Monday, July 28, 2014

Europe Part 1: Bellavista

After 30 hours of travel from the Blue Mountains I arrived in Munich, met an overly psyched Robbie Phillips, and picked up a hire car. We drove directly to our main goal of the trip, Bellavista 8b+/c, on the Tre Cima de Laverado in the Italian Dolomites. We should have checked the weather first as it was raining with no break forecast for the following week.
After driving back along the way we came we arrived at a climbing area called The Zillertal, which has areas climbable in the rain. The granite crags of The Zillertal are a major sport climbing and bouldering destination as well as an amazing place to hang out.

While waiting for the weather to clear we visited the steep crag of Bachexe where we threw ourselves at an amazing 8a called Electric Avenue.  Robbie managed the send after a few shots and I came close falling off the end of the crux sequence. We also met a strong German crusher, named Paul Steinig, who was on a climbing trip with his mother. He is one of the young guns you occasionally meet while travelling and wonder how far they will push the sport in the future.
Electric Avenue 8a. Bachexe, Zillertal.
The day after Bachexe we visited a route that Robbie had been frothing about since the trip was planned. ‘Total Brutal’ 8b+ is a chipped and glued test piece that gets its classic status due to its position over a road. Paul and his mum turned up and we all threw ourselves at the route although it is hard with big moves and small crimps. Only Robbie showed signs of possibly doing the route. Afterwards Paul suggested we go and try the first 8A boulder problem in The Zillertal. It is a long traverse and didn’t feel as hard as a true 8A boulder. Paul and I fell off the end several times and Robbie sent. We all had completely different ways of doing the problem.
Robbie flexing for the camera on Total Brutal 8b+.
Paul Steinig on Total Brutal 8b+.
Me working hard on the 8A traverse.
A rest day, a visit back to Total Brutal for Robbie, and an easy afternoon on an enjoyable 7c+ and the weather started to look unsettled rather than just really bad in the Dolomites.  Paul and his mother took us out to a nice dinner fuelling us up for the days ahead. We loaded up with supplies and headed to Bellavista.

Day 1:
Our plan was to try the first 5 pitches up to the roof where the crux pitch of the route is located. The first pitches are only up to 7b climbing although they are incredibly run out on loose and slippery rock, as well as rusty pins. The initial rusty pin on the first 7b pitch was almost 10m off the deck! I led the first pitch while thinking of how even Robbie had slipped off a 6a+ the day before.  The following pitches went well with Robbie navigating through a 7a and 7a+ combined pitch on super wet and slippery rock. It was like the face was coated in olive oil.
Once under the roof we had extra time so we pulled along a fixed static line feeling the holds on the initial section of the crux 8b+/c pitch. They were soaking wet, super slippery but surprisingly large.  I was dismayed at the distance between two of the jugs, which Robbie could span easily. There was a small crimp in between but it was difficult to hold. After a short play each we headed down static ropes that were fixed to the deck allowing for a quick escape. Although it had been raining most of the day we had stayed dry due to the steepness of the route.
Cima Ouest. Bellavista heads up to the roof and breaks out left.
To say I was excited is an understatement!
Robbie following the first pitch.

Robbie following the 3rd pitch.
Me on the start of the crux pitch.
Day 2:
On the second day we focused on the crux pitch. I jumared up the initial five pitches and settled in at the crux belay. A fair while later Robbie joined me after struggling with his jumaring setup. Robbie climbs incredibly hard but is new to being on a large route. I couldn’t imagine having my first big route experience on something like Bellavista.  It reminds me of being thrown in the deep end in the Bugaboos a long time ago with Lawrence although we were only climbing up to 5.12-.
The crux pitch of Bellavista is a large traverse and has a mid point anchor. We both worked the first half with the large span in the roof still giving me trouble. The second half of the route we worked separately and was consistently technical and sustained although not as boulder as the first. Everything went smoothly except for one incident when Robbie fell only a draw out from the anchor, and being a lot heavier than me, launched me into the roof above the anchor I was sitting on.  Luckily I was wearing my helmet, which sustained a small dent.
I had the realization that despite the pitch only feeling about 8b and very projectable for me I was not going to be able to do it quickly or on demand for when we go ground up on the entire route. Robbie is a fair bit stronger so with my experience on the wall and his ability to crush it would be possible for him to climb it. So the focus is now for Robbie to get his sequence memorized and to block out in his mind the position on the wall the pitch is. When we go ground up he will lead the crux pitch and then we will epic through the easier terrain to the top hopefully not getting benighted although it seems highly likely.
At the belay for the crux pitch.
Robbie trying the second half of the crux pitch.
Second half of the crux pitch.
After climbing the crux pitch we abseiled down a large
loop we fixed and jumared back up to the anchor. Exposure!
Robbie's feet with a small amount of space beneath them.

It is raining with thunderstorms again and we need rest. We are back in The Zillertal for a few days before returning to Bellavista. We left our draws and a fixed rope on the crux pitch so we have to go back up!


john obrien said...

You guys are so cool.

Rob Wall said...

Hmm maybe

Tomcsi said...

Hi Logan,

I'm Tamas from Hungary we met in the Tre Cime parking place. How it's going with Bellavista? Were you able to made a progress or still struggling with the instable weather?


Logan Barber said...

Hey Tamas! Great to meet you. Next Blog is up!