I don’t know what it is about this country, but it has me hooked. I still wonder why this place lures me more than anywhere else, and harks at me to return year after year. Friends constantly say to me, ‘That place must be pretty good’ or ‘Why are you going back again?’ and most of the time I respond with, 'Because it’s that good”. But when I really try and understand why I love it so much, I struggle. It’s expensive, the conditions can be fickle, it’s not new, and I’m left fewer things to do each time I visit.
But still, I keep coming back. While I give myself three good reasons to go elsewhere, I then find six to go back. You can appreciate anything if you experience it for long enough, that much I know. But Brione is an instant hit for everyone I have taken there. It’s hard not to be in awe of the enormous grey and orange boulders that litter the turquoise river running down the valley. It’s hard not to find yourself staring off into the distance, looking at the many huge cliffs or peaks that meet the skyline. It’s hard not to enjoy the sound of the brown leaves crunching underneath your feet as you weave through the wood passing some of the most pristine rock on the face of the planet. Boulder problems like Bach Bloc (7C) combine some of the best rock with a soaring line with a high topout to create a truly brilliant problem. Vecchio Leone (8B) represents one of the best hard boulder problems in the world. Perfect rock, a stunning line and physical movement, all with some history thrown in.
While not as well thought of as Brione, Chironico is still a special place. Stretching from some shaded and waterworn river boulders up to some incredible features on the top of a sunny hillside, it is still a classy area. While the rock may not be the cream of the crop, there are little pieces of brilliance littered across the hill that stand out for rock, and aesthetics. Nobody ist der Größte (8A) has some of the best slopers anywhere outside of Fontainebleau, and Freak Brothers (8A) is one of the most striking features anywhere in the world. Navigating to these gems becomes the key of truly appreciating Chironico, instead of getting drawn into finger shredding rock and leaving with a chip firmly placed on your shoulder. Another lesser known gem is Les Cliques a Claques (7C) which again provides some great rock with a line and moves that would make it a perfect fit in Fontainebleau. To me, Chironico is a place with a lot of untold character. It has so many little areas that they can feel totally different and separate from each other. This to me makes it even more enjoyable to wander around from zone to zone, taking in everything this place has to offer.
When I think about those six reasons to go back, they remind me of another few, and then another few, until in the end the decision is clear once again. When you put it all together, nowhere is better.
Boulderer • Filmmaker • Photographer • Made in Wales •