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Rod's Euro 2010 - Trip Report 25-Sep-2010 At 9:02:16 PM rod
Verdon 1 of 2

I arrived in geneva airport from a jaunt in london at 8pm, Bernard called to say he was an hour or so late...we finally hit the road at 9:45pm. Nice night for driving and the tents were pitched by 3am in a field somewhere near La Palud. Woke in the morning to mist, realised we were in the wrong field so rolled everything up and moved in the direction of coffee. Saw morning sun in Jean-Paul's campground so the camp spot decision was made for us. Later learned that Jean-Paul is retiring and closing it down later this year -I'm pleased to have pitched a tent in there and enjoyed this little bit of Verdon history.

Bernard & Jean-Paul

Finally got organised and decided to go for a climb to iron out the kinks, fatigue or not.

Dent d'Aire: Dolce Vita - rap then climb out on a modern 5c, 6a+, 6a. i was so knackered i had to take a couple of slumps on the last pitch.

Bernard raps

Bernard second's the last pitch

Retired for beers, wine, camp meal and then I put Bernard on point by telling him outright that he's going to stop talking about how he's never done Pichenibule despite 30 years of coming here..."I'm here for Verdon exposure, based on these pics and the topo Pichenibule looks like it's got that in spades. We're doing it tomorrow. Bon Nuit"!

Dogpound disturbed sleep. Morning mist, overcast, slightly humid conditions...perfect. LOTS of coffee, food, etc and then we were off, slightly nervous.

Pichenibule: from the Jardin under the Dalles Grises rap stations - 5b, 5c, 6a+, 6b, 6c+, 6b, 7b+/A0, 5c. There's a lower 4 pitch extension but its easy climbing and you don't get into the face's big exposure until a couple of pitches from where we joined the route. It traverses across the base of this massive face sitting above overhangs before a rising traverse across the main face; similar fall exposure on lead or seconding apart from the last pitch. No easy way of rapping your way out of this thing if things go a bit pear shaped.

First pitch (5b) is shared by another route, polished crap. From here basically, you get yourself deeper and deeper into the shit the further you go because the only way out is up...

Pitch two (5c) is pretty nice, airy traversing on a slab full of gouttes d'eau finishing with an exposed corner system without any bolts before reaching a belay station on the lower right of the main wall.

Pitch 3 (6a+) is great, traversing through pockets and flakes on a nice vertical wall.

Pitch 4 (6b) similar start but a couple of moves that are bit punchier for the fingers before reaching an ill defined corner and heading up straight vertical on bigger holds.

Pitch 5 (6c+) toughie and in our opinion this is the crux pitch...if you can't climb solid 6c you aren't getting through this one. After the 3rd bolt the belayer can't see the lead climber, Bernard looked a bit tetchy rounding the corner after bolt 3 and sounded like he was working pretty hard...about 40 minutes later he finally reached the belay.

"Good Job!" ...I feel a few rain drops..."Uh Oh".

I second it in about 10 minutes, pretty tough pitch at 6c+, I lost the onsight second about 5 metres from the end in a fairly reachy ill defined corner system...the plants got me undoing a necessary foot friction move.

Pitch 6 (6b) traverse into a nice little rounded crack system, I placed a small friend between bolt 2 and 3, then its quite a powerful little number using hands on a ledge and gouttes d'eau for the feet in a very airy situation traversing leftward to the belay. Belay itself is in a spectacular setting underneath this very compact wall of limestone with not a plant anywhere on it.

Pitch 7 (7b+ or A0) took one look at the 7b+ option and it looked like it needs a rebolt. An old aid pitch (free'd by Denis Burdet?), the line wanders off away from the bolts looks like it'd be a bitch to free. With rain pending we opted on the easy option, Bernard took the gear and aided the 15 metres to the next belay station.

Pitch 8 (5c) bolts every 7 metres or so and very, very nice. If you're climbing 6b easy enough then I'd recommend rapping into this from the top belay station just to enjoy this pitch. The distance between bolts adds that bit of spice, the vultures love coming in for a look at you and the tourists go "ooh, aah".

Bernard and I at the top of Pichenibule...realisation of his dream, I'm stoked for him.


The beers and wine flowed that night, we ate at the Creperie run by Pascale and Moose. Pascale had rung her sister's earlier in the year to wish young Robin happy birthday, by happenstance we were staying with Pierre and Sophie and I'd picked up the phone. It's a small world. She gave me a wool cover to make the remaining nights a tad warmer...gratefully received.

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