Cazzanelli Opens New Route From his Front Door

When not guiding or preparing for an expedition, Francois Cazzanelli looks out of the window of his home in Cervinia, in the Italian Alps.

This is how he knew when the gullies on the face of the Grandes Murailles — the mountain right in front of town — had just the right quantity and quality of ice. Last Sunday, the so-called Hyper Couloir was in perfect condition.

Cazanelli confirmed the forecast from a meteorologist friend, called regular climbing partners Jerome Perruquet and Stefano Stradelli, gathered his gear, and walked out the door.

Route (in red) compared to a previous line opened by Cazzanelli in 2014. Photo: Francois Cazzanelli/Facebook


Fourteen hours later, they had climbed to the top of the Couloir and were on the ridge leading to the Murailles’ highest point, 3,878m Punta Sella. In that time, they had covered 1,800 vertical metres from town and climbed this Great Wall via a new ice and mixed route up the Hyper Couloir.

The line itself is 900m long. Cazzanelli has graded it FW 4+ M4. He named it “Couloir Franco Oberti”, after the veteran Cervino guide who passed away in March 2022. Below, some images from the climb.

Ice climbing on the Hyper Couloir

On the Hyper Couloir of the Grandes Murailles. Photo: Francois Cazzanelli/Facebook


a thin line o f ice on grey rock, nearly vertical.

A mixed section. Photo: Francois Cazzanelli/Facebook


On the summit ridge of the Grands Murailles

On the summit ridge. Photo: Francois Cazzanelli/Facebook


With Perruquet and Stradelli on the ridge. Photo: Francois Cazzanelli/Facebook

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.