In particular the Val Pennavaire the Castelbianco area
itself, just to the North West of the small coastal town of the Italian Liguria
region, Albenga. Where? Oh you must mean Arco? Nope, this area is relatively
new and wow, southern
The Ligurian area is just off to the East of Nice, France
the actual main road is the A8 out of
Leaving the Nice airport can be a bit of an issue it does get pretty confusing very quickly and just off a plane, but once on the A8 going to Monaco you just need a heads up for the closer coastal towns to the turnoff, like Imperia, then Alassio, then Albenga SP 582 this is the one you want. Leaving the toll you want to go left on SP 582 and head towards Cisano Sul Neva, about 10 minutes up the road. You will drive through the village, then notice a sign to Martinetto and an Esso gas station you want to go left here. This is the road that runs the entire Valley Pennavaire.
The climbing is pretty amazing, you have either side of the valley sun or shade Tufas, overhangs, techy climbs, burly climbs and the whole scale for most climbers from 5.8 to 5.14 (5 to 8c).
Hit up Ciusa for a quick north facing fix, 5 minutes from the car, shorter, but solid climbing from 5.9 to 5.13a about 20 or so routes. See the map for parking.
From the same parking area you can hit up the namesake crag, Castelbianco. This faces south and its the real deal, old school grades and climbs with new school bolts. Short to normal routes, bouldery, burly and unrelenting from 5.10 to mid 5.14, with a lot in the 12- to 13- range, reminiscent of Buoux TGF and Chouca areas.
Down the valley about 3 minutes from this parking is the stellar crag of the Terminal. It sits in the same position as the Castelbianco crag, but about 10 minutes up hill and above the Agriturismo . This is a wicked crag it gets a lot of sun, but well worth the risk of heat. The climbs are long, about 30 metres, with tufas, crimps, power endurance. Some of the finest climbing I have been on.
This photo is of the right area, where you have routes like La Sporenza 6c+ about 11c/d and 35 metres long stellar.
Across from this are 2 crags, Erboristaforia and Enoteca, both fall into the shadows after noonish. Erbortistaforia is new, long, burly and yet technical after you cross the old roman bridge, take the right climbers trail to the big wall. Enoteca is up the main path, then as you crest the hill, with the Erbortistaforia wall below and to your right, you will cross a talus field to your left, cross under some cables, then follow trail leftwards and up to the crag. This wall has from 5.10 to 13a about 20 routes. Merlot is the one from the guidebook.
Shot of the far end of the crag bouldery and technical.
This shot is of the very old water basin the route Merlot lands in it!
Up valley are some more crags just after the village of
Colletta, you will come around a bend to the right and then you will see an
active plant this is the parking on the south (left going up) of the road.
This area hosts 3 crags, Euskal, Collesseo and the Basura. The walk is about 15
to 20 minutes up to it, you do need to keep you eye out for the rock
Euskal hosts some of the hardest routes and some of the best big, burly and on you the whole way. Its the first wall you hit on the walk 20+ metre long routes from 5.11 to 5.14.
The Collesseo is really the same wall, just up and left about 3 minutes some excellent 5.10 to 5.12-climbing, slopey, burly and technical.
Then around the corner from it, just behind and down the roman terraces, you will walk about 3 minutes to the Basura tufa climbing, 5.11 to mid 5.12 shorter bouldery tufa routes.
The following is from the parking area, the main roof is the Euskal crag itself.
Euskal from the parking:
The shot above is on the classic 11c thats the guidebook photo as well the right climber is on one of the good mid 12s.
Another crag that is just off the rebuilt
Up, way up the valley is a crag known as Red Up stellar
climbing and it feels remote, even though the walk is about 10 minutes from the
The crag on the way to Red Up if youre a Red Up style climber odd are you wont stop here, but its sweet if you like that sort of thing and combined with Red Up oh yeah!
There is also the
The area itself and this photo is where you can park for the
We stayed at the la Casa Die Nonni in the
Vesallo down to road
Vesallo looking up valley
The 2 main villas
View from villa terrace
Vesallo village church
The wood stack is about where the junction road is, to Vesallo.
Finale Borgo the old square and climbing shop in the mid left of the photo the freeride shop is up the left side street just down from the rock store.
Why go out for dinner when you can create and drink wine on your terrace?
Rest days and other things to do:
Finale Luguria is a 20 minute drive from Vesallo and about
2.5 Euro on the A10. Finale is also home to a whole bunch of climbing crags
its about as old and prevailant as Buoux, it climbs very differently and is
reminiscent to coastal BC style of climbing, except on limestone. The walled in
Allassio is the nicest beach I had visited on the trip sandy, very nice, good restaurants and shopping the village was settled or influenced more by the British way back, so maybe it just makes more sense to those of us who came from that country. It has more of a vacation feel than Albenga or Finale along the beach anyways.
The other ting to do is just hang out on your terrace and chill or go for an adventure to try to locate other crags like Red Up and the Planetarium I found the Red Up, but not the Planetarium, and Ive up to then been 100% on locating crags but this one was a total miss then our host Andrea found the missing un-published page with the proper directions to the crag maybe next trip.
The area is a gem if you are a climbing pro climbing 5.14 and up, then this area may be on the less intensive end of things, but for those of us in the 5.11 to 5.14 area have plenty of routes to send, crags to decipher and hit up.
Remember you are in small village
Food Albenga has a COOP which has hours more accustomed to
North Americans and a great selection of food and wine. Cisano sul
Strange things flying beetles like a hummingbird, but a beetle Scorpions do exist, we saw a photo of one at the crag Ciusa, from our neighbor. Wednesday and Sunday are hunting days in the hunting period. Wednesday I think is Boar hunting large rifles and a lot of activity sort of like a small swat team outing the rifle sound is un-mistake-able and a bit of a shock while climbing as the sound fills the whole valley. Sunday is game hunting shotguns less effective on climbing, but the same effort of the hunters. Its what they do and have done for years and years they seem to have fun, but they have guns and are always pleasant to others.
How to get here?
We flew to the
The Drive is pretty easy, but you do land after a long
flight and not a lot of sleep once you can decipher how to hit the A8 in
Nice, youll be on the road heading East into
The Verdon gorge and Buoux are only a few hours max by car so if you feel the need for some history and them old climbs make the drive.