A few weeks ago, Sarah and I were suffering from a little of the “grass is always greener” syndrome and opted for some adventuring away from the alpine paradise of our current backyard. Being that it is the Alps: many countries and their spectacular mountain playgrounds are accessible by only a few hours drive.

We opted to explore an area of the Italian Dolomites known as Val Gardena as well as the sport climbing mecca of Arco. So with no guidebook, no map, a vague plan and a rental car: we drove through the Mont Blanc tunnel into italy and then East on the high speed (and expensive!) Autostradas A4 and A5…

Yep. Saying you are going to the “Dolomites” is similar to planning a trip to “the Rockies”. The area is about as large and complex as it is breathtaking. We ended up spending the bulk of our trip in the Passo di Sella (Sella Pass) area exploring long and intimidating (ask Sarah!) rock climbs on the hugely improbable towers as well as some spectacular cragging areas nearby.

After figuring that we had the area pretty recon’d, we headed back towards Chamonix with a semi-planned detour to a town called Arco and the nearby Lago di Garda.  Arco is awesome. Although, the area is much better suited to a spring or fall escape, due to the sweltering heat in this lower elevation lake-heavy area, we still had a blast exploring a few of the crags in walking distance from this beautiful pizza and gelato rich town.

Despite the uncharacteristically poor planning on our part, the trip went very smoothly. I was continually inspired by the beauty and the uniqueness of the terrain. All the great climbing and inexpensive Italian cuisine will make this area a perfect destination for future trips in either summer or winter (just imagine those grassy meadows under the towering dolomie peaks in winter!).

Inspired for a spring ski/climbing trip, we returned to Chamonix where I am now excessively, maybe obsessively climbing alpine granite and loving every second of it.