Italians to Attempt New Route On the ‘Touching the Void’ Peak

One of the most interesting projects this season will take place far from the Karakoram’s crowded 8,000’ers.

Matteo Della Bordella, Stefano Cordaro, Filip Babitz, Alessandro Zeni, and Marco Majori left Italy yesterday for Siula Grande (6,344m) in the Andes. They will attempt a new alpine-style route on the East Face. The expedition will last 45 days.

The Italian team yesterday at Malpensa Airport in Milan. Photo: Alessandro Zeni

 

One of the most impressive peaks of the Huayhuash range in the Peruvian Andes, Siula Grande’s vertical walls of snow, ice, and rock test the best climbers in the world.

An Austrian-German party made its first ascent on July 28, 1936, when Arnold Awerzger and Erwin Schneider summited via the North Ridge.

Touching the Void

But Siula Grande became really famous in 1985 when Joe Simpson and Simon Yates of the UK ascended the huge vertical West Face for the first time. During their descent via the North Ridge, they endured what became one of mountaineering’s all-time great survival stories. The tale, written by Simpson in his classic book, Touching the Void, has appeared in more than 20 languages. A film based on the book is one of the few big-budget climbing movies that real mountaineers don’t scoff at.

Two French alpinists, Didier Jourdain and Max Bonniot, first ascended the East Face on August 27, 2016, via the East Pillar-Southeast Ridge. They climbed alpine style over five days, without placing any bolts. Eventually, they named their route Le Bruit Des Glacons (1,400m, ED 6c WI5).

Bonniot and Jourdain’s route up the East Face in 2016. Photo: Max Bonniot for American Alpine Club.

 

Bordella returns to Siula Grande

One year later, in 2017, Matteo Della Bordella, Tito Arosio, and Matteo Bernasconi (Bernasconi perished in 2020 in an avalanche in the Alps) attempted the central wall. When that did not work, they turned to a new line on the East Pillar, starting to the left of the French line of 2016. Bordella and his partners had little information about the route. Finally they had to retreat because of an oncoming snowstorm.

The Italian attempts on the East Face, in 2017, by Della Bordella, Arosio, and Bernasconi. Photo: Matteo Della Bordella for American Alpine Club

 

Bordella later reported for the American Alpine Club: “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.”

It will be interesting to learn more about the new line that the Italians will attempt.

Several of the world’s top climbers, including Thomas Huber and Dmitry Golovchenko, have wished them good luck on their amazing project.

The strong Italian team yesterday at the Milan airport. Photo: Matteo Della Bordella

Kris Annapurna

KrisAnnapurna is a writer with ExplorersWeb.

Kris has been writing about history and tales in alpinism, news, mountaineering, and news updates in the Himalaya, Karakoram, etc., for the past year with ExplorersWeb. Prior to that, Kris worked as a real estate agent, interpreter, and translator in criminal law.

Now based in Madrid, Spain, she was born and raised in Hungary.