By Terra Dumont, 11 September 2011
Bergell Mountains, San Martino, Italy
In an effort to avoid the crowds of the Dolomites and Chamonix, I decided to visit the Bergell Mountains. I was not disappointed. Beautiful granite peaks rising out of quaint Italian villages. I only saw one other climber and a couple walkers during my time there. My climbing partner and I attempted the East Pillar of Cima Del Cavalcorte (TD-, VI/6a-/17, 350m). We ended up bailing ¾ of the way up do to loosing the route, my partner dropping his atc, and a thunderstorm. Due to rain on the forecast for the next 10 days everywhere in the Alps we escaped to sunshine and beaches in Corsica. I definitely want to return to Bergell!
The perfect place when the weather is bad in the Alps. Nice dry, warm Mediterranean weather! It is only a €9 train ride from Milano and then a reasonably priced ferry ride. The climbing is fantastic on very unique rock – think granite tufas! We predominantly climbed trad, though there is supposedly also some very good sport climbing. We climbed at Mt. Gozzi (near Ajaccio) and Col de Bravella. Threads where the predominate gear. There is a good English/French guide book to the sport climbing and a bit of the trad climbing (including Mt. Gozzi), but the only guide for Bravella I could find was in French and composed of water colour paintings for topos... So be prepared to put up new routes if you are there as it is very hard to find the actual route! And a word of advice – add a few grades onto whatever they grade the routes as – they tend to be quite sandbagged! My favourite routes on Mt. Gozzi were Voie du Caf (5+ (17), 250m) and Bassinet Laverdan (5+ (17), 180m). We camped by Petite Gozzi, where there was a small stream. From there you can walk into town to get food from the small Tabac. My favourite routes in Bravella were Autoroute Direct, Punta Aragale (6a (18), 200m) and Tribulazioni, Punta Ciaccianu (6a (18), 150m).
Henningsvaed, Lofoten Islands, Norway
A trad climbers dream! Beautiful granite walls with perfect crack lines. The gear is so good it’s like climbing on bolts. The climber’s camp by Gandalf wall is a fantastic way to make lots of friends, gather beta, and find climbing partners. And it’s free! My favourite route was Celebrian (6- (17), 400m). My favourite short multi-pitch route was Lundeklubben (6 (19), 90m), and favourite single pitch routes where Skiløperen (6- (17), 45m) and Dosethrisset (7 (22)).
Tips for living cheap:
Freedom camp. I paid for accommodation once in 2 months. In Norway as long as you are a couple hundred meters from a house it is legal to camp anywhere. In Italy they are very easy going and really don’t seem to care. In Corsica it is illegal, so make sure you hide well!! If you need to stay in towns, couch surf, or sleep in airports or bus terminals. In Bødo (Norway) the airport closes, but the info centre by the ferry depot stays open. And be warned, the Genova ferry terminal closes.
Take public transport of hitch hike. Trains are very cheap in Italy, so it is the best way to travel longer distances. In Corsica they were more expensive, but still reasonable. Avoid having to use public transport in Norway – it is VERY expensive! I found hitching very easy everywhere, especially in Norway.
Be flexible with your diet and don’t eat out. I did not eat out once on the trip. In each country I went to I had fun looking through the supermarket to see what I could afford to eat. Rice was cheap everywhere. Lentils were also affordable. Cheese and yogurt is very cheap in Italy and Corsica. Polenta is cheap in Italy. Oats are cheap in Norway, but not found in Italy or Corisca. Food is expensive in Norway, so a way to get around it is to go looking for food that has passed its best before date. In ‘Kiwi’ you get given the money for any expired food, and in Bunnpris you get the food for free! I ate a lot of nachos due to this...
For photos check out: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.248595468496017.64773.100000366969500&l=c11569b062&type=1
To the editor of Heels/Baa (sorry I'm behind on club politics and forget who has this position): if you want photos just ask and I can mail them to you. And I think it is about time we got a publication out hint hint nudge nudge... and please tell me when one is published so you can mail me a copy (with chocolate of course!!)!