A Hidden Climber’s Paradise
When we first saw the topo in the guidebook we did a double-take. The topo appeared to show a cylindrical wall with climbs on all sides. We were floored. How do you access the routes? Do you have to rappel in? If you rappel in do you have to climb back out? The guidebook said nothing about access, only marking it on the map. Out for adventure, we saddled up the gear with our two friends and our favorite adventure cat and we hit the trail.
From where we were staying in Calice Ligure the approach took a little over an hour. We wound up the mountain towards Rocca di Perti on an ancient trail made of old cobblestones mostly reclaimed by the forest and crested at the approach trail for Versante dell-Nord. We then descended down the road through the next steep valley. The approach to the grotta took us passed an complex of farm houses with old terraced vineyards and narrow passageways and onto the steep trail up the side of the valley.
Once we reached where we thought it was we started looking around for an easy access to the top of the wall so that we could rappel in. That’s when we saw the cave.
This dark hole seemed to go back pretty deep into the rock. Not having planned for any spelunking we only had one headlamp with us, but it would have to do. I entered the cave and started seeing access ropes and small ladders leading upwards and to the left. I called for my friends to come join and we shared the headlamp, slowly making our way through the dark cave. Before long we started to see some light above us and we followed the trail to the light. The exit from the cave was through a tiny opening overhead. We had to take off our packs to fit through, though the cat didn’t have a problem.
Squeezing through the opening we quickly saw that we were in the right place. We all walked around mouths agape at the sight: a fully cylindrical wall with an opening at the top where you could see the sky and 30 meter climbable walls on all sides. It was gorgeous. After our little Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (…if you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it…) moment we put down the packs and started to climb.
We didn’t do much that day to be honest, we were with non-climbing friends and as I said, a cat. Not to mention that 6a+ was the lowest graded route in the Grotta. The moderate routes were fun and climbing all the way to the top of the cylinder, looking down gave an even more incredible view of it all.
After a few hours of playtime we made our way back through the hole in the ground, descended through the cave and were back on the trail in the Ligurian forest in no time.
Check out the interactive 360 degree panorama below.