The trip to Italy finished-up with two more days of multi-pitch climbing at Muzzerone and some hiking around nearby Cinque Terre. The setting at Muzzerone has been described as “dramatic” and I think that’s a fair description – a mix of exposed sea cliffs and crags, some equally exposed access, seagulls riding the breeze, and quite a few rusty looking bolts. The main crag for single pitch climbing is Parete Centrale which lies just off the road and was first bolting in the 1970s meaning that the routes are now highly polished. About a ten minute scramble below Parete Central is Parete delle Meraviglie, another large crag where we did a multi-pitch route of around 140m in 5 pitches. It was shorter and less committing than our route the day before – once you start Chi Vuol Essere Lieto … Lieto Sia you need to finish as abseiling off would be tricky due to traverses in the route. Nonetheless, with a cold wind blowing and waves crashing it was a mentally challenging day.
Our final day climbing started with what had become a pleasant routine: up early, a breakfast of sugar coated croissants and coffee at our hotel, more coffee at a café in nearby La Grazie, followed by purchasing a lunch of made-to-order prosciutto and cheese rolls that I would be happy to eat all-day every-day. The weather was looking ominous so we opted to climb at Parete Centrale so as not to be half-way up a longer route if the weather turned. As well as single pitch climbing there are some two pitch routes as well. It turned out to be a good decision as the temperature dropped and swirling cloud blew in from the sea and enveloped the crag. After a while it cleared and we spent a warm(ish) afternoon in the sun, meeting a local climber in his 70s who has been climbing for over 50 years and would no doubt put me to shame in a contest.
Muzzerone is close to Cinque Terre, a world heritage listed collection of coastal villages and a major tourist drawcard that can be easily accessed by train from La Spezia or by boat if the weather is good enough (which it wasn’t for us). We took the train to Riomaggiore and then Verranza – picturesque but popular and as crowds aren’t our thing we opted to do the six hour hike from Riomaggiore back to Portovenere which a good way to justify over-indulging at dinner. The next morning we were on the pre-dawn train to Milan for our flight home and our next stop: Crazy Horse Buttress in Thailand.