Rock Blocks - Spring
Up the long routes
and see the top
Rock Blocks - Summer
Taste of Rock
Meditate with us at the Brenta
Rock Blocks - Fall
See the shores of Liguria and Sicily
And feel the freedom
Rock Blocks - Winter
Ice climbing and snowboarding in Italy
Aiming high at the high peaks

keskiviikko 2. marraskuuta 2016

Val Varatella and I Gumbi

Mika Huhtamaki

I Gumbi is the first sector in the valley along the path "Sentiero delle Terre Alte". Beautiful and sunny sector offers more than 40 routes for all climbing styles and vide range of difficulties. Somehow the quiet valley and the steep red wall give a massive climbing experience. I noticed that even my normal voice echoed over the valley when climbing on the wall.

Easiest few routes start from 5a and hardest routes end up to 7b+. In general the routes are long and well bolted between the years 2003 and 2012. Overall rock quality is excellent at least on the 2012 bolted routes we climbed. Lot of long and vertical or overhanging routes are available from technical crimps to strength requiring routes. I have to admit that I enjoyd this crag and just this crag is definitely a reason to come back to Val Varatella.

And after the climbing day we headed to the "Grotte di Toirano" a 1300 long cave under the nearby mountains. But that's another story.

tiistai 1. marraskuuta 2016

Val Pennavaire and Colosseo

Mika Huhtamaki

Val Pennaire is a large valley starting from Albenga and offering over 40 crags and more than 1000 Val Pennavaire could be easily a target even for a longer climbing holiday just because of the huge amount of good quality routes to be climbed. A good amount of the routes have been bolted after 2000 or even later than 2010 thou the first rock climbers discovered the valley already in the 90's. If the sole number of fresh routes is not a justification for a visit then the varied styles of climbing from tufas to overhangs and slabs are. 

Our pick of the day from Val Pennavaire was the crag Colosseo that has respectable 35 routes from 4a to 7c+, majority of the routes being on the range of 6a-7b. Bolting here is good as usual and the routes are relatively new, bolted between 2005 and 2006. On some overhangs a bit of polished rock exists but nothing that would affect to the climbing experience. Most propably the best parts of the wall are the on the overhanging part of the wall. Mostly those are 7+ routes but there is still some good overhangs for 6 grade climbers as well.

Again a great crack to visit. So far we have been picking cracks that are bolted 2005 or later and with that in mind the rock quality and bolting has been good or even great. I'm a little bit amazed how many good routes on a good rock there are. And all that in a relatively small region.

maanantai 31. lokakuuta 2016

Valle del Vero and crowded Santa Lucia

Mika Huhtamaki

Valle del Vero is in an exceptional setting between steep mountains, next to the Grotte di Toirano, the caves of Toirano and the Church of Santa Lucia. Walking further via path "Sentiero delle Telle Alte" shows also the hidden beauty of the nature in the valley. This is place is not just about climbing, it is about experiencing the surrounding nature as well.

For climbing the Church of Santa Lucia gives name to the sunny and most popular climbing sector. Reasons for the popularity are obvious, sector has a quick access and you can reach the bottom of the routes withing ten minutes from the parking. Routes are also well bolted and grade range is from easy to medium and mostly technical slabs and vertical walls in total of 22 routes.

Over the day we felt that in the noon and early afternoon the crag was too crowded at first. Rock quality was average and ok in general most probably because routes were bolted beteen 2006 - 2010. Best routes we climbed were Idefix and Obelix because of the combination of the slab and overhand in a single routes. Also Lella is worthwhile to do. Not the best of the Oltrefinale but ok for a one time visit.

sunnuntai 30. lokakuuta 2016

Initial touch to the Oltrefinale - Telematica

Mika Huhtamaki

Oltrefinale is relatively recently bolted region and new climbing location for us. Well almost, we have been twice in Finale Ligure which is only 15-20 kilometers apart from Oltrefinale. Still the difference in these too locations is amazing. The amount of relatively new routes in a small region is amazing.

Oltrefinale consists six main valleys: Val Nimbalto, Val Varatella, Val Pennavaire, Val Tanaro, Valle Argentina and Val Nervia. Our basecamp is located at Albenga so that we can easily access the Val Pannaire, Val Varatella and Val Nimbalto. Finale Ligure routes are also accessible in a reasonable time because the drive from the Albenga to Finale Ligure takes less than 30 minutes.
We started our expedition by visiting Val Pennaire that offers over 40 crags and more than 1000 routes. Valley offers a great amount of routes for different climbing styles from tufas to overhangs and slabs. 

Our expedition to Oltrefinale started from the good warmup crag Telematica, bolted 2004. Crag has total of 25 routes mostly on red and grey limestone and varying heights from 15 to 25 meters. Grade range is relatively easy from 4c to 6b+. Grading felt a bit stiff on few routes but overall level of difficulty matched well on expectations.

Telematica was a good starting point for our journey to Oltrefinale. Ok rock quality and nice vertical walls.

lauantai 25. kesäkuuta 2016

Rise Up - speed climbing and deep water solo

Mika Huhtamaki
Relaxed social events are always great to be with friends. Millet Rise Up Tour in Arco is one of a kind happening where all climbers without distinction of age or skill can have good time together. Two days event started in Arco's climbing Arena and continued at the following morning with a deep water solo climbing event at Lake Garda.

This year I was lucky to get in the speed climbing competition. For me speed climbing is a new experience so I was climbing the route on-sight. I don't know if it is luck or Finnish mentality that let me push up to the 3rd semifinal round where I accidentally slipped and fell. After that round my next opponent for the finals would have been our ice-climbing couch from last winter's Marmolada adventure, Alessandro Beber. Well maybe it was better that I fell, he would have been too fast for me ;) Great fun thou.

Young power!
My 1st round speed climbing.

And after the competitive evening the following day started as an early morning wake-up with a paddle boat trip to the deep water solo wall. Climbing there was good but at some stage I started to wonder why I feel so cold all the time. I'm a Finn after all and cold water shouldn't be an issue and I was climbing on reasonable difficult routes. The reason for the cold became clear when I got back to home, my body temperature was 39,1 Celsius degrees, oh boy!

See the official video about the 2 days event.

I'm heading towards Madonna.

My brother Juha learns to be a superman.

Learning balance.

Late night picnic at the climbing arena.

torstai 23. kesäkuuta 2016

Via Trento and Via del 46 Parallelo - Parete Zebrata

Mika Huhtamaki

During the last years Parete Zebrata has been our favorite hang around wall for quick and shady afternoon climbs. One obvious reason is the shade and reasonable afternoon and evening temperature even during the hot season. Wall is climbable even during the hottest days after around 4pm so the only limiting factor is the length of the day.

On the other hand Parete Zebrata is a good wall for longer 400+ long routes during the spring and fall. Still easier long routes are not necessarily always well protected, for example old and popular route Rita has several pitches where bolt spacing is around 15-20 meters. Usually distant bolts are not in a difficult spot but sometimes additional protective gear may help while climbing. Interesting route that has a long chimney at the last third. Just the history and length of the route justifies an ascent.

Via Trento
A good afternoon or evening route to be climbed during the hot season. Some friction climbing and few harder sections than the grade 5b. Good belay stations and safe descent makes it a nice option for a relaxed evening picnic over the Sarca valley.

Via del 46 Parallelo
Oldest route on the Parete Zebrata, easy with good belays stations. It can be a good training ground for a multipitch climbing as a 180 meters long. Somewhat long bolt distances may still scare some of the beginners off. We still managed to use it as a training climb for my brother and his girlfriend so at least in our case it was a good choice for that. Grade is 4a and mostly it is that, maybe few harder spots but no friction climbing.

Over the years we have climbed at least the following routes from Parete Zebrata:
  • Opera Prima, 5b, 3 pitches, 100 meters
  • Via Delle Mimose, 5b, 3 pitces, 120 meters
  • Donne, 5b, 3 pitches, 120 meters
  • Zo Le Man, 5b, 3 pitches, 120 meters
  • Gino Gianna, 5b, 4 pitches, 150 meters
  • Giusy, 5b / A0, 3 pitches, 150 meters
  • Via Trento, 5b, 5 pitches, 180 meters
  • Via del 46 Parallelo, 4a, 6 pitches, 180 meters
  • Spinelo, 6a, 7 pitches, 220 meters
  • Rita, 5c, 15 pitches, 400 meters

sunnuntai 19. kesäkuuta 2016

Monte Colodri and Cinque Stazioni

Mika Huhtamaki
Hanging on vertical walls over a mediaval city is not a everyday thing to do. But at Monte Colodri that is the norm. Climbing at the Monte Colodri is just fun because the beautiful views over the Sarca valley, Arco's castle, Lake Garda and due the easy access. 

Of course easy access has its downside too. Some routes are more or less polished because of the
massive number of accents made over the years. Cinque Stazione is not the hardest accent to get to the top of the Monte Colodri and surprisingly it is still in a reasonable condition. 8 pitches of actual climbing and few additional pitches at the end of the route before the topping offers a half day rock journey.

Route is a good adventure when the temperature is not too high but during the hot season the fun can quickly turn into a via dolorosa. If you are not afraid of few A0 moves and occasionally long distance bolts then this is potential route to go.

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