Climbing multi-pitch routes at Les Calanques
Gianni Lanza introduces some of the most beautiful rock climbs in the Calanques: La Paroi Noire at Crêt Saint Michel, La Calanque and La Saphir at En Vau and Arête de Marseille at Chandelle.
Many years ago I was lucky enough to discover the beauty of the Calanques and this opened the horizons to a magical world. Sun, sea, Mediterranean scents, rock climbing immersed in a pristine nature. Whenever I can I return to these bays and rock faces, often in the company of friends, surprised by this breathtaking landscapes, by the its wealth of climbing and classic rock climbs. The routes are always elegant, up excellent rock, unfortunately though this has become somewhat polished due to the thousands of climbers passing over the holds every year.
The Calanques are a true massif, somewhat like the Italian Grigna, and its outcrops witnessed the history of French rock climbing unfold. While Gaston Rebuffat and Geoges Livanos were the leading lights during the pioneering era, a large influx of foreign climbers contributed to the development of new techniques and cutting-edge routes in the Calanques.
A famous example is the visit by the Americans Royal Robbins, Gary Emming and John Harlin who in 1963 made the first ascent of Pilier des Americains, a true masterpiece of aesthetics up the mighty righthand pillar at En Vau. Nowadays this massif offers countless climbs of all shapes and sizes, from single pitch sports climbs to adventurous outings, from easy free climbs to hard aid, all set in a stunning marine limestone environment which must surely ranks as of the most beautiful in the world.