Horror Vacui, new multi-pitch rock climb up Monte Cimo by Rolando Larcher
Rolando Larcher together with a series of different climbing partners has made the first ascent of Horror Vacui (8b+ max, 7b+ obl.) a new multi-pitch rock climb up the Scoglio dei Ciclopi face on Monte Cimo (Val d'Adige, Italy). As the name suggests, the line is a huge outing through the void. The report by Rolando Larcher.
Horror Vacui translated from Latin means terror of voids. It’s a phrase that can be applied to a variety of different fields, from physics to philosophy, from psychology to art. When applied to climbing it becomes a far simpler, concrete concept, of utmost importance if you’re considering repeating my new route.
For years I’d curiously studied the big overhangs to the left of Monte Cimo. Called Lo Scoglio dei Ciclopi, this sector is a wild maze of stalactites, topped by towering roofs and smooth slabs. Last spring I finally got the chance to see it up close when I repeated Testa o Croce, and at the time I was literally blown away.
The large central overhang offered an inviting challenge, a dream worth trying to grasp. I just about managed to make out a line, a far-fetched theory of hand and footholds and so I decided to discover what lay in store ground-up, in my tried-and-tested style. All I needed was a willing partner, someone who would belay me patiently through this beautiful unknown. Marco Curti stepped forward. A.k.a. Zio Tibia, Marco is a good friend and former climbing partner of Roberto Bassi.
On the first battle day I managed to reach the lip of the second roof, climbing past some fairly difficult obligatory sections. I climbed upwards in disbelief as I discovered all the necessary holds and skyhook placements from where I drilled the bolts. Day 2 started with a greater boost of confidence, I sensed that my initial hunch had been right. I struggled hard exiting the roof, on the final bouldery moves, and this was followed by less overhanging but nevertheless intense moves which led to the only vertical section of the route, where I placed the first belay.
I was in seventh heaven, the unknown now lay beneath me, an amazing 40m high, 15m overhanging line. Curti joined me on his jumars, stunned by this void. I set off quickly to establish the second pitch, short but horizontal below a roof. At the exit I stumbled across a small terrace, ideal for belaying on; the first place where you shake both hands without having to rest on the rope.
I’d realised my dream in the best way possible, by tackling the overhang head on. I was so focused on the initial challenge and now so elated and satisfied that I almost forgot I still had another two thirds above me that needed discovering. Unlike the start, I now considered the finish a mere formality.
I asked Luca Giupponi, my habitual climbing partner, to help me complete the route and in just two days we established the remaining spectacular pitches that always float above the fearsome void. The result was outstanding, one pitch better than the other, up extremely solid and varied limestone; I consider the limestone on Monte Cimo the best in the Northern Italy. We though of a name spontaneously, Horror Vacui, almost a warning to those who aren’t accustomed to such an imposing void…
As soon as we reached the ground I was itching to redpoint the first pitch! I tried it for a few days, optimizing and memorising the sequences, but in the end, after a rest really high up, I was forced to give up due to the sweltering summer temperatures. I returned in October with Curti and reached the belay unscathed, extremely happy for this little personal record. At fifty I managed to establish and free an 8b+, the hardest pitch of my career climb ground-up.
At a later stage I freed the remaining pitches, the second is a solid 7c, which I immediately though could be linked to the first, for obvious reasons of logic and beauty. I tried timidly to do so, but after the onsight by the "Number One", Adam Ondra, and the fact that he believed the grade remained unchanged, I’m currently trying it again with more conviction.
All that is missing now is the icing on the cake: the ascent in a single push. I’m not even going to think about it, there are many fresh and strong climbers out there...
I had only one regret, the exciting upper section was barred by the demanding start. The solution perhaps was there, to the left, a continuation of the short 7a warm-up. So I set off once again, ground-up, belayed by Curti, and after a not too bad 50m outing, I reached a wide belay ledge. From there, suspended in the middle of the overhangs, I joined up with the original route, with an easy and beautiful slab traverse, giving birth to ”Horror Vacui soft". I managed to free this at least in a day…
Rolando Larcher - CAAI
for the support and friendship: Marco Curti, Luca Giupponi, Herman Zanetti and Lino Celva.
for the photos: Riky Felderer
sponsors: La Sportiva – Montura – Petzl – Totem
TOPO: Horror Vacui & Horror Vacui Soft, Monte Cimo