Someone just asked me what I did for vacation. My reply was, “Vacation? Hmm…. I climb! Same as work.”
So, when I decided to take a little trip this spring with my friend Tania, I obviously chose a climbing destination. My criteria, climbing aside, was that it had to be in Italy, because as much as I love to climb, I love to eat well, and Italy offers just that.
With rain in northern Italy, we drove south to an area called Oltre Finale, near Castelbianco and southwest of Genoa on the Mediterranean coast. I had been to that region a few times before as there is another world-class climbing area nearby: Finale Ligure.
I was reluctant to go back because the ratings there are very stiff (read: bad for the ego!), the rock is often polished, and it’s not my favorite style of climbing. Everything else about it though had me longing to visit this region again for the food, the wine, the Gelati, la Dolce Vita, the ocean, etc.
When I heard of an area just south of there—Oltre Finale (the Other Finale)—offering limestone cliffs as far as the eye can see, I was excited not only for what that area of Italy has to offer, but also because the ratings were meant to be softer (read: more gentle on the ego in that it is easier to climb harder grades … just what you need on holiday!), and the climbing is more diverse with anything from steep overhangs, tufas, pockets, vertical grey walls, etc. I booked a room in a little Agriturismo, an Italian-style bed and breakfast, and off we went for a nice little climbing holiday.
We left in the morning and arrived in time for an afternoon session at the roadside crag, Terminale. Terminale is stacked with world-class routes after world-class routes, ranging from moderate to very hard and at every angle of steepness possible. After a nice session of climbing, we enjoyed a nice dinner and some wine in a completely local, tiny restaurant, where a large pizza cost $4!
We spent the next couple of days climbing in different crags of the Val Pennavaire, home to Castelbianco, the little town where we stayed. We got lucky and only saw one other party the second day at the crag we had chosen but weren’t as lucky the following two days when we chose the same crag as a group of young climbers from the Swiss Alpine Club who overtook the crag with their group of 24 people, aged 4-24!
It just blows me away that people don’t think of splitting into groups so as not to overcrowd an area. I guess that’s what you get for picking your holiday when everyone else has their holiday too. And of course, we drove home when everyone else drove home, and our 4.5-hour drive turned into close to 7.5 hours.
Aside from the crowds, this trip felt like a real holiday. Tania and I returned home pumped with a few days of great climbing mixed with great food and lots of rest. But also, I was so happy to discover yet another world-class area so close to my home in Chamonix.
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