Andrew of Italian Safaris had first mentioned this freeride first descent the day

myself and my friend Gareth Rogers arrived in Livigno. He had been living there for

four years and had been thinking that it would be awesome if someone could ride

it since the first time he saw it. I must admit (though it sounds terrible to say now)

I was a little dismissive, thinking it probably wasn’t going to be a big deal and was

it really worth taking a day out of the trails to rip down this hill?

By Rowan Sorrell Photos Victor Lucas

Saladini leads. World Cup 4X, Maribor, Slovenia

Well the next day we headed

out riding and didn t have

to wait long to set our

eyes on the mountain.

As we were shuttling out

to one of the high passes

to hit some singletrack

Andrew pointed out the mountain lying in no mans

land between Italy and Switzerland.

Oh! all of a

sudden I realised this guy was serious, this was no

formality and we were going to have to try and do

this. The mountain was awesome; it stuck out like

a sore thumb from the rest of the green and lush

alpine scenery, it looked more like something out

of Star Wars than a mountain in the middle of the

Italian and Swiss mountains. The spires of rock,

together with the size and scale of this place, gave

it a real eeriness and it was hard to say if this was

one that could be tamed, but we all agreed we d

come back to try it on the last day of our trip.

Well that day came around real quick and soon

we were making the hour long hike around the

sheer face to get to the top and work out if this

was on. We d taken a quick stop at the foot of the

mountain and tried riding on the bottom scree

slopes to see if we could control our speed there,

as if that wasn t possible then there was no way

we could drop in from the top. It seemed OK, but

it was clear that looking up at the spires of rock

it was a hell of a lot steeper up there, I felt pretty

small and intimidated to be honest, something I

haven t felt looking up at a mountain before.

Saladini leads. World Cup 4X, Maribor, Slovenia

Once on top the scale and sheer steepness of the

hill hit home, this was one vertigo inducing mother!

The spires of rock looked even more alien and the

loose rocky chutes between them were steep and

blind. My immediate reaction was there is no way

I can ride down through any of these gullies and

maintain any form of control , crashing was not an

option, as any form of over the bars would have

put you in a horrific tumble. Just walking around

up there checking out different areas and lines sent

rocks tumbling all the way down the slope to the

road a kilometre or more below.

After some time

we got to grips with the vertigo and started testing

out some lines deciding on the one line that may

work: a ridge ride dropping into a gulley down some

deep loose stone dust and then the crunch point, a

narrow pinch in the gulley about 80m long where

the gradient pitched super steep and rocky, this was

the point of no return drop in here and there was

no going back. Again the scale just made it seem

surreal, I could not work out what the run out was

like, and my opinion was that to try and roll down

this could well have been suicide. Gareth seemed

more positive, his trials and low speed handling

skills gave him confidence that if needs be he could

pull the bike over dig his bars into the scree and

stop himself before going into a dangerous tumble

probably all the way to the road.

Saladini leads. World Cup 4X, Maribor, Slovenia

So that was it, I know my limits and after

trying out some lines at the top I felt I couldn t get

through the pinch point without dropping in out

of control…but Gareth was keen to try it…he was

pretty nervous but keen. Then came the hour wait

for photographer Victor Lucas to scale down the

mountain and find his way to the bottom of the

gulley and find a place to shoot some footage and


The nerves increased as we waited up top,

then he went for it, past the point of no return, I

could see he had gotten out of shape with the bike

and he had slipped off sideways but he was now in

a blind spot from me I was worried he was going

to tumble into sight, but thankfully not. He told me

it wouldn t be pretty but somehow he had managed

to control, muscle and prevent disaster down what

is the steepest gnarliest chute I have ever seen! He

popped out onto the scree, carving some turns and

getting some flow in the gentler slope before running

out to the stream at the foot of the hill.

Awesome, he d done it, we were all impressed and

chuffed he d tamed it. I felt pretty gutted to not be

doing it myself but knew that I could not ride it in

the same way I would have dropped in and tried to

ride it out, which would have meant serious trouble.

So there we are, Gareth Rogers had taken on and

conquered the first descent of this intimidating hill

and I sincerely hope that he is the last to try it!

Downhill mountain biker Rowan Sorrel tackles a steep descent in Italy