Finale Ligure: Climbing in the Italian Riviera

Written by Arianna Qira
Written by Arianna Qira

With over 2,000 sport routes Finale Ligure has a lifetime worth of climbing to offer.  This is not a crag you simply go for the weekend, it is a lifestyle.  Finale is the home to families living in vans, a time warp into the past of climbing.  Limestone rock outcrops fill these coastal mountains truly making it a climbing adventure.

This is not your average place to go climbing the approaches to most areas are steep and have intense trails that lend you to bushwhacking a bit. The most popular climbing area, Monte Cucco, has a free campsite right near the base of the climbing along with a pizza resturante that opens at 7:00pm right as the climbing day comes to an end.  The walls within the resturante are filled with climbing posters from the 80’s along with pictures of the owner standing with some pro climbers.  We talked to him about the old days when this place was crawling with climbers.  Now it just seems to be a bit forgotten.

Rock Climbing in Finale Ligure ItalyWe made our trip out to Finale Ligure in mid August, running into only 5 other groups of climbers during the 10 days while we were there. The peak period for climbing Finale Ligure is the fall & spring. Locals say it doesn’t really get crowded with climbers anymore but with in fact bikers.  The area has been taken over by mountain and road bikers now a days. Finale has gotten a bad reputation for being considered “chalked up” & polished from thousands of climbers that came here during it’s more popular times of the 80’s, 90’s & early 2000’s.  The village of Finale Ligure shows of a town built upon climbing, there are even four climbing shops.  These shops are run by old school guys with about four teeth, seven ear piercings, and still rocking some neon orange tights.  Two of the rock shops in town sell the local guide book, like most local gear shops, they are the best places to get good some tips & beta about the crags in Finale.  The shops are all about a 30 second walk from each other so be sure to stop in and support them!

Finale Ligure is home to twenty nine different climbing areas.  The most well known being Monte Cucco.  This area has the greatest range of grades, offering something for everyone to go climbing on.  The photo to the below is a 5.11a, “Hartman” located in Monte Cucco on the Sahara Wall it’s a 40 meter climb that can be done in 2 pitches.

Climbing Finale LigureMonte Cucco is filled with climbs similar to Hartman.  The area has 9 walls with over 290 sport climbs and the potential for many more.  All of these are a 15 minute approach from the campsite. It’s no question why people like to set up shop at Monte Cucco: free campsite, climbing, and pizza.  What more can you ask for? Forewarning these Italians like to party.  Someplace around the mountain there was mystery music that starts at around 10pm at night and kept going till dawn so if you are a light sleeper… good luck. The night sky in Finale Ligure is incredible though and a pleasant surprise when woken up.

The stars in Final Ligure are beautiful
The stars in Final Ligure are beautiful

The most amazing part of climbing Finale Ligure is the view.  One can do a 25 meter climb and still get an amazing view of the valley below. The rock outcrops become exposed once you have hiked up a solid section of the mountain. The second area we climbed was Tre Frati. It provides an awesome view of the Paretone di Pianarella.  It features an amazing horn and a second wider section of rock.

rock climbing Italy - Finale

This area has 13 climbs total.  However, it is a 10 minute hike from two other areas (Bric Grigio and Kattedrale).  The horn can be climbed in 3 variations.  Ranging from a 5.10d to 5.11d this horn shows promise for more routes and the top-out makes a great spot for a victory biscotti.  This is a climb you should not miss out on and is definitely well worth the approach. Contrary to Finale Ligure’s reputation the rock quality at this crag is stellar and in fact solid.

Earning that Biscotti!
Earning that Biscotti!

Another great area was Parete Dimenticata.  Warning this approach will kick your ass. The hike in here involves some steep uphill and a short walk through an abandoned farm. It winds up being a great hike and the climbs are definitely worth it.  On the way up keep and eye out for the fig trees, we spent about an hour climbing up them and filling up on the fruits.  Once you arrive at the main wall there are enough climbs to last an entire week, at least 40+ routes can be found here.  At the end of this wall can be found a cave.  Once inside you will find fixed ropes that will guide your way up. (headlamp is recommended) When you reach the end of the cave there is a tight squeeze up out to the surface. This leads you to an open air cylinder of rock.

Climbing Parete Dimenticata - Finale Ligure

This massive room like area is truly amazing, the top of it opens and the climbs become increasingly overhung as you reach the top of the wall.  There are large “windows” in the wall, allowing the arches to be climbed along with views of the valleys below.  Climbing routes are on each side of the opening,with the routes ending on the arch. There are 15 climbing routes around the cylinder ranging from 5.11 to 5.13. We had reached this spot towards the end of the day as it began to rain and thunderstorm.  The overhanging rock protects well from the drizzling rain and we were fine to keep climbing.  This was the most iconic and crowded area we climbed at during the whole trip, and by “crowded” there was only two other climbing parties.

Rappelling back down
Rappelling back down

 

Another popular area is Capo Noli.  The rock quality here is a bit lower compared to other crags in Finale Ligure, but this area is popular because the cliffs have you climbing right over the ocean.  Fixed anchors at the top make it easy to rappel and belay from as you sit right above the water.

belay station above the water climbing Finale Ligure

There are some hidden gems, most routes here are slabby and completely exposed by the sun so make sure to pack the sunscreen.  The area itself is spread across different rock faces along the coastal highway, each wall offers about 10 climbs ranging from 5.6 to 5.10 in grade.  The parking for this area is right along the road and fills up very quickly in the summer months.  Bring your bathing suit when you come climb at this spot, we found ourselves jumping in the water between climbs.  The beach town here is also a great spot to pick up some amazing gelato too!

Climbing Capo Noli Italy

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