We came to steal. As usual. Honest robbery that does not hurt the earth, as our resource isn’t only sustainable, it is almost as endless as something in this world can be: photos, videos and one thing that only in Sardegna is interminable as well – new boulder lines. The instruments in the back of the car and our vintage caravan are sharp as never: a drone, a new camera body that delivers 100fps in HD, new pads and shoes. The team is usually the four of us, with our two kids, two and four years old and in the first week a friend from Switzerland.
Misses only the magic rock, that is so few known and nonetheless seems to be so beautiful on the pics that we have found about Sardegna.
We are crossing the Alps by late January in minus 17 degrees, leaving the palm trees in the snow at Lago di Garda behind us and then ferry across the sea from Livorno to Olbia, accompanied by a heavy storm that has left its traces on the island: water everywhere, snow up from 700m and no way to boulder in the north of Sardegna, Gallura, where the elder granite mountains resist erosion for million of years. So we flee south trying to touch some limestone in Cala Gonone. The cave that should always be dry is dripping and we get dripping wet as well on our 15min back to town such in the rain.
Now we have not only fog and snow at Monte Ortobene, where a local climber recommended a nice and calm boulder spot, but lots of humidity in the caravan. In search for some sun we change the coast, pass by some of the big granite spots around Nuoro (e.g. Ortelli), where you will find literally endless potential (in our case still in bad weather) and finally shall be relieved near Oristano on a beautiful, in this time of the year deserted beach with even some sandstone bouldering.
The forecast stays unstable and so already after three days on the island we find ourselves in the driest region far south near the capital Cagliari. Hills covered by maccia and yes, a bunch of boulders scattered a little bit everywhere. And in the first sector, Torre delle Stelle, directly the first Tafoni (eroded concave granite that varies in its size from pocket to small cave). We are impressed. Rock in rough and of fair quality, big crystals that in worse conditions than those of central winter can make your skin fade away quickly and some really beautiful lines. A little above this part of the sector that is called Area 44 we then discover what I would call one of the best moderate problems (~6C) I have seen in my life. A prow that in parts is only centimeters thin, strewn with tafoni pockets and exposed to a open sea view. I call it Scarabeo rinoceronte (rhinoceros beetle), even that it perhaps has been freed by someone else before (there is no way to know as we don’t encounter any other climber in the whole three weeks!).
Over the whole coast to Villasimius you will find various spots of comparable quality, nice beaches and great view on the sea. But it isn’t the kind of destination, yet, to travel from central Europe to.
The big amounts of rock still wait for us in the north and after one week weather announces finally stable enough to go there. Monte Pulchiana is our first goal and the one that is ought to be the best for family bouldering in nice and calm surrounding that we are searching for. We enter the area of rock via the Valle de la Luna and definitely feel lunatic from the very first moment on. Islands of oddly shaped boulders everywhere, embedded in winter green meadows, surrounded by still more rock beneath the mountain ridges on the horizon. And then, some kilometers further, the Monte Pulchiana itself: a round inverted bowl of granite with a sea of boulders underneath. On all sides. Everywhere. We can’t believe the shapes, we can’t believe the number, we can’t believe the weather (sunny, cold, windy, perfect). Unfortunately most of the existing boulders from a bloc scouting expedition including Nalle four years earlier are too high for me, a lonesome, spotterless climber (we shouldn’t meet a single other boulderer in the whole three weeks).
So I go jump-and-run into the masses of stone, but the central problem for high end bouldering, that accounts unfortunately for almost the entire Gallura region, gets fairly quickly obvious to me: where the boulders are overhanging (almost every boulder has at least one roof, steep side, cave, etc.), less eroded rock gets loose and all the finer features vanish as soon as you watch them too intensively. In the same time the holds that stay are mostly jugs or slopers, where the single crystals don’t really hold under pressure (sure they will after some many ascents, but me and my skin are too few to be many ascents in just some days). I just can’t find a proper projects to spend some sessions on, as I would love so much in this precious setting.
In the end reason settles on my heated searcher’s mind and we spend the next days with the one obviousleisure this place asks you to do: enjoy beauty and melt into photography and filming! With the kids we are a little limited in this in parts very steep boulder field, but nevertheless we find some really nice moderate lines wherever we succeed to pierce the maccia. This place is perfect for moderate bouldering, all the creative sub forms of climbing and especially for opening new stuff. Just don’t forget a machete.
Two third of our holidays are gone but for the moment I haven’t found the kind of place I would absolutely have to return to, if it isn’t for photos or videos in the first place. In the small bloc scouting guidebook you find mainly one other bigger area in Gallura (Arzachena) but we get driven further to the north, the very north, by one single picture that I have seen somewhere on the internet. Bouldering on red orange tafoni granite on the coast of La Maddelena, an archipelago between Sardegna and Corse. On the main island we can’t find the boulders they are mentioned in some on-line publication and nothing is really obvious, so we decide to have a look an the other bigger island of the archipelago, La Caprera. And suddenly everything gets obvious.
The island that had been bought in parts by the uniter of Italy, Garibaldi, sets an end to our two weeks search for the perfect spot. Everything we struggled withup to here, is gone: finer, more solid rock, no more fences (it is a national park), no more rubbish, more features on the rock. And in addition the setting is a perfect-turquoise-beach-pine-wood-sea-view place with even the most beautiful lines we have discovered until now amongst it. I figure out a nice project line with real crimps! that gives me to do for three sessions and should be something around 8B, but especially spend the time hanging out with the kids on the great granite slaps that build the base of the boulders, fly around with the drone and discover bunches of magical little future sectors in every one of these overhanging lips that have been eroded on the bases of greater rock structures.
We would love to stay longer but another major rain front chases us back some days earlier that planned. We have traveled one quite vast island with endless rock (Sardegna), that left us a little crooked, to find everything united in this very small place (La Caprera) that especially in autumn, when the sea is still warm, in my opinion should be one of the best family boulder spots in Europe and surely is one of the most aesthetic ones.
I called my hard boulder Brigante onesto, the honest thief, after a citation from Garibaldi, who calls this type of men an idol for himself. Thus I know we would have liked each other and he surely doesn’t mind all the great pictures we have “stolen” from his island. With our lenses and our minds.