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Rare Trad M10 Goes Up in Italy

Albert Leichtfried climbing Senza Piombo’s crux Pitch 4 in Italy’s Vallunga. In January, Leichtfried and Benedikt Purner made the first ascent of what is likely Europe’s hardest traditionally protected mixed climb. [Photo] Klaus Kranebitter

January 27-30, Austrian climbers Albert Leichtfried and Benedikt Purner established Senza Piombo (WI5 M10, 5 pitches), one of the hardest, traditionally protected mixed routes in the world, right up there with Fecalator (M10 WI6) in the Adirondacks and The Hurting (XI, 11) in Coire an t-Sneachda, Scotland. Located in the Dolomites’ Vallunga, Senza Piombo is 15 minutes away from Illuminati (WI6+ M11+, 5 pitches, 150m), another hard mixed line established by Leichtfried in the same valley.

Will Mayo working Fecalator (M10 WI6, 2 pitches) at Exit 30 cliff in the Adirondacks. Ian Boyer, first redpoint ascentionist, is belaying Mayo. [Photo] Brad Mering

In 2003, Chris Thomas established Fecalator with pre-placed gear. Ian Boyer, then Will Mayo, redpointed the line three years later. “It’s hard…I believe it was the first traditional M10 in the world,” Mayo says. “The first pitch is M7+, both pitches are traditionally protected with nuts and cams (no pins).” Fecalator is located on the Exit 30 cliff in the Adirondacks.

Scottish climber Dave MacLeod established The Hurting, another traditional mixed climb of the same grade. It was repeated by Andy Turner and Greg Boswell in 2011 and then Dani Arnold in 2012. MacLeod redpointed the line on his second attempted and placed all gear on lead in blizzard conditions. The Scottish XI, 11 grade given to The Hurting roughly translates to M9+/M10.

At five pitches, Leichtfried and Purner’s new route is several pitches longer than Fecalator (two pitches) and The Hurting (one pitch). The climbers worked the route for three days, only taking one full rest day between January 27 and 30, before finishing the crux fourth pitch and making it to easier climbing. Pitch 1 climbs through 20m of “bizarre ice formations,” and M6 terrain followed by a pitch of WI5, says Leichtfried. The next two pitches are the most technical with a pitch of M9 and the M10 crux pitch, each 20m long.

“The climbing demanded everything I had,” Leichtfried says, “but I successfully made it to the top.” Senza Piombo finishes off with 40m of WI4, but due to warm weather, Leichtfried says the ice was, “rather scary, but Benni kept his nerves,” to complete one of the hardest mixed routes in the world.

Sources: Albert Leichfried, Will Mayo, Chris Thomas,