Sunday, 14 September 2014

J'aime la France

I must admit I am starting to fall in love with France. Its not that one off other side of the fence grass is greener sort of feeling that I had when I first travelled to Buoux at 16. It is the sort of love that just grows and grows. Over the years I have been to many places, most of the famous crags, Buoux, La Loup, The Tarn, Ceuse, Russan, Seynes, Peillon and on and on. All of which are truly amazing. Its not the usual haunts that are making it for me now though it is the more random and unheard of venues that are becoming a real pleasure. They take you away from the norm and into a new world, whilst venues like Ceuse are amazing they tend to absorb you and drag you into their world and sometimes you don't really see the beauty that is just around the corner or infact on the other side of the road.

Take every opportunity to rest up. Me and Cedric getting some shuteye.

This week we have been re-sampling the delights of the Gorges Du Tarn around 20 years on from my first visit with Ian Vickers and Naomi Guy. I went chuffing up some amazing climbs like Les Nouvelles Plantations Du Christ, Les Ailes Du Desir and the outstanding L’Odyssee De L’Espace, all a minimum of 50m they were pretty darn special. I even took a few moments at L'Odyssee belay. With a knee bar in I looked at the view, I took in the feeling of such a special climb before I clipped the belay, amazing. Every evening though we headed up and out of the gorge and away from the climbing to explore the high plains and villages. A stunning doss at the Pont Sublime one evening, another morning waking in the Gorge De La Jonte to count 24 vultures in one photo, a short walk along the GR6 with the dogs and an afternoon in Meyrueis all made for a more special visit. On wednesday evening we headed back to just north of Limouges to check on our horses as our friend who has been looking after them has hurt her leg quite badly. Hope you get well soon Becky. 


All looks good with Kate, Td and the ponies.

Not a bad view from a 20 acre field

The next afternoon we made the 1hr drive over to L’Angles-Sur-L’Anglin near Potiers, almost a pleasure to drive with so little traffic on the roads. Destination was Guignoterie, yet another old school crag with small pockets everywhere and almost vertical white limestone this was going to be a tough place to climb. The crag itself is only small, 100+ routes in a little sleepy backwater of France but as with all these crags it carries some history. Back in the 80’s it was frequented by the likes of Marc L’Menestrel and La Mouch. In fact it is apparently the home to the first 7b+ in the world to be climbed on-sight by BenoĆ®t Faure. Fissure Jaune is a wall and then crack, the white rock hiding the sequence to all, the only thing to read are the blackened feet as you try one finger then the next in a plethora of monos only to discover that its better with your thumb! 

The stunning L'Angles Sur L'Anglin

More fantastic photos of this wonderful village can be found here in Photo-vienne.com all credit to Stephane Charbeau or here on Panoglobe.com

Checking out my Booster S

Thankfully I didn't fall, it was a pleasure to climb and imagine what it must have felt like over 20 years ago to on-sight on pitons! After that I climbed the only 8a of the crag, another excellent route with a tough and slappy crux, a really fun second half and a Gorges De Tarn style runout above the last bolt. The climbing was great but this wasn't what made the experience for me. It was the discovery of yet another stunning area in France. If you are ever near Potiers make sure you visit L’Angle Sur L’Anglain it truly is beautiful, yet another off the beaten track gem of a place and I cant wait to go back for some more.


Gorges Du Tarn tips.
Les Vignes is pants. La Malene is the place to hang out. Butchers, shop, pizza, water, toilets, free camper van parking next to the river and 3g make this the spot for an evening in the Tarn. There is not camping allowed near the climbing you could get fined.
If you are in a tent check out Camping Beldoire in Vignes.
Get the local guide. Whilst the Rockfax is great, there are more sectors to be had and less mistakes, more info and money towards the bolts when you buy local. In Rozier you can get the local Tarn, La Jonte and Cantobre guides for 50 euro.
Get a long rope, i rocked up with a 70 and had issues, 80 as a minimum.
Get your head in gear and prepared to got a long way above bolts.....10m was the most I found. The tarn is bolted for on-sight, not for doggers or clipsticks.
25 clips and some long draws and biggish balls will get you up most stuff.

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