European winter-destinations

Greek climbing and bouldering paradises

Italian winter Hot-Spots

November - in the northern hemisphere the fog is starting to be a dayly part in the weather, the weak sun manages to fight it only sometimes late in the day and the temperatures are also only some degree above the freezing point now. This is the time to think about moving on to warmer climbing and bouldering destinations. The christmas time, though still some weeks away, is coming with big steps and if you have time and want to pass the holidays pulling on the rock I guess you are already thinking about possible destiantions for your climbing or bouldering trip.

A classical winter bouldering destination is undoubtless Cresciano in the Swiss Ticino, unfortunately it is that popular, that it is hard to get a parking after 11 AM on nice December and January days and in the area you are not really lonely anymore like that could happen some years ago. Who prefers a more quiet place during Christmas and New Year can find many excellent alternatives in the meanwhile!

Greece - Sun and the ambience of south-eastern Europe  guaranteed!                   (Top)

The development of the bouldering and climbing in the south-east most state of the EC has been very fast in the last years. Greece is an excellent alternative to pass the cold winter months in the sun with moderate temperatures. So realized some years ago Karsten Oelze, one of the most busy developers of the Frakenjura, and passed many climbing and bouldering trips in Hellas. During his visits he bolted many routes in the numerous excellent Greek cliffs and he brushed countless boulders together with his German and Greek friends - the bouldering arrived finally also in the south east! Cheap flights helped to increase the popularity of Greece too. An overview and photos to the Greek bouldering areas can be found on the Greece bouldering-page.

Karsten published together with Barabara Hertner 2 multilingual guidebooks to the bouldering and climbing in Greece.

These guidebooks are the most detailed source of information available to Greece at the moment:

Bouldertopo "Olympic Blocs"

Author Karsten Oelze

GEBRO Verlag, December 2005

Climbing guidebook "Hellas"

Authors Karsten Oelze & Barbara Hertner

tmms-Verlag, Winter 2003/04


Italy - ligurian winter-fun with rope and crashpad                   (Top)

Those who are not really motivated to fly but are nevertheless looking for sunny and warm winter destinations, will find these on the Ligurian coast and the neigboured hillsides. Not far from the well known climbing paradise Finale Ligure there can be found some world-class bouldering areas which are not really a secret for insiders in Italy any more. But besides the circle of active local boulderers these areas are quite unknown and you will find the one or two calm spots for sure.

For late autumn or early winter the areas Val Ellero or Triora are very interesting for bouldering, each one with a good potential in many sectors. Triora is lying in a deep incut riverbed and sees the warming planet only for a short time when the sun is low. The Val Ellero, still in the region Piemonte, is a really awesome destination up to late autumn. The good volcanic rock offers countless boulder problems close together. There are restrictions for the access road in winter and there can be snow too. But you don't need to be a hard-boiled boulderer despising low temperatures to have bouldering fun in Italy. In the following you will find 2 areas excellent for winter bouldering trips:

Italy-winter tip 1: Valdinferno

The area Valdinferno is lying on a south facing hillside, therefore the bouldering conditions in winter are excellent here. If you are staying at the Ligurian coast, already a one-day-excursion to the boulder paradise in the backcountry is really worthwhile, though the some hundred problems offer a potential for many days of boulderfun. For overnight accomodation there is a camping in the nearby village Garessio. The rock is very rough with many quartz in it, the bouldering is varied. A absolutely must in the area is the "Grotta de la Fate", a big grotto with many problems in almost all grades:

Valdinferno - Grotta de la Fate

Grotta de la Fate - "Dal Profondo"

Italy-winter tip 2: Varazze - THE top bouldering spot in Italy

Varazze is situated only about 50 km from Finale Ligura directly on the Ligurian coast. Who is a bit inside the bouldering scene has surely heard about Varazze together with the name of the Italian bouldering super star Christian Core. This is the home area of Chris where he opened together with his friends more than 1000 problems in some areas and countless sectors in the meanwhile. Some of these sectors are on private ground and accessible only for local insiders, but the most important sectors are in general accessible without problems and offer enough ptential for many, many intensive days of bouldering.

The rock is not a pocketed limestone as you could think because of the nearby Finale, no - the rock is an absolutely excellent granite! This is in deed a small granite Fontainebleau waiting for the motivated bouldering friend on the wooden hillsides of the Ligurian coast. The problems are as most varied as you can wish. The fine granite is close to sandstone in some parts and from juggy overhangs to friction-slabs without holds everything can be found. But one thing is evident, the friend of athletic bouldering will be satisfied here. The range of the grades is perfect and you can get all from the really easy problem up the the high end of the Fontainebleau-scale.

Varazze - Steep problems everywhere!

Smallest crimps on perfect rock....

A camping can be found at the nearby San Martino. If you should combine the bouldering here with climbing in Finale, you can also take your basecamp there and make one-day excursions to Varazze which can be reached very fast on the coastal motorway.

The onliest problem is the parking situation. Please make sure that you don't block the passing areas of the narrow roads! There are bigger parking possibilities everywhere but sometimes you have to walk some steps further. And if it should happen that a sector is really crowded, there are always alternatives in other areas and sectors with offer also really excellent problems!

For those who want to see more or other areas I can recommend a visit in Cravasco north of Genova. And if this is not enough and if you should feel the wish to pull on sandstone, you should take a longer ride and visit Lagoni in the Apennins which is already in the region Emilia Romagna. This is something for the warmer season, but more to Lagoni another time....

More information and photos to the Italian bouldering areas on the Italy bouldering-page. (Val Ellero und Valdinferno at "Piemonte"; Triora, Varazze, Cravasco at "Liguria")

The areas in this article are published in the bouldering guidebook "iBloc" for northern Italy, which contains 32 of the best bouldering destinations in northern Italy:

Bouldertopo "iBloc" - Italia [N]

Authors Ulrich & Harald Röker

GEBRO Verlag, April 2007