Camaleontica, new trad route in Sardinia by Larcher and Oviglia
On 14 and 21 June 2010 Rolando Larcher and Maurizio Oviglia established their Camaleontica (290m, 7a+ max 6c+ obbl.), a new trad route up the North Face of Punta Cusidore, Supramonte, Sardinia
The North Face of Punta Cusidore in the heart of the splendid Supramonte mountain chain in Sardinia. A year ago Rolando Larcher and Maurizio Oviglia established Umbras, a verdon-esque style route which ascended a 300m of smooth, steep face protected by spaced bolts. Now the two have struck again, just a few meters to the left they have first ascended a 290m line which follows a perfect sequence of cracks and corners, protected only by "trad" gear. perhaps, some may think, the two have changed their minds? Have changed the style of ascent, put the drill and bolts into the attic? No, as Rolando Larcher explains below, it has nothing to do with this.
Camaleontica – the name certainly wasn't chosen by chance - came to life thanks to what the rock itself offered, A splendid natural line of cracks and corners (spied during the first ascent of Umbras) which inspired and imposed the trad style of ascent. The name of the game is unique and simple: free climbing. Which also means free to change clothes (pardon, style), like a chameleon, in order to adapt to the rock as best possible, But also free to explore and get to know all climbing styles to then choose the one which is most suitable to what the rock offers and to widen the boundaries of their climbing "culture".
For the record, Camleontica climbs difficulties up to 7a+ max and 6c+ obligatory. It was established over a two day period, all on-sight bar a resting on pitch 6 which was subsequently redpointed. Distinctive signs: the jagged corner on pitch 7 and the beauty and sheer quality of the cracks. The limestone is nothing short of excellent and can be compared to the best granite cracks. It's worth noting that on day 2 the duo were joined by an exceptional guest, the ex Italian sport climbing champion Luca Giupponi who was curious to get a taste of a bit of trad...
CAMALEONTICA by Rolando Larcher
Just as a chameleon adapts chromatically to the surrounding habitat, I find it natural to adapt my style of establishing routes to suit the characteristics of the rock face. This concept of "elastic" ethics has been exponentially exposed by the new route I recently climbed on the magnificent Punta Cusidore.
Two routes up the same rock face, two completely different styles, the same climbers with one single, same aim: free climbing in harmony with nature, in search of maximum beauty. Umbras lies to the right, a super route up extremely compact rock, with exciting, Verdon-esque pitches, protectable exclusively with a series of spaced bolts. Camaleontica now lies a few meters to the left, the rock remains splendid, the climbing is similar to that found on granite, there are only three in-situ pegs along the pitches, all the rest is protected by friends, nuts and some good threads.
These climbs may seem two opposites, two separate worlds, the devil and holy water, a sort of alpine Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde. But Maurizio and I climbed the two route with the very same enthusiasm, excited by the big unknown we'd chosen to explore.
We were first enraptured by the smooth Umbras diamond, then by the repulsive, jagged corner which constitutes the heart of Camaleontica. The only difference between the two is the gear we had with us, but when you set off motivated to climb a route free, having a drill and bolts or pegs and trad gear is only a subtle difference. Each rock face deserves its own style, every style requires adequate preparation, free climbing is the one aim.
We had sensed the route last year after having freed Umbras: a magical theory of corners and cracks which seemed to reach the top the pillar using trad gear only. My Sardinian holidays came and I met up with Maurizio at the base of the wall. We alternated leads on day 1 and climbed the first 6 pitches, on day 2 we climbed the final two pitches and completed the climb by reaching the last belay on Umbras.
21 June turned out to be memorable. We won't forget the first day of summer, not because we freed the entire route (climbed on-sight except for one rest on a cliff to place a peg on pitch 6, subsequently redpointed) but because of the cold: due to the strong mistral wind which forced us to wear winter gear, reminiscent of our climbs in Patagonia. We were joined by Luca Giupponi, increasingly curious after 17 years of competitions of exploring all the various different aspects of climbing. Sooner or later the alpinist within us always rears its head.
A friend recently asked me how many routes I had established, so I started to count them all until I recalled 49, with this latest climb I've reached half a century. But counting them all left its mark, too many memories, too many years, too many faces of friends reappeared in my mind, provoking emotions, this time really contrasting... And I need to add that I've been lucky enough to share 16 of these 50 with my great friend, Maurizio.
I'd like to finish by mentioning a rare gesture of sensitivity and ethical intelligence. On pitch 3, a fantastic 45m pitch with a central overhang, we climbed above a project bolted in 1996 by Gianluca Piras and Luigi Scema. After a friendly chat they allowed us to remove the bolts. Thanks to Luca and Luigi for this generous example.
Rolando Larcher CAAI
|CAMALEONTICA ROUTE TOPO|
Montura, La Sportiva and Petzl for Rolando Larcher
E9, La Sportiva and Petzl for Maurizio Oviglia