The Orco Valley starts from the town of Cuorgnè, located at the foot of the mountains. Following the new highway, you will soon reach Pont Canavese, which is easily avoided on the left. However, for those interested, in the center of the village there is the possibility of climbing on the "urban" crag of Rogge. Instead, going along the ring road and looking to the left, over the river, you can see a dark wall. It is the "Luca crag" (Luca Basolo), one of the last equipped climbing walls and for a long time remained frequented by only local climbers. Returning to the original road, Sparone (552 m) and the small "Valle di Ribordone", which opens on the right, are left on the right. On these sunny slopes is hidden one of the most popular cliffs in the area, Frachiamo, which is reached by a narrow paved road. Continuing in the main valley on the right is the Bosco crag, perhaps the most well-known in the area as regards sport climbing. Sheltered from rain and relatively hot in winter, it is very popular for most of the year. A little further on you reach the capital of the Valley, Locana (613 m), 12 km from Pont.

 

Here the valley takes on its characteristic rocky and sunken appearance, and, just beyond the town, it is possible to linger on a beautiful view of the "Vallone di Plantonetto" and the "Becco della Tribolazione". We pass some hamlets of a few houses and reach Rosone (715 m), the beginning of the Piantonetto Valley, 16.6 km from Pont. By following the narrow road to "San Giacomo", it is possible to reach the rocks of Bugni at the beginning of the "Vallone di Piantonetto" and in a good panoramic position on the central part of the valley. Beyond Rosone the valley bends slightly to the west, changes its character and becomes more sunken.

Dark walls appear on the left, among which, it is hardly the structure of "the Zeppelin". At its base, on a boulder, there is the very hard crack of Greenspit, considered perhaps the most difficult in Europe. After passing a tunnel you reach the hamlet of Fornolosa (742 m) where you can admire the rocky walls on the left side, many of which are practically unexplored. Narrow granite ravines conceal high waterfalls, while more than 2000 meters in altitude separate the valley floor from the watershed with the "Val Grande". You pass some small hamlets including Gera, placed under a series of granite cliffs, this time on the right of the road. This area is one of the last frontiers of exploration in the valley and has so far remained rather unknown and known by the generic name of "Bambanero".

 

In the background it is possible to admire the "Courmaon", which opens to the left of the "Vallone del Roc". Bending gradually towards the NW, the road reaches Noasca (1058 m), 25.8 km from Pont, famous for its beautiful waterfall. Before the inhabited area it is possible to admire on the left the beautiful wall of the "Torre dell'Alpe Costantino", while on the right you can clearly see the slab of the "Torre di Aimonin", supported by a stone block of large blocks.

 

Two steep hairpin bends are the access door to the "mythical" heart of the Valley: you reach a narrow plateau, "Pian Dlera" (1250 m), now at the beginning of the "Balma Fiorant" gorge, famous for its walls.

On the left there is immediately a large and dark wall, whose base is characterized by a forest completely devastated by winter avalanches: it is the "Parete delle Ombre".

The road now continues in the tunnel which avoids the narrow gorge, but it is possible to follow for a stretch the old road (arranged for the Giro d'Italia 2019, but closed to cars), which flanks the structure of the Corporal.

 

At the beginning of the tunnel, on the right, there is the asphalted branch that leads to the hamlet of "Balmarossa", the starting point for the Noaschetta valley. Leaving aside the gallery, you then enter the gorge, passing between two "huge mässi" with writings from the fascist era. On our right small granite slab-shaped structures offer beautiful climbing in adherence: the "Placca del Cacao", the "Piramide" and the "Cubo", at the sum of a short stony ground.

At the top and on the right, visible by the way, the Caporal is recognizable, the most famous and beautiful wall in the Valley.

 

Continue uphill, also admiring the other side of the valley, which has remarkable granite walls: the "Archi Neri", the "Torre Paura dal Cervello", and the large wall of the "Serpente di Legno". Continuing along the road you reach a square with an old abandoned yellow crane. A series of large boulders marks the beginning of the basal stone of the Caporal. These boulders, already known in the golden age of the "New Morning", have recently been revisited in a modern key. With two narrow hairpin bends, you go to an open space under the Caporal, where the road returns to the tunnel and it is no longer possible to follow the old route.

It comes out of the tunnel in the upper part of the valley, very wide, in front of the "Tre Levanne" group, where it hits the wide snowy channel of "Colle Perduto". The old road branches off to the left, and for a stretch it is possible to go backwards towards the gorge previously left.

On the left, against the tunnel, there is the famous boulder of the "Kosterliz crack" and at the top the great wall of the Sergent; what you can see from here is only a portion of the whole wall!

Opposite, on the orographic right, there is the "Parete del Disertore", surrounded by beautiful larch woods.

A little further beyond the square of the Sergent, walking down the road, you can see the recently enhanced "Parete dei Conflakes" on the left.

Continuing instead from the tunnel exit towards the mountain, you reach the first houses of Ceresole in the hamlet of Prese (1501 m), 32.7 km from Pont.

Respectively to the right and left, hidden by the larches, two beautiful cliffs recently bolted: the "Droide" and the "Pietra Filosofale".

Unmistakable on the other hand, on the right, the "Dado" with its beautiful cracks while it will be necessary to climb above it to find the most famous of all, "Sitting Bull".

With a gentle climb you pass in sequence all the hamlets of Ceresole lying on the shore of the lake of the same name, barred by a large dam; 1613 m, 35 km from Pont.

The road runs alongside the lake and descends slightly to the hamlet of Villa, at the foot of the wide grassy slope of the Courmaon, then continues flat in the valley which starts to bend towards the NW. After a narrow passage, where the hamlets of Chiapili are located (here the road is closed in the winter season) it is possible to continue towards the "Colle del Nivolet".

 

Above Chiapili, on the right, there is the last of the great walls of the valley known as the "Grande Ala". Continuing along the road that goes through the meadows, always staying on the orographic left of the Valley and with a series of hairpin bends, you reach the large "Serrù Lake" (2275 m), light blue in color, probably because it collects the waters of the upper Glacier of the Goat. The road turns sharply NE to reach the nearby "Lake Agnel" (2295 m), also blocked by a dam, but of much smaller dimensions and of an intense blue color. Just below "Lake Serrù", there is a small wall where you can climb, extreme refreshment if lower down, in the summer season, it was too hot. Towards SW it is possible to admire the "Cima del Carro" and the "Grande Aiguille Rousse", as well as of course the Levanne and the entire Ceresole basin.

Continuing with a series of hairpin bends, the road climbs up the stony slopes of the "Rocce del Nivolet" (on the right path to the "Colle della Terra") and reaches the "Colle del Nivolet", 2612 m, 58 km from Courgnè. Descending slightly on the Valsavarenche side, it is possible to glimpse the Gran Paradiso, while the road ends shortly after the "Hotel Savoia" (2532 m) and at the beginning of the long "Piano di Nivolet". Nearby there are also some beautiful lakes, a popular destination for hikers.

Gian Carlo Grassi
Gian Carlo Grassi

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Gian Piero Motti
Gian Piero Motti

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Maurizio Oviglia
Maurizio Oviglia

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Gian Carlo Grassi
Gian Carlo Grassi

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2001: the two finalists, famous for their iron fingers Giovanni Massari and Guido Cortese, repeat the 5.13 route to the Sergent and suggest a fairer grade of 7c +. However, there is no news of subsequent repetitions ... Giovannino performs an intelligent restyling of the Dado, climbing some free-climbing cracks and trying to relaunch the free ascent. Meanwhile, the very strong Tony Lamprecht climbs the first pitch of "Fragilita' Celebrale"  to Sergent with apparent ease, but without nails and stirrups, without even thinking of adding bolts or nails. It is 7b +, but beyond the grade it is an innovative gesture that at the moment goes completely unnoticed.

Meanwhile, in the footsteps of Caneparo there is the young Adriano Trombetta, bold and ambitious. After a short apprenticeship with Daniele himself, he sets off in two new ways on the still free plates of the Sergent, open from below and with bolts, but with strict obligatory.

Trombetta will express itself in the following years essentially on the walls of Noaschetta, and will speak for itself above all for some dangerous mandatory.

2002: some champions of free climbing are finally interested in the Orco Valley. On the one hand here is Valerio Folco, who despite being known for his lures is also an excellent liberalist. And among his friends there is the young and unknown Massimo Farina, a free climbing talent eager to broaden his field of action. Valerio proposes to Massimo to free some routes of the Caporal, following the example of what was done in Yosemite. The first to fall is "Mangas Coloradas" which Massimo will evaluate 7a + (which turned out to be very severe). But the Corporal also attracts the attention of the Trentino Rolando Larcher who manages free on "Colpo al Cuore", already attempted in vain by Vighetti and Nardi. It is the first 8a in the valley and not a few meters above the ground! Meanwhile Trombetta and Caneparo continue their work of saturating the free spaces left on the Sergent.

 

2003: another year in which the extreme free ascent dominates. Massimo Farina continues in his project called "Time Machine" and manages to free the "La via della Rivoluzione" to the Corporal (7c, then reevaluated 7c +) and the "Lungo Cammino dei Comanches". Cristian Brenna and Marzio Nardi attempt to free "Itaca nel Sole", but only Brenna succeeds in both key lengths of the route, which grades 8b. But the news of the year is the free ascent by the Swiss Didier Berthod of Greenspit, a crack on a stone opened by Roberto Perucca years earlier. Didier grades the 8b + crack, the hardest of the Old Continent. For the first time, after many years, the Valley leaps to the front page of the magazines, also thanks to the beautiful photos taken by Frederic Moix.

2004: after two years of great free ascent we start talking about multi-pitch openings: it is time to transport the high difficulty on the big walls, but it is also time to leave your signature.

Massimo Farina knows that with Ezio Marlier he opens a difficult route on the Caporal, on the far left, and then also on the "Parete del Serpente di Legno". Another young man from the Aosta Valley observes the exploits of Farina: Matteo Giglio, who invited by Anna Torretta, creates with her two beautiful new routes on the "Parete dell'Acqua Chiara", which has remained in oblivion for years.

Two other new routes are born on the west wall of the "Cubo", and are the work of Claudio Bernardi and Gabriele Bar.

mappa sfondo HP
 

History of climbing in the Orco Valley, taken from the book "Valle dell'Orco", published by "Versante Sud" by Maurizio Oviglia, protagonist, thriving opener and one of the leading experts in the Orco Valley.

The Orco Valley is one of the most important Italian valleys and with a length of more than forty kilometers, it constitutes the access to the whole southern slope of the Gran Paradiso Group with a west-east trend, that is perpendicular to the "Valle d'Aosta" valley of the northern slope of the group.

 

This is actually a little strange fact, which was explained with the greater erosive force of the Orco river, which did not adapt to the maximum slope like the Aosta Valley waterways, but instead deeply affected the underlying gneiss creating thus the typical landscape of the Orco Valley, characterized by beautiful rocky gorges, such as the one before the Ceresole basin. The Orco Valley is today rightly renowned for its beauty: with its lateral valleys it is a true microcosm where the dominant material is certainly the rock, this famous gneiss that seems to occupy every corner of the Valley with plaques, walls, rammed rocks .

 

This characteristic, common to the adjacent "Val Grande di Lanzo", has made the Valley one of the mythical places of climbing on granite in Italy, like the "Val di Mello" in the Central Alps. Speciality for the Orco Valley are the climbing wall , at least for climbers, it is mainly the "Gola di Balma Fiorant", where around the early seventies began the exploration of a series of walls that until then had gone unnoticed.

The beauty and peculiarity of some of these have made a general parallel with the Californian Yosemite Valley, even if on a smaller scale. With the ascent of the first routes on the most striking face, called Caporal, the exploration then continued upstream and downstream of the gorge.

 

The Sergent was climbed over Ceresole, while the vault of the "Torre di Aimonin" was raised over Noasca, and then a whole series of minor structures. This granite island in the middle of the valley ended up being considered by microclimbers a microcosm in itself, as if the rest of the valley (and the mountains) did not exist: "Orco Valley" has been for years and for climbers only the stretch that goes from the town of Rosone to that of Ceresole. Over time, however, even the mountains overlooking the valley, such as the "Mare Percia", the "Courmaon", "Monte Castello", the "Gran Carro," have taken on their own mountaineering identity. And a similar process has taken place, on closer inspection, also in "Val di Mello", where the exploration of the granite structures of the lower valley took place in the same period.

 

So, in conclusion we can say that they are in the presence of a valley with a rich mountaineering history that today has become almost a myth, at least to read what has been handed down by the singers of that era defined as "New Morning", precisely identifiable in the first half of the seventies. A mountaineering history that has not always been regular but has also experienced long periods of stasis. Each wall described constitutes a piece of this story, but of course the story was made by man and the climbers who wrote it healthy were many, so much so that it was difficult to talk about everyone without forgetting someone. If the most famous have operated a little on all the walls, the more discreet have often tied themselves to the smaller walls, electing them almost to their personal gardens.

At the time of the "Nuovo Mattino" the Orco Valley was only the garden of a few dreamers and a little revolutionary climbers, a secret garden that if it had not been for the happy draw of "Alessandro Gogna", "Gian Piero Motti" and "Andrea Gobetti", it would perhaps be remained little known. In the following years, despite the halo of myth and legend that has always been breathed around these rocks, the Valley has always remained an extremely provincial place, frequented by the locals and by some curious who came from afar.

 

In recent times things are changing, and foreigners are becoming more and more present on the walls of the Sergent and the Corporal. Some famous crevices have earned the cover of magazines and the honor of web reports, because the best international art specialists came from far to climb them. It is perhaps time for the Orco Valley to be cleared through customs and sit in the place it deserves, among the sanctuaries of European climbing. Its history is certainly fascinating and must therefore be handed down and told to those who come from afar, but these walls cannot live on the glories of the past.

 
 

The lower valley walls were not considered worthy of mountaineering attention before the end of the sixties; it had as its main fulcrum the rocks of Courmaon, "Becco di Valsoera" and "Becco meridionale delle Tribolazione", which had already affected Gervasutti after the war.

But talking about the history of the Orco Valley means talking first of all about Caporal and Sergent and consequently about the "New Morning", a movement from which everything is usually considered to have originated. The big bang, however, could be located in an undefined way in the late sixties, a time when some climbers began to look with interest at the granite bastions that precede Ceresole.

Our story begins (and ends) then from there, from that square under the Caporal's shield...

1972: it's the year of change. For the first time, the walls of the valley floor begin to be considered.

The first attempts by Cotta and Saviane are recorded on the "Ancesieu wall", in the Forzo Valley and Machetto and Gogna on the "Scoglio di Mroz" at the beginning of the "Piantonetto Valley."

Almost concurrently the first ascent of the Caporal takes place, it works instead of the ropes led by Motti and Manera: it is the beginning of a new chapter.

1973: a mythical year in which the previous difficulty standards are exceeded with some symbolic climbs that are the result of the philosophy of the "New Morning" elaborated by Gian Piero Motti.

Gogna (with Cerruti) continues the exploration of the "Scoglio di Mroz" with the "Via della Torre Staccata", of remarkable beauty, but the feat of the year is certainly the ascent of the "Sole Nascente" to the Caporal, by Motti, Grassi and Kosterlitz.

More or less the same group put their hand to the "Torre di Aimonin" for the first time.

Galante and Grassi instead discover the Sergent and trace Cannabis, a small masterpiece of free and artificial.

Manera, on the wave of enthusiasm, traces the "Via della Rivoluzione" to the Caporal, a masterpiece of mixed climbing.

1974: the exploration of the lower valley structures in the "Balma Fiorant" gorge intensifies but the novelty is the truly extreme and daring free ascents of Galante, a real qualitative leap since the days of Gervasutti. Galante and Bonelli climb the "Diedro del Mistero" and the "Fessura della Disperazione" to the Sergent, the "Diedro Nanchez" al Caporal, probably touching the upper VI limit with little protection or without using them entirely.

Manera explores the "Parete delle Aquile" and the "Parete dei Falchi" on the side of the Corporal, however walls destined to remain forever in the shadows compared to the Corporal and the Sergent.

1975: compared to previous years, it is a year of stagnation where there seems to be little left to say again and the main routes of the year are those of Motti al Caporal (Itaca nel Sole) and Grassi at the "Parete delle Aquile" (Grotta Fiorita).

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1996: again an important year, it marks the return of Motto to the mountains of his home for the enhancement in a modern perspective of the entire Piantonetto basin. But if it is true that even in this new course we find challenging routes like Motto-Sartore, we can certainly say that the new routes are more popular and have an eye on the popularity rating of the repeaters. There is an air of professionalism and it is undeniable that the routes that Motto now produces, even if perfect and technically flawless, no longer have the flavor of its old creations. However, the mass seems to like and Motto becomes almost a star of modern mountaineering. Meanwhile on the walls of "Balma Fiorant" Vistarini and companions continue to churn out routes that fit into the tradition, while further down, at the beginning of the valley, someone begins to look more carefully at those small cliffs hitherto ignored. After Bosco, Frachiamo and Luca's cliff are bolted.

 

1997: Manlio Motto proceeds on the ground in the modernization of the Piantonetto.

However, the path of the year is that which the artificialist Valerio Folco manages to find in the folds of the Sergent. Several days to carry on Supersonic and "new age" difficulties never reached in the Valley, even if you always evaluate A4 ... Return to the opening also by the local guide Roberto Perucca with a short but very aesthetic artificial itinerary: L'Escargot to Dado.

 

1998: great excitement again: Oviglia opens a difficult modern route (bolt from below) to the left of "Diedro Nanchez" al Caporal while Valerio Folco traces another extreme artificial route, this time on the Caporal. The hardest artificial on the peninsula? Struck by lightning on the Matterhorn, Gabriele Beuchod, one of the greatest protagonists in the history of the valley, goes away.

 

1999: the protagonist of the season is still Oviglia who spikes and releases a very difficult plate on the "Lost Arrow", Sergent. 5.13 ironically baptizes her, a degree practically unknown in the valley. The route actually hovers around 8a and will become much feared and sought after in the following years, with very few repetitions. In the meantime, however, his wife, Cecilia Marchi, immediately repeats it.

In the meantime, Roberto Perucca opens on the "Parete del Disrtetore" the route "Orchidea Selvaggia": it will be one of his last ways before disappearing in a mocking and tragic accident in Piantonetto. Another of the protagonists of the post New Morning goes away.

2000: another very difficult route for Valerio Folco on the Caporal, "Aereospike", where you reach the limit of the A5. In other parts of the valley, instead, the bases of plaisir climbing are laid, which is already spreading in other Piedmontese areas such as "Rocca Sbarua". However, fortunately, in the Valley the routes open in this light will always remain few and isolated.

1989: as 1973 was the year of the philosophical turn that led to the exploration of the lower valley walls, 1989 can certainly be considered the year of the technological revolution brought by the bolt.

Manlio Motto, champion of the opening style from the bottom with the bolts, basically does nothing but import on the walls of the "Gran Paradiso" the opening method of Michel Piola.

And it does so, at first timidly, on the walls of the lower valley of the "Vallone di Forzo". However, it is clear to everyone, and immediately, that the bolt is used sparingly and that the difficulties on which Motto opens are high and not very popular. This is why at first Manlio's openings go unnoticed. Motto reaches the mandatory 6c limit between one bolt and another.

1990: Manlio Motto, as was predictable, raises the bar and attacks the Ancesieu in the "Vallone di Forzo" opening in his style which requires mandatory until the 7a. At first few manage to climb and a new myth is gradually being created in the valley. But it will still be a year before Manlio dares to attack the walls of "Balma Fiorant".

Gian Carlo Grassi also returns to the Sergent with a new route, but partly open from above, while on the Caporal, the passage of the Remy brothers is recorded, who open the difficult "Tapis Roulant", however, sometimes crossing excessively the old routes.

1991: Motto turns his technique to forgotten or not yet enhanced walls. In the Ribordone Valley he manages to find the Cima Testona and opens many challenging routes.

It is, however, at the "Torre di Aimonin" that the Motto-Sartore consortium gives its best in the opening, with mandatory and really difficult plate selections. The numerous routes open on this structure will remain their masterpieces in the lower Orco Valley, before Motto himself turns his attention to the mountains of Mont Blanc and Piantonetto.

Giancarlo Grassi also dies in the Sibillini Mountains, the protagonist of the first explorations of "Balma Fiorant" and most of the Piedmontese walls.

1992: Motto and his companions still saturate the "Cubo" with shorter but always demanding routes. Compared to the "Torre di Aimonin", on the streets of the Cubo one begins to feel a little more indulgence towards the repeaters and a certain wink to sport climbing that is emerging throughout Italy. From this comes Gabriele Bar who with Claudio Bernardi attacks the wall to the right of "Diedro Nanchez" on the Caporal. The route, completely bolted, will be for a long time the hardest in the valley, which has not yet been climbed completely free.

1993/1994: another period of stagnation, these two years do not offer significant enterprises. In fact, only a new route on the "Parete delle Aquile" and a route by Gabriele Bar and Claudio Bernardi on the lower valley slopes are to be registered.

 

1995: Daniele Caneparo returns to Sergent, where he inaugurates a long bolt route open from below, with a rather demanding obligation: "Battesimo del Fuoco". More than an enterprise, we can speak of a climb which acts as a catalyst for a return to the openings on a more regular basis. But if Caneparo returned with the bolts, Vistarini continues his saturation of the "Parete dei Falchi", using very little expansion nails.

1982: Bernardi's young emulators open "Rattle Snake" at the Caporal, while Manolo and Bassi himself free the via Cochise al Cubo. Manolo then amazes everyone by climbing on sight "Incastro Amaro", Bernardi's 7a, who in the meantime has dedicated himself to the newborn sport climbing, and the  "Totem Bianco" on the "Parete del Disertore". Berhault and Edlinger, the two icons of the moment, also appear in the valley.

1983: we could call it a neoclassical year, the one that marks the return to mountaineering on traditional tracks with new protagonists, despite the passage of champions such as Manolo and Bernardi in previous years made it possible to foresee developments towards sport climbing.

The walls of the Caporal and the Sergent are back in fashion thanks to the Caneparo and Oviglia inhabitants of Turin who stand out in a series of traditional openings.

The very young Roberto Mochino spends 36 hours on a large artificial route on the Sergent, while only the Swiss Marco Pedrini acts against the current, using the bolt and opening from above, reaches the IX degree on the walls of the Caporal. On the same wall is the first free ascent of "Tempi Moderni" by Michel Faquet: VIII degree on bad nails.

1984: Daniele Caneparo after climbing "Monte Castello" in winter dedicates himself to the new openings on the lower valley walls: Sergent and Caporal revive with a series of beautiful climbs in the company of Oviglia, always following the tracks of tradition.

While Gian Piero Motti tragically disappears, the bolts arrive on the Sergent, planted from above as the new wind wanted, which was beginning to blow impetuously from France.

1985: the bolts arrived but in Gran Paradiso they do not take root, only on the Sergent's wall. The character of the year is here the eclectic Roberto Mochino, able to go from a winter to the "Il lungo Cammino dei Comanches" (Caporal) with bivouac on stirrups to a free ascent on bolts passing through a large artificial route.

In 1985 he managed to jump from the precarious artificial of Cocaine to the bolts planted from below with Oviglia and Caneparo on Charlot, to the "Parete del Disertore".

1986: transition year, characterized in the lower valley by some important first free ascents by Oviglia, which before moving permanently to Sardinia repeats and climbs all free of everything, from the overspeed "Miroir Doc" to the "Grotta Fiorita" on the "Parete delle Aquile" until streets of Beuchod. His friend Caneparo instead continues with the openings, leaving out the bolts and moving on to the few unexplored sectors of the valley.

Mochino for his part frees Cannabis and the "Angeli della Morte" from Sergent by equaling the ninth grade summits touched by Pedrini a few years earlier.

1987: it is a stingy year of climbs and the few that are completed do not yet use the bolt, as has already been the case for some time in the "Mont Blanc" massif.

 

1988: another year of almost total stasis. The bolts are at the gates and begin to appear timidly in the "Vallone di Forzo" on long routes. The author is the guide Nazareno Valerio who however to position them still descends from above, as Pedrini did to the Corporal four years earlier.

1976: new protagonists appear on the scene and this is how Roberto Bonelli does the best things, on the "Parete del Disertore" and the "Grande Ala", giving the impression of a certain loss after the overwhelming events of previous years. In any case, the will to continue the speech left suspended by Galante, who has since disappeared in the mountains, is evident.

1977: another year of stasis. The emerging figure in the panorama of openings is undoubtedly Isidoro Meneghin, who immediately stands out for some new routes on the "Parete del Falco" and on the Sergent ("Nicchia delle Torture"). Isidoro's style is however more mountaineering, far from the free-climbing that had inspired the Motti group, and does not mind the massive use of the artificial. However, many secondary walls bear Meneghin's signature as the first absolute explorer.


1978: Roberto Bonelli manages, after eight years of attempts, to repeat the "Kosterlitz crack". Bonelli himself allows himself to open another route on the "Parete del Disertore".

 

1979: the seventh grade is finally reached, by an emerging young man, on the rocks of the Caporal: Gabriele Beuchod climbs the "Orecchio del Pachiderma" directly, a feat that goes beyond the climbs of Kosterlitz and Galante.

Bonelli and Beuchod form around them a small group that aims, on tiptoe, to continue exploring the valley according to the philosophy of the New Morning, without however seeking the difficulty as an end in itself.

1980: the stage divides. On one side the walls of the lower valley, where a new talented climber like Marco Bernardi appears on the scene. On the other the mountain, where Manera and Meneghin continue the exploration of the group and try to transport the enthusiasm of the times of the Corporal and Sergent even at high altitude. Grassi will also join them soon, thus starting a new exploration period.

Bernardi climbs the "Diedro Nanchez" al Caporal, another VII degree, then the "Camino Bernardi" al Sergent, VII unprotected.

Then with Grassi he reaches the same degree in the mountains, on "Monte Nero", proving to be a complete climber.

Meanwhile, Beuchod and Bonelli are not idle: with Gogna they discover the wall of the "Cavalieri Perdenti", then that "Parete delle Ombre", starting a series of new routes of little resonance but of high class.

1981: interest shifts to the unexplored walls of Noaschetta, recently discovered. Meneghin and Manera pass the large wall of the Ancesieu, then the south edge of the "Torre del Blanc Giuir".

Manera then joins Sant'union to face the inviolate south face of "Monte Castello" while Grassi dedicates himself to a carpet exploration of the "Cresta dei Prosces" in Noaschetta.

In the lower valley, while Bernardi reaches the 8th grade (7a) by climbing "Incastro Amaro" al Sergent, Mario Ogliengo places the first bolts on the "Placca del Cacao". More discreetly Gabriele Beuchod weaves his masterpieces with "Nocciolina Prigioniera"  in the "Parete delle Ombre" and the "Principe" in the "Serpente di Legno" wall.

GEOGRAPHY

2005: another new artificial route for Folco on the Caporal, the latest in a long series. Unfortunately, in February Massimo Farina died on a waterfall as he started to become one of the most promising Italian talents.

Berthod returns to remake Greenspit putting on the protections as he climbs, making us understand how important the ethics of a realization on certain terrains ...

Adriano Trombetta manages to free "La tromba dell'Apocalisse" at Sergent (7c +) perhaps his most difficult way.

2006: new characters appear on the rocks of the valley, while the champions seem to move away, at least temporarily. The crag of the "Pietra Folosofale" and some new routes with a decidedly more affordable character than those that had characterized the last few years are bolted.

The valley automatically becomes more popular, also thanks to websites such as gulliver.it, where everyone writes their impressions on the repeated routes. The web then begins to influence choices and to channel repetitions on certain routes rather than others. Bolts appear on some classics (already at the beginning of the decade) while some are removed.

2007: Fabiano Contarin and friends begin to open on the "Parete dei Cornflakes", perhaps one of the very few that remained virgin until then. The liberalists seem to have disappeared suddenly, but the classic streets are always very popular.

Massimiliano Celano and associates create "Il Droide", perhaps the most beautiful cliff in the area.

 

2008: Rolando Larcher adds another 8a to Sergent, a single pitch. Back of Oviglia in the valley, which climbs two new routes to the Sergent with a few spits and plenty of space for mobile protections. In addition, it identifies several single pitches to do in clean climbing: yes. he begins to think of cracks as a heritage to be defended and preserved. In the same opinion, the Belgian champion Nico Favresse, who in a short stay repeats "Greenspit", "Itaca nel Sole" and climbs on sight the famous crack of "Legoland", in his opinion only 5.11d!

 

2009: Oviglia adds several new routes gradually shifting the emphasis on clean climbing. Meanwhile, the British Tom Randale Pete Witthaker do the same, who explore some cracks on the slopes of the valley that no one had ever considered. Steve Haston climbs "Greenspit" flash and degrades it to 8b. Michele Amadio and Adriano Trombetta are the protagonists of some beautiful first free practice. Autumn is rather hot: controversy explodes on the web after the uncoupling of some classic routes by unknowns. Public opinion is divided between those who claim a valley where to climb in complete tranquility even protected by bolts and those who are strongly opposed to the nailing of cracks and classic routes. In any case, the Orco Valley is always the center of attention ...

HISTORY

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AN HISTORY OF ROCK

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Analyzing the chronological sequence of the facts, it is certainly interesting to note how in Orco Valley the rhythm of the openings has always been variable and not regular. Periods of stasis alternated with periods in which a great ferment catalyzed the attention of the most active climbers.

Limiting ourselves to the most fruitful years of openings, we can distinguish some well-defined periods, which we could try to catalog and define with a term, even if this may seem like a sterile academic exercise:

 

1973/1976: period of the New Morning. This philosophy, developed by Motti, leads climbers to appreciate also the structures of the lower valley and to open according to a new perspective. It is a more cultural than technical renewal, the difficulty of the new routes is only a consequence of it and is not due to the fathers of the New Morning.

1978/1982: neo-exploratory period. In recent years, the veteran climbers of the New Morning have devoted themselves to an intimate and not very popular mountaineering, as in Noaschetta and on the left side of the Orco Valley.

In the lower valley, free-climbing reaches its highest levels with the champions of the moment without however becoming (as elsewhere) sport climbing.

 

1983/1985: neo-classical period. The veterans join the sons of New Morning for two great seasons of openings, both in the mountains and in the lower valley. The experience of previous years serves to face the walls with a new perspective and with renewed physical means but the ethics of privileged opening returns to be the traditional one.

1990/1993: modern period. The bolts arrive and upset the geography of the walls of the lower valley and shyly overlook the mountain ..

 

1995/1999: post-modern period. The bolt openings in the mountains are generalized but there is also a return to the classic and exploration in a traditional way but on more difficult lines.

2003/2004: the extreme free ascent. Some champions of sport climbing and do not visit the valley: from the point of view of the high difficulty, everything remains to be said. But will it be a straw fire or just a prelude to a future boom as happened in Yosemite?

 

2007/2010: back to the future. Perhaps a certain return to free-climbing of the late seventies seems tangible as a reaction to the rampant bolting, but with an even more radical ethics, on the Anglo-Saxon model. Few nails and almost no bolts, but only natural protections where possible. Two opposing currents of thought seem to emerge and positions are radicalized.

Adriano Trombetta, Legoland. 7b+

Since the valley consists almost entirely of metamorphic rocks, the climbing style is essentially granitic, except for the low valley cliffs, where the gneiss allows a progression on notches sometimes clear and flared vaults, on which it is necessary to have a good continuity of forearms. The climb on the structures of the upper valley is instead exquisitely granite. Plaques, dihedrals and cracks abound.

 

The cracks: the presence of clean and regular cracks on most of the walls can be said to have contributed significantly to creating the myth of the Orco Valley. The fama of some of these, first of all the Kosterlitz crack, has even crossed national borders and many foreign visitors come to the Orco Valley just to try to climb them. The most famous cracks require a perfect mastery of the interlocking technique, which has done nothing but make them even more feared and courted, since in the last twenty years at least in Italy, this type of technique has remained pre-classified by a select few or aficiodados of the granite sanctuaries. Cracks are rarer to be overcome in dulfer, or on the fingertips (lieback). On the latter it is not uncommon to find the bolts, even if they can be protected differently, which obviously simplifies things enormously.

 

The dihedrals: although not as famous as the cracks, in the Valley there are some splendid dihedrals of varying difficulty, although they rarely reach a considerable development. Some, such as the "Diedro Nanchez", are divided into different lengths, others are only 15 meters long with rough and tiring climbing, such as the famous "Diedro del Mistero".

 

However the nature of the gneiss, well equipped with sharp notches and foot rests, rarely requires long sections of dulfer and more often by using the split technique it is possible to go up saving a lot of energy.

 

Plaques: although not as in "Val di Mello", plaques have played an important role in local history in Orco Valley as well. As often happens, climbers have specialized in their own style and terrain of choice. The presence of small notches or crystals even on the smoothest plates has allowed here to rise even beyond the typical inclinations of the climbing of adhesion, making the progression on this terrain less monotonous than elsewhere. It must be said that, fortunately, the excavation of the sockets on the plates has remained a limited and limited phenomenon.

On the rocks of the "Torre di Aimonin" or the Sergent, the DOC plackers of the Valley have pushed the level very high, we could say well beyond the standard reached on the cracks. Obviously, as on all granite plates, it is necessary to have good technique, good finger strength and ... good shoes, better if rigid.

 

The overhangs: on the structures of the upper valley the overhanging and equipped cliffs are very rare. it is still little explored terrain, unless they are furrowed by cracks, as in the case of the roof of Legoland or Greenspit.
On the other hand, in the cliffs of the lower part of the valley, one often climbs overhanging terrain by exploiting the providential notches that gneiss offers. Unfortunately, in almost all the cliffs it is quite customary to dig out the holds as was customary in the nineties, an era in which they were enhanced. As you will notice, it has not always been excavated on impossible sections, but often with the aim of making the itineraries homogeneous, eliminating the blocking steps. This philosophy, as said in vogue in the early nineties, is still not outdated in the Canavese area, and many climbers are still convinced that the nailers have done the best thing. It is a fact, however, that the routes above 8a are very rare in the valley ... and this is partly due to the systematic elimination of the (apparently) impossible sections.

 

Bouldering: despite the enormous potential, bouldering in Orco Valley remains a very sporadic practice, limited to the surroundings of Rosone and Ceresole, where some areas are under development. Among all the boulders offered by the upper valley, think that only the Kostelitz boulder offers several passages registered and in the public domain. Much remains to be done and every now and then some foreigners solve some isolated passage, but currently there is not yet a community of boulderers that does regular work of exploration and enhancement.

 

The artificial: the artificial in the Valley had its boom in two well-defined historical periods and currently remains a practice for few enthusiasts. The first artificial routes date back to the early seventies, the golden age of exploration of the Caporal and the Sergent. Among all, we can say that a dozen of these have become classic and therefore regularly traveled in this style, even if in recent years they have been free climbing.

These are mostly Al and A2 routes, sometimes A3, on which there is also a lot of material in place. Rarely, special or latest generation materials are needed to repeat them, and almost all of them are feasible in one day.

In the nineties there was then the explosion of the new age artificial, mainly thanks to Valerio Folco who imported American techniques onto the walls of the Valley. The routes of second generation, or if you prefer new age, are now rarely repeated and remain the prerogative for few enthusiasts. For those wishing to repeat them, we recommend consulting the website www.valeriofolco.com in order to properly evaluate the material needed.

 

Sport climbing: certainly the Orco Valley is not the most beautiful place to have a sport climbing holiday and, as is well known, granite is not the rock of choice for lovers of this activity. However, the low valley cliffs, in particular Frachiamo and Bosco, are very popular in winter by all climbers from Canavese, and even from Biella and Turin. These are not exceptionally beautiful cliffs, but the fact that they can be visited in the rain, exposed to the south and ... not least ... offer high-training medium-high pitches ... made them enjoy and continue to enjoy the favor of fans.

Being few, the cliffs of the Orco Valley are generally well equipped and well cared for by local climbers. Good access paths, drawings at the base with a list of routes, benches to sit comfortably and secure, gravel to avoid dusting the cards.

 

Clean climbing: one of the discoveries of recent years (someone would say re-discovery), is Anglo-Saxon clean climbing. In a nutshell, you climb freely, protecting yourself during the climb with natural protections (nut and friend). In recent years the ways opened with this conception have multiplied, even if for now they rarely go beyond one or two lengths. It is, to put it in the American way, short climbs where fans of this style can try their hand at laying natural protections. In almost all cases there are bolted stops and sometimes even one or two bolts along the pitches in sections that cannot be otherwise protected, even if in this case we cannot speak of clean climbing.

Until three or four years ago, in the Orco Valley it was possible to climb in this style only a few cracks and / or short stretches of routes, and even on these there were in some cases the bolts. Today it seems that this further possibility, which only increases the charm of the Orco Valley, counts more and more followers and consequently is respected (which means keeping the routes conceived in this style clean) even by those who consider it elite and dangerous.

 

The single pitches: on the basal rocks of the most famous walls of the upper valley, there are often single pitches, some completely bolted in plate, others in mixed style. It is therefore good to equip yourself in advance with mobile protections where specified, without thinking that just for the fact that it is a single pitch this must necessarily be feasible only with referrals. The free throws have always been seen in Orco as a fallback but today things are changing, and many climbers allow themselves a day on the walls of the upper valley only to climb single pitches. We can then add that the Alps are full of long routes, while places where you can practice granite single pitches, both with and without bolts, are still very rare in Italy. In this sense, the Valley still has a lot to offer and it is there that the future of the coming years will be played.

 

Modern multipitches: starting from the early nineties this new type of route has spread, essentially at the hands of Manlio Motto first, and Maurizio Oviglia and Adriano Trombetta then. Basically trattai is a style inspired by the Mont Blanc routes opened by Michel Piola, which in synthesis involves the use of bolts on the sections in the plate and leaves room for the mobile protections along the cracks. These routes are generally open from the bottom, stopping with the clift-hanger or balancing on the feet, to put the bolts. Each opener, according to his skill and the philosophy with which he opens, therefore gives character to his way making it more or less severe. The commitment most of the time translates into the distance between one protection and the other, which on this kind of routes is expressed by the mandatory grade, that is, the most difficult stretch that the climber must necessarily overcome between a protection and the other, without the possibility of helping oneself with other means other than one's own free climbing ability. If it is true that the obligatory is expressed with a degree, there are various interpretations on how to assign it, and they vary according to the openers. It therefore remains a highly subjective and highly indicative parameter. The repeaters will not fail to get a personal idea on the ways of one or the other opener, just like a brand of a product. In fact, it is a utopia to establish the right criteria of openness: everyone has his own concept of security and his way of seeing a line. If you want an idea as precise as possible of what you are going to face refer to the S scale (see evaluation of the difficulties) that I elaborated with Erik Svab and Nicola Tondini, already adopted for some years by the guide South side. Know that S1 corresponds roughly at the distance normally adopted in the cliffs or a little more and S2 at a distance between the points between 4 and 6 meters. The routes S3 and beyond are very demanding psychologically and require absolute mastery of the compulsory degree, that is to say that it must be a degree that you normally pass on sight at the crag and in the mountains on any type of terrain.

 

CLIMBING STYLE