Melloblocco: stop!

Climbing Radio interviewed the organizers of the most important bouldering event in Europe

08 February 2018
After the official announcement that this year Melloblocco will not be done, we try to shed light on what happened, listening to who Melloblocco should have organized it.

The communal councils change, the years change and the outcomes change, but perhaps what has not changed is that ill-concealed indisposition towards the Melloblocco that in recent years hovered among the inhabitants of the valley. After an agony that began more than a year ago, the curtain falls on the most famous bouldering rally in the world, and only the future can tell us if any savior will come to revive him. The fact is that the present says that this year Melloblocco will not be there, after fourteen successful editions and mass participation.

2018 had opened with the script already written last year: more or less obscure impediments, justifications to conceal probable personal conflicts and communications in politichese. Everything seemed to predict that, despite the cyclone that led to the fall of the previous city council, this year the Melloblocco would have had a hard life. After an initial stop at the event, however, everything seemed to be settled and started towards a new edition. Until a few days ago, when the tourist operators association of Val Masino issued an official statement stating that for this year there would be no forces to organize the event properly, hence its cancellation.

A decision of this kind, considering the value of Melloblocco, could only generate a great fanfare, including the proposal published on social networks to invade the valley in May.

To shed light on the present and especially on the future of the gathering, Climbing Radio has contacted several key figures in the organization of Melloblocco, to give space to the voices of those who have lived these past times from behind the scenes, trying to understand together what happened and what the future could reserve.

Despite the impossibility of the mayor and the municipal administration to participate in the broadcast, and despite the no comment of the Val Masino Alpine Guides, in the episode aired yesterday by The Voice Of Climbers, we could hear Nicola Noè, Sara Fiorelli and Simone Pedeferri, who have expressed their opinions on what has happened and of which we report here the salient points.

Thanks to Nicola Noè, one of Melloblocco's father, we have been able to retrace the history of this event, its importance and its character, which have contributed to making it not only an event from which all the top climbers have passed (from Sharma to Hukkataival , from Ondra to Ghisolfi, up to Megos) but also something that has had its great success for "a fact of alchemy".

"I can not say what Melloblocco is - says Nicola Noè - because everyone has made it their own event. From the great champion who comes and decides to make difficult blocks, rather than boys who arrive and come from Sicily or Northern Europe and come only to go to Val di Mello. People who come to be with friends. People who want to come to the party and participate in the events. The great success is that we created a kind of playing field in which everyone played the game they preferred to play ".

Despite Nicola's need to add new energy and heads to enrich and innovate the project, it is difficult to accept that an event with the exceptional characteristics that he described could run into an end like this.

For this reason, we tried to understand what happened with Sara Fiorelli, President of the Val Masino Tourist Operators Association, the organization that organized the last 8 editions of Melloblocco and that also decreed the stop for this year.

Although this is just a year off and not a goodbye "we can not afford to lose the event - says Sara Fiorelli - the climate of uncertainty with which the news also rebounded did not favor the organizational machine in leaving for time. The event in these last years has assumed an international importance therefore also in terms of timing it was important to start in time, also because the various collaborators had to be called in time ".

Despite the presence of supporting sponsors, "we realized that there was no basis for guaranteeing the quality of the event. A green event with a lot of events in the event itself and so it is preferred, not to damage the international importance that attracts fans from around the world to take a year off, to be able to reflect on the next year, because we can not get lost the event".

If on the one hand it is inevitable to agree that an event of this magnitude may require a great organizational effort and many months of work, which now were no longer available, on the other we ask ourselves why we have arrived so far with the times, and what were in fact the background that led to this inauspicious outcome. All this has not yet been answered.

However, the Fiorelli's words reveal a certain vision, probably shared in the valley, that while celebrating the international importance of Melloblocco and its contribution in bringing the "richness of having young people who live the mountain" into the valley, perhaps they see in this demonstration something that has made its time and has no more advantages to offer because "in the weekends in the valley, when the weather is nice, there are enthusiasts and they go around the same. It's not just that weekend that we see guys with the mat on their backs ".

We only hope that the future shared projects, which Sara mentions, can really work in harmony to enhance climbing and related initiatives, such as the Melloblocco.

To conclude the transmission could not miss the true climbing soul of Melloblocco, Simone Pedeferri, who has traced all the race blocks of the rally and has always been committed to the enhancement of climbing in the valley, with the thousands of lines that were born from from the first edition.

Simone's words go to the heart of the question, perhaps revealing the deepest motivations that led to the current situation: "Unfortunately, the Val Masino has this big problem, which must be unlocked in the next few years. I believe it is precisely in the conscience of the people of this valley to acknowledge that they have a valley, and to be proud of their own valley, and therefore to get along on certain projects ".

Confirming that, beyond the Melloblocco, what is missing is a shared and lucid vision of what is appropriate for the future enhancement of this valley, even if the word end was put at Melloblocco.

"In my opinion this event will certainly have a life and a death, because like all the events it has a growth and then a normal decrease. If in this degrowth other things were activated it would have been a good answer for climbers (...) It was in this limbo a bit strange, because the sponsors were there, (...) but I say that on a human level there was no possibility of organizing this event in this valley. The cohesion and the pride of being in this valley are lacking, also to prevent the valley from emptying out like other Alpine valleys ".

Words that let us understand how this year's stop is not so much linked to purely organizational problems, but to more deeply rooted human factors and a rather closed and short-sighted vision, which does not seem to leave much hope for the future. A future in which it would have had to "be ready as a valley to no longer have this event, because one day there would be no more this event, to create other things".

With the boom of climbing and the continuous increase in the number of practitioners, with a positive community such as climbing and with a very relative impact, even during the Melloblocco, in the face of the crowds of tourists who usually invade the valley between barbecues and barbecues in the summer - and they do not put environmental respect among the priorities - the valley's strategy does not seem to be the most successful. In all of this, an event that is the biggest bouldering event in the world has made the expenses and is known all over the world.

Also Simone mentions the existence of several projects in development, we hope are valid and positive for the growth not only climbing this valley but above all lead to a constructive collaboration between all the bodies and groups that are involved.

Surely, the great lack of Melloblocco this year will be a pause that "served to make us reflect on the future of this valley".

You can love or not love the Melloblocco, you can believe or not believe that has lost many values, to turn into an event more than commercial or consumerist, you can really think that maybe he has done his time, and a pause can be what it needs. There can be many evaluations and points of view. In the way it went, however, it remains a bitter taste for a missed opportunity. An opportunity just to make the point on what is now climbing, and on the directions in which it is going, in the valley and out of the valley. Instead, everything seems to have stopped only for reasons that basically have nothing to do with the world of climbing, and that probably will not provide a significant positive contribution to a constructive evolution of this discipline.

Alberto Albertaccia Milani

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