NEW 350-METER WALL "DISCOVERED" IN SICILY

Posted on: December 1, 2006


The Nuovo Mondo (New World) wall on the north face of Monte Gallo, Sicily. Marked is the first route to be climbed on this wall, Il Mio Scanto Libero (5.12a, 5.11a obl., 350m, Calabrese-Oviglia-Pinotti, November 2006). [Photo] Maurizio Oviglia

As the ferry coming back to mainland Italy from the island of Sardinia approached the Mediterranean port of Palermo in northern Sicily, one of its passengers, Sardinia resident Maurizio Oviglia, noticed the huge unclimbed north face of Monte Gallo (562m), which forms the headland north of the small port of Mondello. Oviglia had planned a short break on the island to either repeat or put up some one-pitch sport routes. However, once on land he was unable to resist the lure of a 350-meter high virgin wall.

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From November 4-9, together with Fabrice Calabrese and Eugenio Pinotti, Oviglia climbed and equipped from the ground up all 12 pitches of the route. Almost all protection relies on bolts (stainless steel) but a rack of small to medium Friends will prove very useful. On the 11th, Oviglia and Pinotti returned for the redpoint ascent and rated the difficulties 5.12a (5.11a obl.). The nearest existing route to this wall is some several hundred meters away and was put up, solo, 15 years ago, by the renowned and now sadly deceased Roby Manfre Scuderi, who was responsible for producing the current definitive Italian Alpine Club guide to climbing in Sicily.

On the first ascent of Il Mio Scanto Libero (5.12a, 5.11a obl., 350m, Calabrese-Oviglia-Pinotti, November 2006), a big new route on the north coast of Sicily, Italy. [Photo] Maurizio Oviglia

Il Mio Scanto Libero offers continuously strenuous and spectacular climbing on an exposed wall—christened Nuovo Mondo—where the top overhangs the base by a full 20 meters. A rappel descent of the route requires the climber to clip the ropes into quickdraws in order to maintain contact with the rock (the protagonists suggest that future ascensionists be experienced in handling this sort of terrain). It is of course easily possible to walk off down the back, but someone will have to pick you up on the far side. There is a considerable amount of limestone on this island, and plenty of potential for development, but one or two recent visiting parties have found the rock to be quite friable, so the right choice of venue seems important.

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