The La Sportiva Athletes Climbing Meeting took place on 11-13 October 2021, in Orco Valley (Val d’Aosta, Italy): a three-day event dedicated to the climbing athletes of the La Sportiva family from the Europe and beyond. A great opportunity to meet in an evocative environment, the Orco Valley, an Italian paradise of crack climbing, which saw the participation of about 30 athletes including the major exponents of the Trad discipline such as Jacopo Larcher, Barbara Zangerl, Siebe Vahnee and Brittany Goris, who came directly from the United States where this type of climbing is much more widespread. Among those present at the event there were also many young promises of sport climbing such as the Spanish Alberto Ginès Lopez: first Olympic gold medal ever in climbing, the Swiss Sascha Lehmann, the German Martina Demmel and many others who approached this world for the first time.
The Athletes Meeting was a great opportunity for everyone, athletes, marketing team and La Sportiva R&D, to find themselves after a long period of only online communication forced by the pandemic, spending time together doing what The LaSportiva Family, today make up of athletes of different generations and specialties, are most passionate about. The meeting was an excellent opportunity for the youngest members of the community to broaden their horizons, grow and challenge themselves by learning from the generation that preceded them and which today joins that of the new climbers dedicated to competitions. At the same time, for the most experienced climbers, both in the trad and sports world, it was a way to experience today’s climbing scene and to better understand how this sport is quickly evolving, attracting more and more young kids of great ability to the sport.
During these days the athletes were spoiled for choice on the most challenging climbing spots. The main focus of course was crack climbing and trad climbing: a topic that perfectly reflects the granite cliffs of the Orco Valley. There was an opportunity to try numerous trad routes of different levels both for the more experienced and for those approaching this technique as true beginners. Leading the sports climbing athletes was English climber Neil Gresham: pillar of the La Sportiva family in both the English and international trad world who introduced the basics of traditional climbing; Marzio Nardi: expert climber and tracker at international level who developed new trad routes for the occasion together with Andrea Magliano: climber and manager of the “Le Fonti Minerali” refuge that hosted the whole team; the Courmayeur mountain guides who introduced this discipline to young FASI athletes. Leading the La Sportiva Climbing Team was Stefano Ghisolfi, who tried traditional climbing for the first time ever, and Alberto Ginès Lopez who opened a new route characterized by very technical sections and other routes typical of bouldering with the invaluable help of the Spanish mentor Iker Pou. The route was named “Fessura dura dura” in the “Atlantide” crag. Another project was released by the young Anak Verhoven under the guidance of Neil Gresham: “La Pupilla” is the name that Anak has chosen to embed in the rock.
The presentation of the new La Sportiva TC PRO climbing shoe made the event even more special, the new version of the iconic shoe by Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell dedicated to the two most famous ascents made with TC Pro on El Captain: “FreeRider” by Alex Honnold, narrated in Tommy Caldwell’s “Free Solo” and “The Dawn Wall”. This small Italian Yosemite offered the ideal opportunity to allow athletes to explore and test the characteristics of the new version of the crack climbing shoe par excellence, thanks to the presence of R&D specialists Pietro dal Prà and Luca Gabrielli.
The La Sportiva Athletes Climbing meeting was all this and much more that is so hard to put into words: a meeting between generations united by that passion for the vertical world that they have all contributed to innovate, evolve and spread worldwide, with epic climbs on an outdoor wall, by winning the most important indoor competitions. “We are all climbers”, the Valle dell’Orco gives us this strong awareness.
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