In Italy, between Rome and Naples, on the coast of the Tyrrhenian sea, is placed a real gem for the climbers; the Montagna Spaccata, belonging to the territory of Gaeta. This is a wonderful rocky promontory discovered by the climbers at the end of the fifties, but completely dedicated to sport climbing from the second half of the seventies.
The entire rocky vertical coast, of compact calcareous rock, is about 7 kilometres but the wall on which the routes run is at most 1 kilometer, with a maximum height of about 160 meters above the sea.
It represents a wonderful kingdom for the climbers, an example of Mediterranian climbing. The vicinity to Rome does not limitate the only presence of climbers from Central Italy. Its reputation is increased along the years and it is easy to find in good season (mainly winter, but also spring and fall) European climbers. The widest opportunities offered by the multi-pitches routes, from easy 4c to more demanding and emotional 7c, can be attractive for climbers from all the world and are perfect for different climbing skills. In the past the routes of Montagna Spaccata were visited by many of the most known and appreciated climbers. Among these Patrick Berhault, Chris Bonington, Jim Bridwell (as foreigners) and Gino Buscaini, Alessandro Gogna, Gigi Mario, Sergio Martini (from Italy), but the list is certainly incomplete.
As a perfect jewel it is well set in a pleasant environment. At first, the sea, always in front of you (it should be better saying at your shoulders, from the point of view of the climbers), a wide beach at North (Serapo) and in the surrounding area others places of natural interest, such as the Regional Park Riviera of Ulisse, Gianola, the Villa of Emperor Tiberio, Sperlonga (an other very interesting and famous climbing area). The area belongs to the Natural Park of Monte Orlando.
Short climbing history
The interesting climbing history of Montagna Spaccata can be shared in four different periods:
- the discovery;
- the alpine age;
- the spit & fix age;
- the XXI century.
I tried to summarize the main events.
The discovery (1955-1975)
In 1955 the first route “Via dei Camini” (4c) was opened by Gigi Mario and few years later, in 1960, Camilleri, Gradi e Morandi drew the route “Via dello Spigolo” (5b). Today these two routes are the easiest and most climbed. The first one, also, is the normal approach (rappelling down) to many routes starting from the base of the wall. It is surprising that a so much promising area, as later demonstrated, remains practically untouched for many years. The climbers’ teams in Central Italy, mainly from Rome, were very few and the close Gran Sasso range, not considering the Dolomite and Western Alps, probably were more attractive for them. That’s all for a very long period, until 1976.
The alpine age (1976-1986)
Gianni Battimelli, together with Giorgio Mallucci, Fabrizio Antonioli and Massimo Frezzotti, after few attempts opened in the period 1976-1977 the “ Helzapoppin’ ” route (5c+/6a). A very amusing description of the attempts, unfortunately only in Italian, revealing the clean spirit of those climbers, the natural impulse to the research of the beauty in the climb, as well as the lack of negative competition frequently affecting the climbing arena today, is reported in a quite recent article (Battimelli, G., 2007, “Helzapoppin’: romanzo verticale alla Montagna Spaccata di Gaeta”, Alp, Year XXII, vol 245, September 2007, CDA Vivalda Editori). The cited climbers and others (among these Diego Della Rosa) were active, opening in the ten-years period 15 routes by alpine style (to be mentioned “Spiderman”- 6b+, “Che la forza sia con te”- 6a).
The spit & fix age (1987-2000)
In this long period Montagna Spaccata made a name for itself as one of the most interesting new climbing area. Spits and fixes became protagonists of a new set of routes and new climbers tackled the vertical and exposed walls of Gaeta. “Sali Tabacchi e Valori Bollati” (6b), “Non bagnarti se puoi” (6c), “Carpe diem” (6b), and others rated up to 6b+ are the new limits of these rocks. Fabio Lattavo, after the above mentioned climbers, contributed mostly to the improvement of the routes. “Luxur per Anubi” (6c) still represents a great example of overhanging route, opened in an isolated section of the Montagna Spaccata. At the end of the nineties no new routes were opened but a strong activity devoted to the maintenance and improvements of the routes’ quality started. In some cases, mainly for the most frequented routes (“Via dello Spigolo”, for example), this activity was contested; more fixes, more climbers less experienced on a not banal wall, more risks. Nevertheless, the negative salty effect on spits and fixes, typical of this kind of routes, were minimised adopting new materials and substituting the old ones.
The XXI century (2000-2008)
This period is characterised by the opening of routes of different difficulties, from the hardest to more acceptable by the so-called “Sunday’s climbers” (like me), in sections only partly explored in the seventies. On the west side Riccardo Innocenti and Valerio Vittorini, for example, contributed with “Beatrice” route (2004, 5c), mainly climbed by beginners and training rock courses.
However, the activity of Riccardo Innocenti, together with Luigi Filocamo, deserves to be mentioned also for the exceptional route “Fotonico, traverso del Turco” (6b). This route (2004-2005) cuts the base of the wall from West to East, starting from the wonderful Grotta del Turco, constantly at 5-7 meters above the sea level. A route with very good rock quality, which combined with the traverses of “Helzapoppin’” and “Non bagnarti se puoi” allows you to climb for the length of about 600 meters.
In the last years (2006-2007) some unsolved climbing problems have been overcame, new routes opened by Riccardo and Andrea Galgani (“Strapiombando together” is the hardest route at the moment - 7c/A2), Fabio Lattavo (completing “Tirreno face“, 7a+) and Fabio e Luigi Filocamo (“Sparagnao”). During the 2008 a new big traverse (1010 m!!) was created by Innocenti together with other climbers. The so called "Gran Trittico Blu" (7b/A2), starting directly from the left side of Serapo's beach, joins "Mare Nostrum" with “Fotonico, traverso del Turco” and “Non bagnarti se puoi”.
By car: you arrive at Montagna Spaccata driving for about 150 km from Rome to Gaeta. Take the “Pontina” road till Latina. By the “Via Mediana” arrive at Terracina and following the “Via Flacca”, running along the rocky coast, arrive at Gaeta.
By train: It’s possible from Rome to Formia, near Gaeta, and by public transportation arrive in the centre of Gaeta.
The exit of Via dei Camini
Take the panoramic road up to the sanctuary of Santissima Trinità (built on XI century by the Benedictines. Take your time, it deserves a visit). Leave your car in the parking area, overcome the sanctuary and in few minutes and follow a path till the fifth bent. Left the path, move to the top of the promontory, where the exit of the “Via dei Camini” is placed. Rappelling down, you reach the base of the wall.
According to Antonioli's guide (2008), the Montagna Spaccata is divided in seven different sectors:
- La forza sia con voi;
- Lady Jane;
- Sali, Tabacchi e Valori Bollati;
- Non bagnarti se puoi.
Here I don’t report the names, sometimes very bizarre, of all the routes. Some of the historically important routes are mentioned in the introduction of the page.
Via dello Spigolo - the attack
The wall includes about 50 routes on rocks (good calcareous rock, slightly salty at the base) ranging from 50 to 160 meters and rated from 4c to 7c; most of them is rated in the range 6a-6c and not all are equipped with fixes and spitts.
Only very few routes, such as "Croce del Sud" and "Via dello Spigolo" are protected by fixes at short distances (at most 3 m). All the others request to be climbed using nuts, friends and common alpine materials
Via dei Camini
The routes runs on the vertical of the sea and the access can be directly from the sea or rappelling down from the top of the promontory and climbing up, as usual for the "Via dei Camini" and the closest routes. The access from the sea is possible renting a boat in Gaeta (Serapo). Remember that the driver shall be authorized because you are in a sea park and the mooring close the walls is forbidden.
When to climb
Most of the routes are exposed to South or West. This means that all the season should be good. In summer it is very hot, but in case of irrepressible impulse do not forget water and a refreshing bath before climbing.
However some restriction exist. Today you can climb only on the rocky spur at the left side of Grotta del Turco, from 1st August to 20th February; it is forbidden climbing on the right of Sali, Tabacchi e Valori Bollati. This limitation for the climbing period will be certainly cancelled
in the next future. An agreement between the Municipality, the environmental associations and the Natural Park's management seems to be coming fastly.
Accomodations and reference point
Two main references for rooms and for eating.
- Ristoro da Guido: a very famous place for all the climbing community in this area. Here you can eat a perfect “Caprese” (mozzarella, tomato and olives) and ask for renting rooms (tel +39-0771-463186, Bruno Capotosti). The Ristoro is located on the beach of S.Agostino, along the Via Flacca, km 20.9, exactly under the walls of Monte Moneta (climbing area);
- Anna & Salvatore (+39-0771-740924 – mobile +39-3477742286 – e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org).
Books & Guide
Italian guides, including other climbing areas close to Gaeta.
- Antonioli, F., Innocenti, R., Filocamo, L., "Gaeta, Circeo, Leano, Sperlonga, Moneta", Ed.Versante Sud (2008). ISBN 978-88-87890-57-0
- Antonioli, F., "Gaeta e Circeo sottosopra", Ed. Tamari (1995)
- Antonioli, F., Di Bari, A., "Lazio verticale", Ed. Club Alpino Italiano-Roma (1985)
- Antonioli, F., Ardito, S., Pietrollini, G., "Helzapoppin Arrampicare nel Lazio", Ed.Cooperativa La Montagna (1981)
Children refers to the set of objects that logically fall under a given object. For example, the
Aconcagua mountain page is a child of the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits.' The
Aconcagua mountain itself has many routes, photos, and trip reports as children.