Our first morning in Arco we drove up the Sarca Valley, en route to Amazonia for what should have been an easy 9 pitch 250m route but we weren’t early enough as we found about 20 soldiers from the Italian Army queued at the bottom for a training exercise. Not today.
We drove back towards Arco, in search of Plan B, past two guys packing parachutes in a field by the side of the road whom our guide, Walter, said had probably just BASE jumped from one of the nearby faces. We drove through the village of Dro, across an old Roman bridge, and along narrow winding roads to Aphrodite, another long but relatively easy route. At the top of the first pitch my partner started vomiting; maybe breakfast was disagreeable, maybe it was the heat. Back to the hotel.
After lunch in Arco we decided to have a crack at Aspettando Martino (180m, 5c), which we could see across the road out our hotel window. The lower pitches had several polished and very slippery sections; climbing is hard when you don’t trust your feet. Walter explained that easy routes are popular; a lot of people climbing on limestone results in polished holds that have a glass like finish so that “easy” climbs are not as easy as they seem and you are may be better off doing something “harder” and less popular which may actually be easier. The route finishes on a ledge and you traverse unroped in what was described as “hiking European style” before intersecting a via ferrata and descending.
Day 2 we set the alarm extra early to beat the crowds to Amazonia but we awoke to find it raining with thunderstorms forecast so multipitch climbing didn’t make sense. We drove instead to Nago, a sport climbing crag outside a town of the same name. The crag is large and very well maintained with its popularity evidenced by the polished limestone holds. It rained, dried, rained again and he had the place to ourselves with beautiful views of Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake, from the top of routes. In the afternoon the clouds cleared, it got very hot and we walked out to find the car park filling with cars with German plates, Munich being less than four hours away.
Arco has an abundance of gear shops with reputedly the cheapest gear in Europe, and it certainly had some of the cheapest gear I have seen, so we rounded off the trip with a contribution to the economic health of the Eurozone.