Got into Arco on Saturday and I met up with Leslie, a fellow climbing addict (shout out to Jess for the connection! thanks!) and we checked out the town. I had a shit-eating grin the whole time; this place has everything I love and more: small town, beautiful architecture, pasta, nice parks, more delicious pasta, gorgeous lake nearby, climbing, more climbing, climbing within walking distance, world class climbing, climbingnibmilclimbing. It seems redundant, but there must be at least 5 different climbing stores. Arco has essentially one block with anything going on and this block must be 40% climbing stores, 40% Italian restaurants and 20% gelatarias. How can it get better than that???
We went to the Rockmaster festival that afternoon, where world renowned climbing legends battle against one another to see who is the strongest, fastest and most technical climber. We got to see legends like Ashima Shiraishi, a 16 year old girl from New York City that over the past few years has sent some of the hardest boulder problems in the world. We walked past her shortly after in town grabbing gelato with her father.
We started the next day by climbing at Massi di Prabi, which I think is the ultimate noob mistake, but you make it anyway because it’s basically right in town. I have now redefined what I consider polished. This rock was near impossible to climb on, it had been so abused. We called it quits with hopes of finding a better area later that afternoon. That better area wound up being Massone Policromuro, a wall with 89 routes at a crag with a few hundred routes that is all of a five minute drive from Arco. It could probably be a two minute drive if the road wasn’t so narrow and windy. The climbing was good, but harrrrdddd, and still incredibly polished. I think this is exacerbated by the fact that much of the rock here is low friction to begin with. I barely managed to send a 6b clean, which is supposedly equivalent to 5.10d.
The next day we had a late start, and headed back to Massone Policromuro. The climbing kicked my ass again. I had an absolutely terrifying moment where somehow my draw came unclipped as I was moving past it. I had fortunately clipped the next draw to the bolt, but was barely hanging on to thin holds. When Leslie pointed out what was going on I immediately grabbed onto the draw and clipped it. The beer tasted particularly good that night.
Today (Tuesday) we drove up north about 20 minutes to La Gola (the Throat), which starts at a dirt road next to a beautiful scene of a castle on a lake. I can’t stress it enough, the landscape here is spectacular. I keep telling Leslie, who came directly from the states to Arco, that she’s going to be disappointed everywhere else in Europe. We came up to an area with some awesome cracks and a super cool looking cave. The crack climbs were great warm-ups that were easy but enjoyable, and I was sure to get my pump on in the cave. I beefed up a 7a+ to where someone else had left a bail draw. There are incredible features: pillars and knobs, that lend toward very interesting knee bars and heel hooks. After the bail draw these features clear out and the climb becomes a overhung sufferfest. An Austrian couple was climbing in the cave with us. The guy had an incredible send on a 7a+ that involved a rest where he wrapped both is legs around a huge horn and hung upside down! We continued up the trail and found a few other incredible climbs. This area had cracks, caves, technical face climbing, sun, shade…well worth visiting!
We wrapped up the night by getting the amazing ingredients sold at the grocery store down a block and cooking up some delicious pasta!
We snuck in two more days of climbing after all that. The first was at a decent slabby area called L’orto with a surprisingly difficult climb on thin holds. Leslie had an awesome lead on this climb. Thursday we went back to La Gola and got some more good routes in. I on-sited a 6c and we projected a 7a with a fun Italian couple. The woman didn’t speak a lick of english and she kept exclaiming “Madona!” which is Italian for “my god!” whenever something exciting happened. None of us sent the climb. Another day! We finished the night at a beautiful restaurant with great wine, great views and crappy overpriced food and then camped out at La Gola.