Siebe Vanhee | Sending ‘Greenspit’ – The famous 8b roof crack in Italy
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Sending ‘Greenspit’ – The famous 8b roof crack in Italy

Sending ‘Greenspit’ – The famous 8b roof crack in Italy

‘Greenspit’ – Valle dell’Orco

The last two weeks of August I left together with Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll on a little trip in Switzerland and Italy. First we planned to go immediately towards the amazing Orco valley in Italy where I was before. But due to an awful heat of 40°C in the valley we planned to climb a couple of days in Switzerland where Sean still had a little project to try.

Switzerland and stormy climbing
We went towards ‘Le petit Clocher du Portalet’ near Martigny. This is an amazing granite spire at more or less 2500 meters altitude. After an approach of 2 to 3 hours with all the gear and food we’ve put up camp in a one hour distance walk of the spire. In advance we checked the weather forecast and knew the weather gods were possibly going to be angry those days. The same day we walked up to camp we left for our first climbing day at the spire. Sean already had been a couple of times to this spire and had already done most of the lines, his motivation to return was the line ‘Darbelet’. I was just so impressed about this spire it didn’t really matter what I climbed. This line is a multi-pitch with first some easy pitches and at the end two really impressive lines. The first line is a thin crack of 40 meter with small protection and some pitons. The amazing thing about this line is that it’s so sustained you have to stay focussed and precise the whole way long with a little crux at the end. We tried this line a couple of times in between some little storms. We only got to try the first hard pitch because of a wet second pitch but it was already enough hard moves to search out. The second day we did the same but finished with an easier line that brought us to the top. Our third day we went down again to civilization because they predicted a whole day of storm which we didn’t really notice.
This was a short but nice and interesting stop on our way to Valle Dell’Orco. By the time we climbed in Switzerland the temperatures in Orco got colder so we could go on towards our original destination.
The send of Greenspit – The impressive roof crack of Didier Berthod!

Both of us had one particular goal for going to the Orco valley, the goal was to repeat the famous climb Greenspit. This one traditional line that is considered to be one of Europe’s most difficult crack climbs was first free climbed on natural protection by the swiss climber Didier Berthod. In 2008 Nicolas Favresse repeated this climb and did a 2thascend.

This is where the crux move starts!

Greenspit (8b/+) is a hard roof crack on a big granite boulder in the Orco valley. This is the only line on this boulder and the most obvious one. It’s only about 12 meters long but it’s some super technical crackclimbing. After a week of working out the amazingly physical and still technical moves I realised to climb Greenspit free while placing the protection. This line has only been climbed free a hand full of times by really strong climbers. I don’t really know exactely how many ascends Greenspit has. 

We had about one week to try this line. After two days of figuring out the moves, the projecting could begin. With a lot of tape and pain we each did about tree try’s every day, our body’s were wracked of the jamming. That’s the crazy thing with a crack like that, at first it can feel so impossible and then afterwards if you figured out the moves it can feel way better and the moves will cost a lot less energy. Climbing a crack asks so much feeling with the moves and the coordination of the body in the crack. Some try’s it just didn’t feel possible to do the moves, it didn’t work, followed by a try everything just flows. In total I tried this line five dayswith some rest days in between to let recover my hands and body.


The first part of the 12 meter roof crack is not to difficult and just demands for some precise climbing to go fluently towards the crux. The crux is the whole second part of the route where you make some really big and physical moves in a row. The hardest move is to lock off a right hand jam towards a left hand finger lock that’s very shallow. With only the fingertips in the lock you have to lock and twist your hand as hell and cross towards a hand jam. The trick is to find the right balance and good foot jam to be able to hold this finger lock. After the hand jam you cross over to there is one more big move towards a sloper over the edge of the roof. Then you finish back in the crack. The protection is pretty good but there is not always enough time to place it. When I got closer and closer to sent the crack I placed less cams to save energy. I placed one last cam just before the hardest part of the crux and then just went for it. I rather fall far then not topping out :). 

For me the biggest victory about climbing this line is the fact I really focussed on this line and I enjoyed almost every moment without to much ‘brain farts’ like Sean would call it. I believed in the possibility I could climb it and had just one goal, sending it. The first day I tried this line with Olivier and Florian in July I would not even dare to think I could climb this line. I was so intimidated by at first. I’m so happy with this ascent, it gives me even more motivation to look for more cracks and interesting lines like that.  

There is still one Greenspit!
Those extra pictures are taken by Olivier Delcosse in my first try at the end of July. Thanks Oli!


2 Comments
  • Jurgen Lis

    September 5, 2012 at 12:47 pm Reply

    sjieken bal Siebe!! Doe zo voort 😉
    Jurgen

  • Robertus Sutardi

    November 21, 2013 at 2:56 am Reply

    Very nice!! there is so much information on this blog keep posting good information like this so that I can come back every day for some new info… Online Travel Agencies

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