Getting to Grips

It occurred to me yesterday the last trip i went on where i didn’t have either a local guide or a fairly intimate knowledge of the area was to Val Daone back in June 2010, and things are a little different when that’s the case. Sure, you still go to new crags, do new climbs and it’s still awesome to go away but it’s the little things that make life trickier.
So it’s now Wednesday morning and we’ve found out loads of info. Magic Wood itself is really easy to find once you’ve got on the right road: the camping is right next to the road, well signposted with an obvious hut-type thing to sit under, away from the rain or (i can only imagine at this point) blazing sunshine. The crag is a short walk from there, down a good path and over a well-built bridge and fairly easy to navigate around considering the nature of boulders in forests, testament to the number of very dedicated locals whose hard work really has paid off. There’s other crucial things too, considering it’s November and the first words Jim uttered to me this morning was “what’s the temperature?” such as the edelweiss in Ausserferrera. It’s run by the same guy as the camping and has a bar, a small shop and most importantly of all, heating.
I can’t really emphasise the cold on this trip. At 5am this morning, when i woke up feeling cold, it was 0C inside the tent, making the forecasted -10C outside perfectly feasible. Now, outside at 11am, the thermometer is reading a meagre 2C, although i think this is still settling and will probably go down.
Still, yesterdays climbing was good, a handful of problems completed due to the short days and our reluctance to get out of bed. The rather adverse conditions now mean that i’ve reverted to a phrase i use when exhausted half way through a swimming event: we’ve gone from competing to completing, and grades are no longer the goal, just ticks will suffice. The lower grade climbs are not in abundance either, which is worth noting if you’re planning a trip. To be honest, if you’re not easily flashing 6a, i’d say there are better places to go.
But you can’t argue with the aspect of this place, it is truly stunning. Yesterday, while enjoying the novelty of being too warm, i bought another new guidebook and will very likely make next year the year of the Alps, such is the majesty of the place i find myself in. A return visit is definitely on the cards in the near future and with the newly acquired local knowledge it should be pretty good. I originally started this blog with a view to sharing said info, something i need to get back on top of considering it’s rapidly turning into one of those “look where i’ve been” type things. That does mean i need to scope the area a bit more, which seems as good excuse as any to come back. Not that it’s needed.
So now to drink tea and head out climbing; with the edelweiss shut today, it’s one of the only ways to warm up…

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