Sunday, June 19, 2011

Catching up: Italy

Well, it seems like my last post about April skiing in the coast range, roger' pass and Alaska disappeared into the matrix somewhere. And as winter is SOOOO far away on the calendar (but not in weather here on the coast!) I am going to move on to some posts about Italy!

This year Jas and I decided that our European travel itch would be scratched in northern Italy. Rumors from our ex-pat mountain guide friends that live in Chamonix told tale of great food, quiet crags, steep limestone with tufas and rest days on the beach. Did I mention the great food and tufas? Well, we pulled the pin and made plans to visit Castelbianco, Italy, a small town just inland from Albenga, located between Monaco and Finale Ligure. Rolling green hills, medieval villages, cherry trees, rivers, gelato, pizza, fresh herbs, the beach. This place has it all. And awesome crags with very few people. We were psyched. So we spent the next two weeks getting fit in this valley, mostly climbing at a few crags, and quickly tackling some harder projects after getting fit.

Jas had spent the previous month hitting the bouldering coop in Squamish and actually using the hangboard. Me? I just kept skiing 6 thousand foot days as I worked 33 days straight teaching and examining ski programs for the AMGA. So needless to say my arms were NOT fit. It felt pretty humbling to be flailing on 11+ for the first few days, when the memories of my last days on the rock in the fall were of firing a few 13s in a couple of tries. But by day 8 on the rock after 5 months of zero climbing and training I was back to sending 12+, so it felt good to be back in shape. Well, rather than chat too much, here are some photos to capture what life was like in the far eastern coastal corner of Italy. Did I mention huge blocks of Italian hard cheeses for just a few euro? And the gelato?


Castelbianco and the Terminal Crag...steep tufas!

Tolmachevo 7a, a brilliant route at Terminal.


Approach to Erboisteria crag.

The old town of Finale Ligure

On one of our 'rest days' to the beach in Finale, we decided to do a 7-8 pitch seaside traverse we had heard tale of. A few hundred meters of 5.5-5.10a climbing about 10m above the sea sounded like a good idea to us! More on the feet then the arms, so it qualified as a rest day climb, especially since I just wore approach shoes for it.

Rapping in to the sea

Yeah, life is pretty good!

Next post: Arco!