Imagine the scene: an Alpine meadow, snow covered peaks in every direction, and idyllic lake and river and boulders within spitting distance of your makeshift campsite. Sound good? Yeah, it really was and certainly helped that there is some stunning rock around there that is predominantly untouched.
I first heard about this place when in Spain, after having made friends with an Italian couple, very proud of their local crag. They had good reason, to be fair, and suggested we went to visit the following summer, to which we eagerly agreed. Only problem was, nearer the time, it wasn’t possible to meet up but we went anyway.
In the far North East region of Italy know as (I think) as Trentino, Val Daone is to be found high up an Alpine, erm, valley I guess as the road is just a huge dead end. Everything gets smaller as you go further and further; from the big Italian highways (with lunatic drivers) by Trento, through smaller A-roads (with lunatic drivers) around Tione and through Daone itself (with next to no drivers) before heading into the back end of beyond. Eventually, you do pass a few small buildings, one of which has a campsite that frankly, I would advise against and another is a restaurant which, again, I would advise against. If i’m brutally honest, there’s bugger all there.
Continuing the theme of brutal honesty, I have little knowledge of the history of Val Daone either. What I can tell you is that if you’re after somewhere off the beaten track but well-documented, with a stunning aspect and some great quality bouldering, this valley is a very good call.
In truth, we didn’t check out many places, mainly because it rained for half the trip and we spent that time unproductively sat in the tent feeling sorry for ourselves instead of scoping things out. All the bouldering is situated either side of the road through the valley though, broken into the usual collection of sectors. We checked out three spots:
- The lower of them was just in the forest and was, from what I remember, very good. It’s the usual forest story: some skethcy landings, sheltered from bad weather but drying slowly. Grades do fluctuate here wildly, especially compared to the other sectors; something we put down to different people opening up different areas. It was alright though, worth a look.
- The second was up a forest track, La Plana and was pretty cool. By the time we got there, we didn’t find that much to go at but again, the quality was very good. Landings here were much better, possibly due to the fact this area has been fairly heavily forested and a bit more interference. Either that, or it’s just cause it’s flatter…
- Third was actually our first excursion once the rain finally stopped falling on our heads, known as Nudole. It was across the lake, near the farm buildings visible from the car park, with a simple and very flat landing through the meadow. It was stunning, fun for all the family, and the occasional damp-landing aside, almost without complaint! Considering it’s location, it should be your first port of call
- Fourth are the boulders right next to the tent, and leading North from there, also in the Nudole area. This includes the marvellous Spiggolo del’Anguria7b+ and it’s neighbouring climbs on the slab to the right, all in the 6s. A further wander and there are many more blocs and problems, including the higball climbs (not boulder problems note) that we ironically ended up on my 26th..
Erm, yeah, as stressed before, you really are in the back end of beyond. It took us a couple of days to realise there was no need to keep using the water purifier as there’s a tap/well by the car park, which is certainly worth mentioning, and I did read about possible local produce available at the farm buildings but other than that, prepare for at least half an hour of driving each way…
- Food. As you head back down the valley, past Daone as there is bugger all there, you’ll come into the town of Tione (I think. Either way, it’s the first town you come to). On your way in, you’ll see a supermarket on the left. Other than that, you’re in for quite a drive, probably to Arco although i’m sure there’d be others in different directions.
- Climbing Shops. Continue heading down the valley, past Tione brings you to the end of the valley, a road taking you right to Arco and Riva del Garda and another left back towards Trento. Straight in front of you is a shop, and a good one at that. Want variety? Go right, to Arco proper and I swear, I have not known a concentration of climbing shops that great anywhere in the world. You will be able to buy almost anything you need, get local info on crags, valleys and venues and generally kill many a wet afternoon. Trust me: it rained for the entirety of our first week.
- Accomodation – Campsites. This is the paragraph i’ve been looking forward to. If we neglect the first, abysmal campsite mentioned above for 5€ and it’s rather strange proprietor, imagine, if you will, the most picturesque meadows you can. Large, flat, luscious green fields? Nice, greeny-blue lake, with a flowing river? Able to have enormous campfires perhaps? All of the above and more. For reference, the lake is called di Malga Bissina and trust me, park in the car park and take a wander round. Be sensible, so not pitching your tent in the middle of the road and all that, and go for your life. For free. Bear in mind there are NO facilities but just be sensible about that too.
- Cafes and bars. We went to Tione, I think, and there are a few options there. Oh, my birthday meal was at the cafe next to Lake di Malga Boazzo but they only had two options, and the spaghetti bolognese wasn’t great. This may have changed since then (June 2010) but i’d still say keep heading downhill and check out the ice cream parlour in the square.
- Guidebooks. You’ve got a couple of options: iBloc if you want something to cover a few more destinations, such as Val di Mello, or go for the Versante Sud comprehensive guide, Daone Prog. The latter is worth it.
- Other handy places. There is a library in Tione as well, which does have a computer and was well-frequented. Other than that, if you’ve either nothing to do or are in search of something a bit more exciting, Arco is about an hour from the Daone bouldering, and Riva down the road has even more options.
Relevant blog posts: here (if you’re that bored or psyched).