Monday, June 28, 2010

French Files, Part 3, Verdon continued

Okay, I have been slow to blog, because now I am back home in Squamish, and have been loving climbing here, mountain biking with the hound, and catching up with good friends...but here goes with some more French climbing.

So the next route on tap for us was Pichenbule, a 10 pitch classic in the main part of the gorge. We rapped in under cloudy skies, but thought nothing of it. After battling with another round of bad French guide book beta, we finally found the start. A few pitches of 5.10-5.11- climbing took us back to a big ledge system where we had rapped down to for La Demande. However this time when we got there the rain was starting to fall. Not wanting to rap down to the gorge bottom in the rain and walk out and hitch hike back 15km to the top of the gorge, we tried to claw our way to the top via a very well bolted 6 pitch 5.6.

Halfway up, it stopped raining, so we decided to rap BACK down to the ledge and continue the route. Well, we got 1 pitch back up on Pichenbule, and then the dark clouds of doom started rolling in. Oops. We abandoned our way onto another route that was a 5.9 or so. Luckily for us it was a bolted hand crack, and as the skies opened up to rain and hail, I clawed us out for 3 pitches of sopping wet limestone. Lightening was cracking all over as well, keeping nerves on edge. We dragged ourselves over the rim safe and sound, albeit wet, but we didn't have to walk and hitch hike home!

The next day dawned clear and we rapped down to the halfway ledge to try and finish the route. We did 6 pitches of brilliant, hard as nails 11+ face climbing, but were starting to feel tired after 20 pitches over the last 2 days. We fired the rest of the route and retreated to the gite for a well deserved rest day and some quality french wine!

Here are some shots...I will do one more post about the rest of our Verdon time!

You think those clouds mean it will rain? The base of Pichenbule

Pitch 2 Pichenbule

Pitch 3 before the rain

Luckily for us the cracks are bolted and you can climb them in the rain

The weather the next day...lots of folks out enjoying the sun!