The Reality of Roadtrip

It’s the second day of being on the road and Libby and I are remembering what it is to be living outdoors. It’s not so comfortable. You begin to smell a bit. Summer dawns early and birdsong calls you up before you’re ready. But it’s wonderful. It’s great to be away from the comfort of the sofa and the convenience of the kettle, moving from civilization to something approaching a more natural existence, living out amongst swaying grass fields and pine forests and snow peaks above the swathes of granite. And that’s why we’re here now in the Italian Valle de Orco – for the granite.

Above the rustic climber’s campsite towers the Sargent, a 200m swathe of rock riven by corners and cracks and looking ever so faintly like a refugee from California. The climbing is not something we’re used to as Britons – blank slabs, offwidths, splitters and chimneys, and it’s going to take a while to translate our UK skills to the darker arts of granite climbing. But it’s fun. What starts out as desperate and incomprehensible slowly returns to feasible and elegant as long forgotten techniques return and we re-learn how to climb cracks. And then, aching and torn from the effort, we head down to the valley for a night of howling winds and restless sleep and a morning where we wake not only to the summer sun but the aching reality of roadtrip. It’s going to take a few days for our bodies to get used to this. But we’re happy…

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