This spring we spent most of our time sport climbing around Vorarlberg and Tirol. It was a lot of fun to stay close to home after travelling so much and to climb beautiful classics like „Nobody is perfect“ in Bürs or „Schwarzer Schwan“ and „Seewächter“ in Ötztal. I was also super happy to send my hardest sport route so far. It reminded me of times in the past, when I had my entire focus on bouldering – to be stubborn, to keep on trying, not knowing whether it will pay off even if it is just one impossible move. Like the crux boulder at the end of „Helel Ben Schachar 8c/+“,consisting of two really long moves; at the beginning I thought I would never reach the crux hold! But it was only a question of commitment. All about little details you work out, like I had learned from bouldering.
At the same time the motivation was growing to go for something bigger. Jacopo left to Siberia for an expedition and I decided to go back to Bellavista as due to the warm weather period conditions were perfect to climb on the north face of the west cime.
The reason I decided to try Bellavista was that I wanted to gain experience climbing on pitons and on alpine routes where I also had to handle my fear on a really exposed wall, making it hard to just concentrate on the climbing. And, at the same time, learning to trust bad gear, to hold on to loose rock where you can’t pull hard to reach the next hold. Sometimes it felt more like pushing than pulling, especially on the easy pitches of „Bellavista“. On the first days that insecure feeling was intense and I did’t trust any holds; sometimes I was dreaming of the solid rock in Rätikon (Switzerland) as this is the rock quality I normally feel comfortable with. I was questioning myself, why I am spending so much time on a hard route on this always wet north face? But this time the challenge was another one and this was why this route was so interesting to me. At the same time, it was hard to keep up my motivation.
Last summer, when Jacopo and I climbed up to the roof where the crux pitches are, we got stopped several times by the challenge of the „easy“ pitches before. We got stressed out holding on to wet slimy holds, never knowing whether we would slip off or not. Sometimes a fall is not really an option there. We were sure there would be no chance to climb the hard sequences in these conditions. After those attempts I thought ok—maybe thats the deal and we just have to get used to it.
Jacopo was trying Panaroma at the same time I was trying Bellavista. Panaroma shares the first pitches to the roof and in the roof Panaroma turns right and Bellavista goes left. The roof of the west cime, called one of the biggest climbable roofs in the alps is what makes „Bellavista“ and „Panaroma“ so special. Panaroma is also a Alex Huber Test piece and harder than Bellavista with huge run-outs on bolts. Hats off to Alex who did the first ascents of these incredible routes.
I always felt scared for Jacopo when he was flying more than 15 meters through the air – it was worse than in Bellavista. On the belay you couldn’t see the climber and that was always a funny feeling. First I saw just the feet of Jacopo, then nothing for 5 minutes and then, after a shout, he was suddenly 10 meters below my belay. This is the reason why you always have to bring your jumars or a tibloc. In case of a fall you can’t go back to the wall without them in both routes and that also makes it tiring to boulder in this big roof.
After a few days we both (Jacopo more than me) felt familiar with our routes and the first impressions got more understated. But the weather was not on our side and I was to weak to climb the route in these conditions. So it turned out to be a real trial of patience over two month, climbing in dense fog without seeing each other and spending time in the roof drying up holds with hankies. Apart from that, we always felt satisfied and optimistic that everything will turn out great.
Like the time together in Jacopos old messy car and in our little food tent, cooking in the rain and drinking beer at the Auronzo hut. Maybe that is not the summer vacation people are dreaming of, but it was a really intense experience that taught us a little more about ourselves.
This June we went back to the west cime and as it continued exactly as it had ended the year before. So we fixed the ropes and decided to go sport climbing. Jacopo had planned an expedition to Siberia for July and I was uncertain if I should spend more time sport climbing or trying another multi-pitch route during that period.
But then, with the hot weather period in July, I was so curious to see what the conditions in Bellavista were like that I went back to the route together with „Pinky“-Christian Winklmair. The plan was to check out the crux pitch again and to give all the beta to Pinky. Everything was different from what I had expected. It was much better than on every single day the year before and after spending some time in the crux I decided to give the route a ground up try the next day. I didn’t expect to send the route and I didn’t take it too serious because we both knew that we had to work the day after. We also knew that it would take us too long to climb the 24 pitches to the summit so we got up around 8 and started climbing around half past 9. I led all the pitches to the roof. When we arrived at the crux pitch Pinky went first to boulder once more in the crux and he removed the fixed rope where some pitons were connected by somebody we don’t know. After one hour Pinky came back to the belay, it was my turn. I fought against my pumped forearms. When I reached the belay without falling I was super happy but at the same time I knew that this wasn’t even half of this 500m north face. After the crux pitch there was one more steep pitch to climb and then the real adventure started. We left our haulbag with all the heavy stuff and at 7 o’clock in the evening after some spicy pitches we reached the big ledge were „Bellavista“ meets the classic „Cassin“ route. We had 14 more pitches to climb following the „Cassin“ route. We decided to swing leads which made us faster. But regardless of that, after a few pitches it was totally dark. We kept on climbing with our headtorches on 9 more pitches to the top. It was quite hard to find the few single pitons and also the belays. Sometimes we just built our own belays and we muddled along the way up to the top and reached the summit at 2 o’clock in the morning in the bright shining moonlight. This was for sure one of the most intense and incredible climbing days ever and it was not done. It was our first time on the summit of the west cime and we didn’t exactly know what the descent would be like. So at 4 o’clock in the morning we lost the right way which cost us 1,5 extra hours until we finally reached the hiking trail to the Auronzo hut. This looong story ended after a 4 hour drive back home finally both ending up at work super tired, a few hours late, but happy and lucky that our working mates appreciated our delay. For sure we had an extraordinary excuse.
Last week Jacopo arrived back home from an intense expedition, quite destroyed by all the rest- and rainy days in the tent and the exhausting climbing days in Siberia. I really hope that this hot summer will keep a few more weeks for Jacopo, so he can go back to Panaroma and it will turn out the same way for him as it did for me.