lundi 29 juin 2009

Climbing around Fribourg

Yes, there is some world class rock climbing nearby Fribourg, at least according to my taste! It is called the Gastlosen range, and offers a LOT of good climbing on EXCELLENT limestone, with a bit of everything from short sport climbing to long aid climbing routes in any grades.

We went there last Sunday with Julien and Steph'. Julien gratified us with some nice "knee technique", while Steph was enjoying the long and sustained sport routes! Here are a few pics, mostly from Julien and Steph':

mardi 16 juin 2009

West ridge of Pic Nord des Cavales

Taking advantage of a long week end (Thursday was off so I took the Friday off as well), me and Steph' planned a long-ish trip in the Oisans ranges. We wanted to stay 3 nights at the Chateleret hut, in order to climb some of the ridges around. The first day was just dedicated to some shopping*, and to go up to the hut. The west ridge of Pic Nord des Cavales was planned for the next day.

We woke up lazily at 7am, as we didn't need to be at the bottom of the ridge before 9.30am, to get the sun for the actual climbing. The way up was fine: the route was steep enough, so no snow was sticking to the rock. The climbing was quite sustained actually, with many pitches of grade higher than French grade 4 (NZ 12/13, crux grade 16/17), and some easier parts where running belays were possible. The rock was an excellent granite, but difficult to protect, and difficult for me to climb with alpine boots!

The way down was a bit more adventurous, via the south ridge. Unfortunately, the normally easy downclimb was this day made off "wet" slabs, either covered by wet snow or by running water coming from the melting of the snow. Downclimbing was impossible, and we resolved to abseil most of it, sometimes with not so good anchors... We arrived at the hut late-ish, completely wet... As everything would have been of the same kind around, and as the rope were soaked, we made the walk back to the car... The week end ended lazily by some swimming, and a tiny bit of rock climbing on the way back to Fribourg. I guess alpine climbing wasn't the best plan that week end...

* some Alpine rock boots, and a Camalot size 4 for me... Couldn't resist the sales...

lundi 8 juin 2009

Farting around in Aix les Bains

Very varied 3 days week end: despite of a very changeable weather, we did many different things... Here is the list:
- some fast hiking (cos Jean-François needed to be back before 2pm to go to work). We did a nice but exposed section of ridge in the "Bauges" ranges
- baking some cookies
- some rock climbing at La Balme, where the weather does not matter due to the steepness of the crag. It is an excellent crag actually, unfortunately very elitist, as you have to warm up on 6b (NZ grade 20) there, and everything else is much harder...
- eating tons of cherries
- some wet&muddy mountain biking
- my first via-ferrata (see the pics), which is supposed to be the hardest in France. That was steep indeed, but not that bad with all these huge "holds". The exposure was fantastic, although Monique (Stephanie's mother) didn't really appreciate it... Maybe that wasn't the best gift for the mother's day ;o)
- eating a lot of cakes
- a short but fast walk with Jé

Climbing at THE bridge

Palmerston North has the infamous Manawatu Gorges, Fribourg has the famous Pérolles bridge...

In between the university and my work, there is a high bridge over the Sarine river, which is in a gorge in this section. Some climbers from Fribourg managed to get some money to set up some routes there, putting up some lines of resin holds, some of them reaching 3 pitches for 80m. Not too bad, hey? All that is excellent for an after work training, which most of the climbs being very sustained for their grade. The hardest ones finish at the top of the arches, being subsequently very overhanging...

Hopefully we will get strong with that...