Ussel is one of the oldest bouldering areas in in the Valle d'Aosta, Italy. It is almost entirely in the shade and fairly breezy on summer afternoons, while in winter it receives little sun and climbing is best done during the hottest hours of the day, and when there is no snow of couse. As a general rule of thumb, climbing is possible all year round except for January.
The rock is a great gneiss, almost all old problems climb cracks or corners, while the modern problems tackle the smooth faces or steep overhangs. Watch out when repeating the old problems as many are difficult to protect, also because they tend to be fairly high. Most other problems have good landings in the soft undergrowth. The boulders below the Paleofrana are worth a visit, too, and in future and after plenty of cleaning, this might transform into another great area.
History: In the 70's and 80's the local mountain guides and climbers, such as Stefano Epiney, visited this area regularly and cleaned and put up new problems as training for the climbing in the mountains. In the '90's Molinario Milos played a decisive role in developing the crag located next to the boulders and after repeating all the original problems he established some new slab lines but, as he's not a pure boulderer, he never considered the possibility of developing the area further. Between 2012 and 2013 Marco Nardi established 15 new problems up to 7C+, bringing the tally of problems to 60.
Take the A5 motorway and exit at Chatillon - Saint Vincent. At the first junction turn left onto Via Emile Chanoux and continue to a second junction. Turn left again (signposted for Ussel - Pontey). Continue straight along Rue de la gare, past the train station and immediately after driving through the underpass turn off left for Ussel - Bellecombe. Drive up this road, past Ussel castle to a hairpin bend. Park the car right in front of the crag to your right. The boulders start below the this bolted face.
03/02/2014 - Bouldering at Ussel in Valle d'Aosta, Italy
The complete topo with photos of the problems and is available free of charge at the gym "Topo Pazzo Climbing House" at Loc. Chopine, Verres www.topopazzoclimbinghouse.com
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