December 2, 2020
Sicily is known for the beautiful sea, the laid-back vibe, and food. Glorious Food. Climbing here means golden tufas on vertical or overhanging walls overlooking the sea - don’t forget a refreshing jump in the water at the end of your climb for a full Sicilian experience. Climbers will find more than 50 crags with thousands of sport routes on limestone rock and a stunning sandstone bouldering area. Sicily is one of the sunniest places in Europe, with over 2500 hours of sun per year, making it a perfect winter destination, while the breeze from the sea makes climbing possible even in warmer months if you know where to go. The locals in Sicily are super friendly: we encourage you to seek them out, learn a little Italian, ask for updated info on the quality of bolts, and let them take you to the yummiest street food kiosks!
Starting from the North-Western point of the island, near San Vito lo Capo, your jaw will drop at the 5-km long Salinella cliff, an astonishing wall right on the sea, with more than 600 routes of any level. The Cattedrale nel Deserto crag on Monaco peak also offers splendid climbs. Right in front of it is Cala Firriato, the go-to-spot for Deep Water Solo. The cliff is not too tall, and the deep waters make the site suitable for deep water solo beginners too. Another famous spot is the Crown of Aragon, a scenic crag with overhanging walls full of stalactites. Head here for some sustained, pumpy climbing.
Just a 30 minute drive south of San Vito, near Custonaci, you will find the impressive tufas of the Never Sleeping Wall with routes up to 35m tall. Next to it, overlooking the same crystal-clear sea, the Parco Cerriolo crag offers fun routes for climbers of any level. Just around the corner is Sicily's first 9a climb, freed by Adam Ondra in 2012. Go 10 minutes south to find the double-roof of Point Break, on the San Giuliano peak. On top of this peak you'll find the medieval town of Erice, home of the best paste di mandorla (almond pastry) in the world. A short drive towards the countryside, and you will find the real gem of Western Sicily: Scorace forest and its sandstone boulder blocks. Huge bowls with perfect holes, mainly slopers, delicate slabs, overhangs requiring surgical heel-hooks. Can you imagine a rock quality like Fontainebleau, but with almost no climbers around?!
A short yet powerful line at the Canyon. The view says everything. This is the place where even the hottest summer wont' stop your climbing day. © Massimo Cappuccio
Matteo Santacesaria in Cala Firriato. © Ilaria Occhipinti
Cala Firriato is one of the best spots on the island for DWS, with more than ten routes between 6a and 7b, and some harder routes 100m west of the beach. Behind it, Monaco Peak with the scenic crag of Cattedrale nel Deserto.
"Fatevi salire la voglia!"
The local climber for Western Sicily is Davide “Cata” Catalano, a boulderer from Northern Italy who decided in 2016 to leave everything, move to Sicily, and clean up this magical forest that back then was just a sea of vegetation. Now there are 200+ cleaned blocks from 4A to 8A, and many more to discover. He runs a shelter for climbers where he did not forget all the essentials: a small boulder gym in the courtyard, a hot tub, a patio, and a BBQ for beers and chats after climbing. What else do you need? This is one of the base-camps for our Mapo Tapo trips. His motto is "Fatevi salire la voglia!" which means "Get psyched!". It's almost impossible not to follow his motto in Scorace.
Oli Vyslouzil in Scorace Forest. © Adam Váš.
Oli and Adam visited Scorace forest back in 2017, when there were only 4 cleaned blocks. Today, thanks to the work of the local climber Cata and other volunteers, there are 200+ cleaned boulders. Cata has also bolted a new sport climbing crag right next to the forest, “The Canyon”, with bouldery routes from 5a to 7a.
Moving east, you will be won over by the buzzing, yet laid-back capital, Palermo. Here, near Mondello beach, Pellegrino peak with its many crags awaits you. We recommend Valdesi, a spot with a superb white tufas on a red wall. Gallo peak also offers impressive crags, like Bauso Rosso. But climbing in Palermo is not about the grade: it is a nice activity between “the best pastry shop” and “the-best-seafood-salad-you-cannot-miss.” Love the vibe!
Drive 3 hours (or fly directly to Catania), and reach the eastern coast of Sicily. You will find yet another hotspot of world-class crags. Close to the beautiful Taormina, check out the crag Stockholm, right on the beach, and the new sector Monte Venere: perfect rock with a view of both the Etna volcano and the sea. The area is also cool in summer, given the 700m of altitude. And if you want to climb on the actual volcano, check out Puntalazzo or Acqua Rocca crags. Here the rock is not the usual Sicilian limestone, but gray basalt: one of a kind!
Giulia Bernardini enjoying the seaside like a climber does in Stockholm (yes, it sounds weird). South Eastern Sicily. © Massimo Cappuccio
Drive south, and near Canicattini Bagni, on the outskirts of the ancient town Syracuse, you can’t miss the crags of Contralfano, Cugno Lupo, Cavadonna, and Cava Bagni. More than 400 routes for sustained rock climbing on huge holes, vertical and overhanging walls, and caves. Last but not least, Scicli and Modica. Picture two baroque towns, UNESCO sites, cobbled streets, eclectic buildings. Combine this with 20km of beach and great food. And add limestone crags of superb rock quality: not bad eh? Near Modica, check out Cava d'Ispica and Pandora crags: good technique is essential to hold onto the overhangs. Visit also The Wall near Scicli and the stunning canyons of Rosolini: we recommend the crags of Timpa Rossa, and The Secret Garden, a sector with many different styles that will challenge your mind and your fingers.
Last, but not least, consider to schedule a proper running regime or something like that once you'll be back home. Climbing in Sicily means more calories in than out.
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