Friday, September 13, 2013

Wonderfully quiet time to be in the Mountains

Francis Bridgeman joined me for a week of Mountaineering and rock climbing. The weather wasn't perfect and so we had to be creative and flexible as to where we went. There was one day it was raining in Chamonix , but when we looked on the web cam it was bright and clear at the top of ge Aguille du Midi. So we headed up there and climbed Pt Lachanael.
We spent some time climbing in the Aiguille Rouge above Brevent. On another day we drove round to the famous col du Colombiere. Unfortunately it was raining hard. We continued on the road around to the Col du Aravis where it was sunny and dry and we had some great climbing

Monday, September 09, 2013

If Rock hadn't been climbed this woukld still have been an exceptional way to sample the Mediterranean Coast

Charles Sherwood joined me for his annual summer climbing trip. The weather had "been" perfect but true to form all that changed. The alpine forecast was for snow and mixed weather for the week . We decided that the best thing was to clear off until there was a better forecast. We jumped in the car and headed through the Mt Blanc Tunnel for Finale Liguria. We climbed in the afternoon in very humid conditions and were finally forced from the crag by a thunderstorm.
The next day we launched ourselves at on of the classic climbs of the area which were very steep and intimidating However we also learn't that for classic climb read polished limestone and the grade of the climb bore no resemblance to what we had to deal with. In the end we couldn't actually finish the climb due to a combination of heat and having no strength left.
We were now staying in the beautiful town of Final Borgio where the selection of restaurants is reason enough for a visit.
Next day we ventured onto the sea cliffs of Capo Noli an area I had climbed on many time before but this was Charles first visit.
We had a very satisfactory day , but did feel a bit like steak cooked on a hot stone by the end of it.
On our final day we climbed at passing through the breath taking village of. Charles was keen to lead as many climbs as he could . The well bolted climbing of the area make this ideal.
Still there was no real improvement in the alpine weather [ or at least for the projects we had in mind] So we decided to head down the Mediterranean cost to the world famous climbing area of Les Calanques, just east of Marseilles. We found a wonderful place to stay and the food and wine were exceptional. On the wednesday we arrived in Cassis parked the car all excited to climb in the Calanques for the 1st time. But no! There was a big red sign saying the whole coast was closed due to the high risk of forest fire. There was nothing we could do but move on. But where? After consulting the map and the weather forecast we hit upon Buoux . The last time I had climbed there was 31 years ago. Then it was just before the Peter Mayle "Year in Provence" revolution which changed Provence from a back water to the chic place it is now: Our Auberge had a swimming pool at its foot.
We spent two days here climbing in a wonderful solitude .
We wanted a big finish to the week and our research had identified the Verdon Gorge as the must visit destination . The climb for us was the Hissage Nocturne. A modern classic [ie not polished] . We arrived for a pre inspection the day before and had a good look from above.
We returned at 7.00am the next morning [after having a spectacular dinner in the town of Moustiers]. I was psyched for for the entry to the climb : A spectacular 45 meter free rappel into the gorge.
The guide book explained that if you couldn't do the climb the only escape option was either to hitch a lift on a passing pedalo or swim. Needless to say we managed to climb out on what was a very good climb.