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Chockstone Forum - Trip Reports

Tells Us About Your Latest Trip!

Author
Climbing trip pt1: France (Orgon, Gorge du Tarn)
bones
8/07/2012
10:40:59 PM
Hi all,

Just a quick copy and paste from our blog about our current six month climbing trip in Europe, Africa and the Middle East of anyone needs some light moday morning reading.
The blog is for family and friends mostly, so not totally climbing dedicated.
Pics on the blog itself at http://rockyroadhoneymoon.blogspot.fr
---------

Friday, July 6, 2012 - Climbing and falling
Time to talk a little about the climbing. This is a honeymoon, in the sense that two newly weds who are madly in love are holidaying together in beautiful remote corners of the world, but itís not a honeymoon that is dedicated to five star resorts, expensive champagne and relaxation. The locations are planned around climbing seasons and rock quality, the luxuries limited to what we can squeeze into the top of a rucksack loaded with 20 kilograms of climbing hardware and two 50m+ ropes. A morning might be dedicated to sleeping in, drinking coffee or lazing about on a beach, but the afternoon is more likely dedicated to throwing ourselves at steep bolted climbs two grades harder than we would usually climb at home until the strength leaves our forearms. One day might be dedicated to visiting a quaint little stone village in the mountains, but the next day is spent high above the village on the surrounding cliffs. Itís about the most perfect way to spend 6 months that we could think of.

The rough plan is to spend the better part of two months training at the ďconsumer friendlyĒ crags in France, then attempt some long routes in some of the most spectacular locations we could think of: The 300 metre limestone gorges of Verdon in France, the soaring granite peaks of the French Alps, the remote granite faces of Namibia and Madagascar, and the huge sandstone cliffs of the Middle East. We need the training, as many of the climbs in these areas are above our current onsight trad leading limit of about 6a+

In terms of ďconsumer friendlyĒ crags for training, our first stop in Orgon, Provence was ideal. Smallish pocketed limestone cliffs in easier grades, never more than 10 minutes walk from the picturesque valley campground. It was a great place to get back into the swing of regular climbing with heaps of pleasant single pitch routes in the 4+ to 6b range. At one point in time the Canal sector of Orgon was the scene of the hardest climbing in the world, but the grotty caves have fallen out of favour and easier slabs high in the valley are the attraction. The long history means most of the footholds are slippery from the polish of a thousand climbing shoes, and itís a bit nerve racking to lose your feet on an otherwise easy climb, but you eventually learn to choose the less obvious feet placements and deal with the occasional slip.
Our next climbing location, The Calanques, was sadly a brief stop, as the Mediterranean heat was too energy sapping to allow for much climbing. The one climb we did do, named Les Calanque after the area, was spectacular though, a four pitch 5c up a stunning white arÍte high above the clear blue-green ocean. Iíd love to come back here another time and enjoy the climbs in cooler weather.

The Gorges du Tarn, our current climbing spot, is as unbelievably convenient as Orgon, but itís really a destination for the hard climbers. The routes in our grade are the warm up routes, the classics are the 8a+ís that draw only the strongest climbers. Thatís the very reason we chose this place though, either get strong or donít climb at all! The climbing so far has been overwhelmingly steep , fairly repetitive pocket pulling, with long sustained pitches. The highlights have been the few routes which follow nice natural lines and flakes like Jeux de Plage 6a, a 30 metre stemming corner followed by nice steep headwall. Of course, anything harder than usual that Iíve been able to get up on lead has been a highlight for me, like Le Petit Massoro (6b+). Iím hoping routes of this grade will start to fall more regularly. Without the rests, ideally. A wonder how much different 6b+ feels when youíre crimping on tiny granite edges 10 metres above the last bolt in the middle of the west African desert? Hmm better go climbing nowÖ.

UPDATE: Got my best redpoint of the trip so far, a 35 metre 6b+ (21-22ish?) flake pitch. Would have got the onsight too I reckon if I hadnít got lost the first time. Also got up a 7a clean, though someone had covered it in tick marks that softened it up considerably. Feeling tough, I tried the next day to campus up a 7b+, failed miserably and lost a lot of my fingertips in the process. Back to reality again.

benjenga
9/07/2012
7:08:23 AM
Rad read, keep them coming.
Can't wait to climb there next year.

pieman
9/07/2012
8:57:42 AM
You're living the dream! Thanks for the TR.
mikllaw
9/07/2012
12:26:28 PM
For long quality routes, also look at Presles in the vecours about 50km south of Grenoble. I'm told that the 13 pitch route on Le Dibona is one of the best.
I can send you a guide if you PM me

Eduardo Slabofvic
9/07/2012
1:59:23 PM
I climbed in Presles and was sceptical about the climbing there, as the guide seemed to cover about a poompteenth of the visible rock in the gorge, and I hardly met any locals. Hmmmm.
gfdonc
9/07/2012
2:19:41 PM
On 9/07/2012 Eduardo Slabofvic. wrote:
>I climbed in Presles and was sceptical about the climbing there, as the
>guide seemed to cover about a poompteenth of the visible rock in the gorge,
>and I hardly met any locals. Hmmmm.

Out of interest, an English-language guide? Are these sort of areas well covered by English guides or is the local info only available in the local language?

I picked up a German climbing mag recently (with Monique on the cover, well done Simon) and it reviewed a few German-language guidebooks of some French areas. We have enough trouble here just maintaining guidebooks in English alone, must be near impossible to maintain current information in print in multiple languages.

trog
9/07/2012
2:21:11 PM
If you're still there, head round to Jonte or Boffi - there's probably more options there in the 6's

Arete Oest at Jonte was pretty spectaular in the low 6's, with vultures gliding past.

Sounds like an awesome trip

Eduardo Slabofvic
9/07/2012
2:37:28 PM
On 9/07/2012 gfdonc wrote:
>>Out of interest,

It was a locally produced French guide, but it was a topo guide, so language was not a problem.
dalai
9/07/2012
4:21:36 PM
Trip sounds amazing bones!

On 9/07/2012 mikllaw wrote:
>For long quality routes, also look at Presles in the vecours about 50km
>south of Grenoble. I'm told that the 13 pitch route on Le Dibona is one
>of the best.

I cycled in the area as part of a month riding in the French Alpes last August, including up the narrow road that cut up through the cliff to the village of Presles. Beautiful location!








nmonteith
9/07/2012
4:44:39 PM
Presles is a nice spot however it seems to cop almost all day sun - we struggled to get much done there in summer. We did early morning single pitch stuff, went to town and swum in the amazing river with fun DWS (where rock turns into buildings about 10m up!) - then late in the arvo did shorter mult-pitches.

Typical Verdon style limestone.


DWS in town!


Fun single pitch right above the road!


And more DWS with the local kids
maxdacat
9/07/2012
11:43:58 PM
On 9/07/2012 gfdonc wrote:
>On 9/07/2012 Eduardo Slabofvic. wrote:

>Out of interest, an English-language guide? Are these sort of areas well
>covered by English guides or is the local info only available in the local
>language?
>
>I picked up a German climbing mag recently (with Monique on the cover,
>well done Simon) and it reviewed a few German-language guidebooks of some
>French areas. We have enough trouble here just maintaining guidebooks
>in English alone, must be near impossible to maintain current information
>in print in multiple languages.
>

I believe there is a Rockfax for the area. Naturally this is not an issue for the French.
dalai
10/07/2012
10:23:50 AM
On 9/07/2012 maxdacat wrote:
>I believe there is a Rockfax for the area. Naturally this is not an issue
>for the French.

Needs sarcasm quotes... ;-)
One Day Hero
10/07/2012
12:44:31 PM
On 9/07/2012 nmonteith wrote:
>Presles is a nice spot however it seems to cop almost all day sun - we
>struggled to get much done there in summer.

Monty is on the money. I was climbing in a tshirt at Presles last february. Absolutely amazing routes, but the right time to go is a sunny winter day........not so great for visiting tourists. The place is basically a daytrip crag from Grenoble, camping is possible but not common...........it just isn't the sort of cliff where you can go to from australia, plant the tent for a month, and get the most out of the joint.

Presles would be fine on a cloudy day in autumn.......probably better to chase the sun by december. I'd recommend stopping in for 2 days and doing one route each day at Fhara Kiri sector (or the next sector over, I forget the name). Don't waste a day on 'Le Buis', the local tip for a first multipitch, it's piss easy and not amazing. The 6a-ish stuff at the mega-sectors is fine for a first route (gr 19 or so). Don't believe the locals when they tell you something is fully bolted, unless you too are happy with 10m runouts. The crag was established as a mixed crag, and carrying a Bungonia rack makes things safe and happy (1 set of cams, one set of wires, maybe a couple of extra cams around fingers)

I really liked Presles, will be going back there as soon as I can get organised.
maxdacat
10/07/2012
1:13:57 PM
On 10/07/2012 dalai wrote:
>On 9/07/2012 maxdacat wrote:
>>I believe there is a Rockfax for the area. Naturally this is not an
>issue
>>for the French.
>
>Needs sarcasm quotes... ;-)

True dat. Also didn't realise the person was asking about a guide for Presles. The RF doesn't cover this area just the Languedoc.
bones
10/07/2012
5:00:21 PM
Thanks for the replies folks.
Presles does look nice, but we've been avoiding the heat as much as possible. Heading to the Alps soon (Envers - on recommendation from some chockstoners) to avoid the worst of it.
trog - yep we went to Jonte and climbed Arete Ouest, bloody awesome line! I prefer the asthetics of the Jonte to the Tarn - obvious cracks, aretes, corners etc rather than pocket pulling on faces. Have to go back there again some time.
maxdacat
10/07/2012
8:04:55 PM
There is a pretty good Piola guide available for that area called Envers des Aiguilles. Also have a think about some of the lower limestone areas like Tour d'Areu and near Grand Bornand covered by the same author in the Calcaire en Folie series for when the weather isn't great in Cham.
bones
11/07/2012
9:35:48 PM
On 10/07/2012 maxdacat wrote:
>There is a pretty good Piola guide available for that area called Envers
>des Aiguilles. Also have a think about some of the lower limestone areas
>like Tour d'Areu and near Grand Bornand covered by the same author in the
>Calcaire en Folie series for when the weather isn't great in Cham.

Got it! It was one of the guide books I bought long before the trip to get me psyched. It worked :)

Ben_E
6/10/2012
8:35:08 PM
A bit of a bump in case folks want to see what Bones and his better half have been up to lately; there's a bit of climbing in there in between the two of them looking disgustingly relaxed by the beach:

http://rockyroadhoneymoon.blogspot.fr/

There are 18 messages in this topic.

 

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