Two Italians from the famous Ragni di Lecco have completed their four-year quest to establish a new 17-pitch route on Switzerland's famous limestone escarpment, the Wendenstock.
Matteo della Bordella and Fabio Palma spent a total of 14 days spread over the last four years, establishing, freeing and eventually making a one-day redpoint of Infinite Jest on the Mahren, the huge wall in the centre of the Wendenstock.
The 640m of climbing features difficulties of 8a+/8b, 7b obl.
Most of the pitches are 7 and on this "easier" terrain bolts have been placed at rest points, meaning the difficulties are mandatory. This allows future parties to experience similar challanges to those of the first ascensionists. The climb is a different beast to a sport route in the mountains, and cams are certainly necessary for protection.
Della Bordella notes the difficulty of accurately assessing the grading long multi-pitch routes.
This is particularly true of the second crux section high on the wall, which on his one-day redpoint he climbed after a stiff two-hour walk and 14 pitches of sustained ground. The hardest section lies on pitch five, but the 15th pitch was graded 8a/8a+. Seven other pitches are 7a or above.
Della Bordella and Palma have now climbed many routes at Wendenstock, more than 30 for Bordella. In 2005 they put up Portami Via (250m: seven pitches: 7c+, 7b obl) on the pillar left of the big waterfall.
At the time it was considered one of the most demanding routes on Alpine limestone and only surpassed in difficulty at Wenden by Zahir (8b, 7c obl). There are only 25 bolts on the route and the distance between them can be up to 15m.
In 2008 they added Coelophysis (660m: 21 pitches: 8a+, 7b obl), a direct line up the centre of the face on Mahren and the longest route at Wendenstock. A one day ascent awaits: there are good bivouac sites above pitch seven, and at the top of 13, where a large terrace splits the wall. As with Portami Via the ethic was minimal bolting, to create a bold and challenging route.
Wendenstock, is an immaculate rock wall of 'Verdon quality' situated high above the village of Gadmen, west of the Susten Pass in the Titlis region. The area is world famous for its hard multi-pitch 'Alpine' sport routes and features a relatively long, steep and strenuous approach.
When the pair completed Coelophysis, the vertical or overhaning face of the Mahen had seen little documentation: even in Switzerland it appears there were few who knew details of all existing lines.
Earlier in the year, at the granite crag of Cadarese, della Bordella climbed the established bolted crackline of The Doors (8b: Bassi brothers, 2007) using only natural gear. At the time he thought he was the first to climb it in trad style but later discovered Zermatt residents Patrick Aufdenblatten and Simon Anthermatten had already achieved this prize. The two young Swiss felt the grade more like 7c+. Bolts have now been removed.
Infinite Jest starts immediately right of Coelophysis and takes a parallel line to the terrace. It then traverses this to finish up steep rock on the right side of the upper wall
While della Bordella and Palma both contributed to working and repointing various pitches, it was della Bordella in the lead for the continuous one-day free ascent.
The route name comes from the acclaimed 1996 novel, Infinite Jest, by the influencial American author David Foster Wallace, who sadly committed suicide in 2008, aged 46.