Arco Rock Climbing

Arco, Italy

Camps, courses, and custom guiding
Two to six days, or custom length trips
Climbing camps and courses: become a safer, more efficient and confident climber

Arco Rock Climbing Highlights

  • Legendary Arco rock climbing
  • Short approaches
  • Lots of long, moderate rock routes
  • Picturesque Italian villages and Lake Garda
  • Italian food and wine
  • Comfortable lodging in B&Bs, boutique hotels

Arco and the Lake Garda area, at the foot of the Dolomites in northern Italy, are a rock climbers’ paradise. The area’s 5,000 climbing routes are made up of 1,400-metre-long multi-pitch climbs, short and fierce sport climbs, and everything in between. The limestone is immaculate and the scenery grand. The area has a Mediterranean feel to it, with average spring and fall temperatures between 20°C and 25°C and generally low amounts of precipitation.

We offer climbing courses, climbing camps, and custom climbing trips. Our beginners’ course will have you following moderate routes and leading sport climbs. You will learn everything you need to know about climbing multi-pitch routes safely and efficiently. Our advanced level courses will get you leading moderate routes and establishing anchors using traditional gear.

On our climbing camps, the guide acts more like a coach: helping to choose the best route for a given day and skill level of the participants; sharing tips on route-finding, leading, and belaying; and accompanying the climbers to ensure a safe, fun, and successful day. Having a guide in your group assures optimal use of your vacation time and peace of mind should the going get rough.

After climbing on perfect limestone, we will enjoy the sights and tastes of Arco, Lake Garda, and the surrounding villages. The Italians love their food, wine, and coffee, and this area offers an excellent sampling of it all. There are castles, medieval villages, and museums to explore and lovely hikes to go on. We can also enjoy a fun day on a via ferrata if the group desires.


Given the abundance of climbs in Arco, we can adjust the itinerary during our climbing week to the preferred challenge level of our clients and the weather. Following are just some of the routes that we can choose from:

  • Placche Zebrate (aka. The Zebra Slabs): multi-pitch rock climbing, two dozen routes, 5.7 / French grade 4 and up
  • Colodri: pretty limestone face north of Arco, two dozen bolted multi-pitch routes, 5.8 / French grade 5a and up
  • Baone: easy, bolted slabs above an olive tree grove west of Arco, a dozen routes, 5.6 / French grade 3 and up
  • Cime Alle Coste: two dozen routes between 150 and 650 m long, 5.8 / French grade 5a and up

Meeting place, how to get there

We will stay at a 3-star level B&B or hotel in the Arco Valley.

Arco is most easily reached from Verona or Bergamo international airports (85 and 130 km away, respectively). Alternatively, you could fly to Milan, Venice, Bologna or Innsbruck, all of which are within a 250 km radius of Arco.

Transport options: Rent a car, or take a train or bus from the airport cities to Arco. Find the details here:

Alternatively, we can arrange for a private shuttle – ask us for details.

Climate, weather, temperatures

The best seasons for rock climbing in Arco are spring and fall, with temperatures normally between 20 and 25°C. One of the reasons Arco is a popular climbing destination is because it is normally protected from bad weather by the nearby Dolomites and Alps, so we can expect to enjoy many days of sunshine.

Services included in the total price

Guiding by an internationally certified (UIAGM/IFMGA) and multilingual mountain guide, guides’ expenses, lodging in double rooms (including breakfast) in B&Bs and hotels at the 3-star level.

Not included

Airfares, climbing equipment (can be provided for a fee), lunches, dinners, drinks, gratuities, admission fees for museums, castles, etc. Participants are encouraged to share rental vehicles, or land transport can be quoted on request.


For our courses, we strongly believe in the “Learning by Doing” concept as well as in small group sizes. Expect lots of climbing!

Rock Climbing Beginners’ Course

  • Follow moderate and lead easy multi-pitch climbs.
  • Knots, coaching in rock climbing techniques on toprope, anchors and belay methods, rope commands, rappelling with self-belay, placing anchors on toprope, following a guide-led multi-pitch climb, leading sport climbs with guide coaching, hazard evaluation, and basic self-rescue techniques.

Rock Climbing Advanced Course

  • Lead moderate multi-pitch climbs on gear self sufficiently.
  • Review of beginner’s course contents, simulated leads on top rope or leads on bolted climbs, coaching on building anchors and belays, lots of coaching on leading multi-pitch climbs.

Rock Climbing Camp

  • A combination of any of the above contents, advancing at a rate in accordance with your personal skill level and preferences.

Can I Do It?

1) Beginner Course 

Requires good physical fitness for spending active days in the mountains and you should not be afraid of heights. Previous hiking and indoor climbing experience advantageous. Objective: Follow multi-pitch climbs, lead sport climbs.

2) Advanced Course 

See under 1), plus outdoor climbing experience following routes up to grade 5.8 (French grade 5a / 5b). Objective: Lead multi-pitch climbs on gear self sufficiently.

3) Climbing Camp 

See under 1) and 2) plus the ability to safely lead up to grade 5.6 (French grade 3 or 4) on multi-pitch climbs. If you sign up as a rope team of two, at least one of the partners must be a competent leader. Your guide will coach you on the climbs, ensure you set up safe belays, assure good route-finding and will step in if the going gets tough.

Private Guiding

As for any of our private guiding weeks, we enjoy optimal flexibility! Arco offers all you can dream of, regardless if you are a beginner in alpine rock or you have been climbing for decades and want to trade leads with your guide.


We will gladly put potential clients in touch with previous participants in order for interested guests to get personalized references and questions answered from an objective point of view.

References of prior guests (from a Dolomites trip)

“Christoph was a really great mountain guide as well as a really cool and nice person. 10/10! The communication was clear so there were no problems with forgetting important things.

The itinerary was very relaxed and everything we did turned out to be so much fun. I really appreciated and liked the fact that Christoph would run what we were going to do by us before we went to do it. The way he handled the planning of our trip was great. Every place and everything we ended up doing was so much fun!

The food and lodging were well priced and suited the type of trip we were carrying out. Whenever we went out for food we would always walk out of the restaurant feeling like we couldn’t eat anymore, so as you can tell the food quantity and quantity was really great!

I would rate that a 10/10, because I feel like in Europe, finding the suitable guide is hard, especially for teenagers. But OnTop seems to help everyone who needs their help! When I go on my next climbing trip, I will definitely use OnTop Ltd! ”
Pierce B., Hong Kong

“Christoph was extremely friendly, accommodating while provided strong encouragement to perform well. He was not only very safety conscious but also imprinted that mindset onto us.

A good balanced plan that covered a range of activities. Nice and flexible giving us good choice in what to do based on circumstances, happy that we were given voice in the timetable. A fine balance between traveling and activities.Plenty of food. Exceptional food at mountain hut, all reasonably priced. Comfortable living arrangements throughout. ”
Hugh S., Hong Kong

Gear List

Arco is a sports enthusiast’s shopping mecca. There are at least 17 outdoor stores along a 300-metre stretch of the old town, intermingled with gelaterias, pizzerias, and coffee shops. If you need clothing, footwear, or gear for the trip, come a day early and shop to your heart’s desire.

Technical Equipment

Bring the following, or rent or buy the items from a shop in Arco:

 Rock climbing shoes
 Lightweight, collapsible ski poles (optional, but recommended)

Bring the following, buy it in Arco, or ask us for a quote to supply the items:

 Climbing helmet
 Climbing harness with gear loops
 6 quickdraws
 Minimum of four non-locking carabiners
 Two or three locking carabiners
 Larger pear-shaped locking carabiner for Munter Hitch
 Four shoulder-length slings
 Two double shoulder-length slings or one 5-metre length of 7 or 8 mm cordelette
 Two Prusik cords: 5-6 mm diameter, 3.5-meter length )
 Tuber-style belay/rappel device or Figure 8
 Single rope (9.5-10 mm diameter, 50-60 m length), or two double ropes (8-9 mm diameter, 50-60 m length) per climbing team
 One set of wired nuts (stoppers) per climbing team
 One set of camming devices (Friends/Camalots) per climbing team

Bring the following (or buy in Arco):

 Sturdy approach shoe or light trekking boot
 Running shoe or light approach shoe for easier approaches (optional)
 Climbing backpack (25-30 litres) with rain cover specific to the pack or plastic bag


We recommend the ‘layering system’: Bring light, technical clothing that doesn’t take much space in your backpack and dries quickly when sweaty or wet. Layers must be put on and taken off quickly as weather conditions change during the day. There may be days when you can wear cotton, but your main clothing choices should be synthetic or wool.

 Wind and waterproof shell jacket with hood (Gore-Tex or similar)
 Lightweight wind and water-resistant over pants (Gore-Tex or similar)
 Lightweight synthetic climbing pants
 Medium weight Primaloft jacket with hood
 Medium weight fleece sweater
 Synthetic or wool base layers – top and bottom
 Synthetic shorts and t-shirt
 Warm hat, covering your ears
 Lightweight gloves (fleece)
 Leather rappelling gloves (optional)
 Sun hat, with a wide brim if possible
 Bandana or Buff (optional)

Lodging and around town

 Casual clothing, comfortable footwear, swimsuit – everything you need to be comfortable in and around Arco and Lake Garda.

Other items

 Sunglasses with high UV protection
 Sunscreen and lip protection with high SPF
 One-litre water bottle
 Headlamp with spare battery
 Lunch and snacks (eg. sandwiches, candy bars, dried fruit, nuts, etc.)
 Personal first aid kit and other needs (eg. blister kit, prescription medicine, anti-inflammatory, contact lenses, prescription glasses, etc.)
 Pocket knife (optional)
 (Health) insurance documents
 Light stuff sacs or Ziploc bags to keep your backpack organized and important items dry (optional)
 Camera, spare batteries (optional)

Client / Guides

3 – 6

Arco Rock Climbing
  • Technical rock climbing
  • All skill levels welcome
2019 DATES
Arco Rock Climbing
Custom trips:

Custom trips of any duration from early May to the end of October. Spring and fall are best.

Beginner Courses

May 26 – June 1
June 2 – 8
June 9 – 15
June 16 – 22
June 23 – 29

Sept. 1 – 7
Sept. 8 – 14
Sept. 15 – 21
Sept. 22 – 28

Advanced Courses

May 26 – June 1
June 2 – 8
June 9 – 15
June 16 – 22
June 23 – 29

Sept. 1 – 7
Sept. 8 – 14
Sept. 15 – 21
Sept. 22 – 28

Climbing Camps

May 26 – June 1
June 2 – 8
June 9 – 15
June 16 – 22
June 23 – 29

Sept. 1 – 7
Sept. 8 – 14
Sept. 15 – 21
Sept. 22 – 28

Arco Rock Climbing

US $1565
CA $1875
€ 1250
£ 1125

Single room
US $125, CA $150
€ 100, £ 90

High season surcharge
US $100, CA $120
€ 80, £ 72

Guiding by an internationally certified (UIAGM/IFMGA) and multilingual mountain guide, guide’s expenses, lodging in double rooms (including breakfast) in B&Bs and hotels at the 3-star level.