Verdon Gorge rock climbing in France
A selection of rock climbs in the fantastic Verdon Gorge, France, an area which witnessed the entire evolution of sport climbing.
The striking Verdon Gorge in France's Haute-Provence is the epitome of multi-pitch rock climbing. The sheer blue-grey, orange and yellow walls host some of the finest routes in the world and the climbs here are an exciting mix of immense exposure and refined technique on immaculate pocketed limestone.
The steep walls of the Gorges du Verdon witnessed the entire evolution of this sport: the long classics established ground-up in the '70's such as La Demande, Ula and Luna Bong are all world-class, but the trad, ground-up approach gave way to the to the introduction and systematic use of bolts in the 1980's and ‘90’s. Single pitch routes became the norm, as did top roping, invented here they say, and bolting from above. For obvious reasons. The Verdon remains unique perhaps also because of this: to reach the routes, you need to abseil down into a truly impressive void.
A frightening drop, above routes that have made their way into the history books; classics such as La Demande established over two days in 1968 by François Guillot and Joel Cöqueugniot, Pichenibule, Ctuluh, Gwendal, Debiloff Proffondicum, l’Ange en decomposition, Surveiller et Punir, Papy on sight, Les Specialistes… the list is endless. As is the list of main activists: Jaques Perrier, Jean Marc Troussier, the Remy brothers, Jean Baptist Tribout, Patrick Edlinger, Bruno Clément… all attracted to this incredible limestone which, for its quality, has become world reference point.
In truth no article can do justice to Verdon Gorge. To understand why it's climbing's equivalent of a UNESCO World heritage site, you simply have to pay it a visit. You won't be disappointed.
Location: La Palud sur Verdon, France
Best time of year: Spring and autumn. The Gorges du Verdon are situated on a plateau at almost 1000m: summer can often be too hot, while from October onwards it may be too cold to climb.
Gear: For the multi-pitch sports routes two 60/70m ropes are indespensable. Bring 2 prussik loops for the abseils and 12 quickdraws. The Verdon requires perfect abseiling technique. Never forget to tie a knot in the end of the ropes, and tie into prussik loops, prior to abseiling.
Grade: 4a ? 8c
Number of routes: 800
Bibliography: "Escalade au Verdon" by P. Légier, F. Ristori and A. Jamin
Links: www.leilagramusas.fr - official website of the local climbing association, with guidebook index of all routes
From the north: take the A6 motoway to Avignon and take the N100 for Apt, then Manosque and Riez. From here take the D56 to Moustiers, and continue along the D952 to La Palud.
From the south: from Nice take the N85 to Castellane, and continue along the D952 for La Palud. Turn left shortly before entering the village along the D23, the panoramic Route des Cretes, which leads to the Belvedere de la Carelle lookout at Escales and the routes.
Highly technical slab climbing on steep compact limestone.
Food and Accommodation
La Palud is the base camp for climbers, offering numerous campgrounds. The international dialing code for France is +33
Camping Municipal**, route de Castellane, 04-92-77-38-13.
Bourbon*, route de Moustiers Sainte Marie, 04-92-77-38-17.
Boulogne (à la ferme), route de la Maline, 04-92-77-30-27.
Bourras (à la ferme), route de Castellane, 04-92-77-33-54.
Julliard (à la ferme), route de la Maline, 04-92-77-38-18.
La Graou (à la ferme), route de Moustiers Sainte Marie (6 kms), 04-92-77-38-22.
Gîtes & Refuges:
Le Chalet Le Refuge, les bondils (8 kms), 04-92-83-68-45.
Le Chalet De La Maline, route de la Maline (8 kms), 04-92-77-38-05.
Le Wapiti, le village, 04-92-77-30-02.
L'arc En Ciel, place de l'église, 04-92-77-32-28
L'étable, route des Crêtes, 04-92-77-30-63.
Gite Rural Du Serre, les Michels, 04-92-83-61-90
Le Panoramic**, route de Moustiers Sainte Marie, 04-92-77-35-07.
Le Provence**, route de la Maline, 04-92-77-38-88.
Les Gorges Du Verdon***, route de la Maline, 04-92-77-38-26.
L'auberge Des Crêtes**, route de Castellane, 04-92-77-38-47.
Le Perroquet Vert, le village, 04-92-77-33-39.
La Valdenay, hameau de Chaumas, 04-92-77-37-92.
Les Michels, Châteauneuf les Moustiers (5 kms), 04-92-83-61-45.
L'enchâstre, Châteauneuf les Moustiers (10 kms), 04-92-83-76-12.
Maison D'adele, route des crêtes, 04-92-77-30-34
Le Bureau Des Guides (mountain guides), le village, 04-92-77-30-50.
Le Perroquet Vert (climbing shop), le village, 04-92-77-33-39.
Bureau du tourisme, tel.fax 04-92-77-32-02