How to get there
From the parking area of Valnontey, take the footpath that runs along the right bank of the torrent. Follow it all the way paying attention to the cross-country skiing tracks and continue on the right bank. Once you are near the track’s halfway point, turn left along the nearly flat summer trail. Go past the crossroads to Casolari di Money and you will reach a flat area where the woods become denser. Leave the main track that leads up to Patrì and continue keeping right along the main trail that leads to Ponte dell’Erfaulet (Erfaulet Bridge). Do not cross the bridge but stay on the right bank of the valley in a sparse forest. On reaching the base of the first steep channel found on the left, start climbing more or less vertically up to the base of the ice climb. 1.30 hours.
Description of the route
Not many words are needed to describe this slide; it is simply one of the most famous ice climbs in the world. It was lionized after the first climb, made under very difficult conditions and with little ice. Over the years, it has been repeated regularly and tamed with fixes at the belays on both sides.
A short note on the technical assessment. After thousands of roped parties repeated over the years, there has been a tendency to downsize the difficulty level by one degree. In fact, considering the structure under the best conditions but without signs of passage, it features a first section that is wholly vertical for almost one hundred metres. Obviously, if you split this section into three or more lengths, the physical effort is greatly reduced. Otherwise, a WI6 assessment would be more than appropriate if it is performed in two long pitches.
The story of the first climb is relatively unknown and analysed in depth with some anecdotes written by Elio Bonfanti in his work of 2009, after having taken on the ice climb with F. Conta and F. Damilano on the 20th anniversary of its opening. To recap, the rush to the first climb of Repentance super has certainly helped increase the level of ice climbs in Valle d’Aosta giving rise to an almost competitive movement that brought locals A. Cambiolo and E. Marlier to the ascent of Di fronte al tradimento the day after the first ascent of Repentance …
Unfortunately, still many roped parties only do the first half of the ice climb and abseil down from the end of the most difficult part. It is actually much more rewarding to continue up to the top and finish the climb on the plateau of Money; the last portion of the pitch offers the stark contrast between vertical and horizontal.
The following describes the path on the left bank which is the one normally taken. Bear in mind that you can also climb from the centre or the left (facing upwards), where some belays on the rock are available (old bolts and pitons).
Length: 250 m
First ascent: F. Conta, F. Damilano, G. C. Grassi, F. 1989
Altitude: 2100 m
Exposure: West North West
Coordinates: Lon.: 7,32693 Lat.: 45,547463 – UTM (ED50) – X: 369480,78 Y: 5045329,38
L1: after the short initial slope, you face a steep vertical wall, generally very rough textured, much like a cauliflower. Sometimes it is the most challenging pitch of the ice climb. 45 metres. Belay on the rock on the right (fix).
L2: climb the entire vertical pillar up to the top with physical and sustained climbing. 55 metres. Belay on the rock right at the end of the vertical section (fix). If you want, you can split this length into two, belaying on rock in a stony ravine at the base of the pillar where the first part of the ice climb ends (fix) ... it goes without saying that the difficulty level is slightly reduced. Sometimes it can be difficult to reach the belay and even more to climb out of it: this is why you should not stop and continue until the end of the vertical section.
L3: easy channel of snow/ice. 25 metres. Belay on rock to the left under a small overhang (fix).
L4: continuation of the channel that bends slightly to the right to get around the icy wall at the base of the final section. 40 metres. Belay on rock on the right (fix).
L5: icy ramp with constant slope, initially the left then to the right, which leads onto the plateau of Money. 55 metres. Belay on a rocky block on the summit’s plateau (fix). In certain years, you can also climb a great column to the right of the path which is normally followed and that leads directly to the summit plateau, with sustained climbing (WI5).
Descent: abseiling down the ice climb using the climb’s anchor points (fix).
Text and photos taken from Effimeri barbagli (M. Giglio, 2014), the complete guide to ice climbs in Aosta Valley.