If life is like a checklist than I could say I checked most of the things that come from France: like French fries, French kissing, baguette, croissant, brie… I even climbed in France in the Ailefroide area and Ceuse, but what do you do if a French friend contacts you and invites you to come to Verdon? First: you check out the pictures of the area on the internet. Checked! Second: you ask your boss if you can get holidays. Checked! Third: you start looking for a climbing mate and hope you will find somebody! Checked! Finally: you GO THERE! Checked.
The best way of getting there is to fly to Nice… and as the name of the city tells it is NICE 🙂 , so I first couchsurfed by a cool guy for two nights and explored a bit this nice city and now I can say Nice is nice and vise versa 🙂 . Then I took a bus early in the morning to Castellane, where my friends picked me up and we drove on narrow roads to the gorge.
Seeing Verdon gorge in person really took my breath away… The gorge is gorgeous and I got exited for some nice lines. But first I had to meet my climbing partner Max, that I met on Facebook. Before going multipitching I usually get to know my climbing partner on sports routes, so I can get a better picture about how he belays and climbs. We went to an old sector and climbed a few routes and he was a calm and trustworthy French guy, so on the next day we went for a 160m long route called “Catalunya mon amour”. A great almost direct line of four pitches (yeah, the pitches are long, the first is over 40 meter long 6b, which definitely warms you up 🙂 ).
For approach in Verdon you usually rappel down, sometimes is a mixture of hike and rappel, like in the sector Crête des Vernis – Voie where we did the 300m long route “Une pincée de Ketchup”. First you need to hike for about 30 minutes and then take two over 40 meter long rappels in the air… I must say that the rappel really turned my stomach and head around…. it was just too early for so much exposure. Damn I was glad, when I touched the ground…
Climbing in Verdon is very technical and with lots of traverses… I am not a fan of them, so I had some struggles in one route, where even the bolts weren’t that close… From the topo in the guidebook looked like a small traverse passage but in fact it was the whole pitch… I was so happy, when I reached the anchor and screamed “Max, vâche” (safe in French, I even learned some new words 🙂 ).
The evenings were spent at the camping site, where I was staying with friends. It was really nice to cook and eat together, where you really see that sharing is caring. We spent our rest day in a beautiful medieval village Moustiers, enjoying some nice views over Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.
It was short but sweet and I must say that my checklist for France got longer. Even if I have seen some parts of France already, there are still some unexplored areas, that I want to visit, I guess I will have to return someday. But in fact once you think you seen it all, life just surprises you with new views and gives you some nice memories. Checked 🙂 !