Monday, November 26, 2007

Africa Museum

This being the low season for climbing/mountaineering, at least as far as Belgium is concerned, I am concentrated lately at visiting various climbing gyms around my home sweet home. This w-end, to keep fit, was dedicated to biking and art. After 2hr at the Forêt de Soigny (perfect for my elementary VTT skills), we stopped at the Africa Museum.

This museum, situated in the domaine royale of the king in this same forest, boasts a rich collection of ethnographic african art, coming mainly from the old Congo colony. Yes, Belgium somehow managed to proclaim a colony several times its size - where somehow is not exactly a correct word. Anyway, the museum is now trying to wash off the colonial glow with a corner dedicated to 'colonial history' and attempts at being objective about the wrong-doings of the white man.

The collection itself is impressive, especially the 'art room' with chosen sculprutes and the 'hats' exhibit. Imagine that the Jago perrot has 12 orange feathers in its tail. No wonder these would cost a fortune and signify a chief from a distance.

The sculpture is not less surprising, with such powerful works as this one:

This one looked like an African buddah to me:

And this one like an illustration to Enchi Fumoko's Masks:

This museum reminded me a lot of my recent visit to the Vancouver's UBC anthropology museum, there is so much to learn from these forgotten and destroyed cultures...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Benabar and Bregovic

What a couple - Benabar and Bregovic, I would not believe it if I didn't see the (pretty bad) movie Vatanen's Rabbit, for whose soundtrack they associated. I found the result sweet, Egare Volontaire makes up for a good song. Otherwise, samples from Benabar are here, and from Bregovic here.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Aravis - Tours d'Areu

Tours d'Areu are these five distinct towers one can see from Salanches when looking up the hill. They look far away - and they are! Although the book talks about 1,5hr total approach, it took us only that to get to Doran village by foot (we did not dare drive up that road with my car), half way...But the promised scenery was at rendez-vous and the hike-in seemed less painful for that.

We did manage to get up CopaCabana, one of the easiest routes up the fourth tower. Its ratings are rather surprising with hard slab pitches, both 6a+ and 5c+ seemed similar and harder than its grade. Piola knew how to climb slab in the 80ies...And after the slab comes the roof - with Mont Blanc at our feet:

If anything, this place is worth it just to see this jewel!

Aravis - Pointe Percée, Gramusset

The second day, after a rather cold camping experience, saw us up la Pointe Percee, the highest peak in Aravis chain, at only 2750 meters, perfect for short autumn days. This is it - from the other side, at Doran village, as seen on the approach to Tours d'Areu the next day.

And this is it on the descent, the North Face. We climbed on the Gramusset side, you see it on the right of this photo, a 300m vertical wall going to the shoulder of the mountain. Mountaineering spirit being dead so far in our hearts, we concentrated only on climbing that short section.

The route, Partage du Monde, was beautiful and interesting, with both, slabs and overhangs, and even a cool crack on the pitch before last. Only 5 pitches, but combined with 2,5 hr of approach, this made up a rather good day out.

Here is the cool roof section in the beginning of the fourth pitch, a climb with a view!

Again, picture taking took up my time. This is Renaud on the descent again, close to the refuge, on this sea of limestone that reminds of a rocky glacier of sorts.

and this is me on the same limestone sea, looking the other way, towards the just climbed wall:

PS - some good info on this website about climbing around Haute Savoie.

Aravis - Sapey

To start the long w-end that we decided to spend in Aravis, the limestone mountain chain in front of Mont Blanc, we went to Sapey. Not having a topo, but only a print-out picture, the route finding with autumn mists was the crux. Thanks to some climbers in the area, we finally stumbled upon Extasy, our proposed route for the day, after long rambling around the base.

Rock is definitely awesome there, some super-high quality limestone with cannelures and unpolished gray madness of 200m of vertical fun. Incredible, especially for the last pitch, a place to go for limestone purists!

The whole w-end proved to be a very photogenic experience. My head did not exactly work well for leading, thus i concentrated on taking pictures. This one is from the rappel after Extasy

And this one the sunset (yes, days are pretty short now!) view over the main Aravis chain and Mont Blanc making its white spot behind there.