On 2nd August, Polish climbers Łukasz Dudek and Jacek Matuszek made the third ascent of Project Fear 8c (550 m) on the north face of Cima Ovest di Lavaredo in the Italian Dolomites. The line - a relatively new variation on the famous Pan Aroma 8c - was established in 2014 by Dave MacLeod. So far Project Fear has seen only two successful attempts – the first ones to follow in Dave's footsteps were Scottish compatriots Robbie Phillips and Willis Morris in 2015.
Project Fear was not Łukasz and Jacek's primary goal of the season, as in the mid-July the team started their trip in search of potential new lines in the Dolomites:
'We visited Piz Serauta in the Marmolada range, but all promising lines were either taken (meaning loaded with fixed ropes) or too chossy and sometimes quite the opposite – too compact with no features at all. It is worth mentioning that neither of us had any clue as to establishing new routes and this is why we expected the season to be extraordinary – we wanted to experience something new and evolve in another direction. Looking for the right line means covering long distances on foot and we could not imagine spending the whole trip hiking. We love Tre Cime and really appreciate the easy approaches there. Project Fear as a line also has a good reputation.'
On their first day, the team managed to become familiar with the two most difficult pitches and fixed ropes for filming and abseiling. Jacek and Łukasz planned to swap leads on easier pitches and lead one each of the hardest two pitches. After a few rest days, the team decided to attempt the route again. They quickly completed the lower section, linking two pitches at a time to reach the most difficult part as soon as possible. According to Łukasz, the two crux pitches require a wide range of physical abilities: the first is very long and offers continuous endurance-based climbing, whereas the second pitch can be described as a solid test of strength. He commented:
'We climbed the first hard pitch right away and thanks to that we felt no time pressure. Joining Pan Aroma we knew that the moment of truth was about to begin. The 20-metre-long steep section through two roofs is equipped with three bolts only, the first of them located ca. 16 moves away from the belay. When we tried that pitch for the first time, we were screaming with joy and laughter after clipping the first draw. We are pretty sure that other teams on the wall thought we were on drugs…'
Łukasz was the first to succeed in completing the pitch and Jacek followed him on his second go. The following pitches shifted their focus from physical fitness to mental concentration, and an unexpected storm only added to the fear induced by unreliable pitons and exposed traverses. Finally, Jacek and Łukasz reached the top of Cima Ovest at 7pm.
'We chose Project Fear as it offered almost 250 metres of terrain that was new to us. Going for Pan Aroma would have meant climbing the initial pitches of Bellavista and we have done that already. We were driven by the urge to climb something we had never attempted before. It turned out we'd made the right decision. Project Fear is the most beautiful route we have ever climbed in the mountains and we are impressed by both Huber's and MacLeod's vision, determination and courage. It seems to us that it deserves more the name of Project Perfect Beauty.'
The team's goal for the next few months is to open a new line on Cima Grande, where they have already established three new pitches in ground-up style.
Lukasz and Jacek are sponsored by: Salewa and Silva