Two new routes by Maurizio Oviglia for...his daughters

Maurizio Oviglia dedicates two new routes in Sardinia to his daughters, Kawaii, climbed with his daughter Elena on the Placche dell'Elefante in Sarrabus and Sweet Helen, climbed with Cecilia Marchi and dedicated to their daughter Elena, on the Figlia di Guglia at Cala Goloritzè, Baunei. A chance to talk about the extent to which a passion for climbing may (or may not) be passed on to children.
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Sara Oviglia feeling at one with the granite in Valle dell'Orco
Maurizio Oviglia
I am the son of an alpinist, but my father was just your normal, unknown high mountain walker, so I'd never say that I never felt "pressurized" into following in his footsteps. My love for the mountains is something which came from within me. I imagine that for my daughters, being born into a climbing family where both parents are very passionate climbers, it can't have been easy... Ever since they were small they've got used to coming with us to crags, to the mountains and wherever we went (coincidentally wherever there is rock, they always point out), I don't know what kind of relationship, be it positive or negative, they have formed with climbing... Not to mention the fact that everyone they meet makes the same comment about how "you must climb really well, with two parents like these!". To which they inevitably roll their eyes...

Anyone who is passionate about climbing and the mountains knows that, especially in this day and age, kids will not necessarily follow in your footsteps. Of course, we shouldn't force them, especially with a passion...but we also shouldn't let their universe be reduced to a room, equipped with a computer and Internet connection needless to say. My partner and I believe we have never overstepped the mark by forcing them to come climbing with us, but we have certainly tried to teach them the skill, although they seem to have genetically inherited a love for nature in general, without any of our doing. A skill which, when the time comes, they can dust off if they want to, because in each stage of our lives we realise we have something dormant inside us, waiting to be woken up again. During adolescence, children who are born into a certain world normally try to develop passions which are different, to set themselves apart from their parents. As it's too difficult to outclass them in the same field, they tend to choose something else which is theirs, where they can take the main stage. So we mustn't be upset if they prefer not to come with us...

Despite having grown up on the island of limestone, my daughters are not fans of Sardinian rock. They say they prefer granite...and they even manage to turn their noses up at the sight of the most beautiful limestone in the world! It's rough, it cuts, it has no friction, it's overhanging, it's slippy, the list goes on! We haven't spent many holidays on granite, but whenever we've been for example to the Valle dell'Orco, they have managed to surprise us with their performances. Many people brush this off saying, "Well, of course, it's the chromosomes.." but I think it's more than that, in fact I've always been intrigued by this fact. For example, I've never taught my daughters the techniques of friction, crack or chimney climbing, but it really seems like they have it inside them! Normally, if you're unfamiliar with it, the first few times are tough when you find yourself on a slab without holds, or in a chimney where you don't know how to hold yourself. But not for them. Why? Reading one of Augusto Angriman's CAI handbooks, I was really intrigued by the idea of "mirror neurons". Could they be the reason behind this passion for granite and this unexpected ability?

With Sara, the eldest, we have done some difficult climbs in the Orco Valley, even some first ascents together which were anything but trivial. She did her hardest climb in Orco, leading a 6c+ onsight when she was 15, when she hadn't even led a 6c, and seconding a 7a onsight. It's amazing, because everyone knows that a 7a granite slab, even seconded, requires very advanced technique, certainly not found in someone who climbs so occasionally, and never on granite!

Recently, for the first time I did a first ascent on granite with Elena who is now 13. I didn't want my wife to be there, because I wanted it to be our thing. Elena hadn't been climbing for months, but she was so motivated that she free climbed the whole route behind me, with a tricky section of 6a+ friction climbing. Whoever repeats the route will be able to see with their own eyes... or rather with their feet! It was dark when we came down, and it was great to come back with just one torch, without telling Mum so as not to worry her, tired but with a new route under our belts, which she decided to name "Kawaii".

In 1995 I did the first ascent with Antonello Pala of "I sogni di Sara", dedicated to Sara who was a few months old. For the route I had chosen the Gole di Gorroppu, one of the most beautiful places in Sardinia and in Europe. I Sogni di Sara was also one of the first "modern" routes of the Gole. When Elena was born in 2001, my friends were the first to tease me by saying: now you have to do another new route and name it "Elena's milk tooth" or something like that! So, partly as a reaction, in all these years I have never done a first ascent dedicated to her. Growing up Elena has slightly resented this shortcoming of mine, so I waited until I found somewhere which could measure up to the Gole di Gorroppu, to avoid any jealousy between the girls...

I had two options in mind, one at Gorroppu and another at Punta Cusidore, but finally, two months ago, climbing the Aguglia with Sandro Buluggiu, the right line became clear to me. I couldn't climb it with anyone else but Cecilia, whilst the two sisters watched us from the beach below. And so that was it, after a night camping at Su Porteddu right at the start of the footpath and a dinner of delicious culurgiones at the Ristorante Golgo...

The new route, called Sweet Helen, has 4 amazing pitches, each more beautiful than the last, and climbs the west face of the Aguglia to come out on the slender peak of "Figlia di Guglia". Unfortunately, a 6c pitch was unavoidable, to find the easiest way to get around the bulge which distinguishes the figlia from the famous Aguglia di Goloritzè. But the obligatory difficulties don't exceed 6a+. But how am I supposed to climb a 6c overhang? Elena was quick to tell me off on the beach. Don't worry, I replied, the time will come when even you will be able to do it...

It was very hard work, with the heat and heavy packs, but I think, at least this time, I can't be told off for not being an impartial father. The Fairness Doctrine reigns!

by Maurizio Oviglia

Two new plaisir routes in Sardinia dedicated to his children:

Placche dell'Elefante, Sarrabus

First ascent: Maurizio and Elena Oviglia 26 August 2014, ground-up
130m 6a+ (5b obbl)/S2/I
Easy and enjoyable friction climb above the Rio Cannas with one exceptional pitch. It's one of the driest areas in Italy and is especially hot in the summer. For this reason, the route is more suitable for Spring, Autumn and Winter, when there may be problems crossing the Rio. The route is bolted throughout, requiring 12 quickdraws and ideally two ropes.
Getting there: It's 5 minutes from km 45 of the SS125, at the bridge where the Rio Cannas and Rio Ollastu converge, forming the Rio Picocca.

Cala Goloritzè, Baunei. Figlia di Guglia

First ascent: Cecilia Marchi and Maurizio Oviglia 5 September 2014, ground-up
120m 6c (6a+ obbl)/S2/I
Magnificent climb in an exceptionally beautiful area. It climbs the W side of the Aguglia on a nice grey slab to then reach the great tower called "Figlia di Guglia". One difficult pitch which, despite closer bolts, cannot be climbed in A0. The route is bolted throughout, requiring 12 quickdraws and ideally two ropes.
Getting there: on foot or by boat to the Cala Goloritzè. From Easter to November, you have to pay for parking and there is a 1 euro tax but it is possible to camp, drink, eat and shower at Su Porteddu, the starting point for the walk. From here it takes 1 hour. The route starts to the right of all of the Aguglia routes, on the W wall, reachable in 3 minutes from the tables in the wood.

translation from Italian by Jane Ledlie

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