Our week climbing in Salerno got off to a very poor start (read the first blog here). Day 1 had good climbing, Day 2 had bad climbing, and Day’s 3 and 4 were rained off. It is fair to say we were not in the best frame of mind by the end of Day 4.
However Day 5 (Sunday) dawned bright and almost sunny, and with it our optimism rose again. Rain was still forecast for the afternoon, so we decided to get out quickly and go back to Monte San Liberatore which catches the morning sun. We headed up to the third sector (Settore Caos) which we had looked at but not yet climbed on. This contained mostly hard routes but with some easier grades on the sides. We were somewhat surprised to find the crag dry and in good condition, despite two days of rain. We started by heading up Aum-Aum, a really nice consistent 6a, nothing scary or cruxy, just great climbing all the way up. The same was true for the next two routes, Il Bacio Del Sigillo (6a), and Paposce E Lumanconi (6a+). Both had tricky sections, but the the bit that looked hard from the ground was actually much easier than I anticipated. Jon then started to check out the early moves of 7a that looked (and was) desperate, a smooth overhanging wall with no footholds. Fortunately, he didn’t get very far because the rain had returned. By the time he had come back down and retrieved the quickdraws the rain had really set in. We quickly retreated back down the track to the car, arriving somewhat soggy, but happy with ticking three routes which felt like an unexpected bonus.
The weather for Day 6 was forecast to be cloudy all day, but dry. After a full 12 hours of rain the ground was very wet in the morning, but it slowly began to dry out as the day went on. By lunchtime we decided we may as well go out and see what the crag was like, even if it was too wet to climb. So we headed back down the Amalfi coastal road to Capo D’Orso, parked, looked up at the crag with the dark clouds above, and watched the torrential rain off the coast again! But it was wasn’t raining on the crag, so we trekked up the hill through the long wet grass and arrived at a beautiful cliff. Very different to Monte San Liberatore, much more pocketed rock with caves of all sizes at the base and up the routes. And it was surprisingly dry. The top of the crag has a big overhang which was protecting most of the rock below it. All the moderately graded routes stopped well before the overhang, only the harder routes (6c upwards) extended into the wet overhangs. So we quickly got onto what we thought was a 5b+, but it turned out to be a new un-described route, probably somewhere around 5c/6a. The hardest part about both that route and the 5b+ beside it (Vadi Vadi) was trying to decide which of the multitude of good handholds to use! There was no shortage! It was lovely climbing in a beautiful setting. A much quieter location than Monte San Liberatore without the constant noise of the Salerno port in the background, although you could still hear the cars on the Amalfi drive below. We also had the added melody of a herd of goats wandering around the hillside with their bells clanging and their guard dogs giving the occasional bark.
The next challenge was a 6c+ at the edge of the wall going up the side of a cave (Carminuccio). This had a steep overhang in the first section which looked like the crux, the upper section was more easy angled but still looked quite tricky. Jon set off in a determined manner and soon found the crux 4m from the ground. A stiff sequence round the overhang, made harder by cold numb fingers and footholds that disintegrated as soon he put weight on them. A battle commenced, he worked his feet up, made big moves to get the pockets, held on as the rock crumbled under his feet, and made it round the bulge to rest in a small groove, slowly bringing life back to his cold fingers. The second section was much more straight forward, bigger holds and an easier angle, however it proved more of a problem for me belaying. The goats that were down the hillside, had decided to come and investigate what was going on. Several inquisitive individuals came up onto the path and started to eye up the contents of our rucksacks which were in a heap about 5m away. They were getting closer, Jon was getting higher onto more uncertain ground, and I was getting torn by a dilemma – the safety of my husband or the preservation of my flapjack! Fortunately the goats decided we were not that interesting and Jon continued with an attentive belayer to the top of the route.
After one more lovely 6a (the first pitch of A Casa Di Antonia), the skies got dark and rain drops started to fall again, so we beat a hasty retreat back to the car. It felt great to finally get to climb on Capo D’Orso particularly considering how bad the weather has been all week. It is certainly somewhere I would go back to again given the opportunity.
Salerno is a lovely town to be in, and the climbing has been interesting, varied, and enjoyable (more photos available in the Non Climbing Gallery). But it is now time to pack up and move on. We are taking the overnight ferry down to Sicily and spending the next 10 days in San Vito Lo Capo.
It is due to rain there as well!