Saturday, April 19, 2008

Calanques 2008

After a day's climbing stop at Cormot, a very nice crag in the heart of Burgundy, we head down south. I can't withstand a temptation to photograph this world-famous wine country, although for us it's rock, and not wine, that makes up the attraction:


This was supposed to be a preparation for the upcoming Valley trip, but the weather and other scheduling issues have let us down, making it rather a quick start-of-the-season outing. Nevertheless, Calanques welcome us, mistral, sea and rocks at the usual rendez-vous.


We stay only three days for three routes and a romantic night at Pierre Azemat refuge for a bonus. The only thing missing is a water source. This place is still as incredible as ever. All hues of blue that great us on the first day's approach to La Candelle:


I learn a little bit more about this place's history from some torn pages at the refuge. Calanques, deep valleys in the white limestone, were formed by rivers, not glaciers as is the case for fjords, before the last ice age. They then were covered by ice, then sea, and then uncovered once more for us to enjoy in the current shape and form. The tops of the valleys resemble more desert-like mountains of in-land Provence, but the bottoms, well-protected from mistral, harbor tropical vegetation and their own micro-climate. Calanque d'En Vau, one of the most beautiful ones out there, from top of the Belvedere plateau, Cassis rocks in the distance to the right:


Our objectives are not too over the board, first day sees us up the upper part of la Candelle - third time for me, first time for Ren, by Fleurs du Mal route - enjoyable first two pitches, harder higher part. This is an unusual profile view of the rock:


The second day I have some unfinished business with Futurs Croulants, a route I once failed to find with Gabe. This time we manage to find it - and it's as good as it is supposed to be! I enjoy very much the boyot pitch, where you climb up a tunnel for almost a whole pitch - even more enjoyable and twisted than the before-last pitch of Traversee sans Retour. It does feel like it's all going to cramble into the sea soon, so get there and do it if you have not yet! This is Ren on the famous roof traverse of the 6b pitch:

And myself a little bit lower down:

The last day we make an excursion to Essaidon to do Bain au Calançon. I still don't know what calançon means though...The start is in a cave (picture below) with great ambiance, the top is hard on vertical goutes d'eau - but passing tourists taking pictures encourage me to make it to the top of a more enjoyable last pitch.

1 comment:

Alex said...

I was in Calanques from Thurs. to Sun., with a friend from Boston.
On the only day with good weather (Sat.) we climbed Gutenberg and Centrale on La Candelle. Otherwise small climbs, and then the rain would start (3 rainy days out of 4 - we were told this never happens in Marseille:). Bad weather was more than compensated by meeting incredibly nice people who gave us a guidebook, maps, advice, food, wine and shelter. It is amazing to see such hospitality from total strangers - while a former climbing partner, after ~200 pitches together, won't pour you a glass of water.