GRAN PARADISO ( Valle DellÒrco )

At the end of the year, we love to look back. What was good, what was bad … were there any highlights that could be presented again? Austrian politics definitely wasn’t one, and the world is facing some real and unique challenges right now. In such a climate, it feels a bit surreal to look for ‚highlights‘, but MY climbing moment of 2021 happened again in Valle DellÒrco, Italy.

I didn’t make a big story of it, because there was SO much going on this spring. But I thought it worth sharing, at least now. On April 14th, I topped out one of my biggest dream climbs. It was unreal. For more than 10 years, I visited this particular boulder below the big walls of ‚Sergeant‘. The yearly pilgrimage, so to say; over time, I was able to decode every single move on this grand, huge piece of rock. ‚Bravirabi‘, ‚El Salvador‘, ‚Temenoi‘ were highlights of this period. But all these years later, one particular move was still missing. I trained power, worked on my mobility a LOT, but in the end there wasn’t much progress. Yet, I kept on trying this sequence until spring 2020.

Then, I gave up. Finally believing, or ‚accepting‘, that this move is not possible for my body size. I gave my lifetime project to Giuliano Cameroni. The young Swiss climber quickly found a solution for the start, using another foothold which was out of my reach (despite all that stretching work). A few sessions later, he made the first ascent: ‚Gran Paradiso‘ (Fb – 8B+/C), a kingline!
Check out this video with Giu’s first ascent. 
This year I was climbing in the valley again, preparing for a film shoot with Servus TV. My focus was on the upcoming shoot, but one day I found myself back at the ‚Gran Paradiso‘ boulder. Expecting nothing, I found myself in the overhanging dihedral grabbing the hold that was ‚out of my reach‘ for 10 years! I was in disbelief! A few days later, I linked these 22 moves together. 10 years of dreaming finally came to an end. Maybe I didn’t make a big story about this ascent, because around that time another Italian climber repeated ‚Gran Paradiso‘, giving it a personal grade of 8B…and 8Bs are no highlights nowadays.

But, it’s MY highlight of 2021 and I must say, the hardest 8B I ever climbed 🙂

The crux comes right at the beginning; one of the hardest moves is to place the left foot near the left hand.

Photo credits: Ray Demski, Bernd Zangerl