Saturday, 23 October 2010

Le Dièdre Sud

The last day of good weather before the clouds rolled in!

We'd seen this buttress on our first day in Orpierre – it's hard to miss – and hey, whaddayano, there's an easy route up the centre of it. Perfect!

Described as “following strong features all the way to the top”, the first few pitches were easy enough to find, and pretty enjoyable too. It starts (naturally enough) in a wide corner with interesting stemming moves, before opening out towards the top.

However, the fifth pitch was a bit of a surprise, being a completely unnecessary traverse across a rock face (with paths a metre above and below) – lovely moves, but perhaps a bit contrived! We then worked out that the final two pitches were actually on the face to the right, and not on the edge of the buttress as shown on the topo. Poor form Rockfax! You're normally so reliable, too!


What was on the edge of the buttress was the final pitch of Voyage, going at 6a … and that was a far more pleasant way to end the route!
Once up that last pitch, we had lunch on the top - our usual in France, of fresh bread and stinky cheese - before the rappels down.

Haute Provence

Despite the very cold overnight temperatures, it was t-shirt weather in the sun during the day and we made the most of three great days climbing in Orpierre and Sisteron. Well ... it was only briefly t-shirt weather! Cold mornings meant a slow start over tea and croissants, and once the sun hit the horizon at the end of each day, it was hot shower, warm clothes and dinner time.

Orpierre from above!
We can see why Orpierre is such a popular climbing destination; the medieval village at the bottom of the valley and the cliffs rising directly above – and Sisteron too, with the climbing overlooking the river and up to the castle on the hill. Very pretty! The rock is limestone and is solidly bolted, and the grades range from too-easy-even-for-us to too-hard-to-contemplate. Sure it attracts a crowd, but thankfully being there mid-week we managed to avoid it.
Jen at Sisteron
It was also for us a pretty social three days. We caught up with Hans and Richard, from Amsterdam, and also made some new Belgium friends, Tom and Evi, in the heated dining room of the camping site. Good fun.