logo

A man lies and dreams of green fields and rivers

- Pink Floyd


image

Climbers

Jun 22, 2018

Devil’s Weed, Gran Sasso. 10 years Later, and Still Unrepeated.

Probably the most difficult and still unrepeated route of the Gran Sasso massif

WRITTEN BY

Bertrand Lemaire

This story initially featured on Livellozero.net in Italian.

Rome, June 10th, 2018

It’s been ten years, and I keep searching in the mess that is my computer. Maybe I wrote something, – feelings, emotions – but I can’t find anything. Erba del Diavolo (Devil’s Weed), Bertrand Lemaire and Roberto Rosica, July 20th 2008; “probably the most difficult and still unrepeated route of the Gran Sasso massif“, the guidebooks say… I smile to myself.

Courtesy of Livellozero

It had all started much earlier, when, without taking a rational decision, I stopped going to the mountains with my father. First of all because he was my father, and secondly, because my way of going to the mountains with him was just not right. He always took way too many risks, in a genuine sense – he had nothing to prove, except to himself – and I ended up doing the same.

At some point Roberto had finally managed to convince me to go to Gran Sasso with him. That first time he was taking a client on the Vecchiaccio, the super-classic route on Corno Piccolo. Gaia and I had planned to follow him, but the route was too busy, so we did the nearby Colpo Grosso instead.

Pretending to be immortal, believing that all the bad things which may happen on the mountain only belong to somebody else, and don’t concern you, is something necessary. Every alpinist plays this game, to a greater or lesser extent.

My way of climbing the mountains hadn’t changed much in all those years. I simply climbed the wall, putting up as fewer protections as possible, and if some risks had to be taken, I would have taken them, without asking myself too many questions. I simply didn’t realise it and just felt invincible, that’s all. Pretending to be immortal, believing that all the bad things which may happen on the mountain only belong to somebody else and don’t concern you, is something necessary. Every alpinist plays this game, to a grater or lesser extent.

This is our reason for getting out from our beds in the morning, and for entering into a hostile environment, like the vertical one. After Colpo Grosso, I immediately realised how much I missed the mountains. During all those years of cleaning and setting up the bouldering area of Meschia, together with Stefano and Mauro, I had honed, without even realising, the way I looked at rocks: finding a line on a 3m boulder is not very different from finding one on a 300m wall. I really think I am able to read the rocks. I think I have a talent for this.

After a few other classic routes I went to the second Intermesoli Pillar with Roberto for climbing Di Notte la Luna. One of the most beautiful and intelligent routes of the Gran Sasso. I returned there a second time with Gaia, for trying the first free ascent. I barely managed it, because I had zero endurance, having mostly climbed on boulders up until then.

Whilst rappelling I looked around and saw it. Right there, on the right face of the pillar and very evident: the crack system of the first pitch, the small overhang, the little corner just before the slab, and then the big overhang. Everything was crystal clear. I returned back a week later, climbing the near-vertical grassy slopes of the opposite side of the Herron-Franchetti gully alone, checking upper pitches and taking a few pictures. Further to the right there was Roberto Iannilli’s project, Il bosco degli Urogalli – very beautiful too – which could limit the possibilities of where the route would top out on the pillar.

September 1st, 2007.

It is very hot in the Herron-Franchetty gully. The starting boulder problem is nearly a joke: the wall is separated from the ground, where I am standing, by a 1m-wide, 10m-deep hole. You need to lean the body across the split like a bridge, grab the first holds on the opposite side and then pull yourself onto the wall. The first pitch goes all free, but Roberto insists that I need to change my strategy and rest on protection gear instead. He is right. I still remember that mindset shift. Before that, my “rules” for a ground-up first ascent were very clear in my mind: no prior rappelling on the route, no expansion bolts, very limited use of trad gear and no aid climbing. Sadly those rules are not going to work here. The overhang of the second pitch might be aid-climbed, using poor bolts and skyhooks, but there will be no way of free-climbing it, at least by me, relying only on those cheesy protections.

That same evening Fiorino hands me a hand drill and a few expansion bolts saying “what the fuck are you doing man, drill a few holes, put anchors in there and stop being a freak“. Of course he was right too. A few days later, hanging from that nice traditional orange bolt, which I had desperately hammered upside-down in a blind hole last time, I hand-drill my first 8mm hole half a meter above. “But why hand-drilling, for Christ’s sake?” you may ask. Making concessions, especially to yourself, takes time. I will understand this later, as well.

Courtesy of Livellozero

Anyway, three weeks later, while I am aid climbing the same pitch, trying to reach the upper headwall, the good old orange bolt suddenly pops out from its hole, while I am hanging on it. I hit the slab below with my left hip and – Roberto will tell me this later – I pass out. I end up dangling in space, upside down, a few meters from the wall. Now everything is on him: Roberto uses the service rope to take me back to the belay and wakes me up. The hip is hurting badly and my helmet is full of blood. Everything else seems to be ok. I’m mad at myself, and I want to start over. I tell him that I will wait for a few minutes and then I will go up there again. I am in shock and I do not even realise it. Roberto, with no words and precise manoeuvres, arranges the rappels. As the adrenaline rush fades, I realise that I cannot move.

The weather is nice, we still have the whole afternoon ahead, for making it back to the parking lot, from where we started. It isn’t a tragedy, but I can not walk. After the rappels I crawl on the rocks back to the main hiking path. From there Roberto has to carry me for 50 meters, then he goes back, takes the backpacks and repeats, until we reach the end of the dirt road. He leaves me there and runs away for rescue. I sit there for another couple of hours, leaning on a rock under the sun and breaking small stones with my climbing hammer. Weird enough it feels good, very good. But probably it is time to stop. I am running away from something, but I don’t know what it is yet.

Courtesy of Livellozero

We finish the route the next year, in July 2008. Towards the end, Roberto is getting bored and I can’t blame him. Those long days at the belay are all the same. I strand on the fourth pitch, before saling away on the final moves. A dense mist separates me from Roberto and I can’t see him anymore. All I can see is the rope disappearing in that cushioned floor, which is kinda reassuring. I climb mostly unprotected for too many meters, since I am not able to put any decent gear in those small holes. It is very risky, not because of the technical difficulty, way below my limit, but because I have no idea of where I am going and have no idea that the moves just below the next belay will be so delicate and aleatory. I still perfectly remember that feeling, a feeling of absolute freedom and euphoria, like when climbing free-solo. That’s the Devil’s Weed, and you may not want to take too much of it. I would not do those moves right now, if I were in the same situation again. Not like that. That would seem totally pointless in this moment of my life, but I am also happy that I did it that way.

With Roberto we never really climbed together again, or only very occasionally. Maybe we will rope up again in the future, but it will be a different thing, because 10 years have passed. We completed the route together, and those feelings, tensions, misunderstandings and joys were left up there. Alpinism is an intimate thing, which, in some ways, is impossible to tell.

Continue Reading

image

Expeditions

Dec 20, 2018

Colin O’Brady: The 50 Highest Points in Each US State and Another World Record

Colin O’Brady sets his third world record, undertakes new challenge in 2018 with support from Standard Process Inc.

image

WRITTEN BY

The Outdoor Journal

Presented byimage

It is 2:54 a.m. on July 19, 2018, and Colin O’Brady set a new world record. For 21 days, Colin non-stop travelled and climbed with his sights on achieving the fastest time to summit the highest peak in all 50 states in the U.S. Standing atop the summit of Mt. Hood that morning, he officially achieved his goal.

Shattering The U.S. 50-State High Points Record

Drought. Lightning strike. Grueling 26-hour climbs. Multiple climbs per day. Colin O’Brady battled it all in an exhilarating 21-day race against the world clock to climb the tallest peak in all 50 states across the U.S. The 13,000-mile cross-country trek came to a close when O’Brady summited Mt. Hood in his hometown state of Oregon. The Portland native was greeted by friends, family, enthusiasts and locals who cheered on O’Brady in support of his goal.

Colin O’Brady, the 50HP world record holder.

In total, O’Brady walked, ran, hiked and climbed more than 300 trail miles, beating the previous 41-day record set in 2016 by 20 days. On two separate occasions, O’Brady had to skip a peak and come back to it later due to restricted access and unsafe weather conditions. Arizona’s Humphrey’s Peak was temporarily closed due to fire danger caused by lack of rain to the area and Mt. Whitney, California’s high point, was closed due to a lightning strike that caused a forest fire. The final week of this world record attempt in the Pacific Northwest was especially strenuous due to extreme elevations. O’Brady climbed 150 miles across 8 peaks in just 7 days, with no single peak falling below 11,000 feet.

O’Brady was eager to welcome people to join him on the trails or via social media. He often took to Instagram to share his progress and encourage followers to explore their own backyard and celebrate public lands. He received some extra special support from his Dad, who joined him on four separate climbs to celebrate his 60th birthday. Fitz and the Tantrums Drummer, John Wicks, joined O’Brady in Montana to tackle the 12,799-foot Granite Peak. The Missoula native is a personal friend of O’Brady’s and also an ultra-marathon runner and avid mountain climber.

Over the course of the past few years, Colin has become used to the spotlight.

“Nothing can really prepare you for the sheer exhaustion and physical strain that this kind of rapid push creates,” said O’Brady. “It was an ambitious goal, wanting to knock out all 50 peaks in just 21 days. But it really does take a village. I’m beyond grateful for my family and friends, and the much-needed community support at each stop. I also owe a huge thanks to Standard Process and their new Nutrition Innovation Center for both the preparation and the supplement regimen they put me on in the months leading up to the challenge. It put me in a great place to begin this journey and allowed my body to recover properly along the way. Without their support, I think I’d still be somewhere on Gannett Peak right now!”

Colin makes his way down Mount Hood, back towards friends, having broken another world record.

As the exclusive nutritional supplement partner, Standard Process worked with O’Brady to prepare his body to meet this rigorous challenge. Dr. John Troup, PhD, Standard Process Vice President of Clinical Science, Education, & Innovation, led the clinical team at the Standard Process Nutrition Innovation Center (NIC) to run a series of state-of-the-art diagnostic tests to determine the exact nutrients O’Brady needed. The Center is the only active clinical research center of its kind, dedicated to both mid-and long-term support of whole food clinical nutrition.

“We’re so excited to be a part of Colin’s monumental achievement,” said Charlie DuBois, Standard Process President and CEO. “Colin O’Brady is not like a lot of people in this world. He pushes himself to accomplish the seemingly impossible, and then he’s on to the next big goal. We’re inspired and we’re proud to be part of his nutritional journey to peak health.”

The Impossible First

Standard Process continues to support Colin as he pursues his fourth record, The Shackleton Expedition. Also known as The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, Colin is now undertaking an unsupported and unaided 1,000-mile solo trek across Antarctica’s icy terrain in frigid -40°F temperatures, gusting 58-mile-per-hour winds and total daylight – unable to re-supply, use wind aids or have human contact aside from a daily safety-check phone call.

In order to embark on this extreme adventure from November 2018 through January 2019, Colin needed to be in peak mental and physical condition. As part of the Standard Process sponsorship, NIC staff worked closely with Colin to develop a whole food-based supplement plan that further enhanced his own nutritional plan. This included developing nutrition bars for Colin to consume alongside his primary caloric and nutritional intake during the challenge.

Follow Colin and The Impossible First expedition here.

About Colin

A lifelong user of chiropractic care and Standard Process supplements, Colin is fueled by passion and excellence, inspiring others to embark on their own journey to peak health, no matter how big or small.

Born on an organic farm in Olympia, Washington, Colin is a lifelong advocate and user of chiropractic and acupuncture services. He did not begin his athletic life as a mountaineer chasing world records. In high school, he excelled in both swimming and soccer and was eventually recruited to swim competitively for Yale University. After a near-death experience in 2008 where he suffered severe burns to nearly 25% of his body, he came back 18 months later by winning the Chicago Triathlon’s Amateur Division in 2009. This led him to return to the mountains and launched his career as a professional endurance athlete. His world record achievements also include an Explorers Grand Slam speed record and a previous Seven Summits speed record.

Advertisement.

About Standard Process

Standard Process is guided by the whole food philosophy of its founder, Dr Royal Lee. Dr Lee’s goal was to provide nutrients as found in nature, where he believed their natural potency and efficacy would be realized. Today, Standard Process proudly carries on Dr Lee’s legacy and regularly grows more than 80 percent of the raw plant ingredients found in its products on its certified organic farm in Palmyra, Wisconsin. Using state-of-the-art manufacturing processes to retain vital nutrients within each ingredient, Standard Process manufactures its supplements in its NSF International-certified facility. Standard Process employs high-quality control standards and follows the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s good manufacturing practices. For more information, visit: standardprocess.com

loadContinue readingLess Reading

Recent Articles



Not Your Father’s Ski Trip: Jackson Hole, WY

Inspired by images of her dad’s Jackson Hole college ski trip, the author heads north to tour the Tetons and tack a few pictures to the family scrapbook.

Climbing for a Cause: Returning to Kilimanjaro for Elephant Conservation

Sarah Kingdom returns to Kilimanjaro, not for the first time, but now with a team that are fighting for Elephants in Africa, that are under serious threat.

The Outdoor Journal’s Biggest Stories of 2018.

From harassment within the climbing industry to deaths and environmental degradation in India. Furthering conversation on deep-rooted problems within the wider outdoor community, to Outdoor Moms, and explaining an unexplained tragedy.

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Advertising

Analytics

Other