The perfect antidote for the early season lack of climbing mojo is a trip to Europe, and we have made this part of our spring routine for the past few years. Clipping bolts on some steep Euro limestone, enjoying good food and wine, and just being somewhere new really helps us get fit and re-psyched for the climbing season. After spending last fall clipping bolts in the Red River Gorge, Kentucky, I was really craving a trip with a bit more of a multi-pitching/adventure climbing element. Browsing our favourite Euro-climbing inspiration source, a book by Stephanie Bodet and Arnaud Petit called "Parois de Legende - Les Plus Belles Escalades d'Europe" we were drawn to the multi pitching possibilities on the islands of Corsica and Sardinia, conveniently located close together in the Mediterranean, but each with different rock types, topography, culture and language (Sardinia is part of Italy and Corsica is part of France).
We flew into the main airport on the north end of Sardinia and hopped into our rental car, an adorable but gutless little Fiat 500 (say "cinquecento" not "five hundred") and made the slow and windy drive to Cala Gonone, a small village on the east coast bracketed north and south by rugged, undeveloped coastline.
Evan dwarfing the Fiat 500
Our first few days were kind of rainy, but we kept ourselves busy...
Enjoying the local food - this thin bread is a Sardinian specialty called Carta Musica (music paper)
No trip is complete without sampling the local beverages - strictly for research purposes
Evan making friends
Giant blooming cactus plants lined some of the roads
I love the unstructured but aesthetic details common in many of the places we have visited in Europe
Our first few days we hit up a number of crags in the Cala Gonone vicinity, and even made a 1.5 hour drive to a nice looking area to the south called Jerzu. The combination of super humid conditions, polished rock and the frequency of super rusty bolts and manky anchors left us underwhelmed with the climbing, even if we were loving everything else.
|Cala Luna - a lovely beach with steep climbs right off the sand. Rusty bolts and damp rock detracted from the climbing, but we had a great day complete with a total 3 hours of hiking after we missed the last ferry back to town.|
We decided to ditch the cragging in favour of some multi pitch climbing and checked out Mediteraneano, an 8 pitch 12a route on Punta Girardili, a 700m cliff on a wild and undeveloped section of coastline. At last, we felt like we were climbing something worth flying over the Atlantic. The climbing was vertical and reminiscent to what we climbed in the Verdon Gorge, but more remote and wild feeling and no one around.
Salami to be, on the approach
Just another crappy Med view on the approach to Punta Girardili
Evan seconding some super tech-ness on Mediteraneano
Higher on the route the rock is steeper and the scenery remains mediocre
Our final day in Sardinia we climbed the classic spire Goloritze, which has many 4-6 pitch routes on it and sits above one of the most scenic beaches in Sardinia, which can only be accessed by boat or a 1 hr steep hike. We opted for the hike, and snuck in our four pitches of awesome climbing before the heat hit and we had to retreat to the smooth white slabs and round pebbles of the beach for some rest and refreshment. It was quite epic. I almost got a sunburn and the beer almost got warm.
Evan climbing on Goloritze
Clowning around near the top of Goloritze
Testing out some Sardinian beer
...and discovering the perfect beer holder
The Goloritze spire and beach
There is even an arch beside the beach. Seriously? This place is too much.
Smooth, clean limestone pebbles at Cala Goloritze - you don't even get sand in your butt crack. Heaven on earth.
All in all, Sardinia was an awesome place to check out. I would not recommend it for those seeking a sport cragging trip, but from what I sampled of the multi pitches the quality and options on this front are somewhat endless. The hard men and women out there can check out Hotel Supramonte (8b, a bunch of pitches) and there seems to be plenty for 5.11 climbers too. The beaches are beautiful and Cala Gonone is low key, a welcome change from the packed beaches and high prices in some of the other Mediterrnean beachside towns I have visited.
Although we easily could have stayed longer and climbed more multi pitch routes, temps were climbing into the 30 degree celsius range so we decided to head to Corsica, where mountainous granite and cooler temps awaited. Trip report on Corsica coming soon!