Next up we headed to the amazing Verdon Gorge in the South of France. Neither of us had ever met anyone who had climbed in the Verdon region and a quick look in the guidebook and online quickly showed us why. The climbing style in Verdon was emerging at a similar time to Smith Rock in Oregon and both could lay claim to being the birthplace of sport climbing. What this means in essence is that the grades are a little stiff. The english guidebook casually mentions that as this is where the grading system started these are in fact the correct grades and everywhere else has just softened the grade. We flew to Marseille and jumped in our tiny (and gutless) hire car and were soon in the lovely village of La Palud. The holiday was everything that could be hoped for and more really, long adventurous (not usually associated with sport climbing) routes, good temperatures, friendly people, good food and a lovely wee village to hang out in and eat pizza and drink beer.
Hannah topping out of the last pitch of the brilliant “A fin Que Nul Ne Meure” (6a+) on the last day. This was our hottest day climbing and a relief to finish this route.
We took a rest day in the middle of the week and went and did a sketchy oldschool via ferrata of LE Duc. Hannah seen here crossing the last tyrolean which was luckily in place as we had just come down 2 long absiels from high on the wall on the far side of the river.High quality ropes on the via ferrataOn our third day we decided to take on “La Demande” the classic of the area. Its a long time since I have been concerned about climbing a french 6a but all the stories we heard was how hard and time consuming it was. It was a route and a great day but I was stuggling by the last pitch just to keep it all together. For the brits think 12 long pitches of constant E1 with some hard chimneying sections – after a 7 pitch abseil and a bit of bushwhack to the base of the route. Above – Hannah overcoming the tree on pitch 10 or 11. Below – none of the guidebooks agree on the grades of the pitches but this is what ours said.
A swim in the Verdon after a long days climbing.A bit different to scotland. Our tiny wee car and tent in the campsite.Hannah leading on “A fin Que Nul ne Meure” on the last day. Possibly my favourite route of the trip
The Verdon Gorge.
I would recommend Verdon to almost anyone. If your used to the french grades its probably best to take a letter off the letter grade, if your used to american grades its might be a little scary (Basically anything below 5.10b/c will be graded 5 or 5+) long fun routes in a brilliant setting.