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Shine on you crazy limestone

Their doorhandle knocked, their telephone ringed. But they didn't open. Around christmas one after the other climbing hall proved closed. So we wound up at the feet of an evil nazi tower which was spaciously bolted, yet bolted. We climbed like there's no tomorrow.

Days later we continued the long road south. Along the horizon they stripteased their way out of low clouds... the Alps. We entered the country that's a hole on many a map. Also not a country to take your giraffe to. Tunnel after tunnel, ravine sneak peek after ravine sneak peek, we made a way underneath mountains, following rivers like the army from Cartagena once going from Murcia to Rome with their elephants.

We felt the driving skills around us deteriorating. The local radio put on the new realease Oggi No.

Some time later the Italian border showed up, over which we had to smuggle a German pizza. We didn't get caught and an hour later we drove over the Po plains with the sun in our faces, in one line through the light polluted prosperous enterpreneurial sister region of Flanders. We marked suddenly blocked routes. We noted the highway we couldn't take to Genua where the bridge collapsed the summer before last summer. Bending around the hills, on roads following the abundantly streaming Bormida's grasslands, we passed Cairo Montenotte where Ferrania film once was manufactured. More hills followed. It might even snow here some nights.


Boom! Final(e)ly we arrive at the 70's hillside development's little alleyways, reminding me of Cogne's villages. By foot we find the house that's never locked. It provides a look all the way to the cliff and the sea, as well as to the blue or white forest chapel down at the other side of this valley. Between an orchard, and houses we cannot see, we prepare a series of celebrations.

And there is climbing. Lead it, clean it and beat it! We go Por qualche arrampicate in più and try crazy crags. When we come down the hills again, the shops down in the valley welcome us, open sundays and holidays, with food fresh and locals helpful.

Routes we pick out tend to feel chopped quite often, allowing sport climbing gems and doubts over climbing ethics. It is for climbing media a cliché to introduce Finale Ligure as the polished sandbagged once popular climbing area. Last week UKClimbing started off that way again diverting to Oltre Finale (Albenga valley).

The 'polish' judgements seem to stem rather from a popular cliché than from reporters' own experiences. The series of random crags we bumped into didn't reveal any polish at least, except for some spots at tourist-plagued Grotta dell'Edera-wow and Monte Cucco's Anfiteatro where it didn't affect the routes.

From the sea, we head out into the Ligurian rocky hills where only the occasional ruin (or clear foot tracks underneath a.o. evergreen oaks) give away people's presence before us. We dare ourselves into the Harvard Footwork School of Ligure, pump finds us, and together with mostly German climbers we become rock maniacs.

Recommended topo: We unanimously favored Finale by Marco Tommasini (2017). It's not the most recent book and didn't mention a few climbs we found out. Yet the drawn lines are consistent with reality and coherent with each other. The work is focused, neat and communicative.