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Jacopo Larcher Opens Possible New 5.14 Trad in Italy – Read His Story Here

The top crack climber writes about his recent first ascents in Valle dell'Orco

Photo by: Federico Ravassard

Jacopo Larcher was recently in Valle dell’Orco, Italy, scoping new trad lines and trying unclimbed projects. Last week he managed to make the first ascents of two hard projects: Blood Diamond and Shikantaza a.k.a. The Tromba Project.

Larcher said that Blood Diamond is the hardest route he’s climbed in Valle dell’Orco, an area known for hard crack. He’d previously sent Greenspit 5.14a trad in the valley, which would put Blood Diamond in the 5.14 range.

Some of the world’s hardest single-pitch gear climbs include Tribe 5.14+, Blackbeard’s Tears 5.14c, Meltdown 5.14c, Pura Pura 5.14c, Recovery Drink 5.14c, Rhapsody 5.14c and Magic Line 5.14b/c.

Valle dell’Orco 2021 by Jacopo Larcher

After a busy route setting period there is nothing like two weeks of van life and granite climbing in a valley full of climbs and potential for new ones. The second week of October, I drove to Valle dell’Orco to attend the La Sportiva athlete summit, with the idea of spending some more days there after the event. At the end of the event, everyone left the valley, but the weather forecast looked too perfect and, after our expedition to Pakistan, I was really looking forward to do some trad climbing. I had a little topo with some interesting new and old projects, so I went to check them out.

Babsi Zangerl had to go home as she had some work to do, but I remained with Olli (our dog) and climbed mostly on my own or with the locals Andrea and Simone, who warmly welcomed me to camp at their place and really made me feel home (thanks again!).

I started working on two cool, but completely different lines. The first one was an old project by Adriano Trombetta – a short and very “British” route. The second one was a steep and powerful crack located in a crag newly developed by Andrea, Simone and Marzio (Nardi). I liked the fact that the routes were different and required different skills.

One was definitely not as hard technically, but quite dangerous with potential ground fall from about 10 metres. The other was safe, but technically way harder. I liked how both routes required a similar amount of work, but yet a different approach. On one I had to understand how to climb it and try hard for sending it, while I had to often practice and top rope the other one to avoid a ground fall – the beauty and variety of trad climbing.

Jacopo Larcher Photo Federico Ravassard

On Oct. 24, after days spent brushing and figuring out the moves and the gear, I managed to make the FA of Blood Diamond, a steep and powerful crack situated at the Diamante (Diamond) crag. The gear on this one is always good, but placing it on lead definitely adds a little extra to the crux. The moves are simply amazing. Poor footholds, big lockoffs and compression climbing on top. A real gem. Personally, I think this is the hardest one I’ve done in Orco so far.

The following day was the turn of the other project. As I mentioned before, Adriano Trombetta discovered the line years ago and had the vision of tying to climb it without bolting it. Adriano was a real pioneer in Orco where he established a lot of routes and had a lot of projects/ He tragically passed away in 2017 in an avalanche, but his spirit still lives in the valley and in the memories of his friends.

The route is located on a big boulder at the base of Sergent. It starts following a sloping rail on a prow to a flake, where you place some micro cams before setting off for the crux. After a few moves, you reach a good crimp and gear, the placement looks good, but the hold is a loose flake, which would probably break in a big fall. I tensioned (on lead) the hook with a piece of cord to a lower cam.

The next section involves some technical moves and small crimps and ends with some insecure moves to a big flake, where you can finally place some gear before the easier top. The climbing is definitely not so hard (5.13), but the combination of insecure moves and a possible ground fall make it spicy.

I personally really liked the shape of the block and the line, that’s why I absolutely wanted to climb it. I couldn’t have wished for a better end of my trip to Orco. I’d never had the chance to meet Adriano, but this line is a nice tribute to him and his vision. I decided to call it Shikantaza a.k.a. The Tromba project. I already can’t wait to go back to Orco, the place is so beautiful and there is such big potential for new lines!

Jacopo Larcher Photo Federico Ravassard
Lead photo: Federico Ravassard