Thursday, 15 April 2010

Silly Sicily!

[IF, somehow, you don't want to read all my rambling, scroll halfway down for more succinct details...]

Actually there was nothing remotely silly about it, unless one counts driving through the night to Liverpool airport to fly out there, or Ryanair deciding in their infinite wisdom to leave my bag sunning itself and no doubt ticking big numbers in my abscence when I flew bag into Liverpool.

First things first, the World Famous Helen Rogers asked me to take loads of pictures, so here is a picture of a goat:

And here is different picture of a different goat:

Hope that helps. It was quite cool to have herds of these moseying around beneath the crag, merrily clanking away in discordant disunion. To borrow the legendary George Smith's phrase, an ascent without goatbells is an ascent without dignity.

So, unsilly Sicily. Lots of people have been asking about this so I'll try to give some useful information. Firstly, my trip: Last minute plan, following the usual "doomed to failure" attempts on UKC and email to drum up some interest in more diverse climbing areas, which the Titt brothers (Portland and Swanage veterans) had seen and suggested I join them in Sicily. Very kind of them but not nearly as kind as their hospitality, guided tours of the best climbing, interesting old timer debates / ranting and Scott's supplying of good coffee. Thanks guys. Despite an initial "ho hum more Euro-Lime" thought, I had an ace trip, 21 long routes in 3 1/2 days. No huge numbers but some great - and surprisingly diverse - routes and some good challenges. Plus plenty of sleep and some nice food....trio of smoked fish with olive oil parsley and lemon nom nom nom.

The vaguely informative bit:

Now then, some info. The area we were climbing in is San Vito, this is the local town:

Not bad eh. That "crag" in the background is a few hundred metres high, almost roadside, and has a mere handful of routes that go all the way. The photo is taken from a peninsula that juts northwards into the sea between two spectacular bays each flanked by such mountains. On the peninsula there is a very good campsite which has a load of facilities and is....well put it this way if you got some of the closest pitches, you could belay from the tent although you might get ropedrag. Otherwise you have to brave a 1-5 minute walk. Brave a 10-15 minute drive (San Vito town is 5 mins) and you have dozens more varied crags, including the world class Never Sleeping Wall which had the best F6a+ and F6b+ I've ever done - 30m of pure tufas and blobs up a sheer wall.

Trying to keep it succinct:

Pros of Sicily:
+ Great campsite with choice of pitches, caravans, and nice wee bungalows, good showers, bar, pizzeria, swimming pool, kiddies swimming pool, and climber-friendly owners.
+ Coast is 2 mins walk away.
+ Nice town and great beach 5 mins drive away.
+ Local crags are IN the campsite.
+ Loads of crags nearby.
+ Very varied climbing for Euro Lime, all types of lime style and angle, and length from 15m cave routes to 300m mountain routes.
+ New routes being put up all the time - and all well bolted by the Titts & Co (I did the second ascent of great F6c crack that had been bolted the week before).
+ Loads of great easy routes - the Titts like putting up good easy ones (I did the second ascent of a cool F6a slab that had been bolted the day before)
+ Good diverse harder routes.
+ Masses of new route potential - including some very hard potential.
+ Crags facing sun and shade.
+ Good climate throughout autumn / winter / spring.
+ Much less crowded and polished than Choada Blanca. Plus no Benidorm in sight.
+ 50 mins easy drive from airport.
+ Cheap direct Ryanair flights.
+ Apparently there are porcupines near the campsite.

Cons of Sicily:
- Coast next to campsite is mostly jagged limestone.
- Some of the crags next to the sea can be greasy on still days.
- Choice of airports serving Trapani / Palmero is limited.
- The very newest routes can have very sharp rock.
- I didn't see any bloody porcupines.

Basically as Euro-Lime goes, it's pimp. The Titts want people to visit (nice people, not mindless hordes) and even as a sceptic I concur they have a good point. So there you go.

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