The classic venue of Finale in Italy has been on my radar for years. And now having finally visited, I'm already planning a return!

Last year I was lucky enough to get to test the new Pongoose 700 clip stick, and was very impressed. The only issue I had was that it came up short for some of those super high first bolts. But this issue is now solved with their latest addition to the family.

 

Think of climbing in Greece. The obvious crops up: Kalymnos. And then the new hot-spot of Leonideo. And that’s about it. Some may remember the old-school conglomerate of Meteora, and others know of the stuff around Patras. But just think of all those pictures you’ve seen of rocky coasts and boulder fields spread across the multitude of sun-soaked islands. Surely there has to be tons of climbing.

Dry January, Choc free January, Cheese free, dairy free, sugar free, everything free…. Why is the question. It could be weight loss, but not for me, I’m lucky there. But I got sucked in half through experiment and half through challenge.

There have been many inventions that have changed climbing over the years; sticky rubber, cams, chalk… some made a massive difference. But the humble clip-stick has been rather useful to say the least. ‘Remote clipping’ as it has become known is now a thing on just about every UK sport crag. Is it worth investing in a stick, or just bringing along an old fishing rod, or even a branch from the local woods?

The Dragon roared again, thunder booming around me and echoing off the walls and faces hidden behind torrents of rain that enveloped me like thick frozen curtains. Shivering uncontrollably I stared in desperation at the final anchor of this 280m, seven pitch route on The Dragons Horns, Malaysia, and knew, without doubt, I was in real trouble, worse than any trouble before.

I stared down into the gloom through endless vertical scree. This was not a descent route. Hayden stumbled behind me; “is that the way down?”

“No way, that’s death down there for sure”

 

Equipment is developing fast, but it’s still rare to find something that has a really huge impact on days out in the hills. I’m not a kit fanatic but have to say something about this. The BeFree filter from Katadyn and distributed by Lyon Equipment is something that really has made a difference.

Word had been filtering down of huge cliffs of perfect limestone towering over the sea. 14 km of unbroken costal climbing. There were caves on a massive scale, and potential for literally hundreds of routes of all grades. And in a beautiful island setting off the west coast of Ireland. It sounded too good to be true. How come everyone wasn’t going?

Silence: The story of the world’s first 9c. If you have not watched it yet, stop whatever you are doing and watch it immediately. This is a film that cannot be missed; it is both brilliant and moving; a rare opportunity for us to share in one of the most important moments in the development of climbing.

 

The Costa Blanca is the original Spanish destination for winter Sun. It remains one of the best for sure. The climbing around Costa Blanca is awesome, and the weather is the best in the whole country. But where you stay will make or break your trip...

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