Reinhold Messner (c) Klaus Dell’Orto
Reinhold Messner (c) Klaus Dell’Orto

“Before becoming a mountaineer, before climbing all 14 eight-thousanders, I was a rock climber. I wasn’t born with crampons on my feet. I used to climb rock, and sport climbing developed from this. Back in my days perhaps my hardest climb breached the 8th grade, when the Welzenbach scale got no further than the 6th grade. What champions like Adam Ondra achieve nowadays was unheard of back them. I’d like to congratulate all the athletes. And I congratulate Arco, too, for having always believed in the development of this sport.”

These are the words of Reinhold Messner, the undisputed king of the 8000ers, the first together with Peter Habeler to reach the summit of Everest without supplementary oxygen and the first to free climb grade VIII, who at the Arco Rock Legends celebration last Saturday night received the Climbing Ambassador by Dryarn award from Aquafi.

Reinhold Messner (c) Klaus Dell’Orto
Reinhold Messner (c) Klaus Dell’Orto

This prize was given to the South Tyrolean mountaineer by the city of Arco not only for his climbs and exploration, but also for his ability – through his books, encounters and museums – to talk about the the importance of the mountains, of nature and their values to everyone. The visionary mountaineer received the important prize “For having fuelled our dreams and having indicated the direction to explore, comprehend and surpass our limits, in climbing and in life”.

The 13th edition continued with the other two awards, namely the Wild Country Rock Award and the La Sportiva Competition Award. The climber whose achievements on rock struck a cord with the jury was, for the fifth time, Adam Ondra: the Czech star convinced with the world’s first 9c redpoint, with the world’s first 9a+ flash and also with his ability to share his overwhelming love for climbing with everyone, from experts to absolute beginners.

Arco Rock Legends 2018 (c) Klaus Dell’Orto
Arco Rock Legends 2018 (c) Klaus Dell’Orto

Displaying remarkable and sincere fair play, Ondra then dedicated his victory to Angela Eiter, nominated after becoming the first woman to climb 9b. Ondra compared the importance of this repeat to Lynn Hill’s revolutionary, incredible first free ascent The Nose precisely 25 years ago. Talking about fair play and revolutionary climbing, obviously Alexander Megos springs to mind. The German, nominated for his lighting fast ascents including the first ascent of the world’s fourth 9b+ after a mere 15 days of effort, smiled and congratulated the other two climbers.

The La Sportiva Competition Award for the 2017 competition season went to France’s Romain Desgranges who, demonstrating out-of-the-ordinary dedication, managed to win the Lead World Cup and also the European Championship aged 35. The other nominees were Slovenia’s Janja Garnbret who with utmost supremacy won gold in the Lead World Cup and silver in the Bouldering World Cup, demonstrating unbeatable domination across different disciplines, and Iran’s Reza Alipour Shenazandifard who clinched overall silver in the Speed World Cup before setting an amazing new world record of just 5.48 seconds.

Arco Rock Legends 2018 (c) Klaus Dell’Orto
Arco Rock Legends 2018 (c) Klaus Dell’Orto

The evening was hosted masterfully by Kay Rush, directed by Vinicio Stefanello and brought to life by Elena Friso’s dances and the live music performed by Debora Petrina, Graziano Colella, Giorgio Gobbo, Sergio Marchesini. Once again climbing rewarded art and art embraced climbing.

Jury motivation 2018

Wild Country Rock Award:
“The future that is present, inspiring visions that were considered unthinkable, for the entire climbing community.”

La Sportiva Competition Award:
“For having taught us that the art of competitions and climbing never ends. And that dedication always leads to great results.”


Wild Country Rock Award: Josune Bereziartu (2006), Patxi Usobiaga (2007), Adam Ondra (2008), Chris Sharma (2009), Adam Ondra (2010), Adam Ondra (2011), Sasha DiGiulian (2012), Adam Ondra (2013), Muriel Sarkany (2014), Alexander Megos (2015), Daniel Andrada (2016), Margo Hayes (2017), Adam Ondra (2018)

La Sportiva Competition Award: Angela Eiter (2006), David Lama (2007), Maja Vidmar (2008), Kilian Fischhuber (2009), Akiyo Noguchi (2010), Ramon Julien Puigblanque (2011), Anna Stöhr (2012), Mina Markovič (2013), Urko Carmona Barandiaran (2014), Adam Ondra (2015), Mina Markovič (2016), Janja Garnbret (2017), Romain Desgranges (2018)


President: Giorgio Balducci (RAI journalist)
International magazines: Bergauf (AUT), Montana (CZE), Desnivel (ESP), Klettern (GER), Panorama, (GER), UP Climbing (ITA), Montagne 360° (ITA), Meridiani Montagne (ITA), Gazzetta dello Sport – PlayAlpinismo (ITA), Il Manifesto – In Movimento (ITA), Gory (POL), Risk (RUS)

QuellePlanetMountain, Fotos: Klaus Dell’Orto