After spending a quarter of our vanlife/roadtrip/“my hair is constantly oily”/whatever thing in Tarn, we decided to enrich our knowledge of southern France geography. As a consequence, in one month we have explored quite a few places that were new to us, with one little exception.
Another new thing was that we started to use belay glasses to reduce neck pain which drastically improved our belaying experience.
Le Boffi is not so popular but a superb sport climbing venue which sits on one of the hills seen from Millau. We spent two days there climbing long, vertical, sometimes slabby routes. We decided to take it easy (in Laura’s dictionary easy means up to 7a+), and climb just for pure fun without pushing, projecting, shouting and swearing. However, after getting used to overhanging routes in Tarn, my ego was completely destroyed when a 6b+ slab route required determination and four tries.
One amazing feature of Le Boffi is vultures. There are plenty of them, slowly drifting in the air. We got stoned just by watching them!
Cantobre is yet another crag located not so far from Millau. It has plenty of douchbag-y* routes (* in my dictionary - overhanging, powerful, not so long and easy to read) which was supposed to be perfect to fix my ego. However, we underestimated the fact that it is a winter crag, so the 6pm (at 8pm it was already dark) start was too late even for me who is usually like “Laura, can we go 30 min later as I want to finish typing my things into computer”. Unfortunately, due to the heat we managed to clip chains only on some warm up routes.
While falling after an a muerte try on the classic “Turbulence” (7b+), out of despair, Laura invented a new word “kūrvi!” - a mixture of “kurmis” (eng. mole), which she used to shout in similar situations, and of some polish word.
Next stop was Gorge de la Jonte which sits in a valley nearby Tarn. For a change, we wanted to climb two short multipitches in a day. First we climbed the very nicely exposed “L’arete ouest” (6a+, 3 pitches). Then, we got puzzled and lost by Rockfax guidebook, so instead went on some quite shitty and chossy sport routes which destroyed our hype. Meh.
After not so successful day in La Jonte, we felt that our life style started to take a toll on us: we got more tired, less motivated and more dirty. To fix the latter, the van brought us to the Tarn. The feeling when entering the valley (even for the n-th time) was still magnificent, so the next day was spent there climbing at the sector Noir Desir.
Laura easily sent a couple of 7b’s, while myself managed to fall from the very last move on “Noir Desir” (7b). Regardless, my hype was fixed and we left the valley with peace.
Driving away for a couple of hours from Millau, we reached Seynes accommodating many climbs on tufas, including the famous “Dinosaure” (8a+), which really reminded a back of a dinosaur.
The tufas were quite polished, and sometimes very tricky. Neither of us could do “Tube Neural” (6c+). Mantling, pinching, lay-backing or even chimney climbing technique didn’t help us. Swearing neither.
Noise coming from busy road nearby (it was a weekend) combined with some rain and the frustration mentioned above made the first day experience quite annoying.
Luckily, during second day we approached climbing in Seynes more open-minded and thus, we had a lot of fun. I clipped nothing, while Laura managed to sent “La Chute du Rastaquouere” (7b+).
According to 8a.nu, St. Leger is the 3rd most popular climbing spot in France. We visited it once this summer, but due to high temps we could climb only in a sector facing North.
We found climbing in St. Leger totally different from other places in France: no soft grades, rock is difficult to read, sometimes sloppy, warm ups are hard. Nevertheless, both of us were psyched and spent almost two weeks climbing there.
Grade-wise, the highpoint of the visit was 7b for both of us (although we tried some stuff above our heads for the first time), altitude-wise - the rest day hike to Mont Ventux or 1500 vertical meters up. The rest day hike required another rest day afterwards.
Some routes in St. Leger have beautiful plates with names on it, while the official guidebook is ridden with crazy Microsoft Word Clip Art;-)
Nice and Verdon
After St. Leger we rushed to Nice to meet with my sister Renata who finally signed to try climbing for the first time.
First day was spent top roping at Le Trubie, just outside Nice. My sister climbed her very first vertical meters on a rock in a superb setting: just above Monaco, sea, tons of sun. According to Laura, she is more stubborn in a good way than me. Well done, Renata!
Next day, we drove to Verdon to hike in the gorge and enjoy the nature which is damn amazing especially during this time of the year.
Third day my sister had to leave, so we said goodbye and started driving to … Slovenia!