Searching For Gold: Valle dell'Orco

Searching For Gold: Valle dell'Orco

Photos: Suzana Uršič

A few years ago I saw a video from Bernd Zangerl about bouldering in Orco valley. The big clean lines in such a beautiful setting immediately caught my attention, so when two friends of mine decided to go there for some trad crack climbing I threw my crashpad on top of their gear and off we went. So this meant another late night on the Italian autostrada, with way too many espressos and three-in-the-morning-zombie driving on steep, curvy mountain roads.

The next morning I was up early. Everybody else was still in their sleeping bags, but I was off looking around to see if I could find some problems. Soon I recognized a few boulders from the Zangerl video, but I also saw blocs upon blocs, all waiting to be brushed and touched by climbers' hands for the first time. Under the big granite walls lay hundred of them, from small eggs to house-size boulders. 

Orco Valley is located in the northern part of Italy, in the region of Piedmont and is mostly famous for traditional crack climbing, so much so that is also nicknamed the Italian Yosemite. Most of you have probably heard about the famous Green Spit crack but probably not so much about the bouldering. Maybe because there's no guidebook and, besides a few videos and some vague online stuff, information about the bouldering is rare. So if you want to experience it you have to get out there and be a little creative. Which is how I prefer to climb and explore anyway.

While the rest of the crew threw ropes over their shoulders and put their friends and nuts on their harnesses I headed off on my own looking for developed lines and also to see if I could discover and brush some new ones. I climbed on easier stuff and tried few hard blocs;too hard and too high for one crashpad and late August temps. Then I discovered a beautiful compression bloc down on the river. I chalked the holds, brushed lichen from the top, improved the landing a little with some river logs and start working on a line. I was squeezing, puffing, grunting and falling all day long but unfortunately I didn’t mange to climb it. And I secretly hope that has not been climbed since, so when the day comes and I finally return to the valley, it will still be waiting for me there.

Climber and developer based in Ajdovscina, Slovenia