Guided Adventure in the Verdon Gorge

'Au Dela du Delire/ULA' link up

Posted on 2013-06-27 - filed under verdon

The crux 7a+ and river 400m below

Another unforgettable day on the blue limestone of L'Escales yesterday climbing with Leigh Dearle from Perth Australia. This was  the 2nd occasion we'd climbed together, the first being 4 years ago on the beginner multi pitch 5+s and 6as of the Rocher St Julien in Buis Les Barronnies.

Since that time his confidence and skill on long routes has matured out of all recognition to the tune of several grades,so I figured he would be comfortable on one of the longer, committing and more  atmospheric itineraries on the big grey walls. At the 7a grade, ULA/Au Dela du Delire could rank as the most beautiful long route in the Verdon. A 14 pitch voyage up one of the highest walls of L'Escales.

A warm up of satisfying 6a/6b trad crack climbing takes the first half of ULA until a wildly exposed 7a traverse leads boldly out into 'no mans land' - an immaculate shield of grey stone for the
next 7 pitches of 6b to 7a+ wall climbing. Leaving the security of the
ULA crack system this section is committing and emergency retreat
would be quite complicated. 

Alternating leads,the first 7 pitches went smoothly, and Leigh
did a good job of figuring out the confusing 2nd pitch
through the overhung section of ULA. It was clear
that I was climbing with an equal partner and that we could lead through on the more difficult upper section. Arriving at the long 7a traverse I could tell that Leigh might be hesitating to lead this pitch but as the bolts were democratically placed and any falls would be
clean into the overhanging void I encouraged him to just go for it!
A good descision and very nearly an onsight of this technical 7a with
Leigh getting his wings and taking that first 'Verdon Whipper!' Scary but safe.

2 'out there' 6c pitches followed on only the best blue Verdon stone with not a trace of chalk to be seen. Now confident and relaxed,
Leigh solidly cruised through until it was my turn to take the very
bouldery 7a+ pitch - sequency moves on underclings and with bad feet to break through an overhang. At this point Stephanie (Leigh's fiance) appeared at the top of 'Les Marches du Temps' to cheer us on and take photos and we could see that only 3 pitches remained - an elegant 6a+ dihedral, an out of character 6c & A0 with some yarding on quickdraws to pass a blank section of poor rock, then a tricky final 6b, blind moves round an arete with the whole height of L'Escales spread below the feet.

Starting at 1.30pm we topped out 8 hours later having taken our time to soak up the big wall atmosphere, watch the silent Vultures riding the thermals, and take plenty of photos. More of which can be seen on facebook here at:!/alan.carne.71/media_set?set=a.10201339327825622.1073741831.1246137439&type=1

If you have climbed with Alan or have climbed in the Verdon then we would like to hear about your experience.
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