I climbed this route with Nigel. Jim and Colin followed close behind. The first moves off the ground are the hardest on the entire route. There's a rubbishy traverse on the third pitch, but the arete above that is airy and excellent, with a sustained pitch out on the wall to its left near the top. A multi-abseil return to earth completes the shenanigans. A fantastic outing.
I set off on this climb with OMC president Davy Sadler, but unfortunately his dodgy Achilles tendon made standing on the belays just too painful, so he lowered off after two pitches. I was lucky enough to be able to hook up with Simon n and Andy K who were following us on the climb, and do the remainder of the route with them.
Again, some great long -range photograpy by Mhairi.
As Mhairi's camera has a fantastic zoom, it allowed her to take many photos of climbs from the valley floor, or even from the other side of the valley!
All distant photos by Mhairi, all on route photos by Ian unless credited otherwise.
Ecrins Total, Le Poire (Ian and Colin B)
We'd decided not to overplan our road trip, but one area we fancied visiting was the Vercors, which had caught our attention a couple of years ago. Our first stop was at the little village of Vissieux-en-Vercors. The village has a museum of the Resistance from WWII as it was the scene of an atrocity when Nazi troops arrived by glider and shot a large number of the villagers.It's a peaceful place now, with a pleasant circuit of walks in the surrounding countryside.
We had decided to park up for a second night near the Col de Rousset, but on the way visited La Grotte de la Luire. On first appearance, this is merely a large limestone cave with a boulder jumble in front. Closer inspection reveals a "monster" carved on the outer wall. Signage and memorials indicate that the "porch" of the cave was used as a Resistance hospital during fighting near the end of the war, and is the the site of further atrocities. But there are secrets within. Guided tours of the cave, in which participants make their own candle lanterns to recreate the ambience of the first explorations at the beginning of the 20th century reveal much more. There are sudden huge outflows of water from the cave, and the outrushing water floods agricultural land and homes in the valley below. In medieval times this was explained as the anger of the monster within. To date, no-one has been able to predict when this will happen: in recent times there was a period of 8 years without flooding, and a single year with 3 flooding episodes. The dramatic climax of the guided tour is the revelation of the vastness of the caverns both above and below the chambers beyond the porch. The cave system is apparently enormous and a fascinating challenge to hydrologists and speleologists. We thought the tour was fascinating.
Next we drove to the Col de Rousset. We discovered that there's a via ferrata there, but perhaps even more interestingly, a Roman road which slices a line up the main cliff, outflanking various overhangs. We followed the old road up the cliff, through beautiful woodland above and out onto the pasturage on the crest of the ridge. It was a great little unplanned walk. We returned to Argie and drove the short distance to the Plateau de Beurre,to park up in the ski car-park for the night.
Next morning, we set off early to make a circuit which goes initially through woodland, then onto high pasturage, and eventually onto the crest of the great east-facing limestone cliffs of the plateau. As we neared the ridge-crest we saw more and more vultures soaring on the thermals.They are huge, and Mhairi spent a lot of time photographing them. As we gained the crest, Mhairi was shooting pictures of some soaring vultures, and I took a couple of steps forward to loook down at the cliffs. Suddenly, the hillside beneath my feet seemed to move. A flock of vultures had been roosting, and were now airborne. It was a magnificent sight.
We followed the GR (91?) along the crest southwards until we reached the top of the ski lifts, then returned to Argie. After lunch, then made the short return trip to Col de Rousset.
We dug out the ferrata gear and did the first part of the Chironne ferrata. It was steep, but mostly involved thugging your way up ladders of stemples. A party of French teenagers turned up behind us, some of whom seemed to want to overtake on difficult or exposed sections. At the first escape point we ducked out to eventually rejoin the Roman road we had used the previous day. We were amazed to see a car using it.
It was time to move on towards our meeting with the OMC at Ailefroide.
No posts for the last few weeks, as Mhairi, Argie and I have been off on a six week French road trip. We were in the Vercors, at Ailefroide, the Verdon , the Camargue, on the Loire, at Fontainebleau and at Paris.
As time allows, I'll post up photos and words about some of our more interesting outdoor escapades...
Ian and Mhairi's Outdoor Blog
Two outdoor enthusiasts and their adventures in Scotland and beyond.
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The rather marvellous Kev Shields, soloist extraordinaire
Ian and Jen Forrest climbers, walkers an all-round good eggs
"Darling!" hillgoer and now published-author-type-person
The rather lovely JS Outdoors run by James WGS
Skye Basecamp Bunkhouse www.skyebasecamp.co.uk/
The Facebook page of the multi-talented Kevin Woods: