The great trilogy of Val Masino by Luca Schiera

It all started many years ago, when I still didn't imagine what was going to be achievable and was going to remain a dream (or a nightmare). The idea crossed my mind suddenly, I knew little about these routes and I didn't know anything about speed climbing, which is why only the fact of having thought of it left me amazed.

It is the concatenation of the three modern symbolic routes of the upper Masino Valley: “Elettroshock” on the Luigi Amedeo peak in the Torrone Valley, “La Spada nella Roccia” on the wall of Qualido and “Delta Minox” on the Scingino pillar, on the opposite side of the valley.

 

Then for several seasons this idea remained abandoned in some corner of my mind until 2018, when I decided that I should really try it. I knew that if it was possible in some way, that would be the right time to do it.

However, at least two fundamental pieces were missing: the partner and the path between one route and the next one.

I was looking for someone with excellent resistance to fatigue for long hours of walking and climbing, used to the particular style of climbing on the slabs of the Val Masino and, above all, reliable for moving effectively on the walls. After much research, Paolo Marazzi offered himself to try: the solution was just around the corner and I had never noticed.

I just needed to understand how to make the transition between the second and third way, I already had some ideas but it would have to be verified on the spot.

In June 2018 we began to study the routes: we decide to start from the Torrone Valley and go east, trying to make as few rappels as possible and following a logical path succession.

We then went on to verify if there was a passage between Qualido and Scingino and with some attempts we found one, even if a little uncomfortable: it is the way that climbs between the two peaks of Cavalcorto, the wall that dominates the whole valley.

Later we repeated the three routes and we looked for some system to be as efficient as possible while maintaining a good safety margin. We refined the climbing technique on the rope and we chose the points where it was possible to proceed simultaneously and those in which to climb in a traditional way, then we prepared for the attempt.

The days went by without the right opportunity, we needed at least a day and a half of good weather but August turned out to be a month full of storms. We waited until September then the right moment arrived, the days in the meantime have shortened a lot, so we decided to stop in Val Qualido to sleep a few hours.

We left in late morning from San Martino, in two hours we reached the base of Picco Luigi and immediately we started the route. We climbed the first four pitches, then we changed for another three pitches and then we changed again until we reach the top. We rappelled down from the opposite side and we reached in a couple of hours the Qualido valley. It was almost dark, we slept for a few hours, then we woke up in the night and left again for the wall. We climbed quickly with the headlamps and reached the top at dawn, we had the whole day ahead to reach the Cavalcorto, climb it and descend towards the base of Delta Minox in the early afternoon.

We arrived under the third route according to the established programs, we went up again on the rope the first four pitches but when I changed to Paolino I understood that something was not working, he didn’t look very fit and he had difficulty making maneuvers: he had hallucinations! The only sensible thing was to get off, the season was over. We were still satisfied for the effort made, now we knew that the whole tour is feasible, we have put together all the missing pieces and we were going to be ready again for next season.

In the following spring we immediately began to train on the distance: we knew that the key was going to be to arrive fresh under Delta Minox after the long journey on foot without a path.

As soon as we could we reviewed the last two routes and we looked for a new passage through the Cavalcorto, in order to optimize the times. At the end of June we were again ready for the decisive attempt, we knew well what awaited us even though we still had some unknowns, especially regarding the track to follow and the fact of stopping to rest or not.
In mid-July we left, it had just snowed at 2000m but the weather seemed stable for two full days. As the previous year we climbed the peak quickly but managing the energies, we went down to the Qualido Valley and climb La Spada as quickly as possible to make the most at the last lights of the day: in just over two hours we were at the top and immediately began the long crossing.

We descended into Val Livincina, then we entered the Val del Ferro, where we stopped to rest in the cold night and under the full moon we aimed for the ledges of Cavalcorto. We were wet, cold but at least in the dark we did not see the emptiness below us. As soon as it started to lighten we were in Val Scione, above the Scingino peak. We ran down to the base of the road and we stopped again for a quarter of an hour to rest. We woke up regenerated and ready for the last effort, we were almost dry, we had warmed up and our feet were still not hurting. We were in perfect time according to our ideal schedule, we were not in a hurry and we decided to climb almost every pitch individually.

When we overcame the first half we were sure to make it, we continued more and more relaxed towards the summit that we reached at midday and finally we stopped to enjoy the moment, that was epic for us: until a year before we had no idea, we didn't know if it would be possible or not. We managed to climb all three peaks within a day but what makes us so happy is that we have succeeded in realizing the strange idea of many years before.

We went down first rappelling and then on foot and in the afternoon we were back home.

I believed that it would be the maximum to ask our body but once I arrived I found that there is still a good reserve margin. The search continues.

 

Article and pictures by Luca Schiera, July 2019

 

Luca Schiera, 28 years old Grivel athlete since 2017. He is an alpinist and rock climber based in Erba (Italy).

Favorite Grivel product: Tau Wire Lock K12L carabiner.