samedi 17 novembre 2018

Ouick trip to St Géry

Weather here in the south of France (and northern Spain too) has been abominable for the last three weeks or so, with most crags now very wet. However some friends were over in the St Antonin area, which seemed to be experiencing much better weather. So I took a cheap flight to Toulouse (flight time 50 mins from Nice!) to meet up with Eddie and Mandy, for a short one week climbing fix.

We had hoped to try "Marathon" (a brilliant 8a at La Croix) together, but the whole crag was in fact soaked. So we turned to Plan B, which was to climb at St Géry, where it would be dry and in the sun. Indeed the weather was much better and we were climbing topless in shorts. Mandy opted to go cycling instead, she clocked up very impressive distances and ascents during the week.

The climbing at St Géry is not everyone's cup of tea, being as it is very fingery and the grades are generally fairly stiff. Eddie had been trying a very hard 8a, called "Los taquos de los dos rigolos" and I was very keen to try it myself. Unfortunately the long move left at the end of the difficult start proved impossible for me, as I'm simply too small. I did have more success on a different method (using a very small gaston with the left hand). However I tried the move so many times that I nearly destroyed my left shoulder on the first day, so I promptly steered well clear of it, as I didn't want to go through what happened to my right shoulder last year. Surprisingly, I was able to do the hard move at the top, which usually proves hard for short people too. Anyway, I'm glad that Eddie eventually linked all the moves and did this fantastic long route in fine style.

We both tried the brilliant 8a just to the right (called "Cacahuète"), which seemed more reasonable. However there was one move, at the end of the hard start above the jug, which proved very hard to step my feet up when I was stretched out on the crimp above, and yet I could do everything else ok. So I didn't get an 8a tick this time, though I was happy with the consolation prizes of "Aller retour pour une mèche" (7c+) and "Cagueux au relais" (7c).

Writing this back home in Le Rouret, the sun has been shining today but most of the crags are still wet. Amazingly St Géry is still getting very good weather. It seems that it's still one of the few dry crags over here and definitely a place to go to at the moment.

Thanks to Mme Delanges (05 63 93 00 57 and 06 25 19 59 66) for the lovely gite in Fonbeilhe, Auty and to La Table du Cardinale ( restaurant in Montpezat for their wonderful cuisine at very reasonable prices. Check them out if you're in the area, highly recommended.

Watch this video to see visually impaired World Champion Nicolas Moineau climbing at St Géry.

Super impressive, or what? I might even go back to climb again at St Géry some time in the future...

This shot and next: Mandy warming up on Panique a Daytona Beach (6b+).

Coffee and pain aux raisin for me!

Porridge for Mandy and poached eggs and beans on toast for Eddie.

Speed Rock at Roc D'Anglars, a 7b I on-sighted years ago. Haha!

The view of St Antonin Noble Val from Roc D'Anglars.

Local climber on "Aller retour pour une meche" (7c+) at St Géry.

Chilling out in the sun at the excellent gite in Auty, run by Mme Delanges.

Apparently this is the "pose" if you're into cycling....

I was so chuffed for Eddie doing his project that I bought him a gateaux!

Amazing autumnal colours in the village of St Géry.

Steph from Brives (ex St Jeannet) on "Cacahuète" (8a) at St Géry.
Eddie (right) flashing "Cagueux au relais" (7c) at St Géry.
Dessert in the fabulous "La Table du Cardinale".

Fancy really good French cuisine at very reasonable prices? Check out "La Table du Cardinale" in Montpezat.

jeudi 4 octobre 2018

"Epic" boys trip to the Pyrenees

Three years ago, Elaine and I just happened to be driving from Terradets to Bielsa, enjoying the beautiful scenery in the Pyrenees. We were particularly impressed by a very promising looking cliff, whilst heading south on the N260, especially as we noticed two climbers on the left end of the crag. Immediately psyched, we stopped to investigate. However, on closer inspection, it wasn't possible for Ruff to get across the river via the obvious monkey bridge so we continued to Bielsa.

The years went by but I never forgot about that impressive cliff. Guillaume Bouloumie drew us a very vague topo one day at Las Devotas. On another occasion, Bertrand Fourtanier (a friend from Toulouse) told us we just had to go, as it was perfect for summer and the climbs were very good. We still didn't get there because of the difficult access for Ruff. (She hadn't really been keen going to La Ramirole in a rucksack, so we didn't want to chance it again.) 

Then Rich Kirby asked me if I wanted to climb with him for a week, he proposed La Ola (as the cliff was called). Being retired now meant that I could sneak in a quick visit, especially as Elaine wanted Ruff to stay behind for some company in my absence. Game on!

The climbing was indeed fantastic, consisting of long, overhanging stamina fests on edges, pockets and tufas, and Rich and I had an absolute blast of a time. I would particularly recommend "Highway To Hell" (7b+), "Shark Fin" (8a+) and a new 7c at the right hand end of the crag. 

Special thanks to the very friendly local climbers (especially Miguel and Jon) who were very happy to share info with us. Also thanks to Nic Durand, from Abella de la Conca/Climb Catalunya, for encouraging me to try "Shark Fin" and then for belaying me whilst Rich was away. And finally thanks to DMM for the "Alpha Sport" quickdraws and "Maverick" harness; they do make the best climbing gear in the Universe.
The Monkey Bridge across the river.

La Ola goes into the shade around 11am. Marked are the climbs I did. 3 is "Highway To Hell", 6 is "Shark Fin" and 10 is the new 7c.

Boys and their toys at the camping spot in Campo. Perfect.

Very happy boys.

Excellent food in the restaurant in Campo.
"Epic" was THE word of the trip, seen here on the rear window of Bertrand's car.

Another crag near Campo.......

dimanche 26 août 2018

Greece is the word!

I've got very mixed feelings about writing this blog. Why? Because we had such a wonderful time in Greece. We virtually had the cliffs to ourselves, the weather was perfect for climbing in summer and it was magical to see more of this really beautiful country. We made several new friends with local climbers and eating out was always cheap and a real pleasure to eat fresh local produce. So you see, it would be a shame if I were to be responsible for spreading the word (that Greece is an awesome place to climb in summer) and the crags being busy in the future.

Of course it was hot, so if you can't put up with the heat don't go in summer. But who can't resist going when the climbing looks like this?

We took the ferry from Ancona to Patras again and returned via Igoumenitsa to Bari. We also met up with my college mate, Chris Aylmer, again. After a meal in Sivota, on the island of Lefkada, we spent the night in luxury on his catamaran. Next day he took us for a jolly trip to a lovely secluded bay to do some snorkeling. Erm, sorry Chris, not really our thing but thanks for the chance anyway!!

We climbed at (in order):
Leonidio: Elona (perfect until 3pm), Nifada (perfect until 5pm), Maison des Chevres (way too hot and very small) and Twin Caves (perfect after 2pm).
Vlychada (perfect all day).
Kyparissi: Watermill (hot but ok after 2pm), Kastraki (perfect until 1pm) and Kapsala (hot but ok after 11am).
Lagada: Splithari/Riverside (perfect until 4pm), Aloni (perfect 1pm) and Petsanes Cave (perfect after 2pm).
Nedousa: Tzerani (perfect after 5pm) and Riza (perfect until 2pm).
Pyli Little Gorge (perfect all day with some sun from 2pm until 5pm).
Emin Aga Cave (perfect all day).

Climbing highlights were:
Goliath (7c+) 2nd go.
Bonobo (7b+) on-sight.
Mr Magoo (7c) 2nd go.
Tufa Tango (7b) on-sight.
Jerome the Gangster (7c+) 2nd go.
This is Sparta (7c) 2nd go.
Herouveim (8a) almost 2nd go but eventually the next day.
Amaryllis (8a) 2nd go.
Antixeiras (7c) 2nd go.
Schweinstaiger Ext (7b+) on-sight.
Los Colonettarios (7c+) in the rain and just before it poured down.
Road to Hell (7b+) on-sight.
Anaconda (7c+) 2nd red-point.
Bushido (7c+) 2nd go.
Dizzy Dolls (7b+/7c) on-sight.
Assassinos (8a) 2nd go.
Big Machine (7b) on-sight.
Emin Aga (7b+) on-sight.
Rue de la Vista (7c) on-sight.
White Snake (7c) 2nd go.
Planet Caravan (7c+) 2nd go.

All these cliffs are in "Greece Sport Climbing: The Best Of 2017 Edition" by Aris Theodoropoulos.

We're already missing Greece but we're planning on returning next summer.

Special thanks to Aristos Thanopoulos, Artemis Kloni and Christos Tsourvakas for help with beta and local information. See you again next year!
Camping Semeli in Placa (Leonidio)

Ruff looking quizical en route to Twin Caves.

Nobody except us at Twin Caves, amazing!

Crag with a view.

My gals looking cool.


Only the best quick draws for us of course.

Mr Magoo at Twin Caves, 7c.

Arriving at Vlycada, beautiful isn't it?

Not our photo but it shows the scene nicely.

Nobody else there to take a photo on Tufa Tango, 7b, at Vlychada.

Perfect place to sleep on the beach just below the crag.

Upper Kastraki.

View back towards Kyparissi en route to Kapsala.

Babala, for another trip, later with Eddie.

Perfect camping spot at Lagada.

Lots of sticks to keep Ruff happy.

Near the top of the classic warm up at Splithari/Riverside, Fotismeno Aloni, 6b, 35m long.

The view from Petsanes Cave at Lagada, with sector Aloni on the right.

The stunning Petsanes Cave. Routes marked (L to R); This is Sparta (7c), Amaryllis(8a) and Herouveim(8a).

Very friendly local climber on the tough classic Apse-Svise, 6b+, at Aloni.

Starting up the tufas on This is Sparta, 7c.

Near the top of This is Sparta.

2 photos that Elaine took of Aristos Thanopoulos on a new route called Fu Manchu, 8a.

Fantastic camping about 15km from Nedousa.

Looking up the beautiful tufas of Los Colonettarios at Nedousa, 7c+.

Driving across the bridge leaving Pelopennese.

Chris Aylmer and his lovely catamaran, Alexandria II.

The classic Anaconda (7c+) at Pyli. Photo by Artemis Kloni.

Stones that move? What's going on?
Pyli Little Gorge. Tufa paradise. Not our photo though.

Elaine (above) and Artemis Kloni (below) leading the classic Road to Hell, 6a+.

Elaine climbing the first part of IRA, 6b+.

Nice waterfall with very cold water.

The upper section of IRA, 7a+.

Local climber on Mentore, 7b.

Not our photo but a good one to show Christos Tsourvakas in action on Anaconda, 7c+.

2 shots of a local climber on the lower section of Bushido, 7c+.

Trying Super Highball, 8a+. One to go back for.

Meteora isn't far from Pyli, though we didn't climb.

Route info for Emin Aga Cave which was equipped in 2013.

The right side of Emin Aga, showing the line of the classic White Snake, 7c.

Another crag, another nest dug in the soil by Ruff. Voila!