Cliffs / Climbing

As for mountaineering and ice waterfalls, at the beginning of the ’70, the Lanzo Valleys are at the center of cliff free climbing or better just free climbing activities. As a matter of fact, a few years later than the ’68 students uprisings, people started to question and criticise methods and purposes of old climbers, that is the conquest of cliffs through classical routes, to be repeated with strengthened techniques and methods.  The “Nuovo Mattino” was then born, a modern concept of rock climbing where the purpose was no longer to reach the summit, but to overcome various difficult levels of the climbing itself.  There was, at the time, rejection for considering mountain (and nature in general) as a simple tool nevertheless keeping Man at the centre of nature.  Gian Piero Motti together with other very strong climbers such as Gian Carlo Grassi, Danilo Galante, Roberto Bonelli, Andrea Gobetti, Mike Kosterlitz, Isidoro Meneghin and Ugo Manera founded this movement.  All of them together were known as the Flying Circus or the Wild bunch.

The spirit of the “Nuovo Mattino” movement lies in the following three thoughts:

  • « We believed to have made progress through the boost of technical means, but, actually, we have regressed on the human level.  Little by little we gained the illusion we could climb everywhere by using the up-to-the-minute means technology had made available.  The very same bitter illusion that western society is now living.  Presumptuously believing to master nature to its wills, that society is helplessly witnessing to the planet destruction »
  • « I would be very happy if the new mountaineering way, devoid of heroism and false glory, could more and more develop on these cliffs.  New system based, instead, on peaceful acceptance of personal limits, in a happy atmosphere, with the purpose of getting, as in a game, the maximum possible pleasure from the climbing.  This activity was up to now characterized by pleasure denial all to the good of suffering »
  • « Free-climbing, not so much meant as free clamber but more as challenging and philosophical free climb, seemed to be born as freedom and absolute uninhibition.  Unfortunately, we now realize that it has, instead, brought to climbers bondage, dogmas, obligations, uniforms to be worn, factions, provincialism, myths of muscles-men as the Riace bronze statues, true and false glories, heroes and small village heroes… an even worst picture of the one of yesterday mountaineering.  The “Nuovo Mattino” symbolized the opportunity to extend the spiritual aspect to those rocky cliffs disowned by traditional climbers »

We suggest again the reading of a famous text by G. P. Motti (I Falliti – 1972) which, for many of us, still stands for a positive and safe idea of mountaineering.

According to the above philosophy, these and other climbers systematically explored the valleys around Turin and in so doing they gave life to the new cliff-climbing concept.  More than anybody else, Gian Carlo Grassi had a fundamental role as in the next 10 years did more than two hundreds rock and ice climbs.  Who had the pleasure to personally meet Gian Carlo Grassi will, for sure, also remember his human value, witnessed by the meaningful dedication of his book “Sogno di Sea – Rock and ice climbs in the Lanzo Valleys”.  It reads:

“To all future visitors of this valley my wish to be able to see in these rocky walls and ice falls something more than pitons, grips and difficulty and gradient levels…”

Even if the center of main activities was the Val Grande and particularly the Vallone di Sea, the site of Ginevré developed at Balme and later on other areas such as Parete del Pilonetto, Parete della Speranza and Parete della Precessione.  Lately, in 2012, three boulders have been bolted for climbers with difficulties and the “Adriana” route, 10 pitches, on the south wall of the Uja di Mondrone buttress.

For more suggestions in the next Val Grande, please refer to:

“Sogno di Sea – arrampicate su roccia e ghiaccio nelle Valli di Lanzo” di Gian Carlo Grassi, Ed. Grassi