From 0 to 0 - Monte Etna episode, a non-stop adventure never seen before! by Andrea Lanfri
Published on 23/04/2021
Every time I plan a new adventure, the ambition is always the same: to overcome my limits, those that seem insurmountable. I want to prove to myself that I can do it, I want to show everyone that passion can help overcome any obstacle, if you really want it.
It is the same motivation that on the 26th of October 2020 prompted me to complete the second stage of “From 0 to 0”, a unique project never undertaken by a person like me. It is an idea born last spring, during the quarantine. After winning my toughest battle, the one against meningitis in 2015, I take on increasingly ambitious challenges: so I hope to instill motivation and courage in those who look at me, because you have to be confident in your abilities and potential.
“From 0 to 0” is an ambitious project, born while I am preparing to tackle my biggest challenge, my greatest dream: Mount Everest, postponed due to the COVID emergency. With my thoughts on this goal, I modified my training to get athletic training more complete. So I started to alternate cycling, especially uphill, running, road race and uphill, long running, marathon and ultramarathon, swimming and breathing exercises.
Day after day, my days became more and more varied: in the morning training on a bicycle, in the afternoon running or mountaineering. While I was training, I was reminded of the experience of my friend Nico Valsesia, who, during our climb to the Volcano Chimborazo, in Ecuador, had told me about his "From 0 to".
So came the intuition: a project that could unite all my passions: cycling, running, the mountains.
Leaving from sea level by bicycle, changing of set up and climbing to the summit in the shortest possible time and return to zero altitude. Along the way, I change and alternate three types of prosthetics, all very different from each other. (Cycling, running and trekking/ climbing / mountaineering according to the characteristics of the mountain to be climbed).
For the moment, I have planned three stages. The zero edition took place on 26th September 2020, in which I wanted to celebrate my beloved Apuan Alps. Starting from Lerici, in the province of La Spezia, I traveled the first 60 km by bicycle to the base of Monte Pisanino (1946 meters), and then I began the climb from the ridge of the Bagola Bianca towards the summit of the King of the Apuan Alps. Time to enjoy the view and I went back down from the normal route, returning to Lerici running: 12 hours in a non-stop style.
Exactly one month after the first adventure, the second stage, “Edition 1: Monte Etna”. With me, inevitably, Grivel products: the Mountain Runner 12 backpack, the Trail Two poles and the Grivel neck gaiter.
After arriving by plane to Catania, I dedicated the first two days to inspections and the study of the routes.
On 26th October 2020, at 7 am, the challenge started. Once on the bike at zero meters, from Aci Trezza, a hamlet of Aci Castello, I reached the Citelli refuge at an altitude of 1740m on the north-east side of Etna in 2 hours and 45 minutes. A total of 37 kilometers by bike and 1850 meters in altitude. A very tiring route in some sections, with short but very steep climbs, but still pleasantly thanks to the favorable climate.
The first pit stop took place here, right in front of the Citelli refuge at 10. Very short refueling and first prosthetics change; I chose the most suitable ones for hiking in the mountains and quickly set off towards the ridge, in the direction of the Pizzi Deneri Observatory at an altitude of 2800m.
Here I walked on a hostile surface, especially for prosthetics: the lava sand slowed my program, but only by a half hour. Once I arrived to the Observatory, after a very quick break, I left to conquer the central crater, "the sinkhole". From here on, everything seemed simpler to me, the greater difference in altitude was done. No one has ever, in my condition, ever gone that far. The wonder of nature and concentration left no room for fear, but I had one concern: not being able to endure the use of prosthetics for such a long time.
In 2016, I had already attempted to climb Monte Etna, I was wearing my new "legs" for a very short time and after having traveled only a short distance I was exhausted. That day I had given up, promising myself to keep improving so that I could return there.
I resumed the crossing, now easier thanks to the less steep path, up to the highest point, at an altitude of 3350m, led by the roars of the volcano. Six hours to reach the top from sea level, but the feat was only halfway through.
The day was perfect, with no fog and wind and, in addition, the volcano was in activity. I never expected to see such a thing: once I looked out over the mouth of the volcano, the smoke and the smell of sulfur hit me completely, the lava gushed under me, inside me there was a mixture of charm and curiosity. I went around all the main craters at high altitude: seeing the second one, the one from which I heard the roaring and splashing lava in the sky, was a great thrill, I extended the stage by about an hour but the show was fully worth it.
After this intense moment the descent started, running quickly down towards the Rifugio Sapienza, on the opposite side.
Here I changed my prosthetics again, to reach Catania by road. I think the arrival in Catania was the most dangerous part of the whole project. It was starting to get dark and, although I was well lit, crossing that traffic without so many sidewalks was not pleasant at all.
I liked watching curious people staring at me from the car, this man running on those strange blades, they were almost blocking the traffic to understand what was happening in front of their eyes.
Then I saw the sea slowly appear and it was a unique emotion, an immense satisfaction. The adrenaline kept me awake all night, I had so much energy that I would have left immediately.
90 kilometers in total, 3650 meters of positive elevation gain and as many in negative, all in one breath, choosing the most difficult route, completing the crossing from the north-east to the south side. Next to me, a special person: my father. It was him who made me find the prosthetics ready for every pre-programmed change, who followed me in every move, who guaranteed the success of the challenge.
The success of the project gave me a great desire to plan new adventures.
The idea of starting from one point and then returning to it and climbing a mountain in the meantime stimulates me a lot, I see it as a thing not an end in itself, but as a complete adventure that unites my three passions. This is just the beginning, a good test for the next challenges of 2021: the “From 0 to 0” on Monte Rosa and the Gran Sasso in a coast to coast trip.
Photos by Ilaria Cariello
Andrea Lanfri was born in Lucca on November 26, 1986. Mountain enthusiast and endowed with the instinct to overcome his limits, his life has changed dramatically in 2015, when a fulminant meningitis with meningococcal sepsis upsets his plans: Andrea finds himself reprogramming his life, facing everyday life without his legs and seven fingers. The disease, however, did not affect his will to live and the strength of mind that distinguish him. Former Paralympic Athlete of the Italian National Team, climber and mountaineer, he has conquered Italian records and titles, two European bronzes and a world silver as well as returning to high altitude mountaineering by joining the Grivel team in 2019.
His favorite products are the Trail Two poles, Alpine Pro 40 + 10 backpack, Mountain Runner and the Ghost ice axe.