Val Pennavaire, Italyby Kevin Avery Dec/2008
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Italy's Val Pennavaire is something of a hidden gem. Why, you may ask? Well, think of a valley that offers 30 crags of perfect blue and orange limestone, crimps, pockets, tufas, all grades, all angles and only a stone's throw from the tempting waters of the Mediterranean. Add in the close proximity of the already popular Finale Ligure and you have what has got to be one of the best sport climbing areas in the world! And I haven't even started to talk about the amazing food, Italian hospitality, beautiful architecture and fantastic coastline, not to mention the coffee and ice-cream!
Having climbed at the best that Europe has to offer I'm always a little skeptical when it comes to visiting new venues thinking, what if it's not as good? Maybe I'll be disappointed? However, on a recent trip to Italy I was completely blown away and left asking myself the question, why haven't I been here before? Well it's quite simple really. The Val Pennavaire is actually a very new area and has only really been properly developed in the last five or so years. Although now it is home to around thirty excellent crags and would almost justify a guidebook all by itself. The climbs are generally vertical to slightly overhanging and will test your stamina reserves to the limit and like I said, there really is something for everyone. From my limited experience I would say that this valley could quite easily be the “next big destination” as it has so much quality and it doesn't appear to be anywhere near worked out just yet!
We visited Sectors Terminal and Ciusa but this really only just scratched the surface. Terminal is a south-facing wall offering fantastic sustained, technical wall climbs up to 35 metres in length on a mixture of tufas, crimps and pockets. Grades range from F5 to F8a+. Ciusa offers slightly shorter routes on a north-facing wall from F5 to F7b. Other must visit sectors include Emisferoa twenty-five metre high north-facing cliff with great wall climbs in the sixth grade, Antro Di Castelbianco (south-facing) with it's steep roofs and meaty grade eight challenges and the amazing long tufa-pipes of Red Up a sunny sector nestled high in the Pennavaire Valley.
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