In the beginning of May, Balkan Vagabondz’ team headed from Bulgaria to the legendary climbing spot Val di Mello to launch its ideas & services and of course experience Melloblocco 2015. Being part of the biggest international bouldering meeting was the best start for the organisation.
For a 12th consecutive year the event makers from Associazione Operatori Valmasino along with Mother Nature represented by Val di Mello and Val Masino part of the amazing Italian Alps and the lovely locals from San Martino welcomed over 2000 psyched climbers mostly interested in bouldering.
The non-competitive and open format of the event resonated well with how Balkan Vagabondz feel about climbing and somehow the way Melloblocco has steadily increased its popularity inspires us to follow suite in the way we grow.
The valley welcomed the masses of eager climbers of all levels and offered them outstanding rock quality, amazing views and only 1 day of rain! To quote Niko (a prominent local climber) “Oh, it’s raining, Melloblocco must have started then.” Unpredictable showers of rain are something usual for the area, at least the boulders dry quickly and this year we were relatively lucky with the weather.
The huge potential for bouldering in the valley is undeniable, to back up this statement let us quote Andrea Pavan, author of the Mello Guidebook:
“In 2008 there were about 1050 problems; in 2009 over 1600 and now we are in 2250 with a huge potential yet.
In areas of the valley, which are attended by more than 30 years, we are perhaps in half of the work. Maybe we cleaned the 5% or 10% not more …”
This is indeed a very exciting news for boulderers however Balkan Vagabondz’ discovered that Val di Mello and Val Masino offer infinite potential for both sport and trad climbers. Some people even call it “Little Yosemite”. The slab and crack climbing on perfect granite is there for those who have the balls (and that includes girls), and combined with the history and views of the place will give you an experience you don’t even dare to dream of.
There are guides operating in the area based in San Martino, if you need info or some help, go to the local bars: Kundaluna and Monica to ask around for beta, the local climbing community is super friendly.
The grocery shop in San Martino is not too expensive and you can get anything you need, even stationary!
There is no petrol station in the village so fill up your tanks on your way to the mountain. Although, from San Martino you can reach both Val di Mello (20 min uphill) and Val Masino (30 min downhill) by foot, so no need to get too excited about releasing CO2 especially if it’s not raining.
Let us know if you have any questions, we have a very good local contact who can help if you need some information. During our stay he provided us with shelter, good company and cooked the most amazing pasta a balkan vagabond has ever tasted. He is also a local climber and amazing human being. 🙂 Thank you, Alberto for your love and kindness! You are a true vagabond.
All in all, we had 4 days of bouldering and 2 days of sport climbing. Shame we couldn’t do some trad but that motivates us to go back in couple of months. Best times for mountaineering and traditional climbing we hear are July to beginning of October.
I must admit, it was the first time I’ve seen so many people bouldering in one area, we were like bees invading a herbal garden. At first one’s climber solitary soul screams in agony. Questions like: “How am I going to get on a single problem?! How long am I going to wait here?” pop in a worried mind. The outcome of a climbing day seems more and more uncertain. Then you silence the moaning, get in the queue and magically todo se arregle. The incredible social aspect of bouldering shines through the ego-driven doubts, everyone is supportive, spotting and patiently waiting for their turn. You have enough goes on the problem.
There is no use of trying to explain, the spirit of mutual understanding and help in attempting to solve a common problem. It has to be experienced in order to be appreciated fully. All ages, all nationalities speak the same language at this very moment, they all have to try hard. All abilities are welcomed, there is no arrogance, or a trace of competition, everyone is happy for the progress of the other. The success of your boulder mate works as your motivation and inspiration. The send train is on! Gotta love bouldering for the sheer joy of sharing a problem. For the lessons it gives to the children and the psyche it creates in the adults.
Yes, the spirit of Melloblocco was once again in the valley thanks to the people who travelled for thousands of kilometers to share the passion of climbing big rocks and in the process they all became more human than in their everyday lives with their everyday jobs surrounded by the vanity of the cities.
As for our role as an organisation, we gave out some flyers, stickers, put up some posters and went climbing with the people. I guess for our name and mission to properly spread around in the adventure communities we need those aggressive corporate marketing strategies 😉 …but after a hectic month of preparation for the launch all we wanted was to spend some quality time with old and new friends and taste the spirit and natural beauty of the valley…this is who we are and we believe success will come naturally as we stay true to our positive intentions and follow our vagabond intuition. 🙂
Stay tuned for our next adventure!
Love, Peace & Unity and see you somewhere in the arms of Mother Nature!
The Balkan Vagabondz Team