Infinite Jest – new route in Wenden
Without any doubt this is one of the best climbing spots in the Alps. I’ve been around the Alps in the last years: probably is not the best place, there are so many, but undoubtedly is the one which I’m personally more attached and this makes it special to me. Portami Via, Coelophysis and Infinite Jest, three routes all different one from the other, each of them a great adventure and emotion, looks banal to say, but beyond all the numbers and grades, the Wenden and its limestone gave me the strongest emotions of my vertical life.
Yellow: Coelophysis. Green: Infinite Jest
Infinite Jest will probably be the last route I open in Wenden. I’ve the feeling to be at the end of something. Something beautiful and unique, but that is coming to its end; now I want to change and live new places in the same way as in the last 8 years I lived Wenden. I’ve never liked people filling the same wall with many routes, with Infinite Jest I probably gave my best to Wenden, now let’s leave the few remaining free space to the others!
About Infinite Jest firstly I want to say that this route has been opened and free climbed by two people. Having a partner like Fabio to share some projects on a big wall is rare and the fact to be two people both motivated to try, to invest time and energy and to get involved and live good and bad moments has been absolutely necessary for me to carry on such a big project. Surely Fabio didn’t just belay but he gave his best as well, he opened and free climbed some of the more thorny pitches. Some pitches he opened were so scary that I preferred not to lead…So, even if somebody maybe will remember just my name for the complete redpoint, I want to highlight the fact that this is just the tip of the iceberg, the one appearing on the news in the websites, but all the basement, the most important part has been built by two people.
Said that, I’ve got to confess that this time it has been really hard. I feared for a while the redpoint was getting out of my hand, after a few unsuccessful attempts, but last Saturday managing in the one day free climb ascent of the whole route has been the most unexpected and beautiful surprise.
Foto by Pietro Bagnara
The route is overall more committing than “Coelophysis”, the mandatory difficulty is not particularly high, surely other routes I’ve opened such as “No country for old men” or “Il mito della caverna” present mandatory passages technically harder than these ones; but here on Infinite Jest, you’ve so many 7a-b pitches that are definitely not to be under evaluated; due to technical climbing style and the protections generally spaces it’s so hard to climb fast, that’s the main reason why, even if of “only” 17 pitches, the one day free ascent has been though. Some sections – I have to admit that – are also quite dangerous (again, Fabio did his best in sending terrific pitches, like 8th and the first of the upper part, and the 16th. I refused to repeat them!). About our opening style, I noted that, especially on pitches around grades 6 or 7, when tend to put a bolt just before a hard section and then we start climbing the hard section till it is over without putting anything in the middle, usually we put the other bolt in another position of rest. This thing triggers two effects: the first is that the difficulty of the pitch is basically mandatory, the second is that you sometimes have potentially dangerous falls as, after some meters, the bolt doesn’t protect you anymore from hitting the rock when you fall, but can just stop you from fall and avoid to get down till the base of the wall. It’s a bolting style pretty logic and instinctive in my opinion when you bolt on a terrain which you can attempt onsight, in this way the repeater is in similar conditions to the opener. Well, in this way, you create a route with bolts but with a strong alpinistic character, very different from a sport climbing route in mountain when bolts are almost always at a reasonable distance…
Considering that in addition to this aspect related to the protections, there are high technical difficulties in two pitches I can claim this is my hardest free climb ascent, especially considering the fact that I managed in a one day push; beyond the fifth pitch, the hardest, graded by me 8a+/8b, there’s another pitch bouldery and demanding, the fifteenth, which I graded 8a+/8°; despite as I wrote I’ve opened routes that are much harder from the point of view of the mandatory difficulty.
I’ve had many doubts about grading this time. It’s damned hard to grade multi-pitch routes, the grade has to be the same as in sport climbing crag, but here you’ve so many more factors to take in consideration and that you never know exactly how to count them. How much the fact to be uncomfy and unable to rest like in a crag, for example, can influence your performance? And what about the spaced bolts? And what about the fact you’ve already climbed 15 pitches and did a 2 hours hike? Sometimes you realize you’re giving all your potential, but what is really your potential in that moment?
For all the stories about the opening and the free ascent I suggest you to read Fabio’s report. He is much better than me in writing about this…