In October of the current year Jacopo Larcher spent two weeks in the Valle dell'Orco and made two difficult first trad climbs. The lines are Blood Diamond and Shikantaza (aka The Tromba Project). In this article Jacopo reports on his trip and the two routes.

A report by Jacopo Larcher

After a grueling route-building period, there's nothing better than living in the van for two weeks and climbing in a granite area that has so many existing and unclimbed lines. In the second week of October I went to the Valle dell'Orco to take part in the La Sportiva Athlete Summit, with the idea of ​​spending a few more days there after the event. At the end of the meeting everyone left the valley, but the weather forecast looked too perfect to leave. Babsi and I recently returned from Pakistan and I was particularly looking forward to trad climbing.

During the Athlete Summit we got a little topo with some interesting new and old projects, so I checked them out right away. Babsi had to go home because she had something to do, so I stayed with Olli (our dog) and climbed mostly alone or with the two locals Andrea and Simone, who gave me a warm welcome and who allowed me to camp on their property. I felt at home!

Two routes - two completely different challenges

I started working on two cool but completely different lines. The first route was an old project by Adriano Trombetta, a short and very "British" route. The second line was a steep and impressive crack in a sector newly developed by Andrea, Simone and Marzio (Nardi). I particularly liked that the two routes were completely different and that completely different skills were required.

"One route was quite dangerous with a potential fall from a height of 10 meters."

One route was technically not that difficult, but quite dangerous with a potential fall from 10 meters. The other route could be secured well, but was technically more demanding.

I liked that both routes required a similar amount of work, but a different approach. On one route, I had to study the individual sequences well and make a real effort to crack the route, while on the other, I had to gain the necessary security in top-rope climbing in order to dare to try the lead. And it is precisely this variety that makes trad climbing so attractive for me.

Which friend comes to the train and when? (Photo Federico Ravassard)
Which friend comes to the train and when? (Photo Federico Ravassard)

First free ascent of Blood Diamond

After a few days of cleaning the handles, studying the trains, and determining the equipment, the time had come. I was able to freely climb the overhanging and difficult crack route Blood Diamond in the Diamante sector. The route is always secured well, but the attachment during the lead should not be underestimated in the key passage. I dene Blood Diamond is the most difficult route I've climbed in the Valle dell'Orco.

“Blood Diamond's movements are just awesome. Bad kicks, lock-offs and compression climbing at the end. A real gem. "

On to the next line

The next day it was the turn of the other project. As I mentioned earlier, Adriano Trombetta discovered the line years ago and had a vision of climbing it without drilling it. Adriano was a real pioneer in Orco (and other areas!), Established many routes and had many projects. In 2017 he tragically died in an avalanche accident, but his spirit still lives in the valley and in the memories of his friends!

Crack climbing at its finest. (Photo Federico Ravassard)
Crack climbing at its finest. (Photo Federico Ravassard)

The route is on a large boulder at the foot of the Sergent. It starts with a sloper rail at a bow to a good flake where you can place some micro cams before entering the key point of the route.

After a few pulls you reach a good ledge on which I decided to put a hook as a safeguard. The placement actually looks okay, but the grip would break out fairly safely in the event of a major fall. I connected the hook to a cam further down during the lead climb to keep the hook from moving.

"I connected the hook to a cam below during the lead climb so that the hook wouldn't move."

The following section includes some delicate movements on small ledges and ends with unsteady pulls on a larger flake, which can finally be secured again before the relatively easy exit of the route. The route is not the hardest, probably in the eighth French degree, but the combination of wobbly trains and a potential fall in the ground make it quite challenging. I really liked the shape of the block and the line, which is why I really wanted to climb it.

Tribute to Adriano Trombetta

I couldn't have imagined a better end to my trip to the Valle dell'Orco! I'd never had the chance to meet Adriano, but the route here is an obvious tribute to him and his vision. I decided to christen the route “Shikantaza” (also known as “The Tromba Project”).

A big thank you goes to Andrea and Simone from the “Le Fonti” hut for the help, the securing, the work, but above all for the warm welcome and the great time! I can't wait to go to Orco again. The place is so beautiful and there is so much potential for new lines!

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Credits: Cover picture Federico Ravassard

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