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SINCERELY YOURS

#ATHLETESTORY

When you stand in front of Rastentalfall, at Rein in Taufers, it’s like being at the theatre. You are in a glacial cirque, closed off and symmetrical, in a valley with thirty two peaks that are above three thousand metres. Behind you is the town, in front of you, the are the Vedrette mountain range, and not to mention the Barmer Spitze and Collalto and Hochgall peaks are visible as well.

The Italian toponyms of South Tyrol have a sad story: there is no mountain, torrent or town which was saved from the renaming rush by Ettore Tolomei, alpinist, geographer and devoted nationalist. For example, Glockenkarkopf, climbed in 1904 (after the Austrians Franz Hofer and Fritz Kögel, who were the first to climb the summit in 1895) after the Great War, became the “Vetta d’Italia” (Summit of Italy), and at the same time many other areas have found themselves with a new name which isn’t theirs.

Names are important. Names contain, in some way, the essence of the areas, they are like their spirit.

As soon as you reach Rein in Taufers there is an enormous icefall, it is impossible not to notice it. It takes a few minutes, on foot, to reach the base. A number of mixed routes run up it, in this natural theatre; some are relatively simple, others instead are overhanging imposingly: from the vault of black rock columns of blue and white ice project gracefully into the void, enormous imposing, majestic and beautiful like diamonds wedged into rough rock. Looking at them it is not difficult to understand why one of the most repeated routes in this basin is in fact called “Crazy Diamond”.

Simon Gietl really enjoys hanging out in these areas. He comes from Luttach, so for him it is practically like being in his back yard. This year conditions were especially good, the ice was abundant and stable, so inviting to justify many visits and a heap of repetitions: the ice of Crazy Diamond has felt Simon’s picks and crampons already four times. Simon loves looking around, one of those people who thinks ahead, always imagining something new. Already on his first attempt on Rastentalfall he had noticed a possible line, to the left of Crazy Diamond. Difficult, overhanging, with a lot of rock below, before moving onto the ice, but…Each repetition, each attempt confirmed his suspicion, that gradually became a temptation, desire, and finally project.

It is the 18th January when Simon Gietl returns to Rein in Taufers with Vittorio Messini, weighed down by equipment, determined to taste the rock and ice of this probable new line which naturally and logically unwinds first on rock covered by a fine layer of verglas, then on solid and inviting ice, then again on rock, once again on ice. Metre after metre the ice picks and crampons cast gelid sparks, bringing the two partners on a journey across this theatre.

There are moments, especially in mixed climbing, where you go crazy because there isn’t enough ice to place a screw or make an abalakov, but there is enough to make it a problem to place a cam or nut. There are moments on the other hand where everything seems to be in the right place, in which protection can be placed wherever you please: maybe distant, but safe. For Simon and Vittorio this is one of those special days in which everything works quickly, precisely and elegantly.

It takes three outings in three weeks to completely equip the route: it isn’t a problem, not at all. It is a game, not a challenge or a competition; the moment of the free ascent, the 30th January, is almost a consequence, more than an objective.

Names are important, they are the soul of things. That is why, after choosing to leave in situ all the gear necessary to repeat this line on which not even a bolt was placed, Simon and Vittorio had no doubt on what name to give it: “Mit Freundlichen Grüßen”, in other words “Sincerely yours”, just like when you sign off at the end of a letter, just like when you write to a friend.

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