|Six Carro: Vallon d'Arpette/Trient, Alpine, Bolts/Trad, 6b max, 500m of 100% pure granite. 1h 45m 1,000m climb on the approach...perhaps 1h 30m with oxygen mask and great determination for the last bit of the bash.
Organising a Verdon jaunt with Bernard, he had a couple of days free this week so I had responsibility for a climbing plan. After the Ecandies I was pretty keen to get back into this valley so a bit of search turned up Plaisirs d'Automn : 5c, 5c, 6a, 6a, 6b, 6a, 6a+, 6a+, 5c, 5c, 5a/4c, 5b, 5c, 6a. Tops out on the summit of Six Carro which you can just see from the terrace at our place in Branson, I'd always wondered what the potential was on that peak so settled on that for the objective.
Picked Bernard up at 8:15, coffee and the walk in...which gets very steep in the last 45 minutes. He was impressed by this valley, a very keen climber since a very young age, at 53 and well travelled that's saying something. Quick snack and rack up then off we went.
Our route is on the 3 big pillars to the right of Bernard.
P1: First 5c went with a couple of nuts and several bolts, one technical section at the third bolt but otherwise pretty chilled. P2: Bernard got a nice 5c next up with some nice foot/balancy moves onto an arete.
P3: Next 6a is a one or two move wonder. P4: this is where the action and good rock starts, Bernard gets to lead a beautiful orange granite flake which takes up half the pitch. Happy this was bolted because it would have required Big Bros.
P5: crux pitch at 6b, smears and flakes leading into a rising traverse under an overhanging corner. A couple of bits of gear used to supplement existing bolts, very good climbing, not overly physical but quite a good puzzle to get it to go onsight at the grade. Got to the the hanging belay and decided to continue into the next pitch. P6: one nut, a sling and a few clips exhausted the remainder of my rack but the 6a section on knobs was done by then, another nice bit of climbing. Running it out to the belay, rope drag became problematic. End of the first pillar, abseil 25m to join the base of the next pillar.
P7: 6a+, #1 Camalot used before the first bolt, the difficulties were largely dispensed with after the first 15m, afterward the most problems were caused by lichen.
P8: 6a+, Bernard got a nice one here, opens with another giant flake, rusty coloured this time, before a small ledge and a tricky bridging move through an overhang before moving into rounded flakes through to the chains. The crux was reasonably powerful. Bolts mainly, a sling and a nut placement used. P9: first of 2 on nice orange granite. 5c on flakes and knobs before a finishing arete on knobs, very comfortable belay station.
P10: short 5c section takes you to the top of the 2nd pillar, short arete follows with one of those gaps that you have to downclimb into then stem across before restablishing yourself on the next section preceding the chains...quite exposed on second, Bernard could have made it a little less spicy but didn't want to spoil the fun. 15m/20m rappel, P11 at 4c/5a we skipped by walking along the base of the arete to a bolt.
At this point the equippers much have smoked a few cones and drank their remaining beer because the grading interpretation goes down the toilet. P12/13 I did P12 supposedly 5b but more like 4c and easily protected with a sling or 2. Bernard did P13 and with its 3 bolts it seemed overprotected, we settled on 4c for that pitch. P14: “6a” no bolts but a crux section that is protectable with a tied off sling and a few metres later a #1 LinkCam followed by a cruise on small cracks and lichen covered sections where nuts are easily placed every 10m or so, probably 5b.
VERY windy at the tope, 2 x 25m abseils made on one doubled rope to try and reduce the risk of getting the ropes stuck...didn't get them stuck but they went laterally with the wind on the first abseil so I had an interesting time sorting out the mess. Steep, slippery walk off back to the base, saved Bernard when he lost his balance exiting the first couloir, could have been nasty.
Brilliant setting, the first 2 pillars are good climbing on great heavily weathered granite and despite the only moderately interesting summit pitches, the view from the top and subsequent ease of descent through having topped out makes it worthwhile. As has become customary: it ended in beers.