Jacopo Larcher adds two difficult trad climbs to Valle dell’Orco, Italy

The report by Jacopo Lacher who, at the end of October in Valle dell’Orco, Italy, freed the trad climbs ‘Blood Diamond’ at the crag Diamante and an old project of Adriano Trombetta at the base of Sergent, now called Shikantaza (aka. ‘Il progetto Tromba’).
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Jacopo Larcher in Valle dell'Orco, Italy, making the first ascent of Shikantaza
Jacopo Larcher

After a busy route setting period there is nothing like 2 weeks of van life and granite climbing in a valley full of existing climbs and huge potential for new ones! In the second week of October I drove to Valle dell’Orco to attend the La Sportiva athlete summit, with the idea of spending some days there after the event finished. At the end of the meeting everyone left the valley, but the weather forecast looked too perfect to leave and, after our expedition to Pakistan, I was really looking forward to doing some trad climbing. During the meeting we got a little topo with some interesting new and old projects, so I immediately went to check them out!

Babsi had to go home as she had some work to do, so I remained with Olli (our dog) and I climbed mostly on my own or with the locals Andrea Migliano and Simone Papalia, who warmly welcomed me to camp at their place and really made me feel at home (thanks again!).

I started woking on two cool, but completely different lines. The first was an old project of Adriano Trombetta, a short and very “British” route, the second a steep and powerful crack located at a crag recently developed by Andrea, Simone and Marzio Nardi. I particularly liked the fact that the routes were very different and consequently required completely different skills. One was definitely not as hard technically, but quite dangerous and with a potential ground fall from about 10 meters; the other was safe but technically way harder. I also liked how both routes required a similar amount of work, but yet a different approach. On one I had to understand how to climb the moves and try hard on the send, while on the other I had to practice it often and top rope it in order certain that I wouldn’t fall to the ground when I finally got onto the live end of the rope: the beauty and variety of trad climbing!

On the 24th of October, after a few days spent brushing and figuring out the moves and the gear, I managed to make the first ascent of Blood Diamond, a steep and powerful crack situated at the crag Diamante. The gear is always good, but placing it on lead definitely adds a little extra to the crux. The moves are simply amazing! Poor footholds, big lock offs and compression climbing towards the end… a real gem! Personally I think this is the hardest climb I’ve done in Orco so far.

The following day the time came for the other project. As I mentioned previously, Adriano Trombetta had discovered the line years ago and had envisioned climbing it without bolts. Adriano was a real pioneer in the Orco valley (and not only here!), where he established a lot of routes and had a lot of projects; he tragically passed away in 2017, caught in an avalanche, but his spirit still lives in the valley and in the memories of his friends! 

The route is located on a big boulder at the base of Sergent; it starts following a sloper rail on a prow until a good flake, where you place some micro cams before setting off for the crux section. After a few moves you reach a good crimp, on which I decided to place a cliff as protection; the placement looks good, but the hold is a loose flake, which would probably break if you take a big fall. I tensioned (on lead) the hook with some cord to a lower cam to stop it from falling off accidentally. The next section involves some technical moves and small crimps and ends with some insecure moves to a big flake, where you can finally place some more gear before the easier top out. The climbing is definitely not so hard, 8a-ish, but the combination of insecure moves and a possibile ground fall make it spicy! I personally really liked the shape of the block and the line, that’s why I absolutely wanted to climb it; I couldn’t have wished for a better end of my trip to Orco! I never had the chance to meet Adriano, but this one is an obvious tribute to him and his vision! I decided to call it Shikantaza (aka. The Tromba project).

A big thanks goes to Andrea and Simone from the refuge "Le Fonti” for the help, the belays, the work… but most of all for the warm welcome and the good times! I can’t wait to go back to Orco, the place is so beautiful and there is such big potential for new lines!

by Jacopo Larcher

Link: jacopo-larcher.comFB Jacopo LarcherLa Sportiva, The North Face, Black Diamond

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