Martynas: I’m sitting on an ancient juniper tree sticking out of the rock, many meters of void below me. The tree gives a rest to my delicate body from hanging belays while I am eating a sandwich and belaying my wife who is fighting in a chimney. A constant meditative sound of splashing Verdon stream gets interrupted by “salut!” from a BASE jumper nearby whose parachute just deployed. Sun is warming my back, and the life seems to float into the right direction.
Laura: Gorges du Verdon to me personally is a reminder of what’s the point in all this. A reminder of why I am living in a van and spending most of time either climbing or belaying or resting after climbing while still thinking about it. So when the reason for this undertaking starts to blur, it is a good time to go to Verdon. Every time I’m here I say I should stay here forever (But then I go somewhere else and say I should stay there). This time Verdon was also a wake up call. When we first drove into La Palud this year, there was still lots of snow. But we were eager to abseil already. A couple of days passed, the snow melted, and we could smell the spring. Then a week of never ending rain and everything bloomed. It suddenly became almost too hot but the sun was so much missed that we enjoyed every beam of it. And in between the snow and rain and heat we climbed!
L: We aimed to direct our ambitions towards the classics, some of which have in their descriptions “run out” or “some camalots might be reassuring” or “take some trad gear”. But as we always do we started slowly. So the first route we did was “Dingomaniaque” from Jardin des Ecureuils. Then we went up on “Demon”. Both of these are fully bolted sport routes and they were a great introduction to the slabby and technical style that can be found here.
M: Verdon is one of a few climbing places which I consider as true: exposed compact limestone is a real test ground for one’s technique and mind, often without a possibility to cheat. Campus board, TRX or moonboard videos on Instagram do not help much to comfortably scale these walls. Just watch Opera Vertical to see what I meant.
L: After this intro we wanted to go more traditional and chose “Luna Bong” for that. This was one of the best routes I’ve done in Verdon. Huge seemingly never-ending cracks protected by a combination of bolts and trad gear - quite a common style in Verdon. On “Luna Bong” I had a memorable moment when I unintentionally skipped a belay thinking that mine is very soon. Apparently, mine was the one I skipped and so I had to combine two long pitches. I ran out of cams, quickdraws and the single biners after splitting quickdraws. Ropedrag was dreadful but yay somehow managed to reach the belay. Felt hard (was 6a)!
M: I’d be a liar if I had told that I feel very comfortable climbing old school routes in Verdon. The beginning is always the most difficult though, but with each committed move or a taken fall it becomes more and more pleasant.
L: And then the Queen of all routes - “La Demande”. Woow, what a ride! The lower part is quite quick, amazing cracks. After about a half, the chimneys start and you get to learn climbing once again. One leg on one side, the other on the other or back on one side, legs on the other. Tried everything, everything worked (it had to cause you don’t wanna fall) but finished exhausted as hell! I can still see many of the moves in those chimneys when I close my eyes.
M: Meanwhile, my parents and sister visited us in Verdon to see what the hell I’m doing with my life. And they were impressed by the nature of Verdon!
L: Another classic that stuck in my mind was “Baiser Sanglant” that’s famous for it’s 2nd pitch finger crack. Classy! And the traverse of the 1st pitch is not worse. Go try it if you have a chance. It is a good option for when there’s just a couple of hours before the rain cause it’s 3 pitches in total.
L: Our time in Verdon was coming to an end but we had one more amazing surprise! Eglytė paid a short visit and we had great time together. After 12 years break (getting old, I know) we climbed a multi-pitch together again! Guess where was the last time (hint: Vytas should know). I hope will became a tradition now!