When we think of the Aosta Valley, inevitably we are reminded of the great walls of the Alps such as Monte Rosa, the Matterhorn or Mont Blanc. These are certainly important and unforgettable presences in the landscape of the Valley, but today, I want to take you to visit the smallest hidden walls on which sport climbing is practiced.
Yes, the bicycle now occupies a large part of my world, but I cannot forget that i spent many hours on these walls to achieve better results day after day. After more than twenty years of climbing, I can say that I have taken some satisfaction, most of all … being able to become a National Climbing Instructor and teach this sport that I love very much.
In the Aosta Valley there is no country that does not have at least one spot on which to climb. Saying which is the most beautiful area is practically impossible because each one is unique in terms of climbing, rock, beauty of movements, etc.
I have always been linked to the lower Aosta Valley first of all because here, in addition to living there, i find the opportunity to practice all climbing disciplines without going too far. In fact, you can decide to climb on a small boulder or on big walls or on single pitches of all difficulties without spending hours in the car.
An immense climbing area.
The village of Hone is located in the center of a very varied area for climbing. From 5 minutes to a maximum of 30 minutes by car there is something for all tastes, from “plaisir” climbing to “extreme” routes, but it would be impossible to talk about all the existing cliffs. That’s why I decided to tell you only about the best known and, in my opinion, the most representative of the area. Walls on which you have to lay your hands at least once in your life.
This virtual journey starts right from the small town of Hone, located near the Forte di Bard. The first area I’m talking about then is Arnad’s “Cubo” (certainly among the most emblazoned walls of the Valley). Both lovers of bouldering and those in search of high climbing difficulties will find “bread for their teeth”. Frequented almost all the year except for the hottest months, the Cube is a huge boulder in the middle of the wood, on which you can climb almost all its 4 overhanging faces.
Not far away, always in the town of Arnad, we find the “Gruviera”, in addition to being one of the first places where this sport was born in the Valley, has single pitches and multi pitch routes with much more accessible grades. But they are the “Paretone” and the “Pilastro Lomasti” the two real protagonists of the area. Those who are fond of large walls cannot fail to come and try one of the routes that run on them.
The 300mt of Paretone rock loom right on the small town of Arnad in the orographic right side of the valley. The Lomasti Pillar remains higher up almost hidden by the other mountains. It is on the latter that the most sought-after routes in the area run.
In this area you can climb practically all year round except for the colder months. Even the summer heat is not so oppressive thanks to the constant wind in the area.
Going up the central Valley we find a small granite pearl: “Gettaz“. Those looking for climbing that varies from slabe to crack, this is the right place. Being among other things at 1100mt in height and in the shade in the afternoon, it is ideal for summer climbing.
From Hone you can decide to take the Champorcher valley where, recently, a large boulder area has developed, ideal for the summer. But this valley has always been known thanks to the easy multi-pitch climbing routes of “Pont Boset” and “Oriana“. Very popular with groups and family, its altitude allows you to climb all summer and, thanks to its position, to enjoy very suggestive views of the entire valley.
About ten minutes from Hone we find another area very appreciated for its medium / easy pitches, very popular all year round especially in spring and autumn: “Albard di Bard“. Here, too, the area is well known and in recent years new climbing routes have emerged, which are still not very popular, confirming that the potential of the area is still very high.
Some routes are also loved for their easy access (you always go downhill both to reach the attack and the return of the streets) but it is above all for the ease of the itineraries and for their variety that make the area very popular.
Just in front of the town of Albard di Bard we find the valley of Fer. At the entrance of the valley, the climber will be able to try out some very interesting boulders but for lovers of multi-pitch routes, the “Paretone del Fer” and the “Pilastro Neri Camilla” are the ideal destination and especially in the shade from the summer heat.
In Donnas, the “Bistecca” crag has been one of the most popular walls of the lower valley for years. To date, the routes are closed due to landslides on the rocks overlooking the area … by force of things we will have to go to the nearby cliff of the “Biellesi” … but be careful! You must have forearms and iron fingers.
A few kilometers from Hone we find the town of Pont-Saint-Martin from which we take the road to the Gressoney Valley. For this valley, a separate chapter should be opened for the number of cliffs and walls present. We also find some very interesting bouldering spots, but unfortunately this is not a discipline that has managed to develop here as it deserves. “La Bolla“, “La Benedizione“, “La parete del Pentimento” are just some of the many walls that you encounter going up the valley.
In the valley it climbs very well all summer and the itineraries are suitable for all levels but, if you are strong climbers, here you will find “bread for your teeth”.
Towards the Upper Valley
The Ayas Valley is perhaps the valley with the least climbing rock in the whole of the Valley but this does not mean it is not worth a visit, especially in summer. In addition to the historic “Extrepieraz” wall, the “Vasé” wall has recently come to light right at the foot of the immense glaciers of Monte Rosa in an unspoiled valley, the view is assured.
Continuing towards Aosta we reach the town of Pontey, located in front of the town of Chatillon and at the entrance of the Valtournenche. In this small village there is a wall appreciated above all by families and beginners. An easy wall surrounded by green woods, an ideal place to spend a climbing day and have a nice picnic.
Not far from Pontey, past the Ussel Castle, we find the cliff of the same name and above all the area of blocks. This area is important not so much for the difficulty or the number of passages, but because it was the first boulder area climbed in the lower Valley.
Finally remains the Valtournenche, obviously famous for being the Matterhorn valley. Here too there are not many climbing areas but “Singlin” is worth a visit especially by climbers who are looking for medium easy routes and pitches. The more adventurous can instead head to the wall of “Chesod“.
In short, if you love climbing you can’t miss a ride in the lower valley, there is really something for all tastes and all abilities … You will also find many climbing books, surely one of the most complete is that of Massimo Bal and Patrick Raspo “Valle d’Aosta Sport Climbing“, but i am at your disposal for any information.