Italy's first International Trad climbing meet was organised by Mauro Penasa. It was held in the Orco valley Torino from the 19th to the 25th of September 2010. The BMC was represented by Lucy Creamer and Tom Randall.
This September saw the first ever International Trad Meet held by the Club Alpino Italiano. Myself and Lucy Creamer packed up all our big cams, nuts and slings and headed over to the NW corner of Italy – specifically the Gran Paradiso National Park.
Firstly, if you’ve not been to an International Meet before, then you’re really missing out! I’ve never met such a friendly group of individuals from all over the world who are united in one single passion: trad climbing! Secondly, I’ve always assumed that to go on one of these meets, you needed to be some sort of expert climber, on-sighting hard grades. In fact, most people were climbing around E1 and E2 and the atmosphere was very relaxed amongst all of the participants – the Europeans are certainly not afraid to throw themselves up and off the rock it seems…
The first day started for Lucy and me with an Italian Breakfast and lots of strong coffee (useful to combat the previous night/morning’s 2am close). We were introduced to lots of excited looking Italian hosts, who then partnered us off to our respective European climbers in a very organised manner. Every form of vehicle you’ve ever imagined then transported us down to the crag for the day’s activities.
I was in a group with a Czech sandstone madman, a ice-axe wielding comp climber (he didn’t take them to the crag, I promise!) from Slovenia and a strong looking Swedish trad climber. It only took a day or two to convince the Czech guy that he’d like to partner up with me to repeat some of the area’s hardest offwidths and even do some ground-up new routing. Needless to say, his arm-barring and shuffling skills were second to none….
Each day concluded with a big meal in one of the valley’s local eateries – we were served some superb dishes from classic Gnocchi, to marinated Venison. I certainly went to bed each night, feeling very heavy! After the meal, there was a slide show or film shown each evening and we had presentations from some of the leading lights of Italian trad climbing and new routing, including Roland Larcher and Alessandro Gogna. Those of the very energetic variety (the Eastern Europeans certainly had a reputation!) often followed these presentations up with late night drinking and story-telling back in the rooms of our accommodation block.
At the end of a week of some totally incredible trad climbing (slabs, cracks, arêtes, walls, grooves, overhangs……. Yes, the lot!) the Club Alpino Accademico Italiano held their annual conference to discuss the forward movement of trad climbing in the Orco Valley. This event was attended by many of the country’s most passionate trad climbers and reminded me in many ways of the British scene. I gave a lecture on mine and Pete Whittaker’s new routing activities in the Orco Valley over the last few years, which also set the scene for further discussion of new routing ethics. Interestingly, they have a situation occurring that is similar to some of what the UK areas have experienced: to bolt or not to bolt new routes? A question that I know I feel very strongly about, but the answer is one that I’m sure the Italians will debate for some time yet.
In conclusion – an amazing week was had and thank you very much to The BMC, for sending myself and Lucy – we loved it!
Lucy has also posted an account on her blog here
Nice photo of Lucy Creamer and Mauro Penasa below: