Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Orpierre versus Briançon

Orpierre, even the out of the way cliffs were busy
From Orgon we moved on a couple of hours northwards and had a week in Orpierre. The first few days were pleasant, there were quite a few climbers around but it was possible to get stuff done by being flexible and shuffling around. Then came Thursday and the Bank Holiday/long weekend - I have never seen so many climbers in one place - every cliff in the area was packed.
Of course this is the downside of Orpierre as a destination - despite it being a lovely mellow spot, the fact that you can walk to many of the cliffs means that it is always popular and especially with 'groups'. Also many of the routes are badly polished now, which detracts from the overall experience.
Briançon - a bit more like it
Briançon is a different kettle of fish, a small city, high in the mountains and surrounded by cliffs of all shapes, sizes and rock types. The extra altitude (4,400') means it is cooler than most venues at this time of year. The sheer amount of climbing on offer means that cliffs are generally quite - though it is always worth keeping a look-out for mini-buses in the parking areas and having a Plan B.
Next week it is onwards to Aussois and the Maurienne - if our experience from last September is anything to go by, that is one area that should be really quiet.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Orgon for Beginners

Sherri above of Orgon
Orgon - polished but pleasant
The slow journey home started after a couple of pleasant weeks in the Ariège, and initially we decided to head to Orgon, about four hours northwards. The venue was well known for its hard climbs many years ago but it was a spot I have never visited. It turns out to be a lovely little area, a quiet campsite, ringed by the cliffs, with 300+ routes to go at across the grades. It has to be admitted that a lot of the climbs are pretty polished now - a common problem with lower grade limestone routes across France - but the approach is short, the setting is sunny and the bolts are fat.
It is looking like May is a good time to be wending our way through France - it is pretty hot - up to 28C - but everywhere is so quiet - just how we like it.
From here, next stop is Orpierre, then after that - time will tell, we expect to be back in the UK in about a month, so no great rush.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Flying Visit

Stanage perfection
It was my mother's 90th birthday and we were called to attend. A Friday afternoon flight to Manchester was on time and easy, collect a car and booking into an airport hotel was the easy option - better than the UK motorway network on a Friday night.
Saturday was a long day, driving, talking and celebrating before we arrived back at our flat in Sheffield 8+ months after we left. A bath, the big chair and boring TV were our reward.
Sunday was Stanage with a large jolly team and perfect weather. I did half a dozen routes including top-roping a couple of E3 climbs that I made the first ascent of about 30 years ago - phew, must have been pretty good once!!
Then Monday it was back to Manchester for the flight back to Carcassonne - it is amazing how easy travelling is nowadays.
A week in the Ariége then we head off on a slow drive back to the UK - first stop Orgon.

A month in Switzerland

Gornergrat - rammed A month passed in Switzerland and it has been very pleasant, climbing, hiking, chilling and even doing a bit of to...