Cadarese, Valle Antigorio, Italy - Granite Crack Climbing

Pizza, Pasta, Ice Cream..Pomodori...

Italy... known for great food and great climbing in places like Finale, Sardinia, Arco, and Sicily - but who would have guessed that there is a little gem hidden in the tiny village of Cadarese?

Crack climbers unite – finally, a single-pitch splitter crack area in Central Europe!

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In Northern Italy, just over the border from Switzerland, lies the tranquil village of Cadarese nestled in a valley of steep granite and gneiss walls.

At first glance the crag Cadarese area does not make it into any books for a premier climbing area, looking broken and tree-covered, but as one approaches the crag, things change quickly.

The rock hides in a beautiful open beach tree forest, making the contrast between fallen leaves and laser-cut cracks, big layback flakes and solid granite slabs appear stark and magical.

The rock is very compact unpolished granite and offers perfect friction and wonderful cracks.

The path leading to different sectors is steep and in some places not very well established so it is advisable to wear something different than sandals on the approach. Once you are set up under the routes you will find yourself on wide and comfortable ledge systems.

If this area was situated in Britain, there wouldn't be a single bolt to be found – but since this is central Europe, the trad climber's eye might water at the sight of beautiful cracks and corner systems peppered with lines of shiny bolts.

In recent years some of the best lines at Cadarese like The Doors (8b) have had their bolts chopped by a vendetta of crack lovers – and the sector Trad/Crack Party, a sector in which some great bolt-free lines can be found, has been completely spared by the vigorous bolting.

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popin (450, 204693, TRUE, "right") ?>However most of the routes in other sectors have been bolt equipped, but the cracked and featured rock would allow bolt-free ascents if the bolts were to be ignored.

Cadarese was first developed by Italians Maurizio Pellizzon, Fabrizio Fratagnoli, Fausto Radesco, Peter Garanzini, and Marco Pelfini. The crag has seen a makeover in the last couple of years and a pure trad sector has been established by a crew of North Italian climbers adding huge value to the overall climbing in Cadarese.

The crag is separated into different tiers – the lower sector, the central sector, the upper sector, and the sector trad. A climbers' path threads up through the woods between several large ledge systems, and sometimes one needs to climb up a ledge or two to get to one of the more hidden lines. In some places, red spray-painted dots will give you an idea of the general direction. The topo is a little complex and it takes a bit of time getting used to the layout of the area. Once familiar with it all it takes about 15 minutes from the parking area to arrive at the central sector which is a good place to warm up for the day.

All together the Cadarese Crag offers about 50 cracks with difficulties ranging from 4a to 8b, most of the lines being in the 6b – 8a range. Cracks come in all different sizes and forms; some of the climbing is quite technical, whereas some of it is purely physical. Overall the area offers a great intro to crack climbing on granite and some harder lines if you are looking for a project out there.

Facing N/NE and being in the trees, the crag is barely in the sun but temperatures and humidity can become quite high in the summer months. The lower sector and some parts of sector trad are in the sun from around 1pm.

Also of note is that large parts of the area stay dry after rain as the ledge systems act like giant umbrellas.

Every line we got on in Cadarese was appealing with beautiful climbing and it is definitely worth a trip!

Some favorite routes:

  • Imbuto Crack, 7a
  • Attenti al Buco, 6c
  • The Doors, 8a/b
  • Grazie Ricky, 8a
  • Larco, 6b
  • La Freccia, 6b+

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The best topo to the area to date is by Silvan Schüpbach, you can download it at :

Hazel Findlay has just returned from a trip to Cadarese – read more on her blog and this UKC news item.

More information on Cadarese and climbing in the Ossola region (in Italian) is here: ossolaclimbing

Check out this video of Italian climber Matteo Della Bordella climbing The Doors after taking all the bolts out:


When do I go?
The best time to visit Cadarese is in the autumn or spring. Early summer temperatures are bearable but it tends to become quite humid so avoid high summer temps if possible.

How do I get there?
The best way to get to Cadarese is to fly to one of the nearest airports and hire a hire car there. Hire car prices will generally be higher in Switzerland than in Italy.
The nearest airports are Milan (about 2hrs), Geneva, and Zürich (both 3.5hrs). It is an advantage to have a hire car if you plan on flying over from the UK as Cadarese lies in a rural area and public transportation is not really an option.
The biggest town close to Cadarese is Domodossola, (40min by car) which is well connected to the Swiss and Italian railway systems.

Where do I stay?

Albergo Del Ponte is a hostel in Piedilago, other than that there are two campgrounds about 20km up valley towards La Frua.
Free camping along the river seems to be accepted as long as you are being very considerate with your rubbish and human waste.

Where can I buy gear and food?
There is a big supermarket in Domodossola and it is best to stock up there. Little stores called 'alimentation' can be found in Premia opposite the village square and in Bacia. They stock fresh vegetables, fruit, dairy products, meat, and basic food items. Gili azzuro in Premia serves great pizzas (priced between 5-7 Euros) that almost fall off the plate. Service is a bit neglected but sitting through the initial awkwardness pays off once the food arrive.

There are no climbing shops in the valley so be prepared and bring everything from home.

What else is there apart from the climbing?

Facing the crag is the Thermal bath of Cadarese with a big indoor and outdoor pool.
Right next to it is the Agro Tourismo – a lovely restaurant that also serves breakfast, dolci, and of course, delicious coffee.
You can go on a float down the river with the local kayaking and hydrospeed outfitters in Piedilago just outside Cadarese towards Premia.

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