We made it. To Siciy at least. The trip passed by really fast, but we were busy all the time really, treating climbing like a full time job, yet without any of the labour. The last part of our trip turned caused us to produce constant noises of satisfaction and wonderment as we drove from Chambéry to Pelvoux through the Alps. The LDV graciously following the contours and sweeps of the roads through the alps, purring in appreciation of the views. We were fortunate to have clear weather and the mind to set off early to enjoy the drive from Chambéry. The Alps are awesome, in the true meaning of the word. Our destination was Pelvoux, about 1,200 m high, not far from Briançon to stay with the lovely Dylan and Louise. We met them at a Mount Dauphin to get in a quick climb before the sun set. We jumped on a 40m 6b straight away. The rock was conglomerate and really fun to climb on. Quickly following sunset the temperature plummets and hunger rockets. We drove jauntily home up to Pelvoux, picking up some carnard and escargot for din dins, cooked so kindly by our hosts. We were getting a bit paranoid on the drive up to Pelvoux, we had the bikes on the top of the van and kept seeing high limit signs approaching, no problems thus far though!
The next morning we woke up and went up the Pelvoux valley; to go see the Glacier and the marvellous sights to behold. Angus went pretty psyched for the snow and ice. As we drove up to the glacier we passed relentless crags, multipitches, boulders and places for endless fun. What a place it is, Ailefriode was just a couple of minutes away. Outrageous. After being satisfactorily humbled by the views and mountains we went down to a granite crag and got on a really fun 7a+ which between us we finally managed to complete. Super nice rock to climb on, the friction of gritstone but with many more features and edges.
That evening we indulged ourselves in Dylans soup. We got up early and packed because the next evening we were taking the ferry from Genova. So we packed up and got onto a lovely south facing limestone crag. After the days climbing before, having climbed on four different rock types in 4 days and climbed several days in a row, the skin on our hands was somewhat lacking and we didn’t climb much, besides we wanted to scoot off to resume a leisurely stress free leg to Genova. We stopped in Briançon for a wander and found a really amazing bakery, probably one of the best of my life. Breads galore. We carried on over the pass to Italy where we finally found snow, proper. The weather for the whole trip has been so good, sun everyday, it has been remarkable and remarked upon. We arrived at the ferry in Genova with plenty of time, nice and relaxed. As we arrived at the ferry we could feel that we had entered another country and there was a definite change in approach and organisation, you basically had to guess what to do at the port in Genova. But that was fine, we are both versed in the ways of Italian style.
On the ferry we were fortunate to meet a very nice couple who’d been at a circus workshop in France for the summer, and we arranged to chare a cabin with them – nice one Chiara and Juan! The majority of the time on the boat was spent on deck with Angus, reading, because he really didn’t want to be in the section for dogs, so we hung out on the deck, it was super sunny and nice to be out anyways. We arrived late in the evening in Palermo and parted to go directly to the crag at Valdesi – which is, as we found out also a hot spot for prostitute. We arrived to a very mild climate and the next day full sun, it must be over 20 degrees in the sun. Anyway, we were a bit ambitious climbing the next day because I still had non skin and Arthur certainly didn’t after he tried another 7a+ which was basically a nice climb except for something like a 7b boulder problem thrown in the middle. After a couple of days at the crag there and Angus going nuts on the beach we met up with friends in the city (thanks to the lovely Barbara and her family for hosting us!!!). Arthur parted for Commiso to meet Raheela and I remained in Palermo.
It was a super trip down to Sicily and we have been slightly overwhelmed by the kindness of everyone we have encountered and had the fortune of staying with. The climbing has been amazing, and also a constant battering of emotions, confidence and feelings. We have also encountered a lot of young professionals also struggling to find work throughout France, something that reflects the current employment situation in the UK.