Trad M10 - World's Hardest Trad Mixed Route?

by Chris Parker - Rock & Ice Magazine Feb/2013
This news story has been read 8,816 times
In this report by Rock and Ice Magazine, Chris Parker gives us the low down on a new mixed route in the Dolomites. Is an M10 route the hardest trad mixed route in the world? Do we have any harder or as hard lines in Scotland? Interestingly the Austrians left not only the bolts, but also the pegs behind for this route. Read on:

Albert Leichtfried placing gear on the crux pitch of Senza Piombo, 114 kb
Albert Leichtfried placing gear on the crux pitch of Senza Piombo
© Klaus Kranbitter
The Austrians Albert Leichtfried and Benedikt Purner have established what is possibly the world's hardest traditional mixed climb. Senza Piombo is located in Val Lunga, in the Dolomites of northern Italy and is a naturally protected five-pitch M10.

"Our dream of the first M10 protected with natural tools came true," writes Leichtfried. "We were able to focus all the hard mixed climbing and ice climbing from the previous years, for this single point."

The Austrians started climbing Senza Piombo on January 27, beginning with "bizarre ice formations" and difficulties up to M6 and WI5. Arriving on a ledge at the end of the second pitch, the team encountered the first crux of the route.

"From there on the character of the route changed dramatically and in front of us we saw an overhanging rock face with very little structure," wrote Leichtfried. "[W]e thought this might be it and we couldn't maintain our clean style. I was very impressed that even though it didn't seem to be possible, Benni [Purner] climbed on and left all the pitons and bolts at the belay."

Purner sent pitch three onsight, and Leichtfried took the sharp end on the route's crux fourth pitch. Encountering steep rock with marginal protection, Leichtfried took two gear-ripping falls where his cams "dropped out of the shallow crack," leaving him at his "wit's end." The team retreated, leaving the fourth mixed pitch and the final ice curtain for another day.

Returning three days later, Leichtfried fired the fourth pitch, and then swapped leads with Purner who climbed the final ice curtain, which was "rather scary" due to warm weather. Senza Piombo (M10 WI5 140m) is possibly the hardest traditionally protected mixed route in the world.

Albert Leichtfried on the crux of Senza Piombo, 121 kb
Albert Leichtfried on the crux of Senza Piombo
© Klaus Kranbitter
Senza Piombo, 94 kb
Senza Piombo
© Albert Leichtfried

Albert Leichtfried is sponsored by Marmot, Black Diamond, La Sportiva, Adidas Eyewear, Bergzeit, Sterling Rope

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