Swiss climber Roger Schaeli, accompanied by 22-year-old Gian Sebregondi, has made a one-day redpoint ascent of the legendary Zauberlehrling (Sorcerer's Apprentice) on Cima Scotoni.
The 2,874m Scotoni lies the in Fanis region of the Dolomites, north west of Cortina, and its ca 550m south west face has been the scene of several milestone ascents in the history of Dolomite climbing.
One of these, the 23-pitch Zauberlehrling (750m of climbing) was put up in 1990 by the talented Christoph Hainz, who with Oswald Celva worked the route over a number of days before making a two-day (46 hours) redpoint ascent.
The rock can be fragile at times and the climb sustained, with the crux IX (7c). Quite emphatically, Hainz did not place bolts, leading to obligatory moves of 7b.
The noted Dolomite activist, Pietro dal Pra, who made the second ascent alone, backroping the pitches, later noted it was probably the most demanding experience, and the hardest climb, of his career. Dal Pra completed the route in two days but was unable fully to redpoint it.
On the first day he reached the upper ledge on the face, which marks the end of the main difficulties and from which it is possible to escape. However, his feet were extremely sore from wearing overtight shoes, so he descended and completed the remaining pitches next day.
The brothers Manuel and Simon Gietl made the third ascent in 2006. They completed all 23 pitches in 20 hours but were not able to redpoint everyone. In 2009 Simon Gietl returned with Klaus Gruber to make the first winter ascent. The pair took two and a half days, and while Gietl redpointed the 7b/7b+ pitch, he fell on the crux and continued without the redpoint.
In 2009 another dynamic partnership of brothers, Florian and Martin Riegler, made only the second redpoint ascent. The pair climbed the route in one very long day and found the route psychologically demanding, especially the middle section, with hard technical climbing on fragile rock.
Schaeli had been on the route in 2011 with none other than Christoph Hainz, and realized that the major difficulty would not be climbing the crux pitches without a fall, but many of the pitches of VII and VIII, on which protection was sparse and route finding complex.
Finding the ideal partner proved difficult, but Schaeli, a guide, is currently working with the Swiss Alpine Club's young alpinist team, and managed to persuade the young Sebregondi to join him.
The two reached the foot of the face at 4am, and with Schaeli leading throughout, were slightly delayed on the route by thunderstorms. There is a taxing pitch close to the top, bold VIII+ climbing from a poor belay. They regained the car 24 hours after leaving.
The first route on the south west face set a benchmark in Dolomite climbing and was put up in 1952 by Luigi Ghedina, Lino Lacedelli (who would later make the first ascent of K2) and Guido Lorenzi.
Considering the era the team used a minimal number of pegs. The previous year Ghedina and Lacedelli had reached high on the wall, only to retreat below a short blank section that they refused to bolt. They returned to climb it, without bolts.
The route was graded VI+ and A1, but went for many years without a second ascent (it has now been climbed free at VIII-). Modern opinion suggests the free climbing grade at the time was underrated, the 1952 party possibly climbing around VII.