Bolting new lines, where, when, but above all why…
I have been climbing for 25 years and I have seen a lot of rock…
I still remember my first vertical moves, I got so excited about climbing on the small crags close to my house.
Today I would not be able to go to those areas, even if they are a little ugly, but they were the only option in those early years. I always went on my scooter, without gloves in the winter, because I was convinced that the cold air would toughen my hands. Those crags were like a gym for me, they were my dreams and my workshop … my vertical forge.
As time went on and having the independence of being an adult, I finally started visiting new places, crags and the largest and most famous climbing areas and started meeting people who shared this passion.
This way I broadened my horizons, they expanded and you can even get sick of the discovery. What before was beautiful and close by, but was still waiting to be discovered, suddenly looks small, well known and old-fashioned. The need to look for something new, the emotions, the goals, the incentives, the natural energy for a “dream catcher” like me all increased.
In my first years of climbing, I was like so many people, aiming to improve my ability by trying harder lines. Every so often I would remain thinking about those who lingered there before me who had had the experience of discovering those places, to be the first person to descend on that virgin wall, to place the protection, to brush the holds, to clean it and finally try it, and then once realized to give it to the next person.
And yes, as climbers we feel an incredible emotion when we manage to link the moves of a hard line that we have tried and tried with so much difficulty. After all, I think, we are just finding out about ourselves on that route, the little adventure on that route. Despite the fact that in sport climbing, it has already taken place. The discovery of that route has already been made by a person… by the person who bolted it.
That’s why those who bolt a project (I’m not talking about those who bolt many lines ) are often very linked to the realization of their line and they only want to share it with friends who helped them in that long, tiring work of discovery that should definitely not be taken for granted.
The years pass by, I have ticked many projects both close to and far from home and I have started looking around for new crags, but not even one of them is able to capture me and get me excited. Perhaps because after seeing some of the most famous and beautiful walls in Europe and after having climbed some magical routes, I am searching for the Holy Grail!
Unexpectedly I realized that at some of the crags close to home, which I have been to countless times still have some wonderful lines that have been overlooked.
Therefore, here are my first adventures as a bolter:
In 2008 at the crag of Cineteca di Tanarello (Ormea), I ventured into bolting a crazy 40 metre line with 30 metres of overhanging rock and so the line “Flatliners” 8c was born, what an amazing first experience.
In 2009 at the little crag of Piatta di Montemale (Cn) near to Cuneo there is a conglomerate prow that is similar to the famous “Action Directe”, just less steep and less difficult but incredibly it wasn’t bolted.
I spent the summer of 2009 trying to resolve the sequence of the small pockets and finally the line “Direct Action” 8c+/9a was born that to date has not been repeated.
At the famous crag of Andonno (Cn) near to Cuneo, I noticed a wall that was still virgin, untouched and a little bit dirty, there was work to be done where the line goes up the slightly overhanging wall on sloping holds, the line “Il Cielo nella nebbia” 8b/+ was born in the winter of 2009.
It took me another three season to get to the top of the still unrepeated line “Calibro 38” 8c+
In the last two years, I have been assiduously visiting the Val Pennavaire, which in the past I did not particularly like, rediscovering old friendships and a world that I had not properly understood.
Here there are still unexplored lands, lands, or rather, walls to be conquered. Here you can still write a little bit of history on the vertical and find a real adventure.
Involved with my friend Dinda, (Andrea Bisio) the tireless bolter of the valley and the Rocpennavaire Association, I at first started to dedicate myself to the cleaning and the correction of the most difficult routes he had bolted, revisiting a few of the lines and freeing some of the hardest lines at the Cineplex sector.
In 2012 the first natural 8c called “Blow” in the Val Pennavaire was put up which marked the beginning of a new era and triggered together with the great work of Dinda, a new interest. With many visits from strong climbers from all over Europe and by many fans curious from the news of the new lines and sectors born in the area.
Last winter, after repeating the hardest line called “Premiere” 8c at Castelbianco and after having freed a new link called “Last man” 8c/+,
I discovered a forgotten line, so I bolted it and I found a possible sequence of all natural movements. The project provoked some interest and it is still waiting for my free ascent that I hope will happen soon. Yet another wonderful discovery.
This spring I decided to devote myself to an old summer sector that a dear friend of mine had begun but has stopped bolting. For the time being I have developed some of the lines that he had started, reopening them…and they are all extreme!
The latest realization to come to life is the line “Time Out” 8c.
You certainly cannot just expect to find the crag of your dreams close to home, but sometimes the adventure is just around the corner, often the most beautiful routes are the first to be bolted because they are the most obvious, but more and more often I am realizing that it can happen that a little “treasure” is still yet to be discovered.
Abseiling down a line sometimes with lots of difficulties and dangers, bolting from the ground up with such difficulty and slowly seeing a new project come together are all new experiences for me. It has something similar to putting up the routes for a competition or in a climbing gym. Here we do not create the holds and movements, we have to adapt to what is there which is a bit like what athletes do at a competition with the itinerary prepared specially for the occasion. But on the wall there are the rules of the rock and we can only try to adapt to them.
The Val Pennavaire still has a lot to offer, to discover them and to exploit them is indeed a real fortune.
Cover pic: Michele Caminati