A Small World
Posted by sibylle in Italy, finale ligure, Mexico, Yosemite, Europe, Canada and PNW (Monday September 1, 2008 at 12:16 pm)

In Squamish, we continually come across climbers I’ve met at distant climbing areas, many of whom live on other continents. When I started climbing, the climbing community was much smaller and everyone knew most local climbers. Today, I don’t come close to knowing many climbers in Boulder, Colorado, despite living there since 1984.

But I continually encounter the same climbers at different areas around the world. Yesterday at the Smoke Bluffs, Squamish ( it’s still raining and everything else is wet), I was struggling at Penny Lane. A voice yelled up,
“Is that Sibylle?”
I looked down, to see Enga, who Tristan and I had run into in Finale Ligure (Italy) in 2001, and whom I’d last climbed with in Yosemite in 2003.
After that climb, we went to try Penny Lane (my lead) and Crime of the Century (Tristan’s lead). At the base here, I met Ian and Erin, two climbers I encounter in Portrero Chico and last saw at Indian Creek, Utah. Since we’ve been in Squamish, we’ve come across David Goldstein, with whom I went to Portero Chico and numerous climbers that I met in Yosemite or Indian Creek. It’s still a small world!
There’s a circuit many climbers travel: Portero Chico in winter, Indian Creek in early spring, Yosemite or City of Rocks in late spring or early summer, Squamish in summer, back to the Creek, and repeat. More affluent climbers add a mix of Europe, Thailand, and Australia.
At Penny Lane, we met Gerhard Schaar, a world-traveler specializing in climbing writing and photography. His card reads:
“Climb Around the World”. We invited him to our campsite, so “Climb Around the World” now shares a site with “Fun Climbs Around the World”!

First Rock Climbing Leads
Posted by sibylle in Italy, finale ligure, California (Tuesday June 17, 2008 at 2:38 pm)


In the Pinnacles, California, about age 10, taking a close look at “Pluto”, my name for the dog’s head formation.

Climbers sometimes ask me, “Where’s a good place to teach my son (or daughter) to lead?”

Or they’ll ask where’s a good place for their wife, husband, or significant other to start leading. Many, but not all, of the easy climbs I listed in my recent post are good for beginning leaders. Mr. Breeze, Alexi’s, and Cornelius are great and cover the gamut of very easy sport to crack climb with gear.
Some of the easy climbs wouldn’t be good for a new leader, such as Gina’s Surprise, which though easy, is quite run-out near the bottom. The East Slabs in Eldorado Canyon might also strain the new leader’s ingenuity when attempting to place gear.

I don’t remember where my first lead with real gear, on a real climb took place. Leading was tricky when I started climbing, because sport climbing and bolted routes did not yet exist, nor did nuts, much less cams exist when I was eight years old.


Tristan, age 7, on his first lead

Tristan led his first climb in Finale Ligure, Italy at age seven. Europeans have a long climbing tradition, and climbing in Germany is a regular family weekend activity, taking the place of the American ball game. As a result, cliffs designed for kid climbers abound with easy routes with short bolt distance, so that the little ones can reach to clip the bolt before making the next move.


Woman in Finale leading the route next to ours

Megan Emmonds began leading in Penitente when she was very young and lead her first 5.13 at age 13!

Please share your suggestions for climbs well-suited to beginning leaders. Click on the red numeral to post a comment.

Finale Ligure - Capo Noli
Posted by sibylle in Italy, finale ligure (Thursday May 18, 2006 at 8:32 pm)


Tristan climbing above the Mediterranean on Capo Noli’s sea cliffs

Summary, overview
Area: Finale Ligure, Italy
Overall rating: *****
Suitable for children ages: all
Type of rock: limestone
Type of climbing: bolted, sport
Best time of year: spring, summer, fall
Camping: Two commercial campgrounds or free unofficial camping at Monte Cucco
Guidebooks: Finale Y2K, by Andrea Gallo
Pros: Many easy and hard climbs on excellent rock, safe base area, easy approaches, good food, lots of other fun things to do
Cons: Thieves
How to get there: Drive the A10 from Nice or get to it from Milan and then take either the Orco Feglino exit or the Finale exit and head towards Finalborgo. Park and walk into the old town (Finalborgo) central square. Here you’ll find two essential establishments: the Bar Centrale and the Rockstore.
Other nearby activities: the beach, bicycling, swimming, sailing, surfing, snorkeling, windsurfing, caves, museums, old castles, ruins, old churches, concerts, good food.

Capo Noli Sea Cliffs
Posted by sibylle in Italy, finale ligure (Sunday May 14, 2006 at 8:26 pm)

Tristan on his first sea cliff
The nearby sea cliffs at Capo Noli (6 km from Finale) provide easy climbs on smooth, polished rock as well as a 400 m long bolted traverse (about 1,200 feet). Three climbing areas lie above the ocean: Dancing Dalle, with 10 routes ranging from 5c to 7a; I Pliastri, with 11 climbs from 5a to 7a+, and Nolitudine, with 13 routes from 4b to 6b+. We climbed at Nolitudine with my seven-year old son on several easy routes (five climbs are 4b – 4c, about 5.7). One of our favorites, Spigola (4b) gives beautiful views of aqua waves crashing to the rocks below. Consult Gallo’s Finale Y2K guide for directions to the cliff and route descriptions.
After your fingers tire from crimping on small holds and pockets, you can swim in the Mediterranean or play in the sand. Pebbles and rocks predominate over sand at the beach, but the warm water invites swimming and splashing in the waves. The routes at the cliffs are near three parking areas, and you rappel down to the base of the climb. You can head back to the village of Varigotti for lunch, or bring a snack.
For rest day activites, see:
Finale Ligure - Beaches, Castles, and Caves

for more info, see:
Finale Ligure, Italy

Finale Ligure -Beaches, Castles, and Caves
Posted by sibylle in Italy, finale ligure (Sunday April 30, 2006 at 7:45 pm)


The Chiesa dei Cinque Campanili
From Finalborgo it’s about six km (four miles) to the beach. The coast is rocky, with cliffs along some stretches. We drove from Finalborgo to Finalmarina and parked at the west end of town in a large pubic parking lot. We walked from here through town to the beach, which somewhat resembles the Santa Cruz boardwalk, minus the roller coaster. The beach here has somewhat rougher and coarser sand than the California beaches I’ve visited. One other difference from the US – expect to see topless women. The first time I came here with five German teens. The two girls promptly took off all of their clothes to jump under the open-air shower, as we hadn’t bathed in over a week.
On our days off, we explored ruined fortresses, visited old churches, and toured the castle up the hill from town (C. San Giovanni), which they were renovating while we were in Finale. One old fortress, Castelfranco, was destroyed by the Genoese in 1365. The Museo Civico, in the cloister Santa Caterina, has remains from prehistoric times, when our ancestors lived in about 50 caves in the vicinity. The Valdemino grotto (cave), near Borgio Verezzi, remains open year round. On the road to Parete Dimenticata and Monte Sordo you’ll pass another church, the Chiesa dei Cinque Campanili, built between 1488 to 1493.

Castel Gavone - Finalborgo

This ruin, just above Finalborgo, can even be in your stamp collection! We walked to the castle from Finalborgo, but you could drive up also. In 1188 Emperor Henry II founded Burgus Finarii (now Finalborgo). Castel Gavone was a fortress as well as his residence. The Torre dei Diamanti was added at the end of the 15th century. Spaniards conquered the castle in 1602 and kept it as a Spanish stronghold until 1714. In 1989 the castle’s owners donated it to the town of Finale Ligure.


Tristan on hike up to Castel Gavone

Finale Ligure, Italy
Posted by sibylle in Italy, finale ligure (Friday March 24, 2006 at 2:57 pm)



Finale Ligure, Italy (Index)

When my son Tristan was seven he said, “I want to climb in Italy. I really like the food.” On our fourth trip to Finale, he told me “This is my favorite place to climb.” What’s so great about Italy, particularly Finale? For one thing, 29 separate limestone cliffs surround the medieval village of Finalborgo. These 29 discrete cliffs, called “rocca”, “parete”, or “bric”, boast over 2,000 routes varying from easy 4s (about 5.2 to 5.5) to much harder 8s (5.13 and up). Approaches range from one or two minutes for crags like Rocca di Perti to cliffs that entail a 20 – 30 minute hike through grape vineyards or olive orchards.

One of our favorite cliffs is the Parete Dimenticata (Forgotten Wall, not demented as I first thought!) next to Monte Sordo and the Placa delle Case Valle. We drove from Finalborgo toward Perti and up past an old castle. We generally stop at the small parking lot by the church to fill up our water at the church fountain. The road from here to the dirt parking area below Monte Sordo is very narrow, curvy, and technically closed to traffic (but few people seem to know of, or heed, this directive). Some climbers park at the church and walk in to the trailhead from here, but most drive further to the small dirt lot next to the trailhead, where a sign shows trails leading up to Monte Sordo and Parete Dimenticata.

Rocca di Perti has some of the shortest approaches and easy climbs, but the routes are somewhat more crowded and greasier than the routes at Parete Dimenticata. Monte Cucco, above the unofficial “free camping” offers the longest climbs, with several multi-pitch routes, including a three-pitch climb to the top that is only 5c (La Pulce). We enjoyed the many different cliffs at Rian Cornei, which is a short drive up from Monte Cucco towards Orco. Another favorite is Rocca di Corno above Le Manie. And then, there’re always the sea cliffs at Capo Noli, where you climb above the azure Mediterranean

After climbing, we visited 15th century castles; 12th century ruins, swam at the beach, and dined on delicious fresh pasta.

Later I’ll describe are some of our favorite areas, food, and sights:

1. Parete Dimenticata
2. Capo Noli sea cliffs
3. Dining and sleeping
4. Beaches, castles and ruins

Next: Parete Dimenticata

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