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“Three Days and Two Cold Nights” on 41-Pitch Matterhorn 5.12b

Temps dipped to -20°C on the first winter ascent of the link-up that was first completed in 2016

Three climbers braved extremely cold temperatures to complete the first winter ascent of an 1.8-kilometre-tall alpine climb up the massive south face of the Matterhorn.

Starting on Feb. 27 and ending on March 1, Italians Francesco Ratti, François Cazzanelli and Emrik Favre climbed climbed Padre Pio Prega Per Noi and Echelle Ver le Ciel, which climbs 1,870 metres up to 5.12b.

Topo Francesco Ratti

In 2016, Patrick Gabarrou envisioned linking the two huge routes to complete an ascent to the summit. Padre Pio Prega Per Noi was first climbed in 2002 and ends after 700 metres on top of the pillar Pilastro dei Fiori. Cazzanelli made a rare repeat of the line in 2013.  The second half, Echelle Ver le Ciel was climbed in 2015.

“Three days and two cold nights on the mountain to make the first full winter ascent of Patrick Gabarrou’s masterpiece Padre Pio Prega per Tutti and Echelle Vers le Ciel,” said Ratti. “With Cazzanelli and Favre another dream became reality.”

Favre, Ratti and Cazzanelli spent three days freeing the 41-pitch big wall. They bivied at 3,900 metres and 4,200 metres in temps that dipped down to -20°C. At over 1,800 metres, this is one of the the Alps biggest and most difficult all-free alpine climbs.