Friday, 29 May 2009

Return to Verdon?

Quite possible as weather in Dolomites not good!!

Still dreaming of Verdon

Life is sweet

After 8 hard days climbing in Verdon it was a relief to arrive back at my parent’s new home and chill out for a couple of days. Great food, company, wine, pampering and shopping. Just what a girl needs!! Off to find new nail polish now.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

The ultimate muscle van

Being overtaken by a 2CV!

The bat cave part 2

After a lovely evening at the beach we set off again. Securing a rope to the van to use as a handrail while we descended a steep, loose path to the abseil point. One abseil later we were faced with a huge abseil over the top of a cave, dangling without feet the whole way. This was too much for Sari finally and so we cut our losses to climb out of the last pitch and head for the beach once more.
There was a line of bolts above us so off I went. The climbing seemed super hard but perhaps it was just the stress and frustration of not starting the route from the bottom. After standing on bolts, clipping in, pulling on quick draws I managed to place a few quckdraws above me. It was then time to stand down and let Sari climb, maybe it just wasn’t my day.

Immediately I realised there was a problem as Sari also had problems on the top rope but she pushed onwards aid climbing with the use of a friend between bolts until easier ground and the top.

It was then we finally decided to gt the guidebook out and see what we had been climbing – and sure enough we had been attempting the 7b alternate finish! So our egos weren’t too battered by the end of the day.

The bat cave

For our last days climbing in Verdon we decided to climb a route or two at the other end of the Gorge, near a fabulous lake. The views were tremendous but we were back in our favourite territory, abseiling into nothing! The first day we tried we got to the abseil point, clipped in and then retreated back to the car. The scars of abseiling the previous day were still quite raw and Sari was not a happy bunny.
We decided to go cragging and swimming for a stress free day and try again the next.

Vultures and base jumpers

With all the giant vultures circling overhead waiting for some fresh climber carrion, we began our huge abseil adventure from the top to the bottom of the gorge. Oh how we just LOVE abseiling!! The only momentary distraction from the stress of trying to find abseil points and dangling mid air from a rope between large caves and overhangs were the base jumpers. One huge woosh and rush of air and finally a chute opens, followed by another and another. I knew I was stressed as I was wishing we had taken that route down and not our epic abseil.

So we arrived fresh and happy some four hours later to start a 13 pitch climb (La Demande)!

We were super pleased when we met some French locals who wondered why we had got up at 6am and spent 4 hours getting to the route when we could have parked the car at the bottom and walked in 30 minutes, got to love the guidebook abseil suggestion! After trying the first few bolts and moves on slippery, friction free rock we finally accepted defeat and went to climb another route instead.

We did manage a fabulous route with a sociable feel (how many climbers can you get on one tiny belay ledge?) climbing next to lots of French weekenders – one of whom graciously clipped our rope through the first couple of bolts on a 6b overhang on the last pitch that we needed to overcome to top out. La Derobee 6b.

Climbing in Verdon

What a place – 6 great days on fabulous rock in a georgeuos setting with glorious sunshine. No major route finding disasters and all went smoothly.

Climbing some amazing long routes including: Day 1 - Les Dalles 5c; Day 2 - El Gringo Loco 6a, Le Petit Chat 6a+; Day 3 – Cocoluche 6a, La Dolce Vita 6a+; Day 4 – THT 6a+, ? 6a, Jurrasic Parc 6a and Day 5 – L’Offre 6a.

And then a rest day finally before a big mission the following day.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Champagne and Celebrations

After a quick overnight stop in the Champagne region (where else) we pushed on to the house and spent some time resting and celebrating before our trip to Verdon.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

The end of an incredible journey

3,200 miles by RV, 3,100 nautical miles on the QM2, across the Chunnel and finally down through France. Emigrating from Seattle, Washington to Plan de la Tour. The last two legs in Jake with a multi-national crew from Finland, US and UK.
Only one breakdown immediately after getting off the Chunnel as we lost the Undertray so we got to use our reflective jackets and warning triangle right away!