Moon and Honey

They (whoever they may be) say most things don’t go according to plan. That’s why I never really had one grand master plan and that’s just how I like it. But still, I did not expect that one consequence of leaving to work on Ikaria island would be a honeymoon on another Mediterranean island 3 years later. Nassim Nicholas Taleb would call it a black swan event…

Plage de’l Ostriconi & Ille Rousse from Punta Liatoghiu

Ikaria and Corsica share many things (if not the popularity) and it would be hard to decide which one is better. One thing is undisputed though… Corsica has some pretty terrible tasting honey and that alone knocks off many points on my scale. We went shopping and got 4 different honeys and so far 2 have proven to be almost inedibly bitter. 1 was OK (miel de miellat) and 1 is yet unopened. Since then I found both of the horrible ones online but I won’t single out the producers. I have too much respect and admiration for beekeepers and their products. I presume it’s the maquis flowers in the specific area where bees were collecting since the taste is horrible. I know some honeys have a very strong, distinctive taste, some are quite bitter, but these two are in their own league. All I will share is that one is a spring, the other an autumn honey (miel de maquis de printemps and miel de maquis d’automne) with no specific source plant identified. It definitely wasn’t sage, lavender or rosemary (which can result in some awesome honey).

forêt communale between Vezanni & Vivario

One common “problem” of Mediterranean spring time, so familiar from Ikaria, that I hoped we’d manage to avoid this time around, was rain. And lots of it. Simply put we were there 2 weeks too early. Our last days were the first days of summer. Which ruled out many ideas of running around in the mountains. We were only allowed a few brief glimpses at the alpine, snow covered playground. It would have been fine if we had a decent alternative for grey days such as surfing or kayaking.

Col/Aiguille De Bavella (Bavedda) from the east
bergeries de Capelaccia, vallée de la Restonica

Just as well I guess… after an ankle injury on day 4 or 5 I couldn’t rock climb worth a damn, but I also couldn’t scuba dive any more. At least I squeezed in two dives at Calvi & Porto before the injury. Both sides of Scandola nature reserve proved marine reserves can do wonders for neighboring areas with marine life spreading out and benefiting everyone. It was the first time I saw groupers and they were everywhere. The topography was nice as well, add a decent wreck or two and it would have been perfect.

on a coastal trail with a stray dog towards St. Florent from Plage Cadarelli

We did pull off a few climbs though. We spent two days in Foret de Bonifatu close to Calvi, climbing on bolted granite (or some similar rock) routes of secteur Figarella which is conveniently located an easy 10min walk and a jump across the river from the spacious parking lot.

As we were already a bit late we did first two pitches on Passe à l’ombre (4+, 5), then decided we have some more time so we went for the first three pitches of Les Oignons Grognons (5+, 4, 5+). At this point we really did run out of light so we crossed on a ledge back towards Passe à l’ombre believing we were on the exit ledge (see topo). You can buy Falaises de Corse topo guide, but the updates are online for free. Anyway, it turned out we were just below the correct ledge and eventually couldn’t go forward any more. We then abseiled one pitch on a bolt of Passe à l’ombre leaving a carabiner behind.

end of pitch 3, Passe à l’ombre, Foret de Bonifatu

We liked the rock and the general area so we decided to come back the next day after diving and clean the route. But we were late again so we left the last 6a pitch for some other time and came down on the real exit ledge after 5 pitches (4+, 5, 6a+/A0, 6a, 3). At first we were a bit concerned about the grades but after practically walking up the first two pitches it was clear the grades are a bit inflated compared to what we’re used to. At least if you’re comfortable trusting your shoes have enough grip. There’s hardly anything to hold but you don’t really need it as long as you do the correct footwork. The 6a+/A0 pitch had one crux move where pulling on the quickdraw was the only solution we could come up with but was otherwise very easy. As was the next 6a. So all in all I’d say that particular sector could easily drop one grade.

Corsica is a great destination, if you time it right and have some alternatives, as the weather can change dramatically around different parts of the island. But that’s just what makes it so interesting.

2 Comments so far

  1. bogdan @ February 24th, 2012

    hello, i want to spend the summer on ikaria, and i’d like you to tell me if posible where did you stay while on the island, and maybe if you know how mach rents are and if you can find them, here is my email adress pls write back, best regards bogdan

  2. bogdan @ February 24th, 2012

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