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KIRIS PEAK (5428m)
I’m at the base of our destination. The wall that we imagined could be climbed with classical systems appears to us in all its power. Infinite granite slabs make us think more of an El Capitan than a Grand Capucin as we had thought. There is no system of cracks that isn’t interrupted by areas that are absolutely smooth, and what’s more, streams of water descend right at the wall’s path of least resistance. But it’s fascinating and exciting, the access is relatively easy, and the weather seems to be clearing up. Preparing the equipment makes me feel nauseated. I hate every kind of complication. I like climbing with ten quick draws, but here things are different, and any organizational error could cost us dearly ... I have to adapt, dreaming of the Dolomites.Sometimes I wonder why I’m here. I consider it my great fortune to be able to enjoy simple and convenient things like climbing on the walls back home, whether they’re the great Dolomite walls or just some single pitches on crags. I hate long approaches, the cold, the hassle ... and what have I come to do in this valley in the middle of nowhere on the other side of the world? It’s a mystery.The attack and the line of the climb seem obvious. An easy ramp brings us to the base of a slab that already started dripping water in the morning. Maurizio goes up a few meters, but above him several smooth meters don’t offer many options. With the drill it would have been a walk in the park, but this way it’s torture. I, and I think my companions as well, would have left the matter there, but Maurizio’s stubbornness gets the upper hand. One peg after another, great effort, a few Faletti pendulums ... and, after hours of work, a small terrace above the slab is reached. From here everything is clearer, even if there are still some unknowns.Two days later, Cristiano is laid low by vomiting, diarrhea and the accompanying disappointment. Andrea is with him. Maurizio, Massimo and I head out. The sky is clear and there’s no time to lose. The sun reaches us quickly, and it’s very pleasant. Rapidly climbing back up the ropes, we are on the small terrace above the nasty slab. A series of doable but not easy pitches take us about a third of the way up the wall. From here, the upper part seems passable; it’s just all that water we don’t like. The ropes we have are just enough to get down. The sun is gone and we put on our down jackets. We lower ourselves, but tomorrow our journey will have to continue without “umbilical cords.” It’s dawn. I’m sick. I didn’t sleep last night. I stay in the tent on the glacier. My friends attack and in three days will reach the top.