Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ulassai, Sardinia

3 weeks, 300 bolts, a drill in one hand, a slice of pizza in the other. Here we are in Ulassai, let the bolting begin !

This was our first time in Ulassai, Sardinia, we had heard from our friend Klaas Willems, that the place had a lot of potential for new routes but needed some motivated people to develop the area. A group of friends were already there and we joined them on a perfect sunny day for a barbecue on the beach. What better way to start a trip and meet the crew...
 The village of Ulassai is perched up on the hills in the South Western part of the island, surrounded by rock and an unmistakeable canyon where climbers can already find a good selection of routes ideal for hot spring and summer days.

Our friend Matteo Cappa, a motivated climber from Torino, putting energy into developing the area, had discovered a new possible sector close to the canyon with a slightly overhanging wall with pockets. We checked it out and discovered besides the overhang wall, really nice vertical routes on the wall around the corner. The first tower block offered some nice easy lines and following the ledge brought us to an obvious vertical wall with orange streaks Raf could not wait to start bolting ! Klaas was already in the overhanging wall bolting a line, Rueben was opening a path, the motivation was so strong we set up fixed ropes that day and started drilling. We had ordered 200 bolts from Austrialpine and got 100 extra for good behavior so we felt unstoppable. Others of us had also brought more bolts so there we were ; 4 guys and one pregnant girl, hammering, drilling, tightening, and cleaning. It was pure fun and excitement to see the transformation, cleaning off the ledges and creating access to the walls with ropes, bridges and stairs. The girls also got hooked and bolted their first routes in this sector called Marosini : the village near it which always gave us a traditional bell session at the end of the day. After work, the reward of climbing the routes, naming them, estimating the grade and watching others inside giving their feedback is the best pay back.

The locals from Ulassai showed their appreciation for bringing new possibilities to this small village by inviting us to the traditional Santa Barbara gathering. A day of cooking and eating in the neighboring village of Santa Barbara where friends, cousins, aunts and uncles meet once a year in one of their country side houses. The men take care of roasting the game while the women and young girls work on preparing dishes. A long feasting table sitting maybe 40 people was set up and when it was finally time to start eating, we did not expect we would be sitting around the table all day getting served pig, goat, fresh prawns, fish, potato cakes, salads, cheeses, cakes, and sweet pastries ! The dishes never stopped coming, served with wine made by them, and fruit schnapps to digest a little and then eat more ! One day full of indulging that many suffered for days feeling really heavy at the crag ! Good thing Santa Barbara is only once a year !
Our bolting mission was soon coming to an end, the group would separate and everyone would go back to where they came from, leaving behind us a playground for next time... We bolted 22 routes in the Marosini sector grading from 5c to 8a with a range of styles for everyone to find their fit ! We plan to pursue our work in this area, keep on developing more routes, set up highlines for a future event coming soon...

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