Welcome to France
First of a huge thanks to my beautiful wife Josie for all her patience and encouragement.
Second to Mayan from NZ for helping out with more than just transport, for without this trip would not have been.
Thirdly to Simon and Monique from OZ for sharing our time, getting psyched and helping with the capture of some wild photos.
After arriving in Germany at the end of July we drove in a little white van across the border to France.
We visited the famous climbing area of “Ceuse”………for a day. Due to the summer holidays, unfortunately we found it to be more populated than Tonsai (Thailand) in the high season, without the added perks of beaches, bars and bungalows. The hour or so slog uphill did not do much for our psyche & not a place for free camping, unless you want to wade through forests littered with mountains of poop and toilet paper. If we return we shall do so between the Euro holidays and camp at the camping ground not far down the road for a small yet very reasonable fee.
So, we departed to a little place called “St. Leger” (Saint Light), located in the clear blue valley of the Tolourenc River next to the Mount of Ventoux. A quaint little place with many ancient ruined buildings, overlooking a large array of beautiful orange, white and black limestone outcrops. With much camping both paid and free scattered between lots of great swimming holes. Perfect!
As most of the routes in this area seemed to be between 25 and 35 meters high, getting used to this style of tufa’s, pinches, radical pockets and anything over 25 meters was very new to me.
My previous three months spent bouldering in the Grampians and the unusually hot end of french summer was perhaps a very different challenge to be met.
Let us call this the “Euro-fitness”. This I started to gradually gain and enjoy more and more as my body, mind and spirit learned this new style and approach to climbing. Mental work was also a very big part for me at this time and strengthening and using more efficiently my biggest muscle certainly contributed to my efforts.
We joined up with Monique and Simon from Australia and visited a newer crag in the area called “La Baleine” (The Whale). A crag with walls of up to 40 meters in height, riddled with many single long and steep tufa’s of up to 20 meters in length on huge steep, white, yellow and black faces.
In the middle a massive cave with several impressive headwalls, I very soon found my place to focus my newfound energy and ability on.
Over the next few weeks I proceeded to increase my fitness once again and climb one of the longest and hardest routes at the crag, “Collection Automne Hiver” (The Autumn Winter Collection). At no less than 35 meters journeying through several roofs and headwalls with many incredible sequences testing both body and mind.
A true prize in such a fine place:
The incredible “Collection Automne Hiver” 8b+ (32), pulling round the first and biggest of its three roofs at about 20 metres with another 15 to go.
Approaching the 3rd and final crux on “Collection Automne Hiver”
One of many Crag Classics, Le Zerquesteur 7c:
Our last weeks where spent exploring other smaller crags in the region. Which there are many of, hosting a jewel in many styles.
Guidebooks covering a large majority of these scattered crags can be found online and in various shops and are very handy if one wants to discover these historic places.
One of which we visited by the name of Venasque, a short one hour drive to a quaint little Village surrounded by shorter yet countless crags. Spending five days here concentrating mainly on on-sighting, I managed to onsight several 26’s, one 27 and my very first 29. The harder routes 26 and above flowed very nicely, mainly due to the large blank sections on the steeper walls that had some obvious and rather well thought out french manufacturing. Baguette anyone?
Our journey then took us north back to the land of much a great car, masses of high-tech solar powered networks, beer and lederhosen.
Here the coming winter will be spent in the search of………………………………………………………………..to be continued.