"The Terror of the Mad Dog" is a wonderful name for a climb. It is one of the original routes of Orpiere and is the classic climb of the area. I first climbed it with Jane, my wife, when the area was still being developed- some 30 years ago...
|Quiqillon West Face which dominates the village.|
I have to say this time around it felt a lot harder. I'm convinced some of the key holds had vanished- or maybe it had something to do with my doubling in age.
The reason Charles Sherwood and I found ouseleves down in Provience was one of "alpine pragmatism. " Charles and I had had a date in the diary for some ski mountaineering. Yet as our week approached the weather in the alps was looking rubbish. This was confirmed by a series of devastating headline grabbing avalanches which further underscored that skiing mountaineering was not a good option.
We had left the alps in a mixture of rain and sleet which followed us all the way past Grenoble and started to sew seeds of doubt about whether we would find any dry rock.
Yet: we arrived in an area which was in severe drought. Orpiere had not had any rain since January. Crisis measures had been employed and the only reason our hotel was open was because it had its own source. [Well]
After our triumph on the Mad Dog we headed for Buis Les Baronies following the impressive D65 over the Col de Perty. A road sign calls it "route remarkable". It was and it was deserted it was only a pity we hadn't brought the Lamborghini.
We stayed in the picturesque but somewhat quirky Hotel Les Arcades- Le Lion D'or. We were given a suit with a living room and two bedrooms. Its difficult to describe,but the toilet led straight into the living room as if it was a feature of the living room rather than part of the bathroom.
Our plan was to climb on the Rocher Saint Julien.
|St Julian crags seen from the village.|
Our goal was the route called "La Gastronome." All was going well until I got to the first belay. Then the wind hit. Not only was it unconfortably cold, but we couldnt hear each other. What's more because the descent was eventually going to be via rappel , the prospect of dealing with ropes being blown vertically up in the air and wrapped around all number of bushes and trees suggested an immediate escape.
We re located to the magnificent crag called Baume Rousse. It is described as a place where "no climber could fail to have at least one day here."
We had two days here. It was brilliant.
|Mad Dog enjoying a beer after the Mad Dog .|
The planning for these types of trips has been made easier with the use of the Rockfax App. This allows you to have all the guide books on your phone. It is highly recommended.