself, but the complete experience. This is partly because they've always been the most rewarding, and partly because I devote less time to them. I dream about massive walls, like returning to Patagonia, but certainly not to put up something extreme.
Time, money and finding the right partners are always a problem, but luckily there are still some great things left to do in the Dolomites and the Alps. I bought a drill last year, after my Rätikon experience; it'd be great to open some routes in a similar style.