Rolando Larcher concluded the first free ascent of his route, La Svizzera (8a+ [5.13c] 7b+ obl., 10 pitches, 400m), a meandering, overhanging line up the face of the Mahren in Switzerland’s famed Wenden region. [Photo]
After two years of visualization and speculation, renowned international alpinist Rolando Larcher concluded the first free ascent of his route, La Svizzera (8a+ [5.13c] 7b+ obl., 10 pitches, 400m), a meandering, overhanging line up the face of the Mahren in Switzerland’s famed Wenden region. While Larcher conceived and initially projected the route alongside his longtime partner Roberto Vigiani, circumstances prevented the pair from completing, together, the route’s free redpoint ascent. Instead, Larcher climbed the route cleanly with fellow Italian, Simone Banal, on September 23, 2007.
Larcher on the crux, third pitch (8a+ or 5.13c). [Photo] Andrea Gallo
Larcher, a veteran of the world’s alpine big walls and proponent of clean and progressive climbing ethics, stayed close to home for this project, completing one of the last remaining free lines in the Wenden. Home to peaks such as the Eiger, the region has hosted some of alpinism’s greatest practitioners. Larcher’s La Svizzera, set in the Wenden among the annals of climbing history, represents the tradition’s evolution from its nascence in the same area.
The ten pitch line–“Larcher style”: sparse bolting and mandatory, engaging free climbing between bolts–features sustained 5.11 climbing, with an overhanging section of 5.13c against a left-facing corner three pitches up. It climbs through Mahren’s historical bivy ledge, the “Mahren Hotel,” halfway through the route. Larcher and Vigiani opted to base their recon efforts from this perch when initially developing the route in 2006. While the team climbed the line in its entirety last year, the full redpoint ascent was not accomplished until late September of 2007, with Simone Banal in Vigiani’s place.
Larcher’s finished project deserves note as a result of its location and resulting historical context. There are very few remaining first ascents in this area of the world. The aesthetics of the line, and its home, held a great amount of personal significance for Larcher, who believes the ascent leaves a “worthy signature in the history of mountaineering.”
Larcher and Vigiani back at the Mahren Hotel, a large ledge in the center of the face, after the successful first ascent of La Svizzera (8a+, 400m), in 2006. [Photo]