Ah…Arco. Would be nice to be there this summer, but slowly accepting that I will not go to the mountains this year. Alas. I think I like this b/c it captures why the Alps are great: climbing+weather+food/drink (note the terraced vineyard). Ruppe Secca Sud isn’t even a great crag, much less a mountain, but nevertheless, it’s the alps.
A brilliant write up from UKClimbing.com of an all-time classic: The Nordkante! So glad I ticked it this summer. You can read about my experiance here. Btw, it’s barely 5.7 (VDiff-ish) but its a full 1km or 3k feet long! Hawt dizamn that’s a lot of rock!
Jacob Burckhardt, The State as a Work of Art, Penguin Great Ideas #90, p. 43.
I LOVE the Italian Renaissance. Note Burckhardt’s nuance w/r/t the relative morality of murder in principle vs. being caught for murder. Oh yah, homeboy was a part of the ‘Holy League’ and lover of Lucrezia Borgia the illegitimate daughter (Q.E.D) of Rodrigo Borgia, AKA Pople Alexander VI, and sister of Ceasar Borgia
Peter checking out a dream: Rosengartenspitze, Vajolet, Dolomite, Italy. 600m, mostly 5.8ish with some .10 including the make or break pitch at the top. The line is obvious: the crack system straight up the middle of the face. I love that climbing takes me to places like this where I can wake up and catch these reflections as make my tea. Peter and I spent 3 days camped here in the summer of ‘10. Need to get back sometime…
2. Strike none of your own followers , or if you do, send the injured man far away
3. Don’t ride a hard-mouthed horse, or one that drops his shoe"
Ah, summer in the Alps. Top of the last pitch of Punta d’Albigna. I have now done all three major routes on the Punta and can safely say it that Mueli is the best, followed by Modern Times and finally Steiger and that all three should be topped off with the NW Ridge. Moreover it is a great first mountain as the routes are well protected and easy, the descent is not hard, and there is a midway bail between below the NW ridge if the weather is souring.
This is part of the promised climbing series. I will try, if possible, to always put beta links at the end.
The Spazzacalderia from the hut, Mosiaco runs straight up the trianglular face in the middle, culminating in a point
In fairness, I may have misled Peter a bit. I told him it would be no problem to get from Canazei to Bregaglia in a day. Theoretically it was not a problem, but hey, theoretically it was not a problem to get from Bolzano to Canazei in an afternoon, and theoretically one could do the Dolomites sans automobile, and no trad gear. We traveled by bus to Trento, from there via rail to Milan, and sprinted to the furthest possible platform to catch a train to Colico. We caught the last train, and pulled into sleepy Chiavenna just in time to see the last bus up Val Bregagalia to St. Moritz pull away, on time. Damn Swiss. My plan counted on Italian bus drivers. No matter, our campsite, the ‘climbers’ campsite was only 3km up the valley. Fourty-five sweaty minutes later we rolled into Camping Acquafraggia completely beat. Undeterred by the ‘full’ sign we saddled up to office to beg for a site. We explained that we didn’t need a car site, as we didn’t have a car, to which our host replied: ‘I can tell.’ The plan for the next week-ten days was simple. Go up to the more friendly crags above Lake Albigna to warm up to granite, then snatch a few rest days in valley before heading up to the Bondasca valley to attempt the big ones: the Badile, Cengalo, and others.
The sun woke me first the next morning, after a morning bread run and recon mission, I caught a weather report: two OK days followed by quite dire predictions. Rousing Peter I somehow convinced him that a) we were heading to Albigna now and b) we were staying in the hut incase the rain came early. Leaving in a huff we decided not to visit the ATM or purchase petrol for the stove before leaving Chiavenna. Bad call. We reached the Albigna cable car, our ‘approach’ to the valley, right as it closed for lunch, and realized that there was neither a cash point nor a petrol station anywhere near. Thankfully Peter’s mish mash of German, French, and Italian landed him a seat in a car pointed towards the valley. Making full use of his public school boy charm, he returned an hour later with petrol and cash. Shortly thereafter we caught the first cable car up the valley, just as the clouds began to swirl.
Conditions at the start
The large group of Italian climbers laughed as I stumbled over a large block lying in the path from the cablecar to the Spazzacadera. When we finally arrived we were anxious to get on the rock and spotting the classic of the crag, Mosiaco 6b, open we rushed over and while scoping the first pitch I failed to notice the large block in the path, much to the locals amusement. The amusement turned to surprise as we set up Via Felici, the 4 pitch first half of Mosiaco, undeterred by the fog. Despite the initially unfamiliar movement demanded by the granite slabs I quickly warmed to the impressive friction and bolted but still bold style I cut my teeth on in North Carolina. Pete made quick work of the second arrived at the belay ledge grinning and lead straight through onto the 6a crux pitch. Lost in the fog, I could tell he was making rapid progress by the speed he needed rope. At this point the bemusement of our continental counterparts had turned to surprise as it was apparent we were set to lap the first 100m of their classic in under a half hour. All those misty Lakeland and Welsh pitches paid dividends there on the Swiss border.
Following Pete through the mist was truly the treat. The angle steepened as the route transitioned from exquisitely balancy moves to delectable flakes. Each move appeared out of the swirling mist as I moved upwards forcing me to enjoy each little move for itself rather than trying to run to the belay as fast as possible. Pete wanted the next pitch as it continued the flakes he was already engaged with, and as pitch 4 was reputed to be a positively classic jamming crack I gladly obliged. Forty-five delightful meters later I joined him at the third belay and caught a glimpse of the laser cut crack I was to enjoy.
Enjoying our quick pace I dove into the crack relishing each jam and the perfect edges for the feet just when I needed a rest. Pulling a small overhang a double bolt belay surprised me 5m earlier than the large ledge I expected to belay on. But, as he insisted on Stabler tower four days earlier, we climb to the top. After bring Pete up, all smiles after 160m of near perfect climbing, we eyed up the weather and the next section of the route, 2nd Pillar 6a/b. Deciding that A) the mist was a ‘white’ mist with sun on its back rather than a rain bearing dark mist as our Welsh and Lakeland training had turned us into true mist conissours and B) the next two pitches looked as good as the last four and boyed with the confidence of walking Via Felici in 1 ¼ hours Pete lead through up a amazing diagonal crack splitting a head wall to a trick pull up through a bulge gaining a lovely slab to the belay. I finished up the route with 30m of pleasant easy angled crack climbing. One absail into a gully and a bit of scrambling down we arrived back at the base not much more than 2 ½ hours after setting out. As we pulled into the Albigna Hut that night, grinning with joy and brimming with confidence in ourselves, if not our somewhat dubious internet beta. When we told the hut gaurdian we would be cooking for ourselves, he kindly put us next to the winter room and gave us free use of it. This was perfect, we had warm beds and a private kitchen. After a nice meal, a bottle of wine, and a pint, we turned in, eager to try a long link up on Punta a’Albigna the next day.
Summitpost beta for Via Felici (first half of Mosaico)
The Badile (by zach.stone)
Climbing this was the coolest thing I did in 2011. For sure. Even though I got real cold. Read about it here (hint, it’s only 5.7)
The Year in Review (by zach.stone)
The Year in Review
I guess it’s not completely over, but close enough. When I look back on this year, I am surprised at its fullness. I feel incredibly lucky for all the experiences I had in the past 12 months, but blessed for the people with whom I experienced those months.
-Wrote one 20,000 word thesis
-Wrote four 3,000 word exams
-Gave three 20 minute conference papers (York, Oxford, London)
-Submitted 3 papers for publication (two accepted, one pending)
-Received four travel/research bursaries (York, Vercelli, Oxford, Oxford)
-Baked untold amounts of cookies, biscotti, etc.
-Described over 50 medieval manuscripts
-Climbed 68 routes and counting (going climbing Tuesday)
-Climbed 1 Piz Badile (Nordkante, 30 pitches, only counts for one route)
-Climbed in Cornwall, North Wales, the Lake District, Pembroke, the Peak, the Red River Gorge, the Alps, and secret backwoods crags
-707+ mile ran/cycled (300+ running in the last 3 months)
-1 knee damaged
-Spent 2 total weeks in France
-Spent 7 months in England
-Spent 6 weeks in Italy
-Spent 3 months in Kentucky
-Flew 24k miles (i.e. enough to circumnavigate the globe)
-Took the train from Paris to Milan (2x)
-Read A LOT of books (see HERE)
-Dined at many a High Table
-Took a lot of pictures
-Applied to 9 PhD programs (Oxford, York, Yale, Berkeley, Duke, UCLA, Tennessee, George Washington, Virginia)
-Spent ¾ of the year with a great girl (the first 8 months, sadly [but not badly])
-Watched one sister (and hopefully one best friend) get engaged
-Took the GRE and GRE Lit
-Other stuff I can’t remember
Best campsite ever? (by zach.stone) This is perhaps the best campsite ever. And I really want to go back and get the Rosengartenspitz, the big wall Peter is looking at.
The last ridge (by zach.stone)
I know I have posted this before, but it is one my all-time favs, at least of photos I have taken. It’s from the halfway ridge on Punta d’Albigna, about 1000m above the lake and fully 500m of climbing above the ground. And 300m of climbing left…guess was thinking about the alps. Since I got to play Alps yesterday.
Cavour Panorama (by zach.stone)
This is the town center for Vercelli, Piazza Cavour. I live just down the street exiting the far right hand frame.
In the library (by zach.stone)
Anonymous asked: You are the reason people have fantasies about librarians while spending inordinate amounts of time in the stacks.
If a person is stuck in the stacks fantasizing about librarians, I’m assuming it’s because they can’t find their book and need help real...
It takes an ocean not to break.
“Poetry must resemble prose, and both must accept the vocabulary of their time.”— William Butler Yeats on modern poetry in a rare 1936 BBC recording.