Delta Minox

Six o’clock in the morning, the alarm is ringing a bit earlier than usual – as of a sudden I’m out of bed, strongly motivated by the journey ahead; the same must had happened to Stefano who arrived to our wheeled place 15 minutes earlier than what had been agreed on the previous day (7am).

By such factuality and his face, I was led to think and asked if he had slept properly or, let’s say, if we had shared the bits and pieces of rock stormy dreams…With a childish smile and positive answer he came in. While we were having coffee and observing the first lights touching the summits of Pizzi del Ferro (3199m) we started a conversation on snow climbs. Stefano humbly told me that he is a regular ski mountaineer, had been on the summit of Cho Oyu (8201m) without oxygen but has lately devoted himself to rock climbing more than anything else. Summed up with other local accounts of his rock activities in Mello, I felt in good company while walking on the mountain path that leaves from Bagni di Masino (1172m) to the bottom of Cima Scingino (2502m) and, from there on, splitting pitches on the pillar of the well reputed Delta Minox route.

In one of the various attempts to find a climbing partner for the bigger walls of Val di Mello, I was introduced to Stefano Dotti. In fact, Andrea my rope mate from one of the previous climbs, had mentioned that Stefano long wanted to do Delta Minox and that I would really enjoy that climb.

Whenever I started researching a bit: one of the guidebooks mentioned that it is probably one of the hardest slab climbs in the Alps, the hardest of the central region; on the description of the (untill now) unrepeated Brutamato Yeye (Precipizio degli Asteroidi), a comparison is made between both – fortunately saying that the masterpiece of La Pedriza’s (Spain) friction climbing specialist Josechu Jimeno, although much easier on the grades is more psychologically engaging! The web also showed an interesting Italian account of a solitary accent…From then on, and till the moment we started climbing, it seemed as if any variable could serve as an excuse not to go and discover by ourselves what the difficulties were: more than just feeling the occasional heavy silence and few words that the name of the route evokes.

When on the 5th of June by 10am, we started to climb the first pitch of this amazing pillar, still seeing wet patches – that the last few days of heavy rain had left and the chilly clear morning was now drying – as we progress on rope lengths, all of those words deluded, leaving space for real not wanted falls as well as a succession of precise and precarious moves and gear placements.  Eventually a few strongly forbidden words like “Porco Dio!”, moments of focused ecstasy, the exciting belay views over the climbed pitches and contemplation of the surrounding Alpine environment – Piz Badile, Trubinasca…- were the outcome.

Delta Minox, 460m VIII+1 (one compulsory aid move). Masterpiece of ground-up opening by Fazzini and friends.

Topo showing the sustained character (VII & VIII grade) of the climb; 10th pitch being the hardest (compulsory VIII) – which translates on a slabby (friction and tiny knobs) 7b+.

Pitch 4, 45m VII: runout knoby vertical slab navigation (one Zero friend, a piton and 4 bolts).

Pitch 6, 25m VIII: more friction moves on perfect Granite (a friend, piton, bolt, Zero friend, sling around a spike) and mantle shelf for belay.

Pitch 7, 30m VIII: balancing moves out of the belay, squeezing and stepping tiny knobs; more runout slab to the next rest point (5bolts). Stefano focused…

Pitch 9, 45m VII+. Yet another exposed rope length. By now we knew that none of the pitches were neither easy nor relaxed (one Zero friend and 4 bolts for this matter). After this one, pitch 10, 45m VIII+: hard friction climbing out of belayer sight (6 bolts…). 

At the climbers’ Bar Monica, S.Martino – the usual warm welcome and advice of Simone Pedeferri, his wife Monica and family. Delta Team: Hang loose on the slabs!

Back to the valley and Sasso Remenno safety; on Capitan Uncino. Photo – Hélène

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