Subtitle: Imagine that the sun is setting and a light breeze is moving the branches of the trees. Sat on the boulders facing the wall and waiting for the right light to take photos for the next Climbing Technology catalogue.
You do not see it from the road, and if you are not from the area or you are not a curious climber in search of places where very few climbers go, you will not know the crag of Cimbergo; a village with around about 500 residents in the heart of the Camonica Valley. A famous place, for the same reason as the surrounding areas, for the rock engravings, but within the climbing scene it is becoming more and more a must see for top climbers. Perhaps it is for the quality of the rock, or perhaps for the competition “Boudler dei pitoti” which takes its name from the engravings or maybe because the area is picturesque and you nearly always climb in the shade and with cool temperatures.
Berni spent many days at this crag in the trustworthy company of Giacomo, his inseparable climbing partner.
And so like this, with hands full of chalk and his gaze always focused on the crag, he told us the story of this crag that is so special for so many reasons. “Further down there is an old crag that is more than twenty years old and one day Giacomo and I were hiking up and we found this immaculate wall. The first routes that we bolted were the most aesthetic; the very first one was in fact “Genesi”. An arête that started it all off. Giacomo bolted the easier lines while I dedicated myself to the lines with more challenging grades. The crag is located in a protected park, and for this reason, there are no reports on the place. We as bolters like all visitors love and respect this place that is full of history and so rich in natural beauty”.
There are about 70 different routes spread over several sectors, from the sixth to the eighth grade, all bolted and baptized by Berni and Giacomo. In fact, he corrects me “Adam Ondra gave it the name “Sikaku”. Because he found it very complicated, like a puzzle or a sudoku, a sikaku of course! He actually closed the line third try and he gave it 8c+, and then the following year I closed the line with more economic moves, with different methods and I downgraded it to 8c, a grade that was also confirmed by Gabri Moroni and also by others”.
Of course, because the more you try a route, the more ways you find to economise the moves. After retrying the moves many times, you find the tricks and then there is the go that you see things you haven’t seen before, you can try a route 15 times before finding the right method. If you bolted the route and even named it and it is close to home, then repeating a line becomes your passion and your life.
How do you decide where to bolt a new line? “You place the bolts following the line of the wall, from below you search for the line and then abseiling down from the top you find where to best place the bolts. You cannot just place them anywhere because, especially on the higher grades you must respect the right positions for clipping the draws and create a logical line. Anyway, this is a beautiful and particular rock, somewhere between sandstone and granite, very compact; it’s nice and quick to bolt a line”.
Therefore, we invite you to come and climb at this crag. Just go down the path, you will only see it at the last minute because the forest is quite dense and when it opens in front of your eyes you’ll see a beautiful vertical rock that has a big impact. It is true that the severe grades are discouraging but for that matter…if it were easy for everyone it would lose a bit of its charm. And talking of charm, this crag has a lot of it, otherwise how can you explain the gaze on the face of the man who found this place while he describes and highlights for example why the name “Capitan Findus” was given. It was because the grade 8a is quite difficult, and when you’re on the route it’s like being “beaten with a stick”, and if after the first section you avoid the easy section and go left, up the compact wall it becomes an 8c called the Capitano Incazzato (the angry captain!)”. Every line has its own story and you cannot change it. In addition, every story must be respected from the beginning and furthermore, at the base of the crag, an interesting bouldering area has been found on rocks scattered in the forest with varying difficulty (the most challenging boulders are two 8a+ problems one freed by Adam and one by Berni). Maybe you can come for the meeting in September, last year there were more than 250 people, and we climbed for two days both on the boulders and with a rope. Why don’t you come along this year?
Ph: Alberto Orlandi