The first adventure for the Bouldering Adventure Team (BAT, great acronym!) started earlier than expected with a text message from our airline, letting us know that our flight had been cancelled. That was on the 5th of May 2018, the day of our outbound flight, and it took a while to realize that the airline was talking about our return flight. Confusion and panic faded away and were replaced by stress to coordinate our return flight between all team members.
But we managed to get that sorted. A 1h and 30min delayed flight later we arrived in Milan, where we were picked up by our transfer driver. He drove like he wanted to make up for the delay. Probably the most adventurous part of the weekend! But I digress. After picking up Louis Parkinson and another person at two other airports we managed to get to the hotel by 2am. 6 hours of quality sleep later our adventure could begin!
On our first day, 6th of May, we drove to the Boulder Park La Plana in Val Daone. A fantastic area if you want an uncomplicated day of bouldering. Everything is well documented. They've got a map at the entrance to the boulder park and some problem are already marked on the boulders with small circular plates. The color of the plate gives you a rough idea of the difficulty. You could probably get by just using those markers but a guide book is still recommended. Or you could read the online guide we've put together!
Shortly after arriving at the boulder park, Louis told us the task for the day: climb and document at least 5 unique boulder problems each to create an online guide for the area. Psyched to finally get our hands on some boulders, we grabbed our crash pads, took pictures of the guide book and off we went.
We settled on quite a long boulder first to get warmed up. That boulder interestingly also had bolts for lead climbing on it. It was rather high to be fair. We would not want to fall off the top. Therefore we decided to just climb to a reasonable height and the boulder also provided a great traverse opportunity. It was warm-up after all.
We also managed to climb and document a few problems on this boulder. Especially the short side of the boulder provided some cool problems. But it was only one boulder out of roughly 40 and so we decided to move on and check out at least a few more. Finding boulders from pictures in a guide book never gets old. It always feels somewhat like a treasure hunt. Could it be this boulder? Is that the same angle as the picture? Is that tree in the picture gone?
One of the boulders provided a fantastic opportunity for a cut-loose on a massive jug. We couldn't resist and I hope Louis (Captain Cutloose) is proud of us. We got such a cool picture out of it. The photographer, Sam, managed to hit the trigger at just the right moment. The spotter, Dan, had no idea what was going on which makes for an even more dramatic effect. Also look how neat our crash pads are arranged!
After lunch (tasty cheese sandwiches, which we got made in a supermarket on our way to the boulder park) we wandered deeper into the forest to find some more cool problems to climb and document. We got our ass kicked by some boulders that looked much easier than we anticipated, climbed also some easier boulders and had a great time.
Around 4pm we were trying our best on a tough problem when it started raining. Dan gave it a last good try, managing to get to a very poor one finger pocket before falling off. The rain got heavier however, so we packed up our stuff as quickly as possible and headed back to the van. Here is a pro tip: crash pads make for great rain protection when you hold them over your head!
Unfortunately, it kept raining for quite a while, even when we were already back in the hotel to have dinner and check out the results of the Bouldering World Cup. That meant that on the next day the boulders were still wet. We decided to go sport climbing on rain-protected rock instead. The BAT became the SCAT (Sport Climbing Adventure Team) for one day! For Dan it was the first time outdoor sport climbing. As expected though, switching from plastic to rock didn't prove to be too difficult for him. In the end, sport climbing is just high bouldering with a rope.