Thursday, May 14, 2009

Arco climbing - part 1

Uroš climbing some vertical rock.

Warning: Long post ahead. Feel free to skip the text and to just check out the photos. As always, you can click on a photo to bring up a larger version.

As I wrote a couple of days ago, I was away in Italy climbing for five days. Put simply, it was brilliant. But let's not get carried away and go back to the beginning. Four of us (Barbara, Tadej, Blaž and I) left on Wednesday morning from Ljubljana (I was doing the driving), heading towards Trieste. Nataša and Uroš would join us a day and a half later. We stayed on the highway until Treviso, close to Venice. I planned on leaving the highway there for a few reasons. One, the traffic by Venice, Padova and Verona is just murder, two, highway driving is boring and three, the local roads towards Trento are to-die-for beautiful (at least according to my dad, who's been in these parts many times).

So we leave the highway behind, my passengers weren't very excited at first. But as we approached the foothills of the Dolomite Alps, things became very beautiful very fast. We stopped for a beer close to Levico, then continued on to Trento. I'm not kidding, this area really is breathtaking. And the roads! Italians not only know how to drive, they know how to build sports cars and roads for sports cars. Imagine a narrow highway with fast curves surrounded by mountains in every direction. Seriously, these roads were made for Maserati's. Not Ferrari's, not Lamborghini's, this is pure Maserati territory. If you have to ask why, forget it, you wouldn't understand. I got pulled over by the Carabinieri at one point, but it was just a regular inspection, we chatted for 5 minutes on how beautiful the mountains were and they wished us a safe trip.

The view from our campsite towards the north - towards Trento.

We soon go to Arco, our destination, a town on the northern edge of the Lago di Garda. A small town well known for adventure sports. The campsite was compromised of 50% mountain bikers (with serious bikes, I'm talking 2000 Euro Cannondales, Specialized, etc.), 30% climbers with the remaining 20% made up of surfers and hikers.We were pleasantly surprised with the native Italians and their excellent English and German - though I prefer the Italian myself :-)

Where shall we climb tomorrow?

This really was heaven on Earth. When we asked the receptionist at the camp if there were any climbing stores in town, he replied with (and please, imagine a heavy Italian accent): Yeeess, there are seven. Seriously, what more do you need?

So we spent the next four days climbing every day, always somewhere new. There's all kinds of different rock for all tastes. Easy grades, hard grades, slabs, friction climbing, overhangs, you name it. And now for some more photos (there will be more in part two, which will come in the next two days, I promise).

Barbara looking like a glamour queen on the rock face. I took this by climbing up, tying
in and waiting for her to climb up after me. Photographing from the bottom up doesn't give
a nice perspective - basically, the higher up you are, the better the photos.

Two minutes later, she had reached the top and was on her way down. Well done :-)

The view was just fantastic pretty much everywhere we went. Driving to
various climbing areas, we'd usually go through a small village or two
and at least one olive field.

This dude doesn't need any rope, free solo all the way!

Nataša was by far the best climber among us. She
somehow made everything look easy.

Tadej learned an integral part of sports climbing - clipping in with quickdraw
carabiners. This was during our last day - every day we were more tired,
but every day we climbed better.

And Barbara spent the last half hour hanging around on some
boulders. Closer to the ground but no easier than normal climbing,
bouldering as it's called has its charms.

Well, that's all for today, but as I mentined, part two is coming up with more pictures soon! I had two cameras with me, but we spent so much time climbing, I didn't take a single photo with the second one - the one with film. Oh well, next time.

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