Sicily - Escaping the rain

After a soggy run and a festive dip in Llyn Padarn on Christmas morning we started driving (no trains on Christmas day!) to London in preparation to catch an early train on Boxing Day, our destination the southern Italian island of Sicily. Our exit from the apocoliptic rain was just in the nick of time, hours after we drove along the A55 N.Wales coast expressway the road was closed due to being submerged by floods in places!

December 2015 was the wettest month since records began in North Wales, a sploshing 1000mm fell from the skies, almost double the previous record! An extraordinarily wet and warm month or the effects of climate change? Who knows? Pondering this thought as I boarded the Eurostar I took solace that we had chosen the lowest carbon form of transport* to our destination to luxuriate in the simple pleasure of warm sun and dry rock.

The train journey is Sicily is rather exciting, it’s possible to ride the train directly from mainland Italy to Sicily, that’s right THE TRAIN RIDES THE FERRY! After being super excited about this transportation trivia It turns out I was not excited enough to wake up at 3am on the outward journey to experience it! However on the return journey we did very much enjoy a glorious ferry train ride sunset up on the top deck.

Looking out at Mount Vesuvius wondering around Naples in between sleeper train connections (the hardship of train travel!)

Train on a boat! 
When researching climbing possibilities in Sicily the first thing I realised was that Sicily is actually rather large; It would take over 8hrs to drive from one end of the island to the other! My research concluded that there’s good climbing to be had (in various states of development) all over the island, however the location with the highest concentration of high quality well developed climbing is in San Vito Lo Copo, a spit of land in the NW corner of the island. In the summer months San Vito is a top Sicily beach destination, however off season during the winter months when the temperatures are perfect from climbing (15 - 21 deg C during our visit) the area is a fantastic base for rock climbing. Our guidebook Sicily-Rock No5 by Gabro-Verlag showed a total of 980 routes (and some big multi pitch) between 4a-9a all within a walk or less than 20min drive from San Vito. We got the train to Palermo then hired a (tiny!) car for the 2hr drive to San Vito, even though many crags can be accessed on foot many of the best crags require a car and sometimes some off road driving commitment!

Most of the crag development of San Vito has happened in the last 10 years. Before visiting I had heard some horror stories of the wrong type of bolts being using and quickly rusting, however I’m happy to report the couple of crags effected (e.g. Lost Word) have been rebolted. For up to date info I highly recommend the YMCA Climbing Shop / Cafe/ Bar, THE meeting point for climbers and mountain bikers in San Vito with great coffee, beer and free WiFi. Most of the climbing around San Vito is single pitch on top quality rock and tufas however there are several long multi pitch routes with much potential for development. Maybe understandably given the recently development nature of the climbing around San Vito the grades can be very variable between the crags.

Here are a few photo highlights from the trip:

San Vito Lo Copo

Amy enjoying Via della Zanzare 6a+ on Capo Salinella in the golden hour, one of the crags only a short walk from the town

Never Sleeping Wall, amazing tufa routs up to 57m long! 

'The move' on The Wish 7c+ on Capo Salinella

Everyday scenes in Castellammare del Golfo

Exploring Castellammare del Golfo on a rest day, very Italian little town 

Crown of Aragon - one of the best crags around, shame we only managed one day's climbing here

The incredible Lost World crag, involved approach, adventurous, softly graded and totally amazing 
Me Gustas Tu a very soft amazing tufa 8a in the Lost Word

Old piton on rest day scramble up Monte Cofano

Big sea day at Capo Salinella, bad climbing conditions but exciting waves! 

Schattenlinie 8a in on Salinella, much better than it looks, steep tufa adventure

The long and pumpy Long sleep 6b+ on Never Sleeping Wall

Il Pandoro 7a + in Rocca Firriatio, incredible steep ground at the grade

Roof Rabbit 8a in Rocca Firriatio, on the best routes at the grade we did

5 pitch team multi pitch Parole al Vento 6c on Pizzo Monaco

Team 5 pitch multi pitch Parole al Vento 6c on Pizzo Monaco

Here are routes we climbed from my UKC logbook, I tried to leave useful comments on some of them :-)

Parole al Vento6c ***AltLd O/S10/JanPizzo Monaco
Let There be Rock6b+ *Lead O/S09/JanRocca Firriatio
Il Pandoro7a+ **Lead O/S09/JanRocca Firriatio
Roof Rabbit8a **Lead RP09/JanRocca Firriatio
Per I Nostri Amici6b+Lead O/S08/JanSan Vito lo Capo Salinella
The Hole6cLead O/S08/JanSan Vito lo Capo Salinella O/S08/JanSan Vito lo Capo Salinella
Schattenlinie8aLead RP08/JanSan Vito lo Capo Salinella
Stabilo Dave8aLead dog05/JanLost World
Me Gustas Tu8aLead O/S05/JanLost World
Zoichn Reissen Oidnschmein7b+Lead O/S05/JanLost World
No Name7a+Lead O/S05/JanLost World
Walk the Line7b+Lead O/S03/JanCrown of Aragon
Mega Dave7c+Lead dnf03/JanCrown of Aragon
All Cats are Black at Night7bLead O/S03/JanCrown of Aragon
Truffatore7b+Lead O/S03/JanCrown of Aragon
Sgamone7a+ ***Lead O/S03/JanCrown of Aragon
Chiappotte6c ***Lead O/S03/JanCrown of Aragon
Buon Natale6cLead O/S03/JanCrown of Aragon
Coast to Coast7a+Lead O/S02/JanSan Vito lo Capo Salinella
Banana Biologica7a+Lead O/S02/JanSan Vito lo Capo Salinella
Mal Di Shiena7cLead β02/JanSan Vito lo Capo Salinella RP02/JanSan Vito lo Capo Salinella
Toyo 176cLead O/S02/JanSan Vito lo Capo Salinella
Red Necks6bLead O/S02/JanSan Vito lo Capo Salinella
...Comes True7c+Lead O/S31/Dec/15San Vito lo Capo Salinella
Red Pillar6cLead O/S31/Dec/15San Vito lo Capo Salinella
Walk the Line7b+Lead O/S31/Dec/15San Vito lo Capo Salinella
Pipeline7cLead O/S31/Dec/15San Vito lo Capo Salinella
Red Peroni7aLead O/S31/Dec/15San Vito lo Capo Salinella
Fratello Caldo7a+Lead O/S30/Dec/15San Vito lo Capo Salinella
Swissmade6c+Lead O/S30/Dec/15San Vito lo Capo Salinella
Il Minotauro7bLead O/S30/Dec/15San Vito lo Capo Salinella
The Wish7c+Lead β30/Dec/15San Vito lo Capo Salinella
Blutbad6cLead O/S30/Dec/15San Vito lo Capo Salinella
Tears of Freedom7a+ ***Lead29/Dec/15Never Sleeping Wall
Evil Lurks Behind Every Man's Heart8a ***Lead dnf29/Dec/15Never Sleeping Wall
Conscious Change6b+Lead29/Dec/15Never Sleeping Wall
Long Sleep6b+ **Lead29/Dec/15Never Sleeping Wall
Enoteca Randazzo7b **Lead29/Dec/15Never Sleeping Wall
Birdwatching7a+Lead O/S28/Dec/15San Vito lo Capo Salinella
Bianca6cLead O/S28/Dec/15San Vito lo Capo Salinella
* Travelling via train emits 80-90% less carbon then flying []. The international 'safe' level of emissions per person is around 2T/yr to contain global temperature changes at or below 2 deg C which will 'hopefully' keep runaway climate change and subsequent rise in sea levels at bay. Return flight from London to Málaga will emit 2/3T of carbon per person. 6.5T to Auckland Australia or 2T to New York. [Only Planet, Ed Gillespie 2014]