After leaving Sicily, our next climbing stop was Statte in Puglia. Statte is right in the arch of the boot of Italy, about 500km south east of Rome and 15 km north of the city of Taranto.
The crags at Statte are spread across 16 sectors along the side of a 100m (or more) deep, meandering karst valley or gravina. The topography allows you to chose to climb in sunshine or shade, be exposed to the breeze or find shelter as the weather conditions dictate. This was very helpful considering the varied weather we experienced. For the first couple of days the temperature never got above 10 Celsius and and the north wind was howling bringing flurries of snow, but by choosing one of the sunny south facing sectors we were able to climb in comfort. A few days later the wind had dropped and temperatures rose to 19 degrees so we moved onto some of the shady north and north west facing sectors.
The climbing is approached from two different parking areas and it is worth spending an hour or two scoping out where the individual sectors are. Although none of the sectors are difficult to find some approaches are easier and shorter than others. However, you can never avoid the short but arduous stomp up from the bottom of the gravina at the end of the day. For the northern sectors, the guidebook recommends using the 308 step metal staircase which runs up the side of the valley. Our preference was to walk down past Settore Solarium as this minimises the amount of boulder hoping you need to do along the (mainly) dry river bed.
One of the things that made being in Statte such a pleasant experience was how welcoming the local climbers were. The people we met were keen to share their knowledge of the area with visitors. There are 236 routes described in the 2015 “A Sud” guidebook that we had, which gave us more than enough to go at. However, development of new routes and new sectors has continued and the number of routes has increased quite a lot. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of information on line so tapping into local knowledge is very useful.
In our time here we did 34 routes between 5b+ and 7a+ on 6 of the 16 sectors described in the guidebook. All were worthwhile, some were absolutely superb.
Perhaps the highlights in terms of routes were Hello Spank (6b) and Haidi (6b+) on Settore Capitan Harlock and Fame Chimica (6b+) and Blue Velvet (7a+) on Settore Gangia. Both Haidi and Hello Spank link a series of juggy finger pockets up otherwise featureless walls (read Gaynor’s blog here). Fame Chimica and Blue Velvet are varied wall climbs that gradually steepen to give quite powerful crux sections that require power and good footwork. Also worth a mention is Fashon (6c) a great route with a delicate character.
Over the last five years we have had several climbing trips to Italy, often visiting crags that are not on the radar of most British climbers. Most of the venues have been good or excellent but Statte is amongst the best. Seven climbing days just haven’t been enough, we could easily have spent a month here.
We stayed in Crispiano a 20 minute drive up the road, but staying in the town of Statte would make it possible to climb here without the need for a car – the crags are right on the edge of town. However, if you do come here we can heartily recommend staying at the apartment we rented in Crispiano. Also, one of the local climbers we met is due to open a climbers campsite in Crispiano later in 2019.
ps. We will put more images in the Gallery soon.