Sometimes dreams happen to be the result of a general sense of uneasiness. Actually we should say that we grow great by dreams. Some let those dreams die, while others nourish them. Hanging on plastic holds on a dusty wall in Val Masino is not what I was expecting for a early summer day.
Your mind starts thinking about big walls, peaks, rocks as if it wants to justify all those efforts and give sense to the endless repetition of sets that makes you feel like a hamster on a wheel, always spinning without a concrete aim.
So, during one of our workout session, Simo said “ what do you think if we try to link some routes in a 24-hours nonstop…”. Just a hint, a suggestion and the mad project starts taking off shape…just what I was waiting for.
“Il risveglio di Kundalini”, “Luna nascente”, “Piedi di piombo”, “Oceano irrazionale”, “Magic line”, “Nusdeo-Taldo”. Multi-pitches that remind me of my childhood when attempting to climb those routes scared me and resulted to be a real fight for survival; now, maybe due to the passing of time or just thanks to a growing experience, all those names are put next to each other without anxiety or fear but just mixed up in a slightly snotty way.
The project started to be shaped after the first night climbing repetition of “Kunda-Luna” (the link between “Kundalini” and “Luna nascente” n.d.a.), also thanks to our friend Mirko.
Three friends, a running belay system, stars and silence all around. Suddendly a harsh noise…the last one, that was me, falls; fortunately the self-belaying system works and I remained hung on the rope. Actually, being swallowed up by the darkness and feeling so far from the wall makes me feel good.
The descent is as fast as the climb. Mirko and I had to rest a bit as in a few hours we would have to manage a lively army of children from the “Rock Spot” gym and this task will be harder than our night mission.
The time to concretely plan our single push arrives, nothing compared to the perfection applied in arranging a speed climbing attempt to the Nose, but eventually the perfect day we were waiting for, comes.
After a week of bad weather, eventually the forecast announces 3 days of stable conditions, without storms and with a light north breeze.
Unfortunately I have to take a choice, so I decide to blow off the “Climbing children classes” run by my colleagues of Guide Alpine ValdiMello… there’s a long exciting trip waiting for me.
Put up together the gear is easy and fast: in addition to the normal gear I just add some belay devices like the Ropeman, some food supplement by Fast&Up and take out almost all keylock carabiners and leave home the practical wisdom acquired in my short life, a bit of unconsciousness is always required in these kind of situations!
Before leaving I felt the same as before a play-day at primary school: excitement and no way to fall asleep.
Just one-hour rest and it’s time to leave. A cup of coffee at the bar and then go!
At 00:10 we leave from the car parking in Valle.
The world starts and ends in the beam of my headlamp. No thoughts, no anxiety, no pressure…just climbing. 60 metres far away from each other, fast and silent, we stroke the holds, skimmed over the footholds and gently crack in the amazing granite of the Valle.
“Kundalini” and “Luna” last just 2 pitches. On the contrary “Piedi di Piombo” is definitely less fun than the previous ones. Footholds are tiny, holds and crimps invisible and, as a consequence, climbing is slower and less natural.
Whilst climbing, I wonder, with a bit of fear, how our friend “ Bimbo” has managed to free soloing that multi-pitch route… my mind could not find out a logic answer. At the half of the route, dawn comes up and the ledge of the Precipizio suddendly appears.
6 a.m. arrives and Simone begins “Oceano irrazionale”. He reaches the belay station in the well after a never-ending wet pitch. Then it’s my turn and I start playing with the wet crack till the ledge from which the second section starts. In two hours we’re at the top of the Precipizio and we hiked to the Val Livincina through steep grazes and slippery slabs.
After finding out that a mouse had slurped down all the water we had, we start the descent couloir of the “Il paradiso può attendere”. Obviously we take the wrong line and we start walking through vertical sods and floating rocks trying to figuring out a rap anchor. A shiver run down my spine testing the pitons put in the 1982 by Merizzi & his crew and with that feeling we reach Val Qualido.
Its wall is wide and amazing!
On the never-ending slabs of “Magic line” climbing is slower due to the absence of holds and the fact of have already hiked more than 1000 mt of elevation.
Half the route we meet 2 friends of us, Andrea and Zaffo, that give us food and the necessary support to push us towards our goal.
Eventually the wall flattens and then ends. We follow the ridge that brings us back to the descent couloir, easy but exposed sections, same pitons, same rap and same shiver.
We hike to the Allievi Hut and I feel good thinking that the “happy ending” is close. I’m psyched, I’m not tired and my mind is focused on the last step…
Positive and hard feelings bring me back to my past when I was a grassroots athlete. Trail running and ski-touring have been the leitmotiv of my life for almost 10 years: some success, some harsh beatings and a couple of crash tests have moulded my character and now turn out to be useful in many situations.
Simone, who’s less trained in trail hiking, is slower than me, so I wait for him and we continue at the same pace.
Around the hut the air is cooler and a violent gusty north wind foreshadows a “very cool” last round!
The warmth of the hut, a sandwich, a booster dose of mineral supplements, a large coffee and some chatting with friends and it’s time to go out in the freezing air.
We approach the hard and amazing “Nusdeo-Taldo”. That legendary route opened in the 1959 is located on the south-eastern wall of the Picco Luigi Amedeo following a logic and pumpy line.
Great respect for Nusdeo and Taldo, and with a freezing gusty wind that passes through our light clothes, we begin climbing, pretending to be sunbathing on a Caribbean beach instead of being there praying for the freezing wind to calm down a bit.
NO PAIN, NO GAIN!
Simone leads the first pitches but at a certain point he takes off his slippers and decides to wear his trabs, definitely more comfortable and warm. So it’s my turn to lead, and I’m now hell-bent on reaching our goal before the 24 hours end.
The route is mind-blowing. I feel good and my mind is still focused and free. Climbing on that line is never easy and protections are ok but far from each other: falling would be painful and awkward.
I’m focused, don’t want to let my body yield to cold and with my headlamp I finally manage to come out from the chimney of the cave. We’re on time, now it’s up to us.
The “diedro nero”, last but one pitch, hardly tests me. My feet have lost all feeling, it’s constantly chilly and our strength starts to waver. I pull cams, pitons, put lots of protections and eventually I clip the belay.
Last traverse, belay on the edge, wind starts blowing in strong gusts and I tremble. When Simone arrives it is midnight and I’m already ready to rap along the “Spigolo sud”.
After 23h 50 min the finish line seems definitely crossed but actually it’s not true, the worst is yet to come.
Just a hug and it’s time to go down, we’re freezing there.
We have a 60mt rope, raps are very short and the wind hits our body without a truce.
I tremble but I cannot give up. I try to find out another belay station but the rope finishes. So we decide to rap on a fix cause we don’t have time to waste and we’re not McGyver’s sons!
Wind still slaps our faces, we’re tired…
Eventually we see grazes in front of us. Last rap. ALIVE. Thanks god!
Under a rock, I massage my feet, that are becoming two smelly wood knick-knack. They slowly recover so I can wear my trabs and start the descent.
Suddendly our minds and energies leave us.
We hike slowly, make a big effort just to stand up.
Moisture on blades shaked by the chilly wind reflects the light of our headlamp and it seems like we’re walking on a fluorescent grass settled by weird living plants… a real acid trip!
I’d like to close my eyes, the Val di Mello seems to be an uncatchable oasis and Simo’s knees do not want to support him anymore.
We walk without feeling our bodies and the passing of time and we fall asleep 3 times.
Every step lasts a century, every stair is the same as the previous one and we feel like we’re not moving. Reality has faded and we feel like we’re in a videogame playing a party trick with the King of time.
After a long while we reach the bottom of the valley and dawn embraces us again.
Light awakes us and we feel alive again. Eventually the sensation of being “high” slowly disappears and the world regains its current shape.
Last kilometres back home are quiet…it has been a truly fast rich experience and the mind immediately starts wandering about mad future projects…
23h50’ in numbers:
2,5 km climbing
almost 2000 m of positive height