Big icefalls in Ticino

No more diesel 150m WI6 and Anche per oggi…250m WI5

15 February 2012     On 12 February the Swiss Floriano Martinaglia from Lugano and Luca Godenzi from Poschiavo succeeded in climbing a splendid and very difficult waterfall in canton Ticino. The route is No more diesel 150 metres, III+/6/M6+/ S/X.   This ephemeral frozen waterfall forms not far from Diomede, which Martinaglia climbed a few days earlier with Nikita Uboldi. The next day Floriano teamed up once again with Nikita for the first ascent of Anche per oggi non si lavora, another long and beautiful icefall near Biasca.   It seems that Martinaglia is a true master of this area, more so than anyone else, and nothing escapes his eagle eye; when the moment is right, when it’s cold and with his strong partners, he seizes his chance, climbing non-stop, with a sort of ice-obsession. This was in fact his third new line in 4 days.   Floriano acquits himself well not just with his axes but is also a good narrator. Here’s his story:   NO MORE DIESEL “No more diesel”, because running out of fuel is a real hassle. Luca set off early this morning from his home in Poschiavo. He crossed 3 Alpine passes to come and delicately climb the crusts and small and treacherous ice cauliflowers of the first pitch of this new waterfall. I’d found it passing one morning after the night shift. Even with my eyelids that were heavy, that ice sword glued to the face couldn’t go unnoticed. It was a splendid day and there was even sun at the start of the route. On the other side of the valley some ice-climbers were repeating DIOMEDE+THE KING, “invented” two days earlier with my aspirant-guide friend Nikita. The first pitch was really scary: dry-tooling up a slab then good glassy ice on which to place the monopoint.   Some frozen clods of grass after 10 metres let my nerves relax. No cracks, no crimps…super-sketchy, no protection. Then the ice started and you could place ice screws, but only 10 cm ones. The free-standing structure 30 metres up was an unprotectable curtain, held up by ice petals and cauliflowers. A good Friend and a placament over the roof…   Then from the stance “jellyfishes” until inside an overhanging roof, with a rotten cigar formed in just a few cold days. But the music up here is more relaxing. After the only “hunchback”, there’s the 50 m “sword”, and it’s the easiest pitch, with the sort of ice you dream about, just the right softness and amount of features.   We arrived back at the sacks. I‘d worried Luca, with his quiet modesty, had come all this way for a too-easy route, and instead we realised that this time we’d climbed a masterpiece…ON this granite face overlooking the Gottardo autostrada, we’d found 150 metres of rock, thin ice, free-standing ice, jellyfishes, a cigar and an athletic wall, everything that an ice climber could hope to find in a waterfall. An ephemeral line, that had formed in a week and would melt as soon as the temperatures rose.   I’d promised Luca, who like me has a sweet tooth, a cake to celebrate, but I’d forgotten to fill up as we drove around the valley with our eyes peeled looking for new lines. Poor Luca, 3 hours to get home, without even a cake…   ANCHE PER OGGI NON SI LAVORA The next day Nikita convinced me to come for a third time to Leventina. My car which’d run out of diesel was sitting at the edge of the road, and a 200 m waterfall was looking down on us…. Having found a solution to our transport problems, at 9 am we were at the foot of this waterfall, a long snake that wove up between the granite walls carpeted with crumbling ice fringes. High up a maze of jellyfishes held up an enormous curtain from which a waterfall was pouring out. I thought to myself: “Couldn’t I have gone to work today?”   But the die was cast. We start with 4 pitches on soft ice with climbing that’s not too difficult, up to the last 70 metres, where the climbing gets more technical and exposed. With the running water, the ropes were as hard as steel, but we’re nearly there. It’s the third new waterfall in Leventina in just 4 days, plus two others in the Blenio valley, with my girlfriend Marina.   “Tomorrow I’ll go to work”, I said to myself, “and I’ll be able to have a rest” …   NO MORE DIESEL first ascent: F. Martinaglia and Luca Godenzi 12.02.2012 150 metres, III+/6/M6+/ S/X, no material left in place.   Approach: follow the Chiasso-Airolo autostrada and come off at Faido-Chiggiogna. Turn towards Faido and after about 100 m take the road on the left which goes under the autostrada and leads to the opposite side of the valley. Another left turn and after 500 metres you see the waterfall. Climb up through the wood for 15 minutes to reach it.   NOTE: ephemeral waterfall, it formed only this year, over 8 cold days. In Feb. sun until 11.00.   ANCHE PER OGGI NON SI LAVORA First ascent: F. Martinaglia and Nikita Uboldi 13.02.2012 250 metres, III/5, two slings left to abseil off. NOTE: this icefall as well had never formed in the past. It is in the shade, but the flow of water is substantial. Approach: follow the Chiasso-Airolo autostrada and come off at Biasca. Continue for about 2 km after Bodio, and turning left at the “zona industriale” sign you follow a road which through an under pass goes past the autostrada. Follow the dirt road for 1 km alongside the autostrada southwards, until you see the ice-fall. Climb up scree, tiring brambles. 30 minutes from the car.  
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