Clipping bolts, fueled off espresso and cannolis - Arco, Italy. After a 'failed' late season attempt on the North Face of Piz Badile, upcoming weekend plans in pursuit of Alpine glory were scrapped in favor of food, sun, and sport climbing on solid rock. After shopping around for last minute tickets to our favorite warm [...]
Clipping bolts, fueled off espresso and cannolis – Arco, Italy.
After a ‘failed’ late season attempt on the North Face of Piz Badile, upcoming weekend plans in pursuit of Alpine glory were scrapped in favor of food, sun, and sport climbing on solid rock. After shopping around for last minute tickets to our favorite warm destinations Spain, Southern France, and Italy we found ourselves in route to Milan to try something new, the famous walls of Arco above the Lago di Garda.
Arco is a picturesque town in northeast Italy. Protected by its ancient hilltop castle perched atop the sheer limestone cliffs, its olive groves spill out into the surrounding valleys before slowly merging into old growth fir forests above. The town’s main drag is a climbing fashionista’s version of Milan, with more climbing stores along its kilometer length than anywhere else I have seen in the world, with everything on offer between the local shops to the corporate store fronts. Just remember to stop for a cappuccino, try a cannoli (get one with the traditional shell, ideally coated with chocolate on the inside is my favorite, and of course filled with fresh ricotta), grab a pizza, savor some gelato, and still be able to climb the next day. Don’t forget to hike up to the castle and checkout the famous competition wall as well. If you do not speak a little Italian, try not to be surprised when the ever friendly locals decide to answer you in German regardless of whether you try English or French, as their tourism driven economy is a favorite locale of their northern neighbor.
With our 48 hours of ground time coinciding with the first day of rain in weeks we opted to spend our time trying for a bit of mileage at Massone and had so much fun there the first day we came right back. We had been forewarned of the polish at this famous climbing wall, but were pleasantly surprised at how well the routes had worn compared to other areas. Having forgotten the guidebook at home, we selected our routes based mainly on aesthetics and were not disappointed. From right (uphill) to left (downhill), many of the routes have their names painted at the start:
Secteures B and C
- Super Golia (6c+): Sometimes you are so happy the last hold next to the anchors is a giant jug, just remember to hold on to it.
- Musetto e Big Gim (6b+): Tufas up a corner onto a bit of excellent face.
- Action Man Direct (6c): Classic Massone – Thin face, tufa hugging, a roof, and the standard endurance battle up the finishing crimps
- I like Gorba (6c): Fun climbing up a seam, shake it out and pull the corner of the roof, then hold it together up the crimps
- Beverly Hills (7b+): It’s a lot of fun then you have to pull out of the roof…, bail links a plenty
- Sovite Supremo (7b): Getting through the roof is not the problem, getting out might leave you hanging
- Tis sa arc (6b+): Great climb up the corner jugs to some classic crimps above
- Crisi (7a): Fight the pump and figure out the tricky roof entry move and you got this on lock down.
- Marlene (7a+): It’s as hard as it looks and definitely earns that plus
- Greta (7a): Fun tangle up the tufa’s with a spitter slab move for a finish
- Underground (8c+/9a): Google it, this sector is even more impressive in person. If Adam Ondra can’t climb it, do you dare try? (Note: This is way, way up the wall from where we actually climbed.)
Quick Reference Guide
Location: Massone Wall – Arco di Trento, Italy
Best Time to Climb:
Spring or Fall. Be warned that an annual climbing competition takes place late August/early September.
Park at 45.929°, 10.9027°. Obey all parking signs. Follow the very short trail to obvious climbing sectors.
- Rock Climbing Europe, by Stewart M. Green