Hot! Flexing It Out

On my last day in Finale, I suggested to Heinz that we do a multi pitch. Little did I know what he had in mind. What I thought would be a nice three-pitch topping out at 150 meters, turned into one of the best Finale has to offer. Pianarella has several seven pitch climbs up the 250 meter wall. Heinz picked a route of mostly 6’s and one 5c.

When he told me this at dinner, I think the grappa cushioned the blow, but by Tuesday morning I was more than a little nervous. I was doing 5c’s comfortably, the 6’s were still a stretch. Committing to a multi-pitch of this length is like getting married. You can turn back if you don’t like it, but it’s pretty messy.

I told him I was nervous, but he assured me I would be fine. Was he serious or did he just really want to do this climb? Regardless, I was along for the ride and after picking up sandwiches, we packed a small day pack that I would carry up the wall, put on our harnesses and made the approach.

I laughed that the scramble to the rock was really the first pitch, but I wouldn’t be laughing for long. The first level was the hardest – a 6b starting on a large bulge. It meant strong moves for me right away and while I could make a few of them, I was height challenged to reach the big holds. I ended up resting then moved to the face . Even past the bulge I was pulling and using all my energy. I finally saw Heinz at the anchor encouraging me on. I locked myself in and asked “Are all the levels like this? Because we’re going to have a problem if they are.”

No, no, he said. They’re 6as. Oh great, I said, but sometimes I think sarcasm is lost in translation.

On we went past a level of quartz crystals on pitch 3 and 4, stopping in caves to anchor. While the caves made nice stopping points they created two challenges – big exposed moves to pull back out of them, and I couldn’t hear Heinz while he was leading. Moving to pitch 5 was a traverse out of the crystals. Soon, we were at the end of the rope. I yelled at Heinz. Was he at the anchor point? Was he ready for me to follow? This couldn’t be a 70 meter pitch. I only hoped he was ready. I moved out onto the rock knowing I could only hold on for a few moves.

Thankfully Heinz had me. But I was terrified and exhausted. Two more pitches to go and all I could think of was being at the top. Would I ever think this climb was fun?

The final levels were relatively easy but I couldn’t hold anything anymore. We reached the top and took the long hike down to the car. By the time we reached Borgo and saw Ale at his shop, we were laughing about the adventure. I said goodbye to my friends for another year and got ready for my next journey.

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  1. Congratulation to the climb ,your demonstration of determination and strength of mind.Considering your level you did a extraordinery effort on playground that is of a different dimension then the 10 m up’s and down’s. Maybe extraordinery esperiences are not ment to be fun …but are easy to remember..and leave always somthing behind .
    Heinz on a rainy springtime sunday of Fianle

  2. Heinz,

    Thank you for the nice comments. Yesterday was our first 40C day in Phoenix. As you were enjoying Finale rain, I was out very early to climb in the shadows of one of our canyons. I realized how much I learned from Finale and I’m sure I will post a Return to Phoenix Rock entry soon. I hope you, Luca, and everyone keeps reading.