Valle del Sarca, "Via Romantica", 300m, 6c+

For our second climb in the Sarca valley we split into three parties: Luigi and I went for a 5 star classic 12 pitch route "Via Romantica" (6c+); Tereza teamed up with her mom to climb the 13 pitches of "Zanzara" (7a+) and Mark and Laurence went cragging. I had tried this particular route before but had to bail from only the second pitch because my climbing partner at the time brought the wrong pair of climbing shoes. This time Luigi and I got to top out.

Sitting at the anchor.
Luigi figuring out one of the roofs halfway up the wall.

The route fully deserves the five out of five star rating in the guide book. It is beautifully varied; exceptionally well protected; on perfect rock and a very aesthetic line up a giant cliff. The very first moves are already on slightly overhanging rock before continuing up a slab. The second pitch is the 6c+ crux and a traverse on tiny drip holes in the rock. I tried to lead it cleanly but had to give up and resort to pulling on gear. I just didn't have the strength to remain attached to the wall long enough to find the next hold. Luigi didn't fare much better and the party following us didn't even seem to care, cheating most moves even on the first 6b+ pitch.

Exposure in one of the corners.

The route continues over ramps, through caves (weirdly athletic lean back moves), over a series of small roofs, out on a very exposed ledge and bracing up corners. Difficulties mostly in the 6a/6b range and just super beautiful climbing. We mastered all of this cleanly until we arrived at the second but last pitch, rated 6c. It was my lead again and at this point we were quite tired after nearly 5 hours of climbing. Still I gave it my best and came within an inch of a clean redpoint. Alas, I had to rest once ;-( While graded similarly to the first crux of the route the difficulties here are much different: The face looks nearly blank except for a few small slots big enough to accept a few fingers and a sloper half way up. So the sequence is obvious to read, it's just a matter of executing the long, powerful moves required to get to the top. Super fun.

Likely the best multi pitch I've ever climbed - thank you Luigi for a great day out!

Hanging around in the final crux. It's steeper and harder than it looks from here!
Proper way to use a baby buggy: transport your newly purchased climbing gear!
Arco's city center is one climbing shop next to the other. One even specializes exclusively on gear for kids.

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