I was a mountaineer, but even a sport climber. I had climbed on bridge pylons and buildings for years, thus, without being aware of it, I was a sport climber too. Ciampino was my "gym". Massimo Marchegiani saw this abandoned quarry once, while he was searching for a place to spoon with his girlfriend. He, though, never went with us there, whereas I used to climb in Ciampino with Angelo Monti. When I first saw that spot, I couldn't believe that there might be a rock wall so close to my home! In Rome! There was also the bridge (an overpass, n.e.)... and I found another spot like the Ciampino in Capannelle. Then it became a tire graveyard, that caught fire, so the quarry was buried. It was nice almost as Ciampino and I only knew it. Once I brought there Giorgio Mallucci and Gianni Battimelli, I went there for training with my bike (at that time I didn't own a car, yet), just so long as to climb something... thus I was a sport climber "unwillingly".
I used to wear the EB as climbing shoes, like many great mountaineers of that time, even in England.
I liked facing the challenges of strong ones. The strong mountaineers were always a source of inspiration for me. I remember when I saw Mariacher in free solo on the Micheluzzi at Ciavazes. At that time I thought I was very fit, but that sight made me realize that I could do more. I was with the "Vecchiaccio" (Vito Plumari) on the Micheluzzi and, all of a sudden, someone passed me climbing in free solo... What an epic day! There was the "Ragni di Lecco" (a strong Italian team, from Lecco, n.e.), they too casually on the Micheluzzi, that got a bit shocked for what they were seeing. The "Ragni di Lecco" were very young, they were climbing in the Dolomites for the first time and met very strange people, starting from the Vecchiaccio that made an unbelievable show coming at the bottom of the rock wall with some eggs and some shoppers, he did a mess of all... The "Ragni di Lecco" after seeing this, thought that we would fall after a few meters, and instead, they saw us go up like a streak! In fact, I was very fit and when my mate, (the "Vecchiaccio") would be got stuck, I lifted him up, because he was very light. Then they saw another guy, Mariacher, that overtook we all in free solo, at 100 miles an hour! Then we saw Mariacher first climb down then climb up, then once again climb down... That day the world seemed turned upside down! Those moments were really unrepeatable. At the end of my activity, I went to Yosemite, but I was already interested in other things: the first girlfriends, the first cars... The fact remains that in America I didn't get any, rather I exactly left... at some time I said goodbye to all and left Yosemite back to Rome, where I wanted to do other things.
Later I started climbing again; from the age of 15/16 to the age of 19/20 I did nothing but climbing. I stopped going to school; when I was called up for military duty I did a mess, I nearly got arrested because I ran away from the barracks, leaping over the fences of the Viterbo airport because all I wanted to do was climbing. I thought "If they keep me there for one year, I would die! They don't let me climb, they don't let me do nothing!" You understand I was screwed... once in a while, Vito (the "Vecchiaccio", n.e.) would pick me up from the airport with his motorbike... So, when you are 20, and for 5 years you have always done the same thing, at some time you want to discover some other aspect of life...
Later, after many years, the desire to climb I returned; for example, I think of the new variant of the Via dei Francesi on the Western face of Lavaredo. I think that, once settled down back home, you return to old loves, maybe with a different approach and a different mind, Because during my first 5 years of mountaineering I got a miracle; that 5 years have really been the best of my life, the most intense, and my thought and my heart often turn to that wonderful period.
Ar. Pierluigi Bini
A nice story, I became a reference point like others who were the same for me. I had a great admiration for those of the SUCAI (University Students Alpin Club) and when I saw they do some kind of things... it seemed impossible to do the same for me, but then after I discovered the Superga sneakers I had a breakthrough. It was because I saw Rys' Zaremba, that brought me along. I seemed gifted to him, so he brought me in the Dolomites. And there a lot happened: he was very slow, placing a bivouac in the middle of a rock wall was normal, for him. The first route on which he brought me in the Dolomites - a reckless thing, indeed, even if at that time I had already done a free solo ascent (but with a rope) in the Gran Sasso mountain. The route was the Via del Torso in Piz Ciavazes, completely in free solo. We were totally unlocked... and I wasn't even 16! He was very foolish... I were in the throes of excitement and did in free solo this route of III and IV grade, but it was in the Dolomites... that is if you stay along the line of the route, the difficulty is IV grade, but if you go away from the line of two feet the grade is V and you can't go wrong. But he guided me, he told me how to do...
We got lucky, we got lucky so many times... I think that now I would think real hard before I did in free solo that multipitches. That is, now, with all the experience I've got, if tomorrow I should go climbing in free solo that route, I'm not sure I would. To do that things you must be trained, you must have a good psychological condition, you must climb every day. At that time I climbed every day, or on a tree or on a bell tower or on the bridge pylons of the Casilina road [a road of Rome, n.e.], then in Ciampino, Morra, Circeo and finally on the Leano Mountain because there was still no climbing routes in Sperlonga... Two days a week I climbed on the rock, and the others I climbed the bridge pylons. And when it was impossible, I went on runs, I ran for 10 Km. I was obsessed with the diet, I was the bad seed in my family, a 16-17 years old boy always with his little scale... I was very skinny. When I had that great physical shape, and all the motivation I found in the books, Stefano Ardito lent me a book by Alessandro Gogna ("Un alpinismo di ricerca") and I gave it back to him 7-8 months later, well worn-out because it was too read. I wasn't going to school, however, I knew all the mountaineering books... It was a good school of life. You stay so fond of such kind of things, then I have always been very conflicted; now I've decided that I should have more training then I use very little sugar, I don't eat bread or pasta... I would like even only to climb the Dori, in Leano Mountain, but in a special way; I know that climb the Dory like I was used to doing, with the same carelessness and agility is practically impossible, because I would need to climb every day. I make my optimum performances only when I climb every day.
But when I can climb every day, the results are surprising; for example two years ago, in the Morra mountain I climbed 3000 meters in free solo in only one day... consider that two years ago I was 57 old, then if you work out every day, maybe you can still achieve good results.
Whenever I can climb for several days straight, I see that I get a huge improvement, but to do that, you must forget about business, forget your wife, forget anything... But then the bills to pay come. So you just keep climbing until you can. Of course, I also realize that the passing of time is merciless.
- 40 years ago You anticipate all the actual trends.
Because I met a precise historical moment, in which there was an ongoing evolution, a transition from the classic mountaineering to the sport climbing, to the systematic and studied training.
Today the sport climbing is really something else, it's got a thing in itself, there are some sport climbers who never knew mountains... there is also someone else who know the mountains, but is definitely not interested in... We, instead, were only some guys a bit light-hearted, wearing tracksuits, while before there was the Mountaineer uniform. In fact when the "Ragni di Lecco" saw me, they suddenly labeled me for my tracksuit, then when they saw my mate Vito... let's forget about... they were all conformed, all wearing a sweater with the spider [Ragno = Spider, n.e.], all with a red sweater; they were an institution... At that time, most of the mountaineers were like them and they were looking at my sneakers asking: "How can you climb with those shoes?"
Now sport climbing is getting similar to the artistic gymnastics, with its coded acrobatic figures. But even in 1933/1935, before the Second World War, the mountaineer Emilio Comici had great plasticity because he had come from the gymnastic artistic, like also Patrick Edlinger. Now sport climbing is getting art. For example, when I see Bolle [a famous Italian dancer, n.e.], I think that he could have been a great climber.
But physical fitness is not enough, it also requires a great passion that makes you face fear, then fear always remains for you but you also train it, you push to the limits, to always be with that stress on you, to stay with that attention on me that even if apparently it seems there is not always present, you have the perception of risk. The choice of climbing partners is also important and training them for what you intend to do. I see that it is increasingly difficult to find people now that they accept these parameters. I used to bring people to the Morra and I had them train with me, I climbed with them pitches on pitches until I knew I could take them with me, so then making experience I started recruiting a small group.
In the 70s and 80s we also went very often to Circeo, it seemed to us to be in the Dolomites, it was a real school for us, and I am always very grateful to Giorgio Mallucci, Roberto Ferrante, Franco Cravino ... that group of people who did so much , for example in Leano, Dado Morandi, all the routes we spent a lot of time on, and then these kids came up that upset all... but I always had good relationships with everyone. Someone was mad about me because I was climbing free solo, but I didn't bother anyone, I always did my own business, there was someone that call me crazy and then there were also those who admired me. Also with the new generations I have always been on good relationships, with Andrea Di Bari and Stefano Finocchi we have also climbed a bit together, then Luca Grazzini and the Vermi (Roberto and Giuseppe Barberi) are all friends to me, even Marco Forcatura and Maurizio Tacchi who I saw at the Morra that they were 14/15 years old, there was Angelo Monti who sewed the relationships but that was the network, so we always met and the relationships were excellent. I have always avoided controversys, I'm never going to look for provocations.