Italians Finish Siula Grande Push Days Behind First Ascensionists

This summer has seen elite alpinists pioneering new routes in Peru, but the race to the top of Siula Grande’s East Face has provided the highest contention.

On August 1, Matteo Della Bordella and Marco Majori finished narrowly in second place on a previously unclimbed face.

From July 20-24, the climbers established Valore Alpino, a new route on the giant pillar of Siula Grande’s East Face. Their climb on the 6,344m mountain in the Huayhuash range took them about five days of alpine-style climbing. It’s named Valore Alpino in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Italian Mountaineering Corps, Bordella wrote on Instagram.

Maximal difficulties include free climbing sections at 6c.

Valore Alpino Peru

The ascent of ‘Valore Alpino’ on Siula Grande. Photo: Matteo Della Bordella

 

Loose rock and heady climbs on Siula Grande’s East Face

Before this season, no climbers had ever made it up the east face of Siula Grande, the setting of the film Touching the Void. Della Bordella and Majori contended for the first ascent with two Catalan climbers this season. In the end, the Spaniards snagged the summit on July 16, mere days before the Italians.

To breach the face first, Marc Toralles and Bru Busom braved intimidating rockfall. Bordella and Majori’s team appeared to acknowledge the hazard as well but initially chose to back off due to it.

“When we got to the wall, we realized what conditions were like and noticed the continuous rock falls,” Della Bordella told PlanetMountain. “In the end, we preferred not to risk too much and to look for a safer route.”

An Italian Job

But he and Majori still came away with a proud ascent. With support from the three other members of their Italian High Mountain Military Section (SMAM) team, their new line plies plenty of new terrain on the imposing peak.

Valore Alpino takes virgin rock up the 500m pillar to the right of a 2016 route by two French climbers. Then it joins that route to finish the pillar and punches out left into 600m of mixed climbing and unconsolidated snow.

“Thanks to @marcomajori for sharing these 5 days of adventure, effort, joy, cold on a mountain as beautiful as it is severe,” Della Bordella wrote.

colorfully dressed climber atop snowy mountain, side view

On ‘Valore Alpino’. Photo: Matteo Della Bordella

 

In a previous statement to the American Alpine Club, Della Bordella explained part of the attraction of Peru’s mountains:

“What I can say about this little corner of the Cordillera Huayhuash is that the limestone is something incredible. The main wall in the center of the East Face of Siula Grande is a challenge, with top-notch technical difficulties on rock, plus a complex and committing approach.”