Last October in Val di Tacca in Italy’s Tuscan-Emilian Apennine National Park Michele Caminati made the first ascent of Space Invaders, a new trad climb graded E7 6c. The report and video of the 37-year-old climber from Parma.
About 15 years ago a friend showed me this giant boulder with an amazing line running diagonally across its roof. At the time I was just a boulderer and had no trad climbing experience, and so we decided to leave it bolt free, saving it for the future.
Five or six years ago I went back with some cams to try it, but the line is so overhanging and intimidating that at the time I failed to abseil down all of it. I now have far more experience on this type of routes and, after several days of cleaning the line and testing the moves and falls, last October I finally freed the route, placing all the gear on lead.
Trad climbs don’t tend to be so overhanging, especially not cracks such as on the second part of this route. Placing Friends is hard work and I had to fire the crux without the comfort of that last piece of gear, which I had to place a bit higher up..
The route is half crack, half sandstone boulder. It is certainly a lot scarier than a crack climb, but it is still quite safe thanks to the bomber gear below the roof. It’s that perfect mix I’ve been looking for for a long time, I just didn’t realise it was so close to home.
As for the grade, I reckon it’s in the region of 8a, or something like E7 6c on the British trad grading system.