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The immense Mazeno Ridge and Nanga Parbat, Pakistan.
Photo by Doug Scott
Aguja Poincenot, Patagonia: here one can get a good perspective of the ramp on Poincenot
Photo by Bjarne Salén
Paul Ramsden, Prow of Shiva ED+, Himalaya
Photo by archive Mick Fowler
Adam Ondra flashing Southern smoke direct 9a at Red River Gorge, USA
Photo by Ales Rozsypal

Alpinism and climbing in 2012 - part 2


Part 2 - from July to December - of what happened in alpinism and climbing in 2012.

- L'alpinismo e l'arrampicata nel 2012 - prima parte
- L'alpinismo e l'arrampicata nel 2012 - seconda parte

July 2012

Mazeno Ridge. The name suffices to evoke the history of Himalayan mountaineering. For decades this ridge which acts as the watershed for two exceptional faces, the Diamir and Rupal face on the extraordinary Nanga Parbat, fuelled the dreams of alpinists worldwide. Difficult, beautiful and long. Eternal even, covering a distance of 10 kilometres and eight peaks over 7000m. On 1 July Sandy Allan, Rick Allen, Cathy O'Dowd and the Sherpa Lhakpa Rangdu, Lhakpa Zarok and Lhakpa Nuru set off on this great journey. They knew that no one before them had managed to traverse the Mazeno Ridge and summit Nanga Parbat: and this is exactly what they had in mind. Their progress could be followed on a daily basis thanks to tweets sent by Cathy O’Dowd and a live map. And, day after day and not without difficulties, the team progressed. On 12 July, after 11 days on the mountain, they set off from their camp at 7160m for the summit. The final act. But by now they were low on food. Tired, with a long and difficult ascent still ahead of them. O'Dowd and Nuru decided to descend back to the last camp. The other 4 continued their summit bid, but were then forced to give up. During the descent to the final camp at 7160m two Sherpa took a frightening fall, fortunately though without serious consequences. At this point, O'Dowd and the three Sherpas opted to descent the Rupal Face down the Schell route and, not without difficulty, managed to reach base camp. Sandy Allan and Rick Allen, however, resisted. Remained up there to attempt the summit once more. The two Himalayan veterans, now practically without food, set off upwards on 14 July. Bivouacked at 7720m. And finally, on 15 July, reached the top. Then the descent to 7720m. Another bivy. Followed by the long and difficult descent down the Diamir Face. Another two bivies, without food or water. On the Kinshofer Face they met the Czech alpinists Marek Holecek and Zdenek Hruby. Then, on July 19 and after 18 days on the mountain, they returned to base camp. Simply memorable! As beautiful and absolutely important as the ascent by Kyle Dempster, Hayden Kennedy (many will remember him for the January bolt removal of the Compressor Route on Cerro Torre) and Urban Novak up the virgin East Face of K7 (Karakorum, Pakistan). And there was more. South Africans Steve Bradshaw, Dave Glass, Clinton Marteningo and Andrew Porter established a series of routes in a style similar to Favresse & Co's "sailing + climbing", including Improbability Drive up the massive Red Wall directly opposite the famous Impossible Wall. While on the theme of big walls, but this time on Baffin Island's Mount Asgard, Ines Papert, Jon Walsh and Joshua Lavigne made the first ascent of Sensory Overload. Baffin was the scene for a 5-star team comprised of Hansjörg Auer, Ben Lepesant, Eneko & Iker Pou, William Peterson, Matteo Mocellin and Riky Felderer who established a handful of new routes including the difficult The Door. Rajceva is the name of the difficult new route put up by Luka Lindic and Andrej Grmovsek on the north face of Krizevnik in Slovenia. While "Inferno con vista", hell with a view, explains all to well the "character" of the new route traced by Gabriel Basile, Cristiano Iurisci and Stefano Supplizi up the massive, uncertain and epic north Face of Monte Camicia (Gran Sasso). The same face where Andrea Di Pascasio and Emanuele Pontecorvo made the first repeat of Vacanze romane, the immense 2070m route established in 1999 by Ezio Bartolomei and Roberto Iannilli. The month continued with David Lama (him again!), Peter Ortner and Corey Rich and their repeat of legendary Eternal Flame on Trango Tower. And with the repeat, on-sight and in 32 hours, of another "mythical" route, Divine Providence up Mont Blanc's Gran Pilier d'Angle by Luka Krajnc and Luka Lindic. This was followed by the "frightful" first solo and the second repeat of Memento Mori at the hands of Rossano Libera; for many this is the most "shocking" ascent on Badile's North East Face. Dazzling news came from Pembroke in Wales where Charlie Woodburn put up Something's Burning, a new trad ascent of E9 7a which Woodburn admitted was a "pulse racer". For her part, Mayan Smith-Gobat travelled to the Dolomites with David Falt to capture a beautiful and rare repeat (probably the third overall) of Donnafugata, the superb route established by Christoph Hainz and Roger Schäli on Torre Trieste. Theirs was a fantastic 32-hour tour de force, climbed on-sight bar 2 pitches sent redpoint. Another noteworthy Dolomite climb was Via degli Angeli up the North Face of Punta di Campiglio by Silvestro and Tomas Franchini and freed at the end of August. In sports climbing, Klemen Becan came up trumps with the first ascent of Fidel Incastro 9a at Grotta Caterina on the outskirts of Trieste. While another cave, the Grotta Mandello above Lecco, witnessed Luca Passini free a route which recounts a lifetime's climbing, Make a wish 8c+. Welcome to Tijuana 8c at Rodellar in Spain marks nothing but the beginning for Brooke Raboutou who followed in her parent's footsteps and, at the tender age of 11, became the youngest climber to have sent this grade. Talking of young child prodigies, even though he is now 19 years old, Adam Ondra continued to be on a different par. And so at Hanshelleren - Flatanger in Norway he sent another two 8c+ on-sights, plus a new 9a+. And then, and this was the real news, in that incredible Flatanger cave Ondra set about creating something new. Needless to say, the project could be nothing but superb and at this point we had to wait to find out more. As we were to see, we wouldn't be disappointed. We were disappointed however, truly disheartened, by the July 12 avalanche which killed 9 mountaineers and injured 11 on Mount Maudit. We thought of them there, at the start of the route that crosses three peaks on its way towards Mont Blanc, during what should have been a day of great happiness. Then, a moment later absolute nothing, everything was swept, overwhelmed. We never get used to this.

August 2012

Along the lines of there are plenty of mountains left to climb, the Ramadhan period began with a new, long and difficult 1100m route forged by the brothers Martin and Florian Riegler up the virgin Kako Peak (4950m) in Pakistan's Karakoram. During the months of July and August Rolando Larcher, Luca Giupponi and Nicola Sartori travelled to the Aladaglar mountain chain in Turkey where they established and freed Nessuno up the north face of Cima Vay Vay and Radio Eksen in Cimbar Valley. The bouldering front (read unsolved problems) is never ending, too, and Dave Graham made swift work of Amandla 8B+ put up by Fred Nicole in Rocklands. A few days earlier, still in South Africa's bouldering paradise, Nalle Hukkataival repeated Oliphants Dawn, another 8B+ problem set by master Fred Nicole. Talking about repeats: 17-year-old Enzo Oddo from France clutched a class hattrick by sending three 9a's in a single week: PPPand Promotion Canne à pêche in the Verdon Gorge and Kick-Ass at the Gorges du Loup. As if to indicate that sport climbing's extreme is there, just waiting to be revolutionised upwards once more. Just like women's climbing which starred Barbara Zangerl once again. She was the first to redpoint End of Silence, that great multi-pitch put up by Thomas Huber on the Feuerhorn. And while London hosted its great Olympic Games, Neil Gresham travelled to Pembroke and put up the hardest Deep Water Solo in Britain: Olympiad. In the Dolomites Giorgio Travaglia and Stefano Valsecchi climbed their Pilastro Parmenide up the South Face of Cima dell'Auta orientale while the two South Tyroleans Alex Walpoth and Martin Dejori made a perfect trad ascent of Africa, the new route on the NE Tower of Meisules. Paolo Spreafico and Fabio Palma checked in with the first repeat of Viva Dulfer, the difficult route climbed by Larcher and Cavallaro up Cima Ghez. Matteo Della Bordella and Giacomo Neri for their part made the first repeat of AlexAnna, the demanding route freed once again by Rolando Larcher up the S Face of Punta Penia (Marmolada). Della Bordella once again, this time with Fabio Palma, made a rare repeat of Baston la Baffe, the important alpine big wall - unjustly little known - established by the Zambetti brothers and Denis Burdet on the Scheideggwettwerhorn in the Bernese Alps. Other repeats included the second ascent of the severe and demanding Quo vadis on Sass dla Crusc at the hands of Enrico Geremia and Andrea Simonini. Christian Gaab, Uli Strunz, Benno Wagner, Toni Lamprecht and Paolo Maldi Dalmasso made the first ascent of Come animali nella bolla dei temporali up the NE Face of Corno Stella, while Roberto Iannilli and Luca D'Andrea forged Compagni dai campi e dalle officine, a new and difficult route up the E Face pof of Corno Grande (Gran Sasso). Ermanno Salvaterra and Chicca Boselli completed I Tre Giganti, the beautiful line Salvaterra had begun with Matteo Bertolotti and Paolo Grisa up the NE Face of Crozzon di Brenta. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world and in the midst of the austral winter, Stephan Siegrist, Thomas Senf and Ralf Weber climbed the Exocet route. In the Peruvian Andes Dutch alpinists Bas van der Smeede, Elly van der Plas, Bas Visscher, Vincent van Beek and Saskia van der Smeede made the first ascent of Poco Loco, a new route on the N Face of Puscanturpa Este (5410m). In Pakistan's Khane Valley the Bulgarians Doychin Boyanov, Tervel Kerelov, Michail Michailov and Nikolay Petkov making the first ascents of Levski Peak (5733m) and Grey Tower (5435m). And Swiss alpinists Basil Jacksch, Christian Ledergerber, Silvan Schüpbach and Vera Reist established four new routes in fine style up the partly untouched peaks in Greenland's remote and almost unexplored Renland area. But, back in the Dolomites, Hansjörg Auer and Much Mayr completed one of the most noteworthy climbs: the first ascent of L'ultimo dei Paracadutisti, that massive route (completely without bolts) up the south Face of the Marmolada established by the legendary team Frizzera, Leoni and Maffei. The loss of Alvise Ravazzolo was truly painful: the young mountaineer from Vicenza was struck by a rock at the foot of Torre del Lago. What remains of August was the end of the Bouldering World Cup 2012 and the great victories of Rustam Gelmanov and Anna Stöhr. In doing so the multiple World Champion won his first World Cup, while the Bouldering Queen completed her hat trick!

October 2012
October started off with a Change by Adam Ondra. For sport climbing fans, this "bombastic" he'd been in the making for a while. Yes, because those of you who've read this report attentively know that the route is that superb "Norwegian" project Mr. Adam had talked about in July. In short, this "change" came into being in the Hanshelleren - Flatanger cave ... at 9b+. Ergo: probably the most difficult way of the world. Without wasting further or making guesses, it's perhaps best to concentrate on what this "monster" did later, during his USA trip to the Red River Gorge. First he flashed a 9a, Southern Smoke Direct. Then, on the same day, he sent two important on-sights: Golden Ticket 8c+ and Pure Imagination which, for all, had been 9a but not for Ondra who felt it to be 8c+. A generous gesture, and also extremely honest, seeing that it would have been the world's first 9a on-sight. Anyhow, he is undoubtedly "on a different par." having said that, one mustn't forget the absolute value of other performances. Such as young New Yorker Ashima Shiraishiwho repeated Southern smoke 8c+ and Lucifer at Red Rive Gorge on the very same day! Or such as Polish climber Aleksandra Taistra who sent the 8c+ Così Fan Tutte at Rodellar, in Spain. And it's imperative to emphasize the beautiful ascent of emerging Italian Silvio Reffo on the difficult 8c+/9a of Il Frutto del Diavolo at Bus de Vela. While Peace and Love, those 80 horizontal moves invented and put together by Simone Pedeferri in Val di Mello's Grotta del Ferro have a "taste" which is difficult to explain with a mere 8c grade. As for the rest, Stefan Glowacz's multi-pitch Verdon project Golden Shower has a rather "different" feel. October brought with it an absolute novelty on the bouldering front: that of little-known Tomoko Ogawa from Japan who, at home in Shiobara, repeated Catharsis 8B+ and in doing so became the first woman to send this grade. Another boulderer worth mentioning is Nicolò Ceria who sent the famous Entlinge 8B+ and L'ombre du vent 8B in Switzerland's Murgtal. Women's achievements were further enhanced by Mayan Smith-Gobat once again who became the first female to send the famous Punks in the Gym(32/8b +) at Arapiles in Australia. Not to be outdone Ines Papert freed Schwarze Madonna at Untersberg in Germany. Freewheeling along the theme of multi-pitches: Silvan Schüpbach made the first free ascent of La Röschtigrabenon the Wendenstöcke, Switzerland. In Austria Roland Hemetzberger freed Südwand on the Karlspitze, probably the hardest trad protected route in Wilder Kaiser massif. On Yosemite's El Capitan Matteo della Bordella made a clean repeat of Freerider, the testing climb put up by Alexander and Thomas Huber. The North Face of Il Tempio, on Mount Sirente in the Central Appennines received attention from Domenico Totani, Cristiano Iurisci, Stefano Supplizi and Gabriele Basile who made the first ascent of Violazione di domicilio. In the Mont Blanc massif a strong team comprised of Julien Desecures, Jon Griffith, Corrado Pesce and Jeff Mercier climbed the "mixed modern" outing Full Love... for dry and ice up Aiguille du Peigne. And in China's remote Shaluli Shan massif Dave Anderson and Szu-ting Yi ascended the unclimbed Kemailong (5870m). In the Manaslu region Serhiy Bublik and Mykola Shymko from the Ukraine made the first ascent of Simnang Himal (6251m) while Slovenian alpinists Nejc Marcic and Luka Strazar - winners of the Piolets d'Or for their ascent of K7 West - made a class first ascent up the West Face of Janak, the great 7090m peak in the Kanchenjunga area. More great Himalayan news - this time from India - in the form of another gem and one of the most beautiful climbs of the year: Mick Fowler and Paul Ramsden's first ascent of The Prow of Shiva, a great new climb up Mount Shiva. 7 days ascent and 2 for the descent down the unclimbed south face east. Outstanding! But as we now know, with a punctuality that most would prefer to forget the end of the month brought with it the painful ordeal of Francesco Cantù, Damiano Barabino and Luca Gaggianese lost in the Écrins massif. All rescue efforts would turn out to be in vain, and he three Italian alpinists disappeared without a trace.

November 2012
Big ascents came from Kentucky, or rather from the Red River Gorge which seemed to have attracted all the biggest name in sport climbing. Jacopo Larcher sent his first 9a Southern Smoke Direct and also repeated Pure Imagination confirming Ondra's downgrade to 8c+. Melissa Le Nevé was on form with outstanding ascents of 50 words for Pump 8c and Southern Smoke, thanks to which she joined the exclusive club of women capable of sending 8c+. Back in Europe, the Ticino bouldering map was enriched with new jewels - including Momentum Bavona 8C - by Nalle Hukkataival. Halfway through the month the Lead World Cup drew to a close and the last stage in Kranj resulted in overall victory for Mina Markovic and Sachi Amma. For both it was their first Trophy victory. But that weekend in Kranj will always be remembered for a different reason: On Friday 16 November Patrick Edlinger left us forever. But the beauty, visions, freedom with which he interpreted the game of climbing will always remain. Patrick was, and will remain, an unattainable legend. A teacher and traveling companion for all. From this we must go forward. With Sachi Amma for example, who after lifting the Lead World Cup "relaxed" on Siurana's rocks with the superlative ascent of La Rambla 9a+. Alpinism got underway in Patagonia with a great trip up Mar de Suenos, the new route climbed in alpine style by Michael Lerjen-Demjen and Jorge Ackermann up the East Face of Fitz Roy. On the NE Face of Mont Rouge di Greuvetta (Mont Blanc massif) Britain's Matt Helliker and Jon Bracey responded with the first ascent of the big modern mixed climb Eyes Wide Shut. While on Britain's trad gritstone Jordan Buys freed the difficult and dangerous No Surrender at Baildon Bank in Yorkshire. In much the same vein, Pete Whittaker established Psychosomatic at Burbage South and De Nada at Halls Moor Quarry.The month ended with Tomahawk Crack in Scotland, a beautiful and difficult new route climbed by Greg Boswell and Adam Russell on Ben Nevis. Ever-active Michele Caminati freed The North Sail 8A+ at Cresciano in Switzerland. Of note is the great start to the extreme skiing season with the "usual" gang comprised of Julien Herry, Francesco Civra Dano, Luca Rolli and Davide Capozzi who, ahead of schedule, made the ski and snowboard descent of the Mallory route on Aiguille du Midi; a tour (without the cable car) which started and finished at Chamonix in 14 hours. A good warm-up to the rest of the season!

December 2012
We return to where it all began in 2012, to Patagonia. Over a period of 9 days, Lise Billon, François Poncet, Jeremy Stagnetto, Jerome Sullivan and Pedro Diaz made the first ascent of Pillar del Sol Naciente, a great 1000m route up the distant and immense Cerro Murallón. In doing so they created one of the most beautiful climbs of the year in the mountains at the end of the world. Patagonia again for Colin Haley and Jon Walsh who carried out the first free ascent of the mixed climb Tobogan up Cerro Standhardt. In Moab (USA) Jean-Pierre Ouellet established two difficult new crack climbs: Mexican Snow Fairy 5.13+ and Fisting the Crack 5.13-. Monumental Markus Bock continued his ceaseless quest of unlocking the Frankenjura's vertical beauties by freeing four difficult new routes: Reunion (8c), The Obsessed (8c+), The 4 Horsemen (8c+) and Witchtripper (9a). On the bouldering front Nacho Sánchez added Zarzafar 8B+ to his long list of new problems "unearthed" in Spain, while in Italy's Varazze Nicolò Ceria repeated Raptor Stand 8A+ and Gandalf 8A. Sports climbing was the name of the game for Jakob Schubert who repeated Ciudad de Dios 9a at Santa Linya. The end of the year brought with it two more goodbyes. 93-year-old Maurice Herzog, the first man together with Louis Lachenal to reach the summit of an 8000m peak, Annapurna. An entire era disappeared with his death. And painfully and prematurely Luigi "Gigi" Dal Pozzo left us; the great climber and alpinist from the Dolomites, his routes remain as monuments to totalising passion and ethics. And this leads us to present day, to action by Jacopo Larcher and his second 8b+ on-sight (at Montsant), as well as Gabriele Moroni on Jungle Speed and Silvio Reffo on Estado Critico, two 9a's both at Siurana in Spain which is increasingly becoming the top sport climbing destination. This concludes this long resume of what happened in 2012. A way of remembering what happened, in order to not forget and to look forward. The alpinism and climbing tour will continue... Happy 2013 to everyone!

>> Alpinism and climbing in 2012 - part 1

- L'alpinismo e l'arrampicata nel 2012 - prima parte
- L'alpinismo e l'arrampicata nel 2012 - seconda parte





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