Wu Wei (9a) MP by Ale Zeni

13 September 2023

Ale Zeni has made the FA of the six pitches Wu Wei in Val Nuvola, near Passo Broccon. The hardest pitch is the fourth, Pibe de Ora (9a). "The most challenging pitch is a highly technical friction slab (something like 10/5 degrees) that requires perfect body balance and finger strength. This is one of the most difficult pitches I have ever attempted in this style. I hope that other skilled climbers will try it in the future because the route is truly beautiful and the limestone is impeccable. 😊." (c) Enrico Veronese/Grivel

Ale has previously done several 9a and harder slabs including Cryptography (9b), video. In 2021 he did the FA of Eternit (9a+), and here is a mini-doc video of the ascent.

Can you tell us more about the route and your FA?
Myself and Riccardo Scarian started to bolt the route from the ground in 2016 and finished in 2021. In total, we spent something like 15 days to open all the pitches. The hardest one was really hard to open with as there was no place to use skyhooks so I decided to take the drill on my shoulder and put the bolts without skyhooks. It was a really hard challenge 😅. After finishing all the routes in 2021 we started to try the free ascent in 2022 and I did all the pitches in free climbing in July 2023. After this, I tried to do the route ground up in a day. On August 11th I made a good attempt when I climbed all the pitches in free climbing but I fell three times in the last 8b pitch. I tried again on August 16th and I did all the pitches without falling and did the route. The grades are: 7c; 8a+; 7c+; 9a; 7c; 8b.

Where does your love for slabs come from and how have you trained to become an expert?
I grew up in Primiero Valley, where the most challenging climbing routes were bolted by Maurizio Zanolla (also known as Manolo). If I wanted to attempt something difficult, I had to climb in this style. I love this style of climbing, and in a short time, I made significant progress. The best way to train for this style is to climb frequently on slabs, work on little crimps, and improve mobility. I love this style because is not just about how strong you are but specifically it is important to be a good climber, and have a good sensibility and mentality approach. For me is the maximum expression of this beautiful sport and also a lifestyle 😊

Indoors I climb especially on overhanging walls because, even if it is a bit strange, for climbing hard on the slab, you need also to have a lot of power. Of course, I did a lot of training on a hangboard but also moonboard and fingery boulders on overhanging walls. So when you are on the wall you have to connect the power with the mobility and balance. I don’t know why but climbing just on the vertical walls is not enough to find your maximum level in this style. It is very important to also increase the general strength 😊

What is your next plan?
My autumn plan is to try to do my first 9a on an overhanging wall. The route is called “9G” climbed by Adam Ondra in Gemona’s crag and he said it’s a “hard 9a” with just one repetition from an Italian guy Matteo Menardi. Will be a good challenge to try to do a 9a not just on a vertical wall in crag and multi-pitch but also in something for me harder like an overhanging wall 😊. Also, this route is in Italy. I did some good tries last winter where I fell in the last hard move of the route so I feel that this is possibly a nice goal.

Riccardo, who has been his partner throughout the whole process, comments, "Wu Wei🌀🌀🌀 a line and a dream that I had the intuition to imagine "possible or impossible" in the summer and autumn of 2011 during the opening and subsequent free ascent of "Shakti" (8b+). This was the first route in Val Nuvola. I remember that during those days my eyes often fell on that very smooth slab to my left. Only a great team could aspire to that climb up that "asphalted" wall.

It was that in May 2016 we began this great adventure on Wu Wei, an adventure that lasted seven years where we put a lot of effort into it, especially on L4 where on certain days we were unable to make any progress. Alessandro really outdid himself on a couple of occasions managing to place the bolt while remaining on his feet and holding onto nothing with one hand! This great adventure ended on August 16th this year with Ale's great ascent. The games aren't over yet for me, despite the 55 moons the sensations and progress and even the moon are a good omen now it's my turn to close the circle! On L4 I fell 3/4 of the way down on the third hard boulder but you can also fall at the end😝."

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