One thing that has become very apparent is that Wifi is pretty hard to come by in Europe. Until you tramp around looaaddss of Café’s asking if they provide free Wifi with their goodies you don’t realize how lucky we are that pretty much everyone in the UK is in the cyber generation. Another slight issue has been the need for 240v in the van. I did have an inverter (that’s now broken) however without it even the simplest thing such as charging the electric toothbrushes is starting to arise. Anyway, enough dripping from me, it’s hard to complain when you are sat on the French Riviera at nearly 9pm and its still 18 degrees. Yep, it’s been pretty warm over the last few days (28C today) but it hasn’t put us off a few tougher routes in these glorious surroundings another bonus is having our own photographer along for a change – all pics are a credit to Jane’s eye for a super snap…..
Since my last blog Dave, Jane, the dogs and I have had 4 great days climbing on STEEP limestone and not-to steep red granite. We arrived to mid afternoon into the sleeping medieval village of Châteaudouble, this little place is a real gem although it now requires a descent detour to visit due to a huge landslide that’s taken half the road away. From the village we walked to Les Marinouns and climbed at Sector Code Secret. Dave made short work of L’echelle au Pepe (5) before we both jumped on the pumpy Oraine (6a), this was a good warm up for what was to be a real workout on Code Secret P1 (6b). ‘A Cracker, sustained and steep’ and it certainly didn’t disappoint. It’s a little frustrating having had so much time off climbing in the last 12 months, I can climb every move on these kind of routes but the stamina just isn’t there yet, I suppose we all need goals and route endurance is certainly mine this winter! Having destroyed the arms we packed up for the day ready for Baou des Prannes which is certainly the main event in this area. First up we had a real fight on a route called Armchair of the Ants, given 6a in the book but I would say just as steep and pumpy as Code Secret yesterday. The real excitement for me though was getting one bolt from completing the hard pitch of Ete Orageux (6b+). This cracking pitch follows crimpy laybacks up to a super roof which is bypassed on the right. A mega pitch but again the length just getting the better of my weak arms!
One day off (it is a holiday afterall) and we were on route to the wonderful red rock of Gorges du Blavet. The guidebook says read granite; it was certainly fire red but possibly Ryolite not Granite, but man was it rough and great to climb on! Being Sunday we had other climber around us for the first time and so decided on the shaded, shorter and quieter routes of the Petit Canyon, of particular interest to me was Gregory Pete (6c) being short and off vertical I thought it may suit my style a bit better and get me off my weak arms for the majority of its tiny 15 meters. We both got acquainted on the two short 5+ routes to its left before throwing the top route on Gregory to see what it was like. The verdict was one very fingery ‘f**k off’ move at soft French 6c and the remainder a great 6a+; well that’s what we thought anyway! Dave and I had one bash working the route then got straight on the lead to make my first successful 6c of the trip, not bad for just a couple of weeks sport climbing in over a year. The remainder of the afternoon Dave climbed Dans la Chaleur vacante (6a) before we both had a bash at Un Petit air de Pete (6b) which again I dropped at the chains – shite!
Its been a great 10 days with Davie but as we dropped him off at Nice airport this morning Jane, the pups and I head South for a week of sun, sand and vino in the countdown to her 30th birthday. Next stop Spanish bolts!