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Pilier Lomasti Sylvie
3:09:26 AM
Pilier Lomasti, Sylvie
Val d’Aoste

The Swiss Germans Christof and Alex had me over for last New Year’s Eve…and once again out it came, this tale from a seemingly mythical age long ago when Christof was a lithe 18 or 19 year old: he was pulling over a ledge after a splitter looking to traverse a tad and found bats looking him directly in the face annoyed at having to make space for his size 6’5” hands. “Rod, The Rose and the Vampire is really well named”. I vaguely recall thinking “…except there’s no splitter as its in a different route but hey, its the same wall and why get in the way of a good story from some bloke with a third bigger mass than I carry around?”. Piss-talk was all it seemed to me, there’s SO much good rock and so many great settings in that valley that it’s likely to be just more of the same.

So began my experience of Pilier Lomasti.

Thereafter, Alex had been at me right through to May “Rod, the Pilier Lomasti this, Rod the Pilier Lomasti that, Rod me and Christof climbed the Rose and the Vampire last weekend, I’m telling you, everything he says about the place is true”.

Finally I said, “fine, Christof raved about Sylvie that night, ask him what he reckons.”

Alex sometime later: “Christof says it’s hard. A long series of pitches that are vertical to overhanging, crimpy and tiny pockets…small holds…followed by a long section of pitches that at first glance seem more slabby but end up on pockets and are really hard…small holds. It was really hard when he was a lithe youngster, there’s no hope of getting him to go up that route now.”

“Right…let’s give it a go sometime this year”.

Pregnant pause. “Do you really think we can do it?”

“Sure Alex, what’s the worst that can happen? We reach checkmate, fall, rappel off. We’ll lick our minor flesh wounds and do another route once the adrenalin wears off. You in?”

“OK Rod…lets do it!”

The second last week of August swings by and Alex has had holiday space and been after me for several weekends but I’ve been pursuing other things in my climbing (getting prepped for Wolfgang Gullich in Sardinia). The weather hadn’t really been cooperating with my work induced weekend sentencing anyway so it didn’t really matter but I’d been hard single pitching for a couple of weekends and decided that if I want to get WG done this year I’m at the point where I need hard 7 to 10 pitch multi’s. It was time for some of the bigger outings that I’ve got in mind as build up.

So there I am on the usual mid-week scan of the weather: Sunday’s forecast was good after a clearing day Saturday, so the call went in to Alex…he was liberated from all commitments in about 5 minutes and raring to go!

That decided, Saturday I played at a site near Branson in great temps: bagged a PB on the 2nd go and generally felt great…which usually means a rest day is needed.

Sunday dawned, I’d slept badly and I was feeling decidedly sluggish. Alex arrived by 8AM so we had coffees in Branson before launching off to Italy via Gr St Bernard. It was a day with the bright blue skies that I’ve only noticed at these latitudes, G accompanied us having decided a day in the sun was a great idea. Over the border we cruise down past the slate roofed houses of NW Italy. Another coffee stop (well worth it here). We pull off the autostrada at Verres before parking and the 45min approach via Sanctuaro Machaby.

In the last 25 minutes to our right we have Corma Machaby or Il Paretone, a fantastic dome of A class quality Gneiss on which we’d done a couple of routes on last winter/spring. Less steep than Lomasti, it’s quite comforting to look at given those experiences. Pilier Lomasti somes into view late in the approach, shaded. Dependent upon where your eye is cast it’s a pleasant looking stroll, a crimp fest/horror show or an overhang fest/horror show. I’m more suited to overhangs, Alex the crimpy stuff : I thought to myself “we’ve got it covered”.

I took a look at Sylvie: plenty of horror for both of us but more me than Alex. He nominated me for pitch 2…great.

Alex’s lead. 4b, he strolls it (these “easy” pitches oft turn desperate, don’t knock-it).

The “warm-up” dealt with its time to get it on.

Ding-ding round one: crimpy start, very feet based before overhang 1 of the pitch that is like a small open-mouthed cavern. I surprise myself and make it to the cavern with only a minimal struggle and notice it traverses a bit from here…“hmm…what was that bit about traversing and bats?”…I look inside, not a bat to be found.

I look over the roof onto a very technical traverse and assess the moves: left below the roof, tough passage to get established above the roof, clip, technical well protected traverse of 10 metres or so heading right with one feathery looking clip, then a rising traverse of several metres to the next roof and a clip then the roof. That’s all I can see. I give it a lash but don’t send it clean. Give it another go and the first tough section succumbs, the traverse also and the second roof goes relatively easily.

Alex sends up a “bravo, I’m happy you’re through those overhangs”.

“I’m not so sure about that Alex, this next patch looks to be more your style of crux than mine; I reckon it’s the hardest part of the pitch”.

I give it a shot, it’s thin, crimpy, vertical and very much dictates exactly how the sequence goes. I get 4 of the 5 moves done and then reach for the draw below in a semi-fall/slump. I can’t get quite enough out of a hands/feet transition to reach the last crimp. “Hmm, I could clip then try again.” I put a short sling onto the last draw then repeat my way up but slot a foot into the sling then stand more steadily to reach for the last crimpy side pull. With a last feathery, slightly shaky from effort, move I manage to clip. I ask Alex to lower me and redo the section but still can’t manage to get enough out of the sequence other than to weight the rope slightly coming out of crimp 4 trying to set the last foot in order to get at side crimp 5. I let it go and finish the remaining section of the pitch on finger pad wide crimps into juggy side pulls.

I’m happy with the job done, it would have been a tough onsight on the bottom section but for me that wasn’t the hard bit…that 3rd crux definitely exploited my weaknesses (perhaps I could change that if I lost weight but that would be cheating).

Alex comes on up, we exchange a few laughs at the belay and pass a few minutes letting him detox a little. I feel fairly good by the time he arrives, not pumped at all which is a good sign for the rest of the day.

Ding-ding round 2. juggy start, a bouldery looking, evil little overhang into a nice vertical section with fissures and face holds. He goes, he’s 3 clips in pulling and breathing hard, he tackles the overhang and reaches to a jug, establishes the feet…this is in the bag…“BRAVO Alex!”…he falls!? Transitioning onto what looks easy to below all is lost: no tremors of effort, no desperate search for holds…he’s just off.

The Swiss German expletive of English origin is let loose.

“What happened?”

“Nothing, it’s just really hard, maybe more your style”.

He rests then gives it another shot and establishes himself via a rockover, makes it to the next clip and downclimbs to a rest. “Way to go Alex!”. He takes it on again, fights through the flash/mind pump for the rest of the pitch and gets there…great job!

I give it a crack and take the bouldery option on the bolt 3 section above the depart, wrestle the body mass into position on a solid left hand/sketchy high feet pose then let fly with a dyno to what looks like a right hand jug…and bag it! I was so nearly off! I layback/fridge-hug my way over the bulge completely ignoring the crimpy face climbing option that blew Alex away. I’m quickly through, breathing hard. Settle it down before climbing using a mix of cracks and face holds to about 4 metres below th

6:01:04 AM
Excellent trip report, Rod.

Reading that was a good way to begin what is going to be a pretty crappy day of work.

I is jealous.
8:41:37 AM
Great report Rod - thanks.

10:46:37 AM
A good read, and you describe the experience well.
Also great to have accompanying photos!

Some memorable lines that could easily slip into a movie script! Heh, heh, heh.
... like this quote;
>“Sure Alex, what’s the worst that can happen? We reach checkmate, fall, rappel off. We’ll lick our minor flesh wounds and do another route once the adrenalin wears off. You in?”

>“OK Rod…lets do it!”

Interesting to see a glimpse into 'twin rope and a rack of draws style' for long, long, sport routes.

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