Guided Adventure in the Verdon Gorge

'Serie Limite'

Posted on 2014-05-17 - filed under routes


With Graham Baxter on his 2nd day in the Verdon.

Warming up on 'La Demande' yesterday, 
he today flashed 'Serie Limitee' 8 pitches 300m 7a max.
This is a 5 star modern classic on the 'Duc' and again the work of Lionel Catsoyannis the author of  'Via Mathis'.

Bruno 'Graou' Clement

Posted on 2014-05-14 - filed under verdon


For those unfamiliar with the world of French rock climbing
this man is Bruno Clement. To date, he has probably contributed more in real terms to French free climbing than anyone before or since. He's not even sure how many new climbs he's bolted but thinks it might be in the region of 500 in the Verdon region alone and this is probably only a portion of his total life's work so far.

Yesterday while preparing to belay him on one of his recent creations, an esoteric and brutal 8b+ roof crack for the camera of Keith Ladzinski
and Colette McInerney and the pen of Andrew Bisharat  I took this snapshot
of him.

At that moment I saw in his face and hands the strength
and untamed passion of a great artist.

Like the verdon Gorge itself - a force of nature.

'Oublier pour Tenir'

Posted on 2014-05-11 - filed under routes

Photo: Oublier pour Tenir 7b+
Oublier pour Tenir 7b+

The above climb is typical of the older, purest style of face climbing in the Verdon. A real technical testpiece climbed mainly on vertical features for both hands and feet - an exploration of vertical balance using layaways, gastons, smears, and friction, with high exposure and with 'spacey' protection. It is found in a little visited part of the Gorge 300m above the 'Sentier Martel', way up above the 'Paroi Rouge' and is one of the few routes in this style that I haven't done before. I like to feel I know the Canyon and it's deepest recesses so it is a rare thrill to discover a forgotten gem like this with so few signs of passage - no chalk marks, no traces of shoe rubber and with the finely chiselled holds still crisp and sharp under my fingertips. The name of the climb also captured my imagination - 'Oublier pour Tenir' - of which the closest I can get to a translation is 'To forget in order to hold on', and is very suggestive of this Verdon style of insecure slab climbing.

In any case the afternoon and climb was certainly quite an un-forgettable one belayed by my friend, writer and climber Andrew Bisharat and photographed by master image maker Keith Ladzinski for National Geographic. More of their work can be seen here..

Thanks for a perfect belay Andrew, and thank you for your Art Keith!

'Via Mathis'

Posted on 2014-04-26 - filed under routes

Photo: Andrew sumitting \'Via Mathis\' in fading light
Andrew sumitting \'Via Mathis\' in fading light

"Via Mathis" is a recent and very long new route here in the Verdon.
An awesome sustained 14 pitch long 'tour de force' with difficulties up to 7c, and an insane 30m long natural rock tunnel ('the Vulture tunnel') that passes from the west to the east face of the 400m cliff face. This pitch is unique and hilarious and involves crawling on all fours!
It is a masterpiece of routefinding and a tribute to the genius and hard work of its creator Lionel Catsoyannis, with Eric Chavire. Merci Lionel!! What a wonderful contribution to the Verdon.

Here yesterday with Andrew Bisharat on a complete and onsight ascent.

Feeling worked this morning!

More photos visible on my facebook page at