The Sunflower of the Dolomites: Ivo Ferrari and the Pilastro Girasole on Cimòn della Pala
Ivo Ferrari and Pilastro Girasole, the route first climbed in 1986 by Renzo and Giacomo Corona up the SW Face of Cimon della Pala, Pale di San Martino, Dolomites.
As a boy my father took me fishing along the banks of the River Po'. I really enjoy fishing, and certainly when I no longer want to spend time in the Mountains - because everything has a beginning and an end - I'll devote more time to fishing. I have fond memories of those days spent close to the water's edge, crossing countless fields to reach the banks. Many were filled with sunflowers: strange flowers that even today manage to transmit calmness as I watch them move imperceptibly towards the Sun. This has certainly been studied in great detail but I, who doesn't like studying, prefer to think it's something magical, fascinating ... I also know many women who resemble the Sunflowers, women armed with sprays who chase the Sun's warm rays of the Sun, but these don't relax me...
So here I am in the Dolomites together with Dario, Marinella and their Mother and I just like every summer I get in touch with with Renzo (Renzo Corona ed) to climb a route together. I get on well with him, he's a strong and safe climber, a master at protecting himself and finding the right "way" forward. Renzo is an Alpinist, so we always go for Alpine outings. The bottle stopped spinning on a route up Cimon della Pala, the majestic peak that overlooks San Martino di Castrozza. We both want a sunflower today!
It's a privilege to climb with a local as he knows countless shortcuts to reach the base of the routes. Sometimes he also uses mechanical means to facilitate things. Yes, you're fortunate if you know a "local", and that's why in less than an hour we were at the base of this impressive pillar: six hundred vertical metres, practically a straight line towards heaven. The day was beautiful, the temperature wasn't too hot as an angry storm has refreshed everything, both the air and rock!
Heinz Grill once jokingly warned me to be careful about Renzo's fifth grades and along the first pitch my arms immediately remembered his words! We swung leads, climbing past tiring slabs and cracks, past rock festooned with holds; the route was so beautiful as to seem unreal. And the few pegs we encountered made me think about well Renzo and Giacomo "travelled" twenty-seven years ago!
There are many dream lines in the Dolomites, both famous and unknown, and Pilastro Girasole is far more than a dream. You climb all of it, ever concentrated, taking in every move, hand and foothold, careful balance and pull-up. You need to protect yourself and you need to do this before you steer yourself into trouble. I topped out exhausted, pressed and squeezed, drained and dried with swollen arms. "Dreaming" is certainly less tiring.
I climbed with a Friend, happy to share one of his routes, happy to congratulate him for that day back in 1986. I topped out convinced that I'd just repeated a Real route, spectacular and challenging, magical and simply "unique."
A climb for those capable of protecting themselves at just the right moment, those ready for a demanding climb, well prepared for a climb.... wait, as I write a girl has just walked past with a spray. I'll finish here, gotta go and observe her follow the Sun... like a SUNFLOWER...
by Ivo Ferrari
SW Face Cimòn della Pala (Pale di San Martino, Dolomites)
Renzo and Giacomo Corona 11 October 1986
IVO FERRARI 2013
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