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Crag & Route Beta

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Extended France trip
1:51:32 PM
Greetings fellow Chockstoners!
I have noticed from existing TRs that a few of you have some experience climbing in France, so I thought i'd get some beta since i'm planning to head over.
I am hoping to get a working holiday visa which will mean I can holiday and work for a year, I figure since you can only do it before you are 30 (which is rapidly approaching O.o) I might as well do it now!
I am hoping to head over in May next year, and work / climb / whatever until December, where I will do a snow season. I would hope to be somewhere that I can do all of this without moving, so was thinking along the lines of Chamonix.
I speak a little French but am very keen to learn more (one of the primary motives for France over Spain / Switzerland / Austria etc).
As for climbing I am very open minded, at the moment I sport climb up to about 22, have done some very limited trad but would love to do more! I would be travelling by myself so I suppose I will do whatever I can get a catch on...
I suppose that's all I really have to go on at the moment, but any beta anyone can give (on climbing, jobs, people, long term living) would be much appreciated. Does this sound like a reasonable time of year to do all this?

thanks in advance

Eduardo Slabofvic
2:02:36 PM
In anticipation of the spray I am about to receive, Chamonix is a sh!t hole. I would recommend everywhere else.

2:21:42 PM
thanks Eduardo, bad beta is still beta! If there isn't any one place I can climb and ski I would definately consider climbing in one place and skiing in another...

Eduardo Slabofvic
2:30:49 PM
Its a resort town, not a real town. Its full of tourists and everything is way expensive. And its full of POMEs. There are dozens of other places scattered along the western side of the Alps that would be great. I know nothing about the skiiing over there, but I do know the transport network is very good, so if you consider you can go from Zurich to Nice for a weekends climbing and be back at work on Monday morning, then you can get to the ski fields.

As far a rock goes, there's rock everywhere, so where ever you are (apart from the north west) you'll be about half an hour from a crag, at the most.

4:38:44 PM

Anywhere near the Alps or Pyrenees is should be gold from a climbing point of view.

I don't know france that well, having been more on short trips, but I've always thought somewhere like Grenoble would be an awesome spot to live for a while. It's not a resort town if you want to do snow season work though... It's surrounded by 3 massive plateaus, the Vercors, the chartreuse and the other one I can't remember near by, chock full of limestone - lots of climbing and caving (over 1 km deep). And it's close to proper mountains - kind of between Mt Blanc and the Ecrins (La grave is just down the road if you want water ice)...

Limited trad shouldn't be a problem until you get right up into the mountains. most rock in france seems to exists solely for the purpose of bolting

work... I've got no idea

5:01:07 PM
Eduardo is correct. Cham is one of those places that's been loved to death and it has been for years. It's a bit like the Yosemite Valley Floor. You hate all humanity there but step off the beaten track and it's everything you want it to be.
All famous tourist locations in the Alps - Zermatt, Grindelwald, Cortina are the same, there's 250m Europeans climbing over each other to have a wilderness experience.

Another word of advice, don't let them mistake you for a Pom, Aussies get a much friendlier reception, particularly from Italians who all want you to visit their cousins restaurant in Lygon St.
Karl Bromelow
8:00:48 PM
On 19/07/2010 DanMac wrote:
>thanks Eduardo, bad beta is still beta! If there isn't any one place I
>can climb and ski I would definately consider climbing in one place and
>skiing in another...

I can recommend either Les Trois Vallees (Courcheval, Meribel, Val Thorens etc) or Porte du Soleil (Avoriaz, Morzine, Les Gets etc) for snow sports. I've snowboarded at both places many times and you'll have a ball. The areas are enormous compared to what you might be accustomed to in the Southern Hemisphere and lift prices cheap by comparison with downunder. Both have well over 600km of groomed pistes and limitless off piste areas. I wouldn't worry about being mistaken for a Pom. I am one and have only ever had the friendliest of receptions from the French. It depends entirely on the individual and how you behave. The French are not so dumb as to express ill considered xenophobia. They are rather more sophisticated than that. Many of the oldest well established ski resorts were started by British and they are welcomed every year in huge numbers by the French hosts. If you head to The 3 Valleys you'll be surprised how cheap it can be especially if you go to one of the less fancy resort towns. Les Menuires caters brilliantly for budget snow worshipping and is a fantastic spot with brilliant slopes and heaps of on or very close to on slope accommodation. Last year passes for the 3 valleys (allowing access to all 650km+ of pistes on one pass) were about $60 a day!! The facilities in all European alpine snowsport areas are just fabulous.

For climbing. In France it's everywhere. Close your eyes. Stick a pin in the map. Google the nearest big town and add the word escalade and you'll find climbing. Be sure to go to Spain while you are up there though. The whole damned country is a rock climbing paradise. And it's cheap as hell.

I'm insanely jealous.

Cheers, Karl
9:55:40 AM
Cheers for the replies all, much appreciated.
I am not worried about being mistaken for a Pom, I did a season in Les Arcs and absolutely loved it! All the French people were so lovely and welcoming, it's made me want to go back ever since.
From a quick google I can see that Grenoble looks like a good place to start too (thanks Eduardo!)... It is a proper city, close to the alps, has 2nd highest english speaking population in france, and has a large university... Has certainly given me much more food for thought :o)

Eduardo Slabofvic
11:45:01 AM
I second (or third) Grenoble. Its a very good city. It has climbing right in the city, you can access Gorge de Bourne and possibly Gorge de Tarn (I haven't been there though) easily, and hit any where in the Alps as required.

12:31:59 PM
Grenoble is really near Presles, which is an awesome sweep of limestone - great single and long multipitch routes.

Also a hop skip and jump to about every awesome southern french climbing area including Verdon, Ceuse, Orpierre, Bouououououx etc. Gorge de Tarn is quite a but further away (250km?)
3:37:31 PM
i spent 2 months in Chamonix learning french at this school:

i did it in winter but they do summer courses as well.
8:03:09 AM
I spent several summers in Cham and had an awesome time. Generally speaking, Cham itself can be painful, getting more and more painful into August, but remakably quiet in between seasons - many things shut down for Sept-October. I stayed in Argentiere, which is much quieter than Cham, and Vallorcine is quieter still. Once you get into the mountains, the tourists dissapear and unless you're on the tourist routes up Mt Blanc (and maybe a couple of other super popular easy snow slogs), there's no crowds on the routes. There's lots of crowding on the rock at the valley crags, but most of them are pretty ordinary and won't be missed anyway. You will want to hone your trad skills substantially before going though - the majority of climbing in the mountains around Cham is trad with occasional bolts and reasonably often, bolted belays. Exceptions being some of the stuff on the Aiguille Rouges - L'index and Le Brevent have multipitch sport. There are other places in the alps that are much better for alpine sport routes.

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