Stefano Ghisolfi climbs his long-term project Excalibur in Arco. The route, rated 9b+, is not only the hardest first ascent of the Italian climbing professional to date, but also the most difficult sport climbing route in Italy.

Stefano Ghisolfi's Persistence has paid off: at the beginning of February he managed the first ascent of his mega project Excalibur (9b +) in bow. It's hard to imagine a more perfect line than this, enthuses the Italian climbing pro.

"I have to admit that the process was extremely difficult, from the first attempt where I tried to decode the beta and thought it was impossible, to the first ascent where I felt solid and safe."

Stefano Ghisolfi

Video: Stefano Ghisolfi's just before the climb

Excalibur: joint project in the high-end sector

The best thing about this project, however, was the people who accompanied it, says Ghisolfi: "The shared moments and the attempts with some of the best climbers in the world, but above all with my friends."

The strong Italian opened his line in Arco early on and invited the strongest climbers in the world - including Adam Ondra, Jakob Schubert and Will Bosi - to try them together.

«I am confident in proposing the 9b+ level of difficulty, this time I have no doubts about it.»

Stefano Ghisolfi
Talking shop among professionals: Stefano Ghisolfi, Adam Ondra and Jakob Schubert discuss the perfect beta for Excalibur. Image: Adam Ondra
Talking shop among professionals: Stefano Ghisolfi, Adam Ondra and Jakob Schubert discuss the perfect beta for Excalibur. Picture: Adam Ondra

«Without a doubt 9b+»

For Excalibur - long considered a potential 9c during the project planning phase - Stefano Ghisolfi suggests a difficulty level of 9b+. A valuation proposal that he has no doubts about.

"It's definitely the hardest of all my first ascents, and now probably the most difficult route in Italy."

Stefano Ghisolfi

Statements from Excalibur also indicated that there was at least 9b+ in it Adam Ondra out, who also planned the line extensively, but recently out of the race.

Ondra developed a shorter version of Excalibur, which starts roughly in the middle of the wall. Buro starts with a huge dynamo from the neighboring rock and, according to Ondra, can be a 9b on its own. However, the tough 8B/8B+ boulder problem at the start is left out.

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Credits: Cover picture Marco Erspamer