Sardinia has, for a long time, been a popular destination with British climbers. And rightly so! It makes for a fantastic spring or autumn break, with a wealth of crags and climbing styles.
“Arrampicare a Cala Gonone” is a topo guide to the area around Cala Gonone; one of the most popular holiday destinations for northern Europeans with a week or two to spare.
The guide provides good clear topos and crag locations for the area surrounding the town. The text is Italian, with English and German translations for key sections. The crags are predominantly within 5km of Cala Gonone, with some interesting outlyers included for good measure. Although all on limestone, the climbing styles vary hugely between different crags, giving pretty much something for everyone within the 160 pages. The photo topos are very clear and (along with the action photos) give a good flavour of the individual character of the crags. The maps provided are clear enough to locate the crags easily. Immediately surrounding Cala Gonone, there is not much need for a supplementary map. Heading further afield, a proper map would probably help with locating the parking spot for Monte Oddeu and Dolovérre Sùrtana and a few of the more remote tracks.
My one quibble with the guide is that the initial area map and its key are not in the same sequence as the crags in the table of contents. The pair do not have exactly the same name structure either. This can make for some frustrating page flicking in the first few days, until you get the feel for the place and the logic of the book.
Cala Gonone. Photo: Lewis Ashton
Almost all of the routes in the guide are sports routes, with the exceptions being mostly at Monte Oddeu and Dolovérre Sùrtana (where they are clearly marked). Immediately above the town gives a mix of single and multi-pitch routes of a slabby style with sharp water worn droplet holds. The grades on these crags are predominantly in the 5s and 6s, with a few 4s and some (apparently) holdless 7s. On the coast to both sides of the town, steeper crags with climbing round and out of caves dominate (the exception being half of Cala Luna – where the style is more vertical and in the 5 & 6 range). The grades for the steeper cliffs are more in the 7s and 8s.
In terms of recommendations, I sampled most of the crags on the hill behind the town during the week I was there. They were all easily accessible from the road (although the white hotel used as a way point in some descriptions and maps was being demolished at the time – this should not make a great deal of difference, as long as you don’t spend your whole day looking for it!). They were uniformly interesting and just the thing for a laidback mixed ability holiday. On one of the wet days, we went on the de rigueur boulder hop north along the coast to the cave of Biddiriscotta. For those wishing to climb across a cave roof with wild swings between tufa jugs, then this is a must visit crag. It does seem to hold the damp and moist sea air though. The trip along the coast to Cala Luna is well worth it. If you are close enough to the main holiday season, then getting the boat has to be really tempting. The two hour walk is not unpleasant either. S’atta ruia, above the town of Dorgali is of a different style to almost everything else I found in the area. Technical wall climbing on a combination of sharp crozzily holds and tufas. A nice crag, very near the road and in the sun most of the day. There are two crags that I never got to climb on but was really captivated by: Monte Oddeu and Dolovérre Sùrtana. These have not been included in previous guides that just cover the Cala Gonone area (although they are in the larger guide that covers the whole island). The routes are multi-pitch, with a mix of traditional (leader placed) and bolted protection. The difference is clearly shown on the topos. The few people that I have spoken to who know the crags highly recommend them for adventurous outings.
Amenities and other things to do: we were a little early for the main tourist season so some things were closed, none of the boat trips were operating and the sea was a little too cold for all but the hardiest souls. That said, the town was not closed up. Shops, bars restaurants and the Tourist Information office were open. The second largest stalactite in the world is well worth seeing in the local show caves. A half hour drive away, the beaches at Orosei come highly recommended.
Sunset over Dorgali. Photo: Lewis Ashton
A very worthwhile destination and “Arrampicare a Cala Gonone” is the most up to date, and useful, companion guide to take with you.
Published by Segnavia 2006
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