Siebe Vanhee | The Doors and Grazie Ricky – Cadarese splitter fun!
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The Doors and Grazie Ricky – Cadarese splitter fun!

The Doors and Grazie Ricky – Cadarese splitter fun!

The last part of our ‘crack’-climbing trip in and around the Mont Blanc massif Tim and I needed some single pitch to recover of all the multipitching in the mountais. We went for the three-hour drive towards Cadarese, Italy. Everybody who has been there will now think: ‘Cadarese? In the summer? It’s so hot!’. And yes indeed, Cadarese was hot and sweaty but still we could climb and the climbing felt good. Unless you like sweaty and hot cracks Cadarese is definitely not a summer destination. From down in the valley, the hill of Cadarese looks like a big chunk of rock and trees with not much interesting climbing. But once you hike up you find yourself behind all the threes in front of perfect granite crack systems of about 30 meters. 
The Doors on the right on the face.

Since last summer I had been thinking about going to Cadarese. Not only for the amazing single pitch crack climbs I would go there but I had one specific route in mind. ‘The Doors’ (8b) is an amazing splitter crack of 35 meters. Originally ‘The Doors’ has been opened as a sport route, with bolts. But recently the Italian guy Matteo Della Bordella chopped the bolts and climbed it free on natural protection. This is what makes the line pure again! 

Our first day climbing in Cadarese was a cloudy day after a night of big thunderstorms. A lot of the humidity was out of the air and the upper sector where The Doors is situated had even a little breeze. After warming up we immediately went for a look on The Doors. When I first saw the crack I was amazed! A perfect 35 meter splitter with not much cracks systems around to use. A good looking crack without any bolts.

After my on sight success of Ave Cesar in the Petit Clocher du Portalet I decided to give this route a good on sight attempt to. I read the crack, prepared what I thought that would be the right gear for it and put myself into jamming mode! With a little stress I entered the crack smoothly but then some hesitation came. Only a few meters of the ground I came out stupidly, I made a little mistake and my on sight attempt was over. I pulled myself back up and climbed quickly and easily to the crux in the middle. I checked out the middle section moves and climbed to the last tricky crux moves at the end. Both cruxes I could do quickly so I think a better on sight attempt was possible but a mistake is quickly made. So the next goal for me was obvious, I would try to do it second go!

This time no stress or what we call ‘brain farts’ while giving it a second go. I knew the moves and the gear by heart and only had to dance it up to the top. And so I did, I climbed The Doors in my second go. When you do the moves of a crack climb right and precise and realise to send it things can suddenly feel easy, this time it was no different. About the quotation of this route I have to say it felt slightly harder then the crux pitch of Ave Cesar in this similar style. I would give it a grade of 7c+/8a but every climber is different and like we know is every crack different for every other climber. Cracks are a lot of the times size dependent so grades are useless in this style of climbing. You fit or you don’t.

After three weeks of granite climbing I had found it, it was back into my body. I started to move really smoothly in all the routes I tried and had a good feeling. Also my head was free of scared thoughts of falling onto little gear. I placed gear well and trusted every peace, and even if not I went for it. It’s such a good feeling when you’re used to the rock and the movements. Having a good headspace makes the climbing even better. 

Val de Formazza is an amazing valley. It’s a pretty wide valley with some cool fields next to a river. For camping it didn’t seem like a problem to camp next to the river in one of the grassy fields. Local people are nice and interested in the climbing. They don’t seem bothered with the climbers hanging around. It felt good to enjoy the simple life of the single pitch climbing where you cook next to the car and make whatever you want. Food was quite important in those ‘recovery’ days. 
We found a new little house! 

On our last day I tried a bolted route called ‘Grazie Ricky’ (8a). This sport route has some vertical edges and a compression section in the middle but also looks a lot like a crack climb. From a first look at the route it was clear to me that it would go without the bolts. The start of Grazie Ricky shares a crack with a 7b+ on the left where after it passes a ‘fridge climbing’ section without much natural protection. There after protection is good up to the final crux at the end. You place one last good friend and the last little game has to go quickly. You move out of the crack and climb on some perfect horizontal ledges, one big lock off and run it out up to easier ground and finish the route. Also this one I could climb smoothly on my second try. This climb was more in the trad climbing style of the British. Again an amazing bolted line in Cadarese waiting to be relieved of its bolts by some Italian guy? 
On our last day I was lucky to meet up with two Finnish climbers: Saku en Anu. A great and motivated couple who are on a trip in their van in Italy and Switzerland. Saku was so friendly to put some effort into taking some pictures of me in ‘The Doors’ on his rest day. The pictures you see in this post are his work, thanks a ton for that Saku! This Finnish beast is not only good in taking pictures. He made an ascent of the famous Cadarese off width ‘Turky Crack’ and could also prove his technical climbing in the thin finger crack ‘Mustang’. Good job Saku! Definitely read some of his stories on his blog! (
With those two beautiful lines I end my granite-climbing season for a moment and the amazing trip with Tim De Dobbeleer. It was an amazing month with a good and motivated climbing partner! Thanks for that Tim. We had the same objectives, goals and most of all: the same spirit! I will miss the granite, the trad climbing and the magical mountain atmosphere for some weeks now. Last month I discovered an amazing love and peaceful feeling for the mountains and it’s crack climbing. I’m looking forward for more trips in Europe, South America, North America and Asia to combine my love for rock climbing and mountains! 
The reason my granite trip ended is because it’s time for a new objective now. This time something completely different, something without ropes, harnesses or gear. The protection for the climbing will be the sea of Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay
Thanks to Saku Korosuo for those pictures!

A little resume of ‘The Granite Trip’:
  • Elixir D’Astaroth – ED+ 7a+ – 14 pitches – Grand Capucin
  • Les Intouchables – ABO 7b+ – 7 pitches – Trident Du Tacul – Onsight 
  • Voyages Selon Guilliver – ED 7a – 14 pitches – Grand Capucin 
  • Bridwell Crack – ED 7b+ – 6 pitches – Petit Clocher Du Tacul – Onsight
  • Divine providence – ABO 7b+ – 900 m – Grand Pillier d’Angle top out on Mont Blanc – Onsight
  • Ave Cesar – ABO 7c – 8 pitches (250 m) – Petit Clocher du Portalet – Onsight
  • The Doors – 8b (7c+) – Cadarese – Second go
  • Grazie Ricky – 8a (Trad) – Cadarese – Second Go
  • Merlin

    July 28, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    KICK-ASSSS !!!

  • Jasper

    July 31, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Super pics!!