If you want to give your forearms a rest and you're tired of massive outings in Les Gorges du Tarn, Cantobre is the place for you! Not far from Millau in fact and along the Gorge du Durbie lies a fantastic band of grayish-orange limestone that overlooks the village of Cantobre. This perfect sunny terrace is ideal for those who want to check out something new and climb somewhere other that the famous Gorge du Tarn.
Park the the car in the village of Cantobre perched precariously on the rocky outcrops high above the river Durbie and, rucksacks strapped firmly to your backs, walk along the path that leads to the base of the cliff, lined by large beech trees on one side and a large meadow on the other. The setting is marvelous and in just a few minutes the path leads to the base of "Turbulence": the main cliff with about fifty routes from 7a to 8c. This however is not the only sector and if you continue walking for a couple of minutes you'll reach 3 smaller sectors, equally interesting but with slightly easier routes.
After the initial impact we immediately realized that we'd reached a completely different planet compared to the Tarn; during our visit there we'd set off fairly relaxed, with harnesses full of quickdraws, ready for some fluid stamina climbing, but at Cantobre the name of the game is locking off low! With just a handful of quickdraws and warm biceps what you've got to do is leap from one pocket to the next, performing one magnificent dyno after the other and making sure you don't take flight!
While the Gorges du Tarn requires an 80m rope to deal with the 30-40m stamina fests and the very “French” bolting adds a hint of spice, Cantobre is marked by bulges and vertical faces no higher than 25m The limestone is always very compact and offers only the occasional pockets, never too painful though. The climbing is fairly athletic and although relatively straightforward, requires a certain degree of basic muscle power. While most routes are fairly difficult, some easier outings have been added to the new sectors.
1 - Turbulence – the main crag with a bulging start and slab finish 20/30 m – 7a/8c
2 - Jo barre team – Pocketed slab – 5c+/8a
3 – Salida del sol – 45°sheet of limestone, the sector that hosted the Man's ultimate route during the 2004 Petzl Roctrip 2004 – 7c/9a
4 – Le roi du pad – 6b/8a
Cantobre is not the only crag in the area; “Grands Causses” contains plenty of splendid crags such as Gorges du Tarn, Gorges della Jonte and Boffi, with more than 2500 single pitch and multi-pitch sport climbs. Visiting all crags and sector during one trip is nigh impossible. Apart than climbing there are plenty of walks, bike rides and canoeing trips. The village Cantobre is well worth a visit and offers a superb view onto the crag.
Cantobre is not included in the guidebook for the Gorges du Tarn and you therefore need to buy the small La Durbie guidebook that includes the crags Boffi and Malaspes as well as some via ferrata. The guidebook can be purchased in the numerous souvenir shops and at the shop Horizon in Millau.
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