Friday, 21 October 2011 there

What's the best cure for a body that's a bit tiered from having done a few Alpine routes, the bones are cold and the mind is needing switched off for a week? A week sport climbing in Italy!

My family had booked flights to Milano and were heading to Finale for a wee holiday in the sun. It's right by the Mediterranean sea and is about 50km down the coast from Genova. Once they told me they were going, I was really looking forward to heading over there and seeing the folks and chilling in the sun for a week. I had heard a bit about Finale from various friends who had been there and recommended the place.

I hitched from Chamonix through the tunnel du Mt Blanc and then down through Italy, always thinking about that warm sea and cheap pizzas and wine. The first lift I got was quite random. After sitting at the round-a-bout at the bottom of the tunnel some lady picked me up, put a dog on my knees and dropped me off at the tunnel entrance. Still on the French side! I thought that nobody would pick me up from here but 5 minuets later a brand new BMW X6 pulled up. The guy clearly enjoyed his car as we were constantly driving at 220kmh down the motorway. This was no Chelsea Tractor. He dropped me off at Torino which took me about half way on the hitching. After a while of hitching at this new spot, I thought that people maybe can't read my sign very well. So I made my message clear.

                                                         A lift to 'Savona' please........


                                                                  ...Well fuck you!

The next hitches were well spaced out and I didn't manage to get to Savona, which is a main town about 20km up the coast from Finale, until 9 o'clock at night. This really sucked as I wanted to get to Finale before my family did. Not to try and surprise them in a nice way or anything, but just to show them that I'm quicker and better than them! We enjoy some friendly competition. I wasn't able to get the last hitch to Finale, so as my folks were driving past I gave them a phone to pick me up in Savona.

Gav clipping some bolts.

My uncle sport climbing!

The climbing at Finale itself is ok but I think the better quality stuff is at Oltra Finale which is about 20km down the road. We tried out a few of the crags in Finale but most days we went back to Oltra Finale. We only went to the one valley there as it just had so many crags with most of them hosting a range of all grades to suit everyone. My favourite crag that we went to was probably Terminal. It's quite a long crag that almost looks like Terradets in Spain but not as consistent in the grade 8, which is why I think that Finale hasn't become as popular as other places. Which is good as it makes the crags a little bit quieter, but I think there is potential here for more bigger harder routes.

My mum climbing!!
My Auntie getting a feel for the rock.

My bones soaked up the rays like a sponge knowing that they'll not feel that warmth for a while after I return to Cham. The best part of the week was probably going for a dip in the sea. Once again I knew I wouldn't be doing this for a while, and actually it had been a long time since I had been swimming in the sea.

Paul getting to grips with leading.

The return trip wasn't a smooth run of hitches either. My folks dropped me off, on the way to the airport, at a service station next to Milano. Then I got a great lift in a lorry all the way to Aosta, but he dropped me off at services that probably see less people than Hitler's grave. So I waited for a while and then this lady picked me up and started driving to St-Bernard! So I had to stop her and then hitch back to Aosta! From there I got lots a little lifts to Courmayeur where I discovered that a land slide had blocked the minnor roads to the tunnel, so I had to get a bus from Courmayeur to Chamonix. Allow it was quite annoying in the rain it didn't matter as I got back to Cham before my folks got home, so I won the return trip.

An awesome fish dish that my Uncle cooked.

Everyone got something done that they were really pleased with. Susan & Paul both lead their first 6a. My uncle enjoyed his first ever sport trip, my auntie loved doing some climbs. Gav enjoyed clipping bolts and feeling the rays on his back. Me Mam just loved being on holiday and also tried a wee bit of climbing, just to confirm that she doesn't like it.

It felt great for me to see the family again, but lets be honest the real reason I went was that I knew ma Maw would treat me to some some good food and nice wine for a week!

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