|Ruff making short work of her new football!|
Some great friends from our Liverpool days were in the Vaucluse so we met up and drank quite a bit of wine, ate some great Provencale food and did a bit of climbing at Malaucene. It was fantastic to meet up with the Hewson's, Stewart's and the Brown's. It was wonderful to see that we haven't really changed much in the 35 years we've known each other, we're all still fun-loving, grown-up kids.
|Jim and Anita get shown around the Cali by Ruff|
|A yobbo, Lew, Margaret, Barbara and Al|
|Al and Lew still having plenty of banter at the crag|
|Ruff watches Al taking aim|
|the camping municipal in Vacqueyras ("Honestly, it was this big" - thanks Ralphy!)|
|Lew Brown at 72 and still cranking|
|warming up for Mt Ventoux|
|Lew didn't know that Mike was given a very large piece of the cake!|
We wanted to go back to les Vercors and climbed at la Presqu'Ile, despite the horrendous walk in. The crag was a bit disappointing but there were some very good, fingery routes up to 7b. I had a look at le Trouble (8a) at l'Auberge Espagnole. Such a great route with 2 tough sections (a thin smooth wall and a big roof). Unfortunately, it was too hot really, it'll be worth going back for in the autumn.
Next on the list was a hole in the ground, called la Precipice du Corbiere (also in the Vercors), which is guaranteed to be cool even in the height of summer. It was worth calling in to do a nice, tough 7c called Requiem. Not the best crag, not many routes and there were loads of flies. Whilst in that area, something to put you in a very thoughtful and reflective mood is a visit to the Resistance Memorial and Museum nearby in the infamous village of Vassieux-en-Vercors, which was totally destroyed (and the inhabitants massacred) by the nazis during WW2.
|view from col de la Pousterle|
Next up was a visit to Briancon. We've climbed there a number of times over the years and never been impressed. The climate is great for climbing on north facing cliffs in summer, but basically the rock is pants! We returned to Tournoux where, once again, I didn't manage to finish the job on Cost of Freedom (a gnarly, polished 8a with a very slopey crux). But we did go to one of the supposed good new crags called Grotte d'Oreac. What a pile of shite that place is, I'll tell you! The whole cliff is held together with tons of red sika, so it's ugly; the routes are very over graded and they're much shorter than in the useless topo. However, it's always nice to park up at col de la Pousterle, where we spent a few blissful nights completely on our own (oh, along with thousands of flies!).
The Gorges du Verdon was calling us back south by then, with the prospect of some newish shaded crags above Moustiers St Marie. We had 4 great days with the crags to ourselves. No surprise really, due to the 40 minute up hill slog to get to Grotte du Monstre and Baume Blanche. Unfortunately, Baume Blanche gets the sun around 13h and Grotte du Monstre is still a bit dirty. However, we did some really fantastic routes, such as "100% Halal" (a very intense 7b+), "Lou des subis" (7b), "Pour toi j'ai bacle" (a 50m 7c), the much harder "Pour toi j'ai beche" (7c+), "Walim" (a 50m 7a+) and an unnamed 7a+. We got hopelessly lost the first time we went up, as we turned of the GR path too soon, even so the path was very hard to find. Subsequently, we made lots of improvements to the path and erected many cairns to show the way (which was desperate work in the full sun). Ah, yes, there were loads of flies in the Verdon too!
|lavender field near the Verdon|
|Whilst our colleagues at school were celebrating the end of the school year, we were eating apples and rice cakes at the crag!|
|Elaine trying to hide from the flies at Baume Blanche|
Now we're back home again and there's no flies! It's hot, of course, but it's not too hot in the Gorges du Loup. We climbed at Jurassic Park (2nd time this year) and Cayenne (1st time this year) on Thursday, where I did my favourite 8a+ for the 41st time and "Cayenne" for the nth time/1st time this year. Yesterday, feeling a bit tired, we went to St Martin Vesubie where I dogged my way up "le 7eme ciel integrale" a couple of times; a fantastic 50m monster with a very Malham like crux. I'll definitely go back for that, when it's cooler.
Now, we're making plans to head off towards Arco (heard there's a 40m 7c called Abissi that sounds great), the Dolomites and on to Buzetski Kanjon in Croatia. Loads more fun to be had and we'll be wild camping again, as the Italian campsites are such a rip off!