But we all knew that we would probably never see each other again…
There is a comfortable sofa in the living room of my parents and right next to it there is a light wooden wardrobe with glass doors. Inside them are kept years and years of vertical evolution told through the thousands of pages of the hundreds of specialized magazines gathered by my father over the years. Collection that continues today to expand!
It was my dad who gave me the passion for climbing and it did not take long for this new passion to become an addiction, so I started to make that corner of the sofa next to the wardrobe one of my favorite places. I spent hours leafing through the magazines and as a real enthusiast I was waiting for the new issue. One day a Vertical entered the house, the number 15 of December 2008 – January 2009 and on the cover there was a title: Karambony portfolio The future is in Madagascar. There was no article to accompany the photos, but no article was needed, everything was so clear. I did nothing but look and look at the pictures! Thus began our journey in Madagascar, with a sixteen year old sitting on a couch making absurd mental journeys.
PHOTOs and FOOTAGES REALIZED with
I’ve never been a talented guy, not even constant in training but there has always been a flame inside me that taught me to be curious and get involved, I love to deal with every way to climb up, from the cliff to the boulder to the streets in the mountains. The truth is that I have never been good at doing any of the things but I have always thrown myself headlong into projects much bigger than me and it is only thanks to my companions that I have learned and I am learning to live climbing.
This year my team mates are two young members of the Ragni di Lecco group and like me they do not have much experience of opening a path from the bottom with the drill attached to the harness. It was in fact a hard-fought decision to really bring the drill to a place like the Tsaranoro valley, where dozens of streets had already been climbed and names and surnames that were much more important than ours had left their signature. The doubt was more than lawful: we are sure of what we are doing !?
Moreover, I had never climbed with Dimitri, I only knew he was nicknamed Satan and was not afraid to make long flights, and actually he was the one to hazard the most difficult steps on the cliffs in the opening phase, maybe after long run- out!
With Marco instead I had already climbed sometimes both in Marmolada and in Val di Mello and I always liked its precision, and after his trip to Mexico with Simone Pedeferri I realized a new confidence even with larger walls, precise in rope maneuvers even more complicated.
The team was ready! With a dangerous arrogance we close our luggage and with a passport and boarding passes we find ourselves at Malpensa.
After an endless journey by plane interspersed with meals of doubtful taste and sleepy falling heads, we land in Antananarivo which means “the city of a thousand” and takes its name from the number of soldiers serving as guards to the King. So many times in the world of climbing high is a huge advantage but it is certainly not pleasant to unroll from an uncomfortable seat of an airplane after 12 hours of travel! We wait for the baggage while the customs checks the passport briefly and once we leave the airport we find a girl waiting for me with my surname written on a sheet, incredibly written in the right way! I had a middle school teacher who in three years has never been able to pronounce it.
The logistics of the trip is very simple, we just have to get on a van and sit for another 12 hours and then arrive in the much desired Tsaranoro valley.
Unlike other expeditions I have undertaken, this trip completely excluded that fascinating discourse linked to exploration, to the real adventure, to isolation and to having to arrange, to the base camp: all situations that I discovered missing during my stay in the valley. Moreover we were well aware of this compromise because the Tsaranoro valley is now a tourist destination and well-run for climbers and hikers.
This does not mean that seeing a wall for the first time from real and feeling it a step away from you, feeling its grandeur and its majesty overwhelm you is an ever new experience that leaves the absolute exclusivity of being able to explore in themselves the whirl of emotions provoked by her: charm, doubts, motivation and fear.
Tsarasoa camp is a camping / resort for all budgets with the opportunity to live experiences of chic stays in beautiful houses with striking mosaics and bathrooms with views of the wall and for the most penniless tents at a low price, we obviously stayed in tents, in the only curtain! We were obviously considered the bums of the campsite and during our stay has strengthened and passed on as a tourist tourist legend not to sit next to the Italians for dinner, because they ate everything without mercy … and we were the only Italians!
Trarasoa camp has a very beautiful philosophy! It differs from other campsites for small but honorable initiatives: the water offered to the customer is that of the torrents, filtered and made potable (vice versa should always be bought) the food offered is the product of the land and crops, electricity is that produced by solar panels, no generator, and over the years a reforestation work has been done. This direct relationship with nature offers an almost authentic experience of Malagasy life and it is beautiful because the relationship with people immediately becomes more familiar.
The first day we do not waste time and we immediately climb under the walls to get a clearer idea, there are two paths and we can make a mistake! At the end we lose a lot of time but we reach the wall, we are not looking for a nice line, we are just looking for empty spaces and then evaluate the beauty, actually the wall is saturated and moreover it is impossible to study the various sections of the wall behind the lenses of a pair of binoculars, see only plaques! But Dimitri identifies a fairly obvious logic in a point of wall devoid of streets. Everyone likes the idea! Let’s try!
All important decisions are entrusted to chance, we play all the scissors stone or similar games and the first day of opening I remain on the ground while Marco and Dimitri quickly climb the first shots that win a sort of convex forepart. Three shots in plaque with modest difficulties due to the never exaggerated inclination.
The next day I leave and as the gradients increase, the difficulties increase too. We manage to make the strings spin as much as possible using a few bolts per shot, but however few start to doubt our material: would we have enough? Would we have enough meters of static rope to fix our progress from day to day?
The night after we return to the campsite after a difficult day, we were able to climb only half a shot, what then proved to be the most difficult. If we had continually encountered difficulties of this kind we would never have managed to finish the road and at dinner we were disheartened and a little disappointed by the day, but something has shaken our souls! Edu Marin and Sasha DiGiulian had just released La mora mora and the light in their eyes was the same one we dreamed of. Moreover, they gave us a few meters of static and a single rope and at that point we could no longer fail after this unexpected blessing! Among other things, without their help, I do not know if the adventure would have had the same result.
With renewed confidence we begin to rise alternately in the opening phase, everyone does his job well, who does not scale is because the static is settling, and after a very short time we are a machine run, as if we had done nothing but open paths together. Everyone takes his satisfactions in the opening phase! For example, I will always remember the last shot that leads to the final ledge, the 11th pitch.
It was a cold day and a strong wind was blowing, I had left the park and after about ten meters the logic of taking had led me to turn a corner, and once behind there was no longer possible to communicate with others because of the wind , and I could not even see them. I was alone on a wonderful black plate that alternated sections of technical climbing and small bombs where they hid boulders on beautiful crystals! And it is the kind of climb with which I go to the wedding. The magic of that moment of solitude allowed me to dare some long run-outs and I would never have stopped only when the ropes were over I realized that they had already passed under my fingertips 60 meters. The magic and the wind obviously disappeared when I had to release that shot instead. I passed 60 meters to curse myself for having too long spotted this length of 7c.
From the final ledge with another 4 pitches we reach the summit and unfortunately we did not imagine that it would be the only time we would have arrived.
That night at the campsite I think someone saw the same light in our eyes that we had seen in the two great champions Sasha and Edu. And I think someone went to sleep still hungry and I’m sure that someone was someone who had sat down for dinner near the Italians.
Time flowed fast and the Malagasy philosophy of life blackberry took possession of our bodies tired by the hard days on the wall. We took two days of well-deserved rest and according to our mathematical calculations we had enough time to first release all the shots and then climb the route in one attempt, perhaps sleeping in portaledge and living our experience on this wall to the full.
But the climb is anything but mathematical calculations, a discipline in which instinct is still the determining factor can certainly not be minimized to a daily table of things to do. And there were so many things to do! If you then add that precarious balance and that terrible fight with gravity fought by small vibrations, here is every kind of prediction blissfully to be blessed. Not all the lengths we managed to free them on the first try and the super aggressive rock for the fingertips forced us to continuous tactical rest.
The priority therefore became exclusively to free all the shots, we did not want to leave lengths with the question mark for any reason and I take all the responsibility for these delays because I was the only one not to stand on the shot that was due to me. The 6th pitch was the one that had slowed us in the opening phase and was slowing us even in the free time, but not all the shooting, only the final part, a really difficult boulder for me, 4 random movements on elusive catches. We have renamed those few meters as “the corner of the blasphemies”.
So it was that we managed to come to terms with it only after a dozen attempts and three days spent exclusively on that shot. Too late, however, to try the ascent in the day because in a few hours we were waiting for the taxi to return to Antananarivo.
It ‘s my only regret of this holiday vertical but despite this I think that each of us has given the best of himself so if a good cake is missing only the icing, we do not make a drama, someone will have the pleasure of eating it in our place and I hope with all my heart that he likes to go crazy!
We decided to call RIVOTRA MAHERY, which means strong wind. Simply because he was our invisible companion all the time. But there is a story behind this translation. A story of friendship growing day by day with a boy from the camp. And this way is dedicated to him!
Tuavina is a boy of 21 years of those wary, those guys who are in a corner, of those that is always like that! That when you know them are wonderful guys! It took a while to break the ice, we played chess with him and taught him a few words in Italian, he was proud of his learning achievements! It applied a lot and in a few days already knew a lot of words, I think he wanted to show his girlfriend who was studying languages in the city that he was able to learn them while not going to school. Tuavina loved us and he liked being with us! We had taught him how to play trump and although he never really understood how to play he always wanted to play a game. Affinity became such that at supper a nod was enough for Tuavina to bring us an encore! No one was allowed an encore! And thanks to this someone had the courage to sit still near us.
Tuavina on the morning of our departure had come to greet us with eyes full of nostalgia, we greeted with that aftertaste that you do not want to believe. Nobody managed to say goodbye … But we all knew that we would probably never see each other again.