ULASSAI AND THE CRACK CLIMBING AT SU SUSSIU IN SARDINIA

arrampicata climbing

Maurizio Oviglia talks about the latest climbing development in Sardinia: four beautiful cracks and two multi-pitch routes at Su Accara and Su Sussiu.

While I scramble up the scree towards the base of the face I try to imagine the moment, perhaps ages ago or perhaps not too long ago, when this immense mountain split in two and tumbled down into the valley. The entire face collapsed and smashed into thousands of boulders, some as big as buildings, while the righthand side of the face split clean for more than 100 meters, forming a giant tower 70 meters high. Amazingly this didn’t fall over like all the rest, instead it remained standing, tilted alarmingly like a huge Tower of Pisa. And this is what it’s been like, for as long as people can remember…

arrampicataWhile driving up the road from Ulassai, Sardinia’s equivalent of Siurana, towards the Sanctuary of Santa Barbara, many surely noticed this giant landslide but, perhaps, only climbers noticed the beautiful virgin pinnacle on the right. Many climbers will have thought “one day I’ll go up and give it a look” but probably the steep slope, or some worrying omen, may have discouraged them… So when I stopped the car to examine the face, telling my climbing partner “hang on a second, let me have a better look” he must have thought the usual: “here we go again, another adventure in the making…!” I always keep a pair of binoculars in my car because sometimes the naked eye simply can’t make out what the rock hides. And that’s how I saw those incredible three cracks, straight as a sword, plunging down the south face of the tower. My climbing partners say that I have an innate ability to discover things that are particular, exotic maybe, that evidently the others don’t see. They like me for this and it’s obviously nice to receive compliments, of course, but I do think that if after nearly 40 years of first ascents you’re still not particularly good at seeing things, then you must be pretty blind!

On the journey backl I asked in the village if they knew anything about the great landslide. They told me about a legend, in which a bird perched on the shoulder of a shepherd, warning him that “su sussiu” he was about collapse. “Su sussiu” literally means “crushed stones.” No one knows whether the shepherd survived or not, nor the year when the mountain crumbled. Some say at least 500 years ago, but there is no report of this event in Ulassai folklore… apart from the name of the spire, Su Sussiu.

During the last two months I returned on numerous occasions to Su Sussiu together with the tenacious “Nonno Erriu”, a 72-year old grandfather and climber who shows no intention of slowing down. In addition to the first climb of the tower via the beautiful and easy three-pitch route “Infiniti spazi” I also managed to establish two beautiful trad climbs up the overhanging face of the tower. And, last but not least, a put up a 5 pitch route on the overhanging Su Accara face. With these routes the climbing at Ulassai is no longer all about single pitches, but now includes multi pitches and crack climbs of superb quality, rarely seen on limestone. But stay tuned, this is only the beginning!

SU ACCARA
Incantos

110 m – 7a+ max (6b+ obbl)
First ascent: Maurizio Oviglia and Fabio Erriu (April 2015)
First free ascent: Gianluca Piras and Maurizio Oviglia
Demanding stamina climbing up the yellow, often overhanging face
Abseil descent, the second being 60m into the void
Gear: 12 quickdraws and 2 x 60m ropes, helmet

GUGLIA DI SU SUSSIU
Infiniti Spazi

80 m – 6a max (5c obligatory)
First ascent: Maurizio Oviglia and Fabio Erriu (26 February 2015)
Interesting climbing with a spectacular final pitch and abseil
One 55m abseil into the void
Gear: 12 quickdraws and 2 x 60m ropes, helmet

Aikido
20 m – 6c+ (5.11c)
First ascent: Maurizio Oviglia (March 2015)
Overhanging crack climbing, continuous fist jamming. Only the belay is insitu.
Insitu abseil chain
Gear: Friends from 0,75 – 4. Triple sets of #3 and #4 BD

Thai Chi
25 m – 7a (5.11d)
First ascent: Maurizio Oviglia (March 2015)
Overhanging crack climbing that increases in difficulty the higher you get. Fist jams lead to an offwidth finale. Only the belay and a sling are insitu.
Insitu abseil chain
Gear: Friends from 0,5 – 5. Triple sets of #3 and #4 BD

Note: The wall faces south and is located at 900m. While it is ideal in spring and autumn,climbing is also possible on sunny winter days. In summer the face receives the shade early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
Approach: from Ulassai to take the road towards Santa Barbara. Drive past a first lane, then a second lane with a gate. Park the car in the layby on the left, at a third lane. Follow this on foot and after 5 minutes discreetly walk through private property. At the end of the road climb over a fence and follow the path diagonally upwards towards the tower. Reach an old track. Follow this leftwards for 5 minutes to reach a giant cube of rock on the left. From here scramble upwards past cairn markers to the base of the cliff (25 minutes)

(POST AND PICTURES FROM: http://www.planetmountain.com/english/News/shownews1.lasso?l=2&keyid=42677#)

SOSTIENI SARDEGNA REMIX

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