Giù la testa, new Lagorai rock climb, Dolomites
The report by Peter Moser about Giù la testa (350m VIII / VIII+), a difficult new trad rock climb first ascended in 2014 in the Lagorai group, Dolomites, together with Thomas Ballerin, Iwan Canins and Roberto Ronzani.
There are certain routes that represent us, that have character, prove exciting. They need courting, you need to show your courage, hate and at the same time totally love them. This route represents everything I search for in mountaineering, pure and simple adventure comprised of risks, hopes, curses and, at the end of the day, a tremendously good glass of beer! This peak forced me to retreat on numerous occasions due to poor weather. It forced me, a mere 25 metres from the summit, to bail beneath a memorable hailstorm. Its knife-blade flakes severed my brand-new rope. Even the act of fixing a rope one evening, to save time the next day, was frowned upon: after 40m of jumaring through the void I discovered that my entire weight was hung by a miserly thread. Nevertheless I respected this route, didn't want to make any compromises to win her over, nothing but pegs, nuts and friends, including the belays.
I am fortunate to have many good friends and perhaps it's because they're all good drinkers that I sometimes manage to convince them to give me a hand. And so my courtship with this route, made of eternal walk-ins, hammering, severed ropes and climbing across loose rocks the size of fridges, was witnessed by Thomas and Roberto, then Iwan, Michele and Andrea. Every time we touched the rock the weather turned bad, forcing us to abseil down the large corner that quickly transformed into a very effective funnel for gushing water and falling stones.
Only at the very end did the weather provide us with a day of wonderful blue and, probably moved by compassion for a poor fool in love, did it allow me to climb the last pitch, on condition that I carefully juggled my way up past the unstable boulders that otherwise would have tumbled down onto my partners below. I reached the summit, planted a couple of pegs and began to belay them. I looked around, the Pale di San Martino and the surrounding Lagorai peaks seemed even more beautiful today. I saw our small tent in the meadow at the base of the face. I thought back to the bottles we opened the night before, to the perpetually broken stove and my tent, designed for camping by the sea, torn apart by the northerly gales, to all the laughter we shared up on the mountain. In the end we reached the summit, what matters most though is how I experienced this adventure, far removed from the rules, far away from everything and everyone. The excuse for such an adventure was found up here, in a far-flung corner in the heart of the Lagorai massif.
As to the route, objectively speaking it's a fantastic line, one of the most demanding in this massif. Pitch two requires highly technical, precise climbing up a sheer face. The route then tries to take advantage of the huge corner and provides wonderfully beautiful crack climbing. It's a trad route and this is meant to be a stimulus for other local first ascentionists to seek their own adventure. The descent belays are equipped with pegs and slings. Much loose rock has already been hurled down into the valley, but nevertheless the route still requires a considerable alpine experience.
by Peter Moser
TOPO: Giù la testa, Lagorai, Dolomites