|Machaby Rock Climbing|
The Aosta Valley in norther Italy is full of rock. The local guidebook, Mani Nude, includes many hundreds of pitches of great, usually well-bolted climbing.
The Corma di Machaby is only one of the many cliffs available here, but without a doubt the most impressive. This is an immense slab of clean gneiss, glowing yellow and orange in the afternoon sun. The general angle is fairly moderate, but consistent, yielding pitch after pitch of superb face climbing.
The best season for Aosta rock is on either side of summer. Usually, in mid-summer the rock is too hot. But often when stormy weather blows in from the west or northwest, the rain shadow effect of the Alps can bring comfortable and dry climbing weather here, when the Chamonix valley is rainy and cold.
It is at times like this that we often find ourselves dashing from a wet Chamonix, though the Mont Blanc tunnel, finding sunshine and warm rock in Machaby.
This is not a great beginners area. Most of the good climbing starts at about 5b or 5c (5.8 or 5.9 USA). But the gear is generally very good and the generally low angle rock means that you'll have plenty of time to work out the moves without becoming too pumped.
There are several different sections to the cliffs here. The Gruviera offers shorter routes, from 1 to 4 or 5 pitches. The main wall, the Corma di Machaby has fantastic routes, some over a dozen pitches. Mont Coudrey to the south has a very large selection, from short routes to very fun long climbs, include the 9 pitch Dr Jimmy 5b (5.8 USA). The Pilier Lomasti is a very clean buttress found high above the valley, well above the Corma di Machaby.
|Salima on the upper part of Diretta al Banano.|
There are literally hundreds of climbs in this area, from moderate to extremely difficult. The easiest routes start at about 5.6 (French 4c) For the longer climbs, the difficulty begins at about 5.8 (French 5b). The climbing is not, in general, overly strenuous. Footwork is key, with the most challenging sections including thin face climbing.
Since there is something for everyone here, we can match the route with your previous experience. However, there is not a great deal of very easy climbing here, so we recommend "learning the ropes" in a less demanding environment, such as Les Gaillands in Chamonix.
|Diretta al Banano, pitch 5.|
|Topo Pazzo||5c (5.9 USA)||3 pitches||
This superb little route is in the Gruviera section. It follows a pocketed crack straight up some of the best rock in the area. The climbing in mostly on big pockets and huecos, with a few thin moves on the last pitch. Pitches 1 and 2 are easier. Rappel descent.
|Lo Dzerby||5c (5.9 USA)||13 pitches||A long route on the left side of the main wall. Only pitches 4 and 5 are difficult with the remainder being 5a or easier. Some of the pitches are short, and the climb goes by quite quickly. This is a good initiation to the longer routes of the area. Best to walk off.|
|Bucce d'Arancia||6a (5.10a USA)||9 pitches||In the center section of the wall, this is perhaps the most popular route on the cliff. 3 or 4 of the pitches are difficult, with the remainder quite a bit easier. Walk off.|
|Diretta al Banano||6a (5.10a USA)||9 pitches||Similar in difficulty to Bucce d'Arancia above, this route is more consistent in the grade and on cleaner rock. The first pitch is the crux, with some thin face climbing in the middle. Walk off.|
|Tike Saab||6a+ (5.10b USA)||10 pitches||Located between the Banano and Bucce, this climb is more difficult than either of the above. The crux is fingery and steep. Walk off.|
|Combination||6a+ (5.10b USA)||9 pitches||On the right side of the main wall is a fine line that is actually parts of three different routes. Similar in difficulty to Tike Saab. The route climbs the first 2 pitches of Mago Mago, then 3 pitches of Free Volezze, then finishes with 5 easier pitches on Par Condicio. Walk off.|
|Dr Jimmy||5b (5.8 USA)||9 pitches||Dr Jimmy is located on Monte Coudrey, a few kilometers south of the Corma di Machaby. This is a great route at a more moderate grade. There are 2 optional final pitches (more difficult) but we usually call it good at the top of the 9th.|
|La Rossa e il Vampirla||6b (5.10c-d USA)||6 pitches||High above the valley on the Lomasti pillar is the amazing 6-pitch route. The route is remarkably sustained at the grade, 6a+, 6a+, 6b, 6b, 6a, 6a. Rappel descent.|
|Grant on Tike Saab.|
Kathy Cosley & Mark Houston
AMGA Certified • SNGM members
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