Climbing Hard Euro Crack

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Didier Berthod looking for more pain on Greenspit (5.14a)

On the granite of Valle dell’Orco, Italy, this summer, Didier Berthod climbed a 12-meter roof crack, a strong candidate for Europe’s hardest crack climb. The crack traverses through a 45-degree overhang and was protected by pre-placed, removable gear. “The climbing is about finger, hand, fist, and feet jams along the whole roof,” said the 22-year-old Swiss climber. “Pain is omnipresent.” Berthod, who has climbed up to 8c+ (5.14c) on bolted limestone, as well as the 5.13 cracks Phoenix and Cosmic Debris in Yosemite Valley, said European crack climbs usually are overgraded. He believes his new route would rate 5.14a in Yosemite, but might go as high as 5.14d in Europe. The Valle dell’Orco, sometimes described as Europe’s Little Yosemite, is one of the birthplaces of free climbing in Europe, and a traditional mentality has prevailed there despite the inroads of sport climbing elsewhere on the Continent. In this spirit, Berthod chopped numerous bolts from the roof that had been placed for previous free-climbing attempts, and called his new route Greenspit — “spit” is the word for bolt in several European countries. America’s hardest crack climb is probably Magic Line (5.14b), a thin Yosemite seam climbed by Ron Kauk in 1997. Like Greenspit, it was pre-protected with natural gear for the ascent. The hardest pure crack climb done with gear placed on the lead is likely No Way José (5.13+), a 100-foot overhanging finger crack climbed in 1998 by the late José Pereyra at North Wash, south of Hanksville, Utah.

To enjoy more pictures of this route:

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