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Climbing at the Grotta dell'Arenauta - Gaeta
Photo by Fabiano Ventura

Grotta dell'Arenauta: high hopes for the crag to be reopened


Hopes are high that two crags at Gaeta (Italy) will be reopened after July local town council decision to forbid access.

The news comes directly from the sports club Gaetaventura. As some may know, on 27 July the Italian town council of Gaeta (circa 160 km south of Rome) ordered that 700m of its Arenauta beach to be fenced off and access forbidden. This unprecedented step resulted in not only the beach being placed out of bounds, but also the world famous crag "Grotta dell'Arenauta" and the nearby "Approdo dei Proci". Trespassers risked a penal sanction. At present the situation has not changed: access to the two crags is still denied. But now there are talks of the area being "made safe" which should ensure access the beach and crag once again. Hopefully soon...

The problem arose after a complaint was filed, stating that the area was at risk of landslides. Consequently at the start of August the town council and local police restricted access to area. The speed with which this was carried out is startling, in truth faster than almost ever before in Italy. Furthermore, there was no former notice nor were any explanations given to the climbers (many of whom are foreigners) who frequent the "Grotta", the superbly steep cave regarded as one of the best in Italy and the world.

The local sport clubs immediately sprung into action, in particular ADS Gaetaventura. This was joined by a successful international appeal launched by a group of Swiss climbers who have frequented the area for at least two decades. As a result, after a preliminary meeting with town councillor Fabio Luciani, the clubs managed to obtain a meeting with the local authorites so as to collaborate together to resolve the situation.

ADS Gaetaventura entrusted the geologist Silvia Rossi to analyse the geological risk of the beach and crags and she concluded: "with regards to the sandy shore, a deep hollow at the base of a section of the crag (...) guarantees an adequate safety margin for the beach in front of the crag. On the whole, the area does indeed present some important critical aspects which can however be mitigated effectively with relatively simple intervention. This would ensure that part of the beach could be used, render one of the access routes safe and enable sport climbing at one of the world's premier crags: the Grotta dell'Arenauta".

According to a press release issued by ADS Gaetaventura, on 4 September the mayor of Gaeta signed a new regulation which partially revoked access restrictions to the beach, but not to the two crags, which continue to be out of bounds. For the "Grotta dell'Arenauta" and "Approdo dei Proci" the club is currently "preparing a project to render the crags safe, as well offering to carry out regular maintenance and care for the crags from an ecological point of view to enable access once again." All that remains is to wish them good luck, in the hope that climbing at the "Grotta" and "Approdo dei Proci" will recommence as soon as possible.

>> International petition of climbers in favour of the beach Arenauta (Gaeta, Italy)





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