venerdì 3 settembre 2021

- Bohuslän

There are a few magical places that I discovered in my climbing life where I can simply come back over and over without ever getting bored of. For bouldering there has been Fontainebleau, for sport climbing Céüse, for multi-pitch Verdon and for trad climbing the Peak District. Two years ago I discovered a new place that definitely deserves to be included in the list: Bohuslän in Sweden.

The crag of VRÅNGARÖ

In this region you will see red granite cliffs everywhere you look, being it on the beautiful coast full of fjords or coming out of the woods that cover the little hills of the inland. The rock is fantastic: perfectly smooth, with a wide variety of shapes and, of course, cracks. The climbing here is mainly trad, with just few anchors here and there (most of the time you have to build your own), and bolts just where is not possible to climb with gear. Most of the routes here are not just splitters that eat your gear: the cracks tend to be flared and intermittent, so you can get less intuitive and more distant placements. I think this place is a perfect mix between the “friendliness” of the crags we have in northern Italy, like Cadarese or Orco, and the “boldness” that a place like the Peak District can have. In fact is not unusual to see people top roping a route before going for a lead attempt on some of the harder lines (like in the Peak District it’s often possible to access the top of the crag from behind).

Hassan Chop,7a - Granitbiten, 6c - Backdraft, 8a

My first visit was in 2019, just a short stop of a few days on the way to Flatanger. We climbed at the crags of Hallinden and Skälefjäll, and we had some nice temperatures and decent weather. During that first visit I had the pleasure to climb, besides easier stuff, Veckans Värsting, 8 (7b+), and Backdraft, 9- (8a), that proved to be a good introduction to the climbing in this place. On the last day we had some rain and we just managed to visit the beautiful crag of Ulorna, without being able to climb: it was enough to start planning a new and longer visit the following year!

So in August 2020, after all the pandemic madness, we prepared to drive again to Sweden, this time equipped with more gear as well as crash pads. Unfortunately we were not so “lucky” with the weather, the sun was hitting hard every day and temperatures soon rose up to +28°: it was definitely more pleasant having a swim or eating an ice cream than climbing on granite. The first days I worked the moves on the scary Electric Avenue, 9- (8a) but I decided I was too hot for me to consider a lead attempt, so I started to look at something different, and I found an interesting line at the crag of Vrångarö, a short 8b called “Crassostrea Gigas”, placed just in front of a small beach where we could relax and swim.

Crassostrea Gigas, 8b - Vrångarö

This route is mostly to a highball with a crack in the middle, where is possible to place two cams. The first crux is getting to the crack and is climbed above pads, the next one is managing to place the gear and get past the flared crack itself, the third one consists of slapping a slopy rail that leads to the top. I worked the route for a few days and while being able to do all the moves, I always got too sweaty inside the crack and could not get past it starting from the beginning. As a small consolation I managed to climb a new boulder on perfect rock just right of this route, and I called it “The Holy Pinch”, 7c+.

Another route I tried without success on that trip is the offwidth Presenten, 8 (7b+). It’s a short overhanging offwidth that goes from a tight #5 to a tight #6 in the first part, and follows with some wide fists (#4) until you turn the lip of the overhang and the difficulties are over. It doesn’t look so hard when you look at it and, given the grade of 7b+, I thought I could even flash the thing if I were lucky. That was a huge error of judgment and I ended up sweating to death even trying to aid up the thing. After two days of efforts I managed to find a good sequence and to do all the individual moves, but I was still far from the possibility to climb it, and my body was begging for mercy.

Presenten, 7b+ - Änghagen

We spent the last days visiting around, discovering new crags, and trying to climb as much nice stuff as possible. A few evenings we enjoyed bouldering under the shade of the trees at the crag of Häller where the rock managed to keep a decent temperature throughout the day. We were already dreaming of coming back with better temperatures the next year as we had too much unfinished business!

the town of Fjällbacka

This summer, for the third year in a row, we packed our car and drove up to Bohuslän, hoping to find better conditions for climbing than in August 2020. Sometimes is nice to come back to the same places: you get to know the little secrets; you get to know people better and you start to feel at home. This place although is so big I will need to come back a few more times to be able to see most of the stuff it has to offer.

Ramsvikslandet Fykan

At the beginning of the holiday I had two goals in my mind: Crassostrea Gigas and Presenten. This time the temperatures were much nicer, always around +20° during the day, and it was much easier to climb, like it was during our first visit in 2019. It did rain a few times, but it was always possible to get some climbing done before or after the showers. The first thing I tried was Crassostrea: although the moves felt easier straight from the beginning, it still required three days of work to make it happen. It is a bit scary above the pads and placing gear gets tiring on a real lead attempt!

The route is hard, but it didn’t feel as hard as something like Greenspit in Orco, which is very different by the way, and probably deserves the “+” in the grade. After that we started climbing some easier offwidths, to get in the right mood for “Presenten”. At first we went to see Skrubbsår, 6+ (6b+) at Hunnebo Klåva, a nice wide crack in a flared corner, and then the classic Offline, 7+ (7a) at Häller. I obviously failed at both on the onsight, but they went smoothly on the second go after I understood how to do the crux.

Skrubbsår, 6b+, Hunnebo Klåva - Offline, 7a, Häller

It was now finally time to try Presenten, the route that spit me out the previous year, and the route for which I trained for this winter in the self-made offwidth I made in my garage. I had already climbed earlier in June Penitenziagite and Glowes of War in Orco, both given 7c, but I knew I was going for something a bit harder with Presenten. Luckily I did remember how to do the cruxes, and I managed to climb the route on the 3rd go of the day, even if I already planned to come back at least once for it. It seems all the lock down winter training in the garage paid off! Or is it thanks to the new TC PRO prototypes of La Sportiva? Who knows.

I haven’t done as many offwidths to be able to understand how the grading system works, probably nobody knows, but I can say something like Turkey Crack (8a) in Cadarese, Glowes of War (7c) in Orco, and Presenten (7b+) in Bohuslän should be reversed in order when it comes to difficulty, at least for me. After Presenten there were not many days left, but I still wanted to try another classic line here in Bohuslän. The options were Crackoholic at Ulorna and Electric Avenue at Skälefjäll (the one I tried last year), both 9- or 8a. I decided for the first one as it seemed a bit shorter, safer, and easier to work in just a few days.

the crag of Vrångarö - Ibens bock & Crackoholic at Ulorna

The first day working on the route was hard: I managed to do all the moves in the upper part quite easily, but I really struggled with the lower crux, that I managed to climb just a few times and not even starting from the beginning. I also tried the famous route in the corner on the left: Ibens bok, 8 (7b+) and I soon realised it was way too thin for my fat fingers, there were a few moves I couldn’t do, even trying to smear my feet all the way up every time possible. I have to stop trying anything that involves jamming my fingers in a #0.2 crack size. It’s totally pointless and I must accept this.

The next day on Crackoholic I tried to put on some stiffer shoes, I revised a bit my foot sequence and eventually I managed to climb it on top rope, mimicking gear placements as I was climbing. I was planning to come back another day for a lead attempt, as the sun was about to hit the wall, but in the end I set off anyway, just to test the fall on the lower crux. Surprisingly I didn’t fall and found myself at the top of the route! I haven’t got any footage unfortunately, so I link you a video of the route above.

Ramsvikslandet Grosshamn

The last two days we went for more offwidths: a classic one called Laybacksprickan 7 (6c) at Björkberget, which is a nice hand/hand sized crack, and a new one called Squeezebulb 7 (6c) at Hunnebostrand, a short chickenwing size sort of chimney (wide #6). I managed to onsight both, which is rare for me, so I was quite satisfied! We also had time to go back to Häller for some bouldering one last time before leaving, where I climbed “Lone Wolf” 7c+/8a, which I briefly tried the year before, but was too hard to do in the heat.

Squeezebulb, 6c, Hunnebostrand

August 2021 has been good with weather: not too rainy, not too hot. We finally managed to enjoy Bohuslän for 11 days, which is definitely not enough, and I strongly recommend you to stay longer if you can! ;) We will definitely try to come back to this place again, as it has so much to offer. Probably the best period for a visit are springtime and autumn, when temperatures are a bit cooler and you don’t have to constantly escape the sun.


For those interested in this place I’ll link this film called “Crackoholic”, like the route. It explains a lot of its story and its ethics, and don’t worry: not all the routes are as scary as the ones you will see in the video! There is plenty of easy and safe, and even hard and safe routes to do as well. See you next time Bohuslän!

giovedì 8 aprile 2021

- Virgolo Cracks

Quest'anno è stato un anno veramente particolare per chi come me era abituato a viaggiare un  sacco sia per arrampicare che per lavoro. Trovarsi chiusi in un comune che nonostante sia circondato dalla natura comprende ben poco di quest'ultima all'interno dei suoi confini è stato ancora più difficile.

Per fortuna un piccolo monte con un po' di rocce lo abbiamo anche all'interno del comune di Bolzano, e il caso vuole che sia proprio dietro casa. Così da un anno a questa parte le esplorazioni sono state parecchie, in un primo momento in cerca di blocchi, ma con il passare del tempo sono riuscito a trovare anche una piccola falesia che mai era stata presa in considerazione.

Photo: Claudia Amatruda

L'accesso non è certo tra i più semplici e nemmeno il posto tra i più comodi, ma la fortuna ha voluto che in pochi metri di parete si concentrassero ben cinque linee in fessura che aspettavano solo di essere pulite. In fin dei conti l'ambiente della parete è perfetto per chi ha voglia di avventura, o comunque qualcosa di diverso dalla solita uscita in falesia.

Così a Novembre ho iniziato i lavori di pulizia. La roccia è talvolta ottima, qualche altra un po' meno, le fessure si presentavano poi spesso parzialmente ostruite da sassi o terra. Ci è voluto un gran lavoro per preparare tutte le linee, e uno forse ancora più lungo per preparare i sentieri e le corde che consentono di arrivare alla base della falesia e spostarsi da una fessura all'altra.

Non so quante volte ho fatto avanti/indietro carico come un mulo per il ripido sentiero di Virgolo, quante ore a martellare per togliere i sassi dalle fessure e quante a segare arbusti. Per mesi praticamente tutto il tempo libero che avevo a disposizione non lo ho dedicato all'arrampicata ma alla pulizia. E' la prima volta che dedico così tanto tempo a qualcosa che non sia un mio progetto. Qualcosa che in fin dei conti è più per gli altri che per me stesso, dato che i gradi di queste vie non sono certo elevati.

Photo: Tristan Hobson

Sicuramente comunque mi sono divertito a preparare e salire questi itinerari, non difficili ma certamente avventurosi. Ho messo infatti solo le soste, e salire dal basso con le protezioni, richiede sicuramente più sforzi di quelli che il grado suggerisce... soprattutto la più larga "Fessura del Gufo" che necessita di parecchia attenzione e sangue freddo.

Photo: Tristan Hobson

Vi lascio quindi una piccola guida per andare a scoprire queste fessure. All'interno troverete tutte le indicazioni necessarie all'accesso e le informazioni sul materiale che è necessario portare per arrampicare. Vi prego di rispettare la roccia e la natura, la falesia potrebbe vedere anche la nascita di qualche itinerario a spit al di fuori delle fessure, ma vi prego di contattarmi se foste interessati allo sviluppo. Buone arrampicate!

Le vie:

-Mezzogiorno di fuoco, 6a+
-Larga ma non troppo, 6b+
-Fessura del Gufo, 6b
-Variante delle Civetta, 6b+
-Black Mamba, 6c
-Fight Club, 7a

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