Barbara Zangerl climbs Greenspit in Valle dell’Orco
Austrian climber Barbara Zangerl has become the first woman to climb Greenspit, the difficult trad route first ascended by Didier Berthod in Valle dell’Orco, Italy.
Greenspit in Valle dell’Orco is one of Europe’s most famous, and concurrently also most difficult, crack climbs, famously first ascended by Didier Berthod high up in Valle dell’Orco, Italy, at the start of the new millenium. The crack was originally bolted in the mid eighties but in 2003 that Swissman chopped the green bolts and led the route with pre-placed gear, before returning two years later and placing all gear on lead. Over the years the 12m horizontal roof has become a coveted test for some of the world’s best crack climbers and 32-year-old Austrian climber Barbara Zangerl, on a trip to Italy which life and climbing partner Jacopo Larcher, is now the first women to repeat the line.
Was this your first trip to Valle dell’Orco?
No, the first time I came here was 10 years ago with Bernd Zangerl and Radek Capek. I was fascinated by the landscape and above all by El Caporal. But back then I’d come here to go bouldering. I obviously tried some crack climbing - the lines are so beautiful, it’s impossible to ignore them! But I stood no real chance of doing anything hard. And back then I was far more into bouldering.
Greenspit has been described as the dream of a generation. What does it mean to you?
I obviously knew Greenspit well from photos and videos. Didier Berthod has always been a great source of inspiration for me, an absolute crack climbing master. I came here with Jacopo just to check it out and see whether I could do any of the moves. I continue to have a hard time crack climbing, so my expectations are actually always quite low. The good thing about this though is that sometimes you get an unexpected, positive surprise when things actually do work out! But to answer your question about what it means to me: it was a superb experience and, at the same time, a great learning process. Repeating such a proud line, put up by Didier, really is a small dream come true.
When did you start trying it?
Last week for the first time. On my first go I stood no chance at all, it just felt completely impossibile. At the end of the day though things began to feel feasible. I could do all the single moves, but was still a long way off linking them all together. The hard bit about route is that it’s got a few really poor jams and when you reach the last hard crux at the end you’re already fairly whacked. I fell off the crux at the end three times, that was really mean. Also because the route is fairly painful since you’re hanging off the jams in the roof. The jams ruin your hands quite a bit and it’s a real battle all the way to the very last hold!
What about your redpoint?
well the aim was to start redpoint attempts on day 3. Which means placing the Camelots on lead and trying the route clean. I got surprisingly close on that day, as I mentioned before, I fell off the last hard move three times.
No pre-placed gear therefore
Cleaning the route after each attempt, removing all the cams and aiding back down to the start was fairly exhausting. But placing the cams on lead makes quite a big difference and so trying the route clean, that’s the perfect styIe I reckon.
Not that many men have climbed this crack, you’re now the first woman to do so. Technically it’s a first female ascent therefore. What d’you reckon?
First female ascent - hmmm I don’t reckon many women have actually even tried it, so I don’t really know if a FFA is actually important at all. But what I do know is that, for me personally, this route means a lot. And that I had great fun.
First female ascent of Alpine Trilogy
2013 Kaisers neue Kleider Wilder Kaiser, Austria (6c+, 7c+, 8a+/b, 7b+, 8b+, 8a, 6b, 8b+, 6c)
2013 Silbergeier Rätikon, Switzerland (8b, 7c+, 8a+, 7a+, 8b+, 7c+)
2012 End of Silence Berchtesgaden, Germany (7a+, 6c, 6a+, 6a, 7b+, 7c+, 7b, 8b, 8b/+, 7c, 7a+)
2017 Magic Mushroom, El Capitan, Yosemite (5.13d/14a)
2016 Zodiac, El Capitan, Yosemite (5.13d)
2016 New Age (7a, 7c, 8a+, 7a+, 7b)
2016 Golden Shower Verdon, France (7a+, 8b+, 8b+, 7c+/8a)
2015 El Nino, El Capitan, Yosemite (5.13c, 8 days ascent together with Jacopo Larcher)
2015 Unendliche Geschichte Rätikon, Switzerland (6a, 6b+, 6c+, 7b+, 7c+, 8b ,8b+, 6b, 7a+, 6b, 7b+, 7a)
2015 Bellavista Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Dolomites (7b, 6c+, 6a+, 7a+, 7b, 8b+, 7c+/8a, 7a, 6c, 6b Via Cassin to the top)
2015 La Ramirole, Verdon, France (8a+, 8a, 8b, 8a+, 7a)
2014 Moonlight Buttress, team ascent (Zion-Utah) (5.12+)
2012 Super Cirill, Ticino (7a+, 7a+, 7b+, 7c+, 6a+, 8a/+, 6c+, 6c, 6a+)
2012 Delicatessen, Corsica (8b, 7c+, 7c, 8a, 6c)
2011 Hotel Supramonte, Sardinia (7b+, 7c+, 8b, 8a+, 8b, 7c, 7a+, 7b, 7b, 7b, 6b)
2010 Via Acacia, Rätikon (7+, 9, 9-, 8-, 9-, 9-, 7+, 8, 9+)
2020 Greenspit, Valle dell’Orco, Italy, first female ascent
2019 The Path, Lake Louise, Canada
2017 Gondo Crack Cippo, Switzerland, first repeat, first female ascent
2014 Prinzip Hoffnung Vorarlberg, Austria, first female ascent
2016 Achemine Dumbarton, Scotland, first repeat
2016 Requiem Dumbarton, Scotland
2017 Chikane Siurana, Spain
2016 Harry’s dirty brother Vorarlberg, Austria
2015 Helel Ben Schachar Vorarlberg, Austria
2017 Gondo Crack Cippo, Switzerland, first ascent
2016 Standhaft Vorarlberg, Austria
2015 Schwarzer Schwan Ötztal, Austria
2015 Nobody is perfect
2014 Mind control Oliana, Spain
2014 Fish eye Oliana, Spain
2011 Erntezeit Vorarlberg, Austria
2008 FFA Pura vida Magic Wood, Avers, Switzerland
2005 X-Ray Silvretta, Austria
2008 Zwiederwurtz Silvretta, Austria
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Big thanks to @didier.berthod for being such an inspiration to me! This is probably my proudest crack climb so far. “Green Spit” what a line, what a place! Thanks to @jacopolarcher for sharing the psych on this line and always taking those incredible snap-shots. And thanks to @berndzangerl for the Valle del Orco revival...->finally coming back to this place after 10 years. @blackdiamond @lasportivagram @vibram