/ Arnad - Machaby (Aosta Valley - Italy) crag closed

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Luca Signorelli - on 28 Apr 2012
Sorry delivering bad news once again, but:

As a result of a tragic accident of one week ago (when Maurizio Carcereri, 57, was killed by falling rocks while climbing the route "Buccia D'Arancia"), the entire Machaby-Arnad area (between Aosta and Ivrea, close to the A5 highway coming from Chamonix) has been officially closed to climbing until further notice.

This means that ALL sectors of the area (Paretone, Pilastro Lomasti, Gruviera, Case Fara e la Paretina) have been barred from access to climbers and hikers - my understanding is that this measure is going to be enforced (ie, people being found climbing there may be forced to pay a fine). The reason for this measure is to give time the local authorities to carry on a thorough inspection of the climbing area. This - that's what I get - may take a while.

In other words - if you're coming from Chamonix to climb this one, check if the ban was lifted.

Personally, I share some local perplexities about the whole approach to the accident: the Paretone, while not difficult from the technical point of view, was well know to be prone to rockfall, and thus is difficult to think it's simply a "sport crag". As someone said in Courmayeur: "What's next, closing Mont Blanc because it's dangerous"?

Maurizio was the technical director of the "Gian Piero Motti" climbing school, and a well know figure of the Turin mountaineering milieu. At the moment of the accident, he was wearing a helmet, but the size of the falling boulder gave him no chance. He's survived by his wife Claudia and his son Marco.
TonyM - on 28 Apr 2012
In reply to Luca Signorelli:

Condolences to those involved in the accident.

That's a huge amount of climbing to be restricted. Paretone alone is a massive crag and such a valuable poor weather venue for Mt Blanc area. The first place I rock climbed in the Aosta Valley, and the most obvious one to visit if you haven't got the knowledge presented in the local guidebook.
aostaman - on 28 Apr 2012
In reply to Luca Signorelli: Good heavens, I've been up there, a piece of info I think I'll keep from the wife!

I've found the story in la Stampa and other on-line postings, but how do they intend to measure 'safety' or otherwise in an environment that's prone to freeze / thaw every year?

Which of the local authority bodies is taking responsibility for this, does anyone know?

This is a very large area and Osteria L'arcaden won't be happy. On this basis they'll have to close the Vallee Blanche!! That's way too dangerous.
jon on 28 Apr 2012
In reply to aostaman:

> but how do they intend to measure 'safety' or otherwise in an environment that's prone to freeze / thaw every year?

Presumably an inspection followed by a purge where necessary? I remember there was a huge rockfall from the left side of Paretone just a couple of years back, so maybe there are just masses of unstable blocks (whether loosened by freeze/thaw or not) waiting to fall.
Luca Signorelli - on 28 Apr 2012
In reply to aostaman:

The land where the crags are located is owned by the local Mountain Community (a Mountain Community is a public agency controlled by the local municipalities, whose goal is to promote and/or develop the local territory. However, that's an administrative body, so it had no power to forbid or allow access to some terrain, this is left to local village councils and mayors. I believe it was Arnad's mayor who issued the prohibition. However, there's still a contradiction here between overlapping responsibilities by administrative bodies who have no real hand on the crag development and maintenance.

I believe that at the heart of this there's always the underlying problems of almost all climbing crags in the Italian NW. While in the NE (like Dolomites) and partially in the Appennines, crags have been traditionally seen as local resource whose development, regulation and maintenance was more or less responsibility of defined local climbing groups (this is happening in some part of Sardinia too), in the NW anarchy has been the rule of the game until very recently. VdA is starting to wake up to the fact that crags are potential touristic attraction, but they need to be maintained, etc, and - by the way - outdoor crags are nothing like indoor climbing walls, there's still an inherent risk related to objective hazards. On the other hand, in Piemonte no one seems to care (with awful results, see the disastrous overbolting at the Sbarua, on on the other hand, the bolting wars in Orco Valley.

Arnad had a string of problems in the last few months, like accidents, vandalism, equipment stolen, but this is the first major accident in a while, and I believe it will have some consequence. I agree however with the majority of local guides view - "closing" a crag doesn't mean anything, unless there's some kind of established system of peer-review of bolting conditions, quality of the rock, rockfall hazard etc.
astrange - on 30 Apr 2012
In reply to Luca Signorelli:

It seems strange that Arnad should be closed. Many of the climbs start straight out of the vineyards and in general I think the lower sectors are well kept. My impression is that the whole area has reasonably well kept equipment.

It's a sad story if the crag closes completely. I have been there a few times, even in winter when it can be quite pleasant to climb there in the sun.

It's a big area so, I don't know how they will 'manage' the close. For people not to go climbing there, they will probably have to remove all the bolts.

Anders
Luca Signorelli - on 03 May 2012
In reply to astrange:

>
> It's a big area so, I don't know how they will 'manage' the close. For people not to go climbing there, they will probably have to remove all the bolts.
>

There are rumours the crag may be re-opened sometimes in the future. This said, there are also rumors that last week accident was provoked by another team and not by chance. I'll keep UKC posted

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Luca Signorelli - on 18 May 2012
In reply to Luca Signorelli:

Good news - Arnad is open again for climbing!

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