DIFFICULT LINE FREED ON SARDINIAN COAST

Posted on: May 23, 2007


At the beginning of May, Rolando Larcher, Roberto Vigiani and Maurizio Oviglia returned to an aid route, Mezzogiorno di Fuoco (7c obl., 270m), they established last June on Punta Giradili, Sardinia. They worked the route for three days, and on May 6, Larcher managed the first integral redpoint ascent (8b). [Photo] Rolando Larcher

Sardinia is famous worldwide for its crags, but its bigger cliffs house some of Europe's finest alpine objectives. In particular, the Supramonte, which runs east from the center of the island, is a vast, unspoiled area with spectacular limestone. The region contains Sardinia's three most important big walls: Punta Cusidore, Gole di Gorroppu and Punta Giradili, which lies southeast of the others. Last June, Rolando Larcher, Roberto Vigiani and I aided a line, Mezzogiorno di Fuoco (7c obl., 270m) on the left side of Punta Giradili. We returned this May to free it, on these cliffs that have seen so much history.

Sardinian and Italian alpinists have been climbing on the 700-meter-high Punta Cusidore for many decades. The Gole di Gorroppu is a big wall that boasts some of Europe's most difficult long routes, like Hotel Supramonte (8b, Larcher-Vigiani, 1999). Punta Giradili is near the town of Baunei, on the central-east coast, one of the last wildernesses of Europe, and overlooks the Tyrrhenian Sea from a height of 730 meters. Climbed for the first time in 1981 by Marco Bernardi (Via del Carasau, VI+/A3), Punta Giradili saw its first modern route, unfortunately bolted top to bottom, in 1995. The route is called Wolfgang Gullich (7a, 400m), which many believe was established by Gullich in person, but in fact it was climbed by Enzo Lecis. A year later Mario Ogliengo and Patrick Raspo joined me to climb Mediterraneo (7a+, 290m), which we bolted from the ground up. In 1998 I returned with Simone Sarti to establish Intelligenza Emotiva (7c+, 260m), which Larcher later freed onsight. The Mabboni brothers from Arco also put up a heady route, Angelo Blu (7b, 400m, 2002), and the famous team of Michel Piola and Manlio Motto climbed, in two successive sessions, Sette Anni di Solitudine (7a, 400m, 1995), considered by many the cliff's best route. Shortly after, Piola did it again with a route called Jonathan Livingstone (7a/b, 350m), which was subsequently freed by Larcher and Manolo. Patrick Gabarrou put up a trad route Voie des Arbres (450m, 1998) on the right side of the wall.

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The most difficult and beautiful line, which climbs through the overhanging center of the pillar, remained. After two days' struggle in June 2006, with fierce heat, dehydration and swollen and painful fingers, we got to the top of Mezzogiorno di Fuoco. Unfortunately the sweltering weather was too hot to attempt a free ascent last year. But when we returned this month, we spent three days (May 4-6) freeing every pitch. On May 6, Larcher managed the first redpoint ascent, completing the entirety of the climb from bottom to top. The seven-pitch line checks in with a crux of 8b (7a+, 8b, 6c, 8a/a+, 7c+, 7c, 6a), and the overall effort is just shy of the famous Hotel Supramonte on the Gole di Gorroppu.

The new route is one of the most striking modern multipitch routes on the island. "Not often will you find a route that combines so perfectly a fine line and difficulty," Vigiani said. But in climbing, we know, there's never the last word, and for the climbers themselves, the last route put up is always the best!

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