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Located in Drena, near Arco, Italy, Excalibur was conquered by Italian climber, Stefano Ghisolfi, marking its first ascent. This is one of the hardest routes in Italy that has puzzled top climbers such as Adam Ondra, Will Bosi and Jakob Schubert.


Sport Climbing







First Ascent

Stefano Ghisolfi

Date of FA



Ascent Log

ClimberSuggested GradeDate of AscentNotes
Stefano Ghisolfi9b+2nd Feb 2023First ascent of one of the hardest routes in Italy. Instagram Post

Climb Profile

The Route

Morris Fontanari and Cristian Dorigatti, two local climbers from Trentino first bolted Excalibur in 2020. Looking for some new boulders in Drena, the two climbers stumbled upon this huge overhanging 40-degree panel. After trying it for a year without getting anywhere, they decided to bring in Italy’s top rock climber; Stefano Ghisolfi. Stefano brought Adam Ondra, Will Bosi and Jakob Schubert to try it with him, although Jakob only spent one day on it.

Excalibur climb

The Excalibur climb is on a very steep, overhanging wall adorned with sharp micro edges and small, awkwardly positioned pockets, culminating in a very complex yet short problem. Even though the route consists of only 18 moves, every move requires immense strength and tension to be able to hold on to such tiny holds. As Stefano said, if one hold broke off, the whole route would be impossible, that’s how hard the route is and how scarce the holds are.

First Ascent

2nd Feb 2023: Stefano Ghisolfi

Stefano first tried the route in early 2021 but since he was working on other projects, he didn’t spend too much time on it and decided to try it properly with Adam Ondra in spring 2022. At first, he thought the route was impossible. The aesthetic of the line, the beauty of the landscape and the sword in the stone below made it too special not to keep trying.

Stefano Ghisolfi heel hook on Excalibur
Stefano heel hooking on the most awkwardly small hold ©Enrico Veronese

As a climber who is used to climbing longer routes, Stefano had to change his training and focus more on strength-building over endurance. That clearly helped him as he clipped the chains on the hardest sport route in Italy.

A for the grade, being a top climber and grading something as hard as 9b+ doesn’t come easy. As Stefano said in his interview with, ‘’The number of days trying it helped me understand the difficulty more. If I was alone it could have taken many more days. The fact that also Adam, Jakob, and Will tried it made me realize how truly hard it was. Someone might think it could be even harder, but in the end I believe 9b+ fits perfectly.

Stefano Ghisolfi happy after sending Excalibur
Stefano after sending Excalibur ©Diego Borello

Stefano did mention that there is a low start to Excalibur, could this raise it to a 9c? Who knows.

Other Attempts

Excalibur has only seen one ascent so far but some of the top climbers in the world have tried it. Adam Ondra spent some time projecting with Stefano but hasn’t managed to get close to a send. He announced some time ago that he was walking away from the project due to the increased potential of injuring his fingers. Ondra did establish a new dyno route which starts a few bolts above Excalibur called Buro.

Will Bosi has been the closest to sending Excalibur and has been back every season to try it, showing no signs of quitting just yet. He’s had a couple of sessions recently but was met with pretty bad weather. No doubt we’ll see Will heading back to Arco when the weather improves again.

Will Bosi on Excalibur

Header image by Marco Erspamer

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Meet Angel, a former desk-jockey turned global wanderer. After catching a severe case of the climbing (and travel) bug, she's now a world traveller, living the dirtbag dream. Highballs? Too mainstream for her taste. She's all about the thrills of lowballs, where the real action happens. Nowadays, you'll find her in Thailand, either precariously balanced on a granite slab or trading stories with Nemo and his buddies underwater!

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