Finale (the original one!)

We’ve been firm fans of Oltre Finale (which translates as “beyond” Finale) for a number of years now, but had written off its more famous and long-standing neighbor as being too long-in-the-tooth and polished. This wasn’t based on a huge amount of first-hand knowledge (apart from a couple of odd forays) but what we’d come to understand as the received wisdom. With the lure of the seaside and sunshine after our spell in the Aosta Valley, we decided to check it out for ourselves.

There’s certainly no shortage of sunshine and seaside

… though most of the climbing is inland. Scouring climbing forums and picking the brains of other Euro-craggers, we still didn’t come up with any recommendations for amenable, unpolished sectors, so we just took an educated pot-luck (prompted by a 5* status on Vertical Life) and wandered up to Placconata on Rian Cornei.

We reccied the two halves of Placconata – Principale and Sinistro on the afternoon we arrived (unusual approach to the former, dropping down from the rifugio and crossing the valley before zigzagging up to the crag, whilst the latter is reached downhill from the pretty church at Orco).

We were pleasantly surprised – pockety limestone from slabs to gently overhanging, with high-quality bolting and really not much evidence of wear and tear. First impressions were confirmed the next day at Sinistro. Here’s Helen on Ghiri e Guru

… and a local couple on a 6b on the right hand end.

The slightly dull day perked up and we could enjoy the sea views from amongst the pine trees at the sprawling Camping San Martino.

Next day, in search of another 5* offering, we parked up for Rocca di Perti

… a huge hillside, plastered in crags.

The recommended parking is, somewhat bizarrely, right next to the Autostrada (though you approach on a side road from underneath it) but we found that intrepid locals, with their battered Fiats, had braved the rutted dirt track to save a few minutes. There are a dozen or more sectors, and the guidebook overview map isn’t hugely helpful, so we just stumbled up to the first decent bit of rock and asked a local if they knew where we were. This happened to be Ombre Blu, which turned out to be a decent choice. A tough warmup on Per Jessica, 6a+, before wandering up to the left end of the wall to do most of the routes on what looks to be a newly developed sector. Ratafia, 6a, was a bit more straight forward…

Here’s Helen on Pepper

and we also did La Flaca, 6b+, which is the innocuous looking slab to the left, which is largely devoid of holds.

Inspired by the impressive bubbly orange wall in the middle of the sector Centrale, I made reasonable headway on Sublimazione, until a stopper move near the top. One consolation being that it has been upgraded to 7a now – first 7a fail of the trip! Woohoo!

That evening, we got the somewhat inevitable news that Italy was about to be added to the UK Quarantine list. After a bit of pondering as to whether to head home (into looming Tier 3 measures) or carry on travelling (and suck up the quarantine consequences when we finally return) we decided to keep chasing the sun. Having made that decision we decided that we might as well head over the hill to one of our favourite places – The Durance Valley.

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