Thursday, March 8, 2018

Climbing in Provence, Fall Vacation 2017

Lucky for us, the kids have vacation every two months for two weeks, so we usually get out on a trip for one of the weeks.  This year, the weather in October was amazing, so we decided to head down to Provence and get back into climbing which we've been neglecting a little bit lately.

Our first stop was at les Gorges d'Agnielles for a nice little warm-up doing a via ferrata.  There were two options; the easy one and the "sportive" one.  We had a democratic vote and even though it was even, the boys convinced us to go on the more difficult route.  This is where I realized how badly out of shape I was.  Anna needed some convincing, but she managed to do all of it no problem.  However, I could not finish the overhang (and stupidly took my heavy backpack + SLR camera) so Jakub had to come to the rescue and help me clip the carabiners to move on.

Making our Way Up.

The exposed and relatively long overhang bit.

We then moved on to Orpierre, which is a well known climbing destination.  Here, we rented a nice little camping cabin with a five star view and a hot tub.  My kind of dream becoming true!  The sunsets from the cabin were quite spectacular.  The climbing here was nice, but with warm weather and school vacation comes crowdedness.  We had to go on shady routes, but still had a good time.

The hot tubbers.  It did take us one night and some intense google/youtube abuse to figure out how to get it going! ;)

Finally!!!  I've been missing hot tubs badly ever since we left Canada.

Sunset Day 1.

Anna patiently waiting her turn to climb.
Sunset Day 2

Sunset Day 2

On the way to the Calanques we did a quick afternnoon stop in Buoux.  This was again limestone crag climbing, not too busy and once again the weather was perfect.

Tom belaying Anna

In Calanques we did one day sit-on-top kayaking with a guide.  It was not quite comparable to the sea kayaking we did in Tofino (Canada), but was a nice switch from climbing.  It was assumed we have not paddled before, so we got a nice basic "how to paddle" demonstration (funny watching Jakub, the white water expert kayaker be taught basics :)  and after signing multiple forms (France), we were set to go!!  We paddled from Cassis into two of the nearest Calanques inlets and then back.

Starting point, Calanque Port Miou

Team Anna and Jakub


Calanque d'En Vau

Selfie Time in Sexy Life Jackets

Our Second Mission in Calanques was to climb of course.  We chose a pretty easy multipitch climbdièdre Guem, at Calanque de Sormiou.  I must say it's a classic and perfect for family climbing.  The route starts near the sea and the limestone is very grippy due to the salt and wind exposure.  The access to the route was an adventure itself, because we had to squeeze through a very narrow passage, which required taking off backpacks and some (Jakub!) could barely fit their shoulders in.  We were quite proud of ourselves to be there first as we are usually not so organized in the mornings.  After we started to climb, the line up behind us began...

Down climbing to access the diedre.

dièdre Guem

Off We Go!!

Safety First!

Anna and I - bird eye's view.

Getting over the bulge.

The last bit was very exposed, the kids rocked it!

Easy Peasy.

Our Guide :D

A nice view of the turquoise waters on our way back.

The kids went for a quick swim but beware of the jelly fish!

When it got rainy we made a small cultural interlude.  We visited Arles ampitheatre and Carrieres de Lumieres in Les Baux-de-Provence.

Amphitheatre Explorers.

The amphitheatre has pieces of shells stuck in the building blocks.

Our last and final stop was in the wine region Cotes du Rhone, namely Gigondas.  Here we climbed at Dentelles de Montmirail.  Jakub and the kids did one last multipitch climb into a "window" but at that point I opted out and rested.  The kids actually really loved this route as they ended up climbing to a hole in the cliff and then went through to rappel down on the other side.  There were many onlookers shocked that someone just came out from a hole in the cliff :D.

Left Overs?

Grenache grapes.

Our last climbing destination and the weather front is coming in.

Tom giving it a go.

To finish off, we bought some nice local wine and headed home as the weather degraded.  What can I say, a perfect trip this time, we had a blast!  A nice balance of sport, culture and...... hot tubbing! :D


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