Val di Mello - Italy

So the Monday after the BBC’s we were all packed up and off on the 21-hour journey to the well dreamt of Val di Mello. My Dad and Karl drove through the night with a couple of epic moments including Karl sticking a spanner in the cigarette lighter and getting electrocuted, the sat nav taking us through the back streets of Metz and Zurich, and one of the drivers counting their fingers to keep themselves awake at 3am on Swiss motorways. But eventually we had Karl crawling our car up the Splügen Pass in thick fog at 4am (ish) with my dad pretending to sleep. Ironically we arrived above the mist and at the border at 4:50am perfect timing as the border was shut until 5am! 2 hours later I woke up and we were under Sasso Remeno in the much-loved Val di Mello.

About 20 coffees, thick sludgy hot chocolates and lots of brioche later we were all into the full swing of Mello and our skin was probably starting to feel the granite’s sharp wrath.

In the middle of the trip my dad and I set off to do a long, classic, nine-pitch trad route called Luna Nascente. I was told it was a 20 minute walk in so I was well up for it but after about 40 minutes walking and getting lost I realised they were lying to me. After banging my head numerous times when walking up the waterfall I wasn’t in the best of moods and with my dad running to the top to get on the route first (there were 10 Austrians and Italians etc close behind us) I ended up sitting down in the mud in defiance. I could not run up that hill! I think his exact words were “if we don’t get to the bottom of the crag first there’s no point and we’ll go back down again!!” That was NOT going to happen! So I got up and trudged up that hill, completely out of breath and finally got to the bottom where my dad had everything out for us to climb first even though there were like 6 other people already there. Soooo…

The route was pretty awesome really. The first pitch was the worst with a hard move over a lip but the rest continued on nice slabby exposed cracks all the way up until the last two pitches where you had to do a long scary traverse left and then a 30 metre run out on a slab with no holds (thankfully my dad was leading!) It was definitely worth the stupid walk-in and the excruciating pain in my feet! Coming down we walked the right way (not down the waterfall), which took us only an hour…grr!
The two weeks we spent there I tried to do lots of bouldering but found it challenging. The last day I did a nice 7b+ though which I was pleased with. I also worked an f8a sport route, Slot Machine but in the end it was too hot and greasy. Scott had an amazing time though, flashing f8a bouldering, climbing a project, probably at least f8a and doing about 6 f7c’s and f7c+’s!!

Highlights of the trip include actually ‘swimming’ in the glacial stream (something I would not do last time I was there), eating pizza in Fiorelli’s, getting free grappa in Bar Monika’s and learning to slack-line (kind of)! Oh and the climbing was pretty cool.

After two weeks there we were ready to move on to Ailfroide for Tout à Bloc 2008…

By Beth Monks