I just opened a new free solo route on the untouched west face of Mt.Edgar, China, in the Sichuan region, the estern part of of the Himalayan range. It’s the first ascent of the west face and the third of this mountain. I named my ascent route “The Moon’s Power”, and gave it a difficult grade of WI4+ M4+90° on thin ice.
Italian’s base camp, 5250 mt.
Today has been an important day of acclimatization. Together with my companions from Trentino and Val d’Aosta, we reached a col at 5980 mt. Then, with Emrik and Francois, we continued climbing an untouched peak that we named “Twenty Shan”, 6174 mt.
On the way back, looking at the west face of Mt.Edgar, I could feel like it was talking to me…calling me…inviting me.
I try not to think about it, our team already has a defined program; tomorrow we want to go down to the base camp to rest, and then go on with the acclimatization. But there is nothing I can do, the mountain is calling me, something tells me it’s my big chance and I won’t have another one! I have dinner with my partners, i tell them about this idea in my mind, ask them if they agree. Bicio and Matteo think about it and, with some worries, they give me the “green light”
8.00 pm I’m in my sleeping bag, trying to decide if I should do it or not. I’m not in my best shape, I didn’t eat much, I’m tired from the day and I haven’t prepared the gear for the ascent.
11.00 pm While my partners sleep I prepare my backpack: I have a 25l Blue Ice Dragonfly where I put 70 m of kevlar, 2 ice screws, 4 nuts, some things that can be useful in case I decide to go back. Then a down jacket, warm gloves, 3 energy bars, 2 gels, 1 lt of water with salts and a radio to keep my mates updated.
12.15 am My adventure starts. After an hour of approach, I begin to climb the untouched west face of Mt.Edgar. The feeling is incredible. There has been only one try of climbing this face. It was a Russian team in 2009, but they stopped after 200mt.
I climb a gully system on the left, that should take me straight to the end of the west ridge. On my helmet, the headlamp is off. I don’t need it because the moon enlightens perfectly my way, and gives me power, strength and energy! The ascent is tough, long and more technical than I thought. I face vertical steps up to 90°, difficult and technical sections. I’m forced to move very lightly on thin ice snouts, so that the whole structure doesn’t break down. Often, I see orange sparks between the spike of my ice axe and the rock beneath the thin ice!
Sometimes I look around, the view is incredible, the silence so profound that gives me a feeling of peace and calm. I would like to take a photo, but the light doesn’t allow me…my camera is too weak so I can’t record my ascent. But I don’t really care…the emotions I’m feeling will be with me forever. My breath is heavy and my heart is pumping fast, I can’t relax until I’ve passed all the vertical ice steps in front of me. I should be at a good point now. Above me, the gully looks thin and unstable, and it seems like it could take me to snow slope that I’d rather avoid. I choose to move left on a mixed terrain, that is vertical, slight and insidious. With technical moves I get through and I arrive at small couloir with typical Himalayan snow. On my right, a block of good granite. There, I put a nut in crack, to leave my sign in that immense face. I’m almost on top, but the worst has yet to come. I have to face an inconsistent snow slope, that I must pass by. I’m worries. I dig in the snow with all my energy, I feel like when I was on the Cerro Torre bollard! I don’t trust my ice axes and crampons on this kind of snow, and often I slide down. I try to be quick, not to overload the snowpack. Right in that moment, a huge cornice breaks down, and falls in the darkness on the north wall. I get scared, I look under…It’s frightening! I continue the delicate traverse, up the Peak, at 6618 mt.!
I just put up a new route, all by myself!
I’m stoked, but also focused on the descent. I call Matteo that promptly answers the radio. I see the light at the tent, 1400mt under me! I switch on my headlamp so that they can see me as well. Matteo wishes me good luck on the descent. I want to drink but my bottle is frozen, I didn’t realize it but it’s really cold. I go on as the sun starts to rise. The south ridge doesn’t challenge me vey much, and soon I’m at the coll. Yes, I’m very excited! I go down towards the tent, Francois walks to my with some warm ovomaltine that I gladly drink . I still can’t really realize what I have done. My partners Matteo, Bicio, Emrik, Francois and Francesco hug me…they say I’ve done something big!! yes, but has been a big adventure, a big experience. I climbed up using only my skills, and nothing else. That’s what I really seek, and what makes me feel free: being alone with the wall, the mountain, the nature. I think…I’ve climbed the Mt.Edgar, a tough mountain. It’s complex, high, far away and wild, and I’ve done it all alone…yes, maybe I’ve really done a big thing.