“Due Cappuccini”, I muttered in pathetic Spanish-talian to the barista at a rest stop on the Italian side of the Mont Blanc tunnel. Wicked jet-lag had previously kept me from any sort of regular sleeping schedule and now that I was in somewhere with some reputed taste for decent coffee- it was ON- double fist style!

I pounded the two coffees and in no time was more awake and satisfied with a caffeine expereience than I had been since my arrival in Chamonix. Not really having much of a game plan since I had arrived in France, I jumped at the opportunity for a little travel when my friends announced they were planning a little sport climbing tour of the Italian Riviera. Not really locked into any sort of pattern, and with little in the way of responsibilities it seemed only natural.

Leaving Chamonix on such a spectacular morning seemed slightly rediculous, but three and a half hour’s drive later we found ourselves in postcard perfect Italy. Beautiful limestone cliffs dotted the hillside and I was constantly distracted by the fresh ready to pick cherries that seemed to be everywhere. After the first minute, I was pretty much sold!

Castelbianco, in Italy’s Liguria region was where we spent most of our time, and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone looking for a semi authentic-Italy experience. To give you an idea of the quality, our group which consisted of three guides all currently living in Chamonix were all sceming for ways to be able to return after the summer alpine season…

I put together this short vid, made with my fill-in camera (a Flip minoHD) and as you might see, my hands were a little shakey from all the fantastic espresso. I think it’s best viewed in fullscreen HD!

[vimeo 4774518]

I think the video gives a decent idea of what the area is all about. As far as the climbing goes, It took me a little while to get a feel for the French grades (used in IT), but settled in nicely and eventually pushed it a little bit on the spectacularly bolted routes. The latter part of the vid features our rest day on some surreal quartzite towers where we climbed some short multipitch crack lines (with bolts!) in the mist. I was psyhced to have climbed a route that the locals had named “SuperCrack”, then chuckled at the fact that despite my intentions there were only 2 real hand-jams on the whole route!

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I’ve been posting an embarrasing amount about crag climbing and sport climbing content in the past few months, but rest assured that the alpine is calling. June 4 starts the AMGA Advanced Alpine Guides Course/Aspirant Exam here in Chamonix and I’m going to be getting after it up in the mountains to get dialed-in before the course starts. So stay tuned for some very different content!

MB