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age

Reason of
The Verdon Gorge is technical, spicy and run
out, so why is this forgotten climbing style
now becoming so popular?
By Whitney Boland • Photos by Keith Ladzinski

The view from the top of the Grand
Eycharme, a sector in the lower part of
the Verdon Gorge.

J
esus, Sam, just hang the draw,” I said.
We were 1,000 feet above the twisting river of the Verdon Gorge, on a seldom-climbed but flawless route named Graphique
(8a/5.13b). Sam was in the crux, hovering just above a hard-to-clip bolt that he had skipped, and 15 feet above his last draw. I
wondered how best to catch what appeared to be an inevitable whipper on this “slab,” which, to sport climbers like us, meant any-
thing less than 15-degrees overhanging. Graphique was dead vertical with shallow pockets and small crimps like sharpened meat
cleavers.

Sam reached far right and stepped his runout. Sam and I had come all the way but 100 difficult, runout ones. A drum lay; he untied his knot and pulled the
left foot up. His shoulders tightened, and from Colorado to visit this sport-climb- roll of thunder played in the distance. rope. Sam climbed back up to the crux,
I knew he was gripped. Grazing the edge ing museum, to experience an area How would we get out? Sam, howev- though this time he clipped the draw.
of a tiny hold, he belted out, “Grawwww- where the climbing we love had begun. er, was only concerned with his failed We got to the top that day, though
www!” and sailed off into the air. The Verdon was alluring, if daunting, redpoint attempt. just barely. A week later, we were on a
We were out of our element. New- but we thought we were armed because, “Lower me,” he said. “ I want to try plane, back to our lives in America and
schoolers, project-hunters, steep-line- earlier, we had bought ATCs. again.” the familiar single-pitch cragging and
finders, single-pitchers. We day-cragged I gripped tight, and when Sam hit “Really?” I said. “Are you OK?” multi-day projecting. Somehow, the
at Rifle, used GriGris and owned rope the end of the rope, we both violently “I’m fine!” he said. He wasn’t. A week climbing, though of course enjoyable,
bags. The Verdon, the veritable “Grand slammed into the wall. later, he’d find out that he had broken felt incomplete. As the year droned
Canyon of limestone” in Southern “Shit!” he yelled. “I think I’m hurt!” his wrist. on, the desire to return to the Verdon
France, was multi-pitch, vertical and It was just 100 feet to the canyon rim, Grudgingly, I lowered Sam to the be- burned painfully hot.

60 rock andice.com | 0 8 Oc tober

anti-pulling. tected almost entirely by bolts. which Lynn Hill onsighted bloodline. meaning “The brave is anti-projecting. of Patrick Edlinger and Jean-Baptiste rational inquiry into a fuller meaning In 1978. The style is outdated—runout. The first cent became less relevant. Because the style of as- your arms.13b). routes: Les Enrages (6b+/5. small-crimped. but this years ago was really a catapult into the (so named because Guillot proposed were long.com 61 . and Les Braves Gens Ne Courent Pas Les ed (aka “French freed”).N othing about the Verdon was like the climbing I had known. Verdon history can be broken down protected. and the first was in 1968 with the Gorge’s first two of movement became stylish. Stephane Troussier and However. The Verdon What appeared to be a bastardization then La Demande (6a/5. lines at the top of the canyon wall. as newer. A2). steeper areas were Oc tober 0 8 | rock andice. rier and called moulinette in French). The Verdon can accurately be called the venue that ushered in climbing’s age of reason. sandbagged and pet- rifying.14a). of climbing to the traditionalists of 20 Coqueugniot and François Guillot don’t run on the streets. onsight FA) routes were simply short. multi- pitch. Christian Guyomar ushered in the second phase of Verdon activity when they inspected a route from the top down.” though some cragging and anti-low-risk. It was one of the first of rock climbing that wasn’t pigeon- holed by cracks and broken fissures. boasting ground- breaking lines like Les Specialistes (8b+/5.11a. Tribout climbed here. like the 1. difficulty You’ll find pitons fixed in cracks. This new style made sense in an area where you approach at the top of the gorge rim anyway. The shallow-pocketed. traditional (ground up. established by Patrick Cordier. such able by yesterday’s climber were aid. This was a free the route). to be equipped top down. anti. vented here by Jacques “Pschitt” Per. when the likes tradition and evolved it. Some rotten retro slings and hook scars on to accept toproping (a phenomena in. Soon routes were equipped from the top and bolt exposed and your feet hurt more than climbing areas in the world to be pro.10b). by Joel Rues (8b/5. It is vertical. in 1987. By today’s standards. single-pitch pockets where moves deemed undo. The events at the Gorge took to his girlfriend the day they climbed (8a/5.13d). and immaculate blank blue faces of the Verdon became open canvases to a small clique of forward-thinking French ascentionists. the Verdon is everything sport climbing is not. the Verdon was far beyond its time. the first into three distinct phases. in 1994. At its height.000-foot Mingus area is the patriarch of sport climbing’s future.

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com 63 . Giv- en a true French welcome. Its technical. Ro- man Gershkovich and Sam Elias. four bottles of wine. my climbing partner from the prior year. Part Vonnegut. Marseille is a bustling port town on the edge of the Mediterranean and only two hours southeast of the Ver- don. pork. all stuffed into the confines of a rather tiny space. whose wrist had healed and who was. runout style of climbing on vertical rock became unfashionable. and his dark hair was held back out of his face by a pair of sunglasses—a look that said. fewer climbers visited the Verdon. New-school Verdon climbers are resur- recting the old classics as well. psyched for our three-week trip. Keith Ladzinski and I had arrived in France a week earlier. discovered throughout Europe. a cheese course. Lau- ren Lee. part Voltaire.12b). folks Sam and I had befriended during our Verdon trip the year before.” Then. “I own this place. Spain and North Africa. Bruno Potie. and a shot of a pear digestif that is as potent as diesel straight out of the Oc tober 0 8 | rock andice. I stood in the Marseille airport scan- ning the faces for someone familiar. This city is testament to how his- tory compounds: a conglomeration of ethnicity. a traditional dish with potatoes. The Verdon’s third period. There has been a swell of new-school establishment by pioneering climbers such as Greg Sau- get. ferreting out the steeper caves and walls embedded in the massive 1. Brian Rhodes. is only just emerging. and climbers became increasingly com- mitted to raising difficulty standards. lamb and beef. a crème-filled dessert. two baguettes. a two-pitch classic from the early 1980’s and That night we stayed in Marseille with first established by Bruno Potie. Beck’s an odd dichotomy who is as comfortable drinking fine wine and talking literature as he is lis- tening to the Dirty South ghetto rap- per Birdman. and he flipped his head like he’d just been slapped under the chin. tin Powers. stocky Southerner who looks exactly like Aus- Lauren Lee tripping balls on Eve Line (7b/5. He was dressed in a maroon linen shirt. Sam appeared behind him. a bottle of champagne. wealth and culture drawn from generations of resettlement from nearby Italy. however. Pas- cal Foudou and others. an annis aperitif. despite that injury. I saw Beck’s face first. out of the crowd came the unmistakable Roman: a small. wrin- kled from 24 hours of travel. E arly this spring. Bruno Clement. Now I was picking up the remaining members of our group: Beck Kloss. we downed glasses of Pastis.000-foot deep chasm.

For an hour. Lauren is poised and self-possessed. nervously shoving his hands in his pocket—an apprehension that somehow seemed to contradict his thirst for action. “Just chill out for a sec. or couennes. brought her back. we sipped café. she hid vir- tually off the climbing map. talked about the weather. the village that would be our home for the next two weeks. we gave the canyon a full hour to dry before head- ing in (though. but when a streak of blue sky slipped out—a mote between two plains of rain clouds—the group anxiety hit overload. “Like a lit- tle kid. but beneath her swath of steel confi- dence that can at times make her ap- pear standoffish. “I’m ready to climb.12c). Time and obsession. We parked and hiked to the canyon’s ing’s forgotten style on L’age de Raison (7b+/5. and were in- structed by our hospitable amis that there is only one governing tenet here in France: C’est la vie. but let’s let things dry. You guys ready?” said Brian. The author Whitney Boland reconnects with sport climb. and fog settled over the landscape like gauze.” Lauren was a pro climber a few years back. her cigarette balanced gracefully between her fingers just outside her mouth. this year was rainy. It’s good to see that the weight of the world has not crushed your spirit. but for the past two. owned by the famous French climber Patrick Edlinger and his wife. gas tank. Despite Brian’s disquiet. though. “Let’s get at it! We should go!” Brian bobbed restlessly next to the table in the yard of the gite (pronounced “zh-eet. we con- . She blew out a puff of smoke. “We all want to climb.” these are bed- and-breakfast lodgings found in many French villages). in case the rain clouds decided to un- zip on our heads. While my first visit had been relentlessly sunny. “You’re psyched.” she said. Lauren looked up at him. We drove the Route des Crete to L’Escales.” Brian laughed. according to locals. The bad weather was bearable for a couple of days with enough wine. Matia. and talking smack. After dinner. Lauren took another drag. We eased in to the comforts of Gite L’Escales. a sector of the Ver- don Gorge where we could rappel in for single-pitch climbs. edge along latticed rock and tried to orient ourselves. man. blew out the smoke and flashed her exotically beautiful grin—a hint of Chinese blood giving her smile a unique curl. re- runs of Family Guy and The Office on DVD. it only takes 10 minutes and a faint wind to remove all moisture from the big wall). she is affectionate and caring.” she said. The next day we drove two hours to La Palud sur Verdon.

1983. all of the La Palud With the rain again coming in sheets.” he called down. but more often than not.“You’re psyched.” every morning. The next day we woke to clear skies.12b that was established in 1983. like me. In the time it takes to eat a croissant. was always found at his name- sloper. two route developers. As better climbers came to tick off lines and establish new ones.” around 7b+.12d put up in 1982 feels more like an 8a/5. There is a tiny climbing shop. climbing slowly. French village life. “I almost smoked off this hold. The streets are narrow and wandering.13b) of today. nearby villages Moustier Ste Marie and lines they were going to put up that Lauren sat at the edge of the canyon with the guide. at the very max.” said little kid. I pulled up and climbed to the anchors. rolled cigarettes and holds his wine in route involved using two very close monos that formed your left hand into a ed up there. “How old is this thing?” asked Lauren. “I think this is it. Daniel Dulac. Brian. Those crimps will slice you. a 7c /5. share dry snap. By the time it was Whit’s turn. Perroquet Vert. My foot. you search and scramble to find rap at Lou Cafeterie. 7b+/5.12c to the right. and trolling the network of day. the hardest in the Verdon. we met all of his palm between his middle and ring peace sign. Well above and to the right of his last bolt. monos. new-school first ascents. pain au choc. Bruno Potie and Greg “Damn. he was developing that would likely be rope and tossed it into the abyss. With the fall into the abyss over and my nerves slightly soothed. To give you a sense of La Palud’s size. but rather. “Patrick du Bar. the gite where we stayed. no one accounted for physical. and then—an anachronistic combina. which has been serving Pastis and Kir to the village since before the dawn of Sam Elias and Whitney Boland on Salvaje de Corazon (7c/5. locals rendezvoused at the café. We were learning the Verdon rules quickly. blond and sturdy. turned on one month a year for the influx of tourists in the peak summer season.” I said. who had come to said. Occasionally. Just beyond the school playground is a continuously running public fountain. Brian pitched into the air. According to local Greg Sauget. “Dude. you can walk from there to the other end of town to the market and post office. they were still grades: Nothing more than a mark in a line of our progress. He pulled through the crux. not crushed your spirit. and Lou Cafeterie (the WiFi hotspot). W hen you enter La Palud (population: 200).com 65 . I stepped my right foot high and weighted it gingerly. could be Lauren went last—even she hit the crimp and sailed. I led the first pitch. Every morning. but he quickly found the key beta: Pull on a mono. sits on the east side. referring to the 6b/5. in the 1980s the limit was 7b/5. but Verdon climbing 40 years ago. technical and tactical improvements. It was sulted the guidebook to match similarities in plant life and rock features with we spent far too much time tooling a typical French custom. a two-pitch 7b/5. Sauget. A little “La Palud is very strange place. and harder than we thought they should be for the grade. “Nearly as old as I am. took a winger. and now it was my turn. Tete l’Eau. that was sketchy. We considered the fact that we weren’t on a nice 6b.” she Castellane. Bar de la Place. hike the feet up to the chest and bear down on a sharp tooth-like hold.” These routes were old. On the second pitch. grimpeurs and fresh baguettes nothing to do. another crimp. spoke of a long 8c “Sweet. two finger.12d) in the middle of a cold.” I said. looking out we became full-fledged bread junkies the café window. des- perate pulls and runouts longer than the waitlist to get into Hueco Tanks. “Like a the village’s only intersection. We swallowed our egos and tried our best. Beyond this bea- con of modernity.” she said. Oc tober 0 8 | rock andice. surfing the Internet ing as a crossroads for route develop- near some bolts. Halfway up the La Palud hovers in its own little Beyond the spray. where Simon. after consulting the guidebook for the year the route was established. entering this village means entering a forgot- ten time. most peo- ple. the café act- the pictures in the guidebook. getting lost in the ers to meet and talk about what new anchors and hope you aren’t off course.10d Le Eniéme Tas we wanted to try first.” a Lauren and I just assumed Brian had fallen because he was unfamiliar with tion of awkward climbers and displaced multi-lingual Slovakian who smokes the climbing style. and sheep with bells chiming around their necks graze the outskirts of the village. This can’t be 6b!” he said. tunnels that lace through the canyon visit for a weekend.12b or. weird to live here. strong La Palud locals who are behind sake: the bar. Any- thing put up earlier than 1985 would likely have piss-poor crimps.” said Brian. Bam. there was a relaxed route. the foot blew and I screeched through the air. The two bars. popped off and I flew. and a move off a them. the rain started to fall. especially sport climbers. perched high. he made this committing move and sighed relief. don’s long routes from the ground.” olat. Sam. There is no city. It’s good to see that farther there is a boulangerie. The locals that have somehow simply end. including Simon and Janyk. “You must be very the weight of the world has and bought croissants. So au- tomatically everyone rated everything at their “limit. Gite l’Escales. and where you can find the Verdon guidebook. Ten feet above my last bolt. Lauren and I rapped down. but as I learned. no matter how hard it really was. The alleyways are lined with roses.12c. world. then a deadpoint to a shitty gaston. In the Verdon. uncoiled the and offer access to some of the Ver. he set up the anchors. and Brian took the lead first. the 120-foot 7b+/5. Though the grades might have been “skewed” in our eyes. stuck somewhere between now calm in the air that seemed typical of “No way. who come here find it difficult. you pass one single stoplight that lurks a lazy yellow. stuffed to the gills with gear and clothing. Sam and I got on Boulevard des Stars. a route name is written on the cliff around La Palud. Eventually. Anxious to get going.

Sam and Beck have sprouted up near the Verdon Gorge. 66 rock andice. noon storm would come in.” or.10b. The rest of us were frantical- ly turned annoyingly familiar—how ly packing our stuff when. moved like age—the shirtless. and every. rated 5. We all ran through the latticed rock to ters and watching villages pass from the trail. the “Hurricane 5. end and yelled. moved like a sucker punch toward the canyon. backdrop of raging clouds coalescing When we inquired. and he claims ran the final two pitches in one and was to hate nothing and no one except for now on top of the rim. found sipping coffee. His im. the café He emerged from the bulge. It almost became unbearable un. tended his pet snake. Sleeping in close quar. 5. Surveiller et Punir (7a+/ and wrapped it up with athletic tape. We had seen Patrick Edlinger’s wife. flashed. this weather is sweet. countless times around the downgrading Realization!” gite. crowned with skipped bolts in already runout sections hair rollers. Philip. man. shift- Patrick kept to himself mostly. I inside a car weren’t helping anything. “Come We had become familiar with La on. Beck took the first two. but we still hadn’t actually seen Lauren. in the Verdon by lightning than any- This exceptional climbing photogra. he was still relegated to going as slowly dude. dumped my feet down onto the flat trail. locals said that above. who by now had Sam and Beck climb slowly against a become something of a legend to us. “There was a mono down there! I’m Matia. locals wondering when the rain would stop had told us that more people are killed and laughing at Keith’s commentary. to rappel the route and climb out. The dark blue fist of rage. who pher is eternally positive. jet the four-pitch route in two pitches. all a little nervous. “Jesus. they decided they would outside of La Palud. blond-haired man a sucker punch toward the canyon. Keith and I watched the man himself. a town just time’s sake. Beck climbed as fast as possible.” is one of many new locals crags to Marc Troussier in 1981. “No. tight-knit the community was. The dark blue fist of rage. I screamed. ing and bulging in the sky. to locals. Roman. Outside. one’s business. In a moment of carelessness. some. “You’re on!” gae. She took my foot don anyway. The funnier than they really are. over. thing else. For (Below): The view of Rougon. tugged on Beck’s those who feel entitled to listen to reg. He’s a master of sarcasm. you got it. 30 feet owner. but it quick. our two climbers were myth for now. having the bread-shop lady. a fetal-shaped ball of pain. shifting and bulging in the sky. from the second-pitch anchors. Mechanique (8a/5. but how making statements such as. oblivious.12a) is a classic route put up by Jean Crag. and read. and how Sam and Beck topped out and scurried everyone knows everyone. but headed “You OK. thankfully. asked. caught my foot at an awkward angle and til the day we woke to a glimpse of rolled it. wind raged and Sam yelled.10b my ass!” Beck yelled. “Too Dope.” sound as the delicate climbing dictated. Whit? You OK?” Lauren out to the Mission Sector of the Ver. and crumbled into clear(ish) skies. We often spent the evenings sipping The storm charged faster and we were bottles of two-euro wine at the gite. The lines here are steep and stay dry even thought they would have enough time when it’s raining. At the café.13b) —remained but on the wall.com | 0 8 Oc tober . used a wicker chair to sit since he didn’t have enough draws. who famously free soloed Orange From the rim we could see the storm. We heard an after. Faster!” Lightning Palud’s relaxed way of life. Lightning flashed again. running over. Raindrops fell as Sam.

and its seemingly infinite bluebird “You’ve been getting the stink-eye from everyone here.. lamented the luck of the year before.” of it. “Infidel!” He picked Beck pulled out a bottle of wine. Icing my an. we joked about Palud somehow made my ankle feel better. which is really just a giant uninhabited pile of rubble. though. anything be dry in this Biblical downpour? Still. we up a baguette and bit off a mouthful should move to plan B. giving the nod to the French barista We hiked down and around to the cliff face below the plateau. I t’s almost my last day. who taught us how to ask for beta: Donne moi l’methode. then turned to the rest of us. tics didn’t help. “There is a secret The locals said that they had not crag here that stays dry in rain.” we decided we would go no matter what. where we were for the usual: café au lait. “If we can’t find this so-called crag soon. for me. back in our established booth. In one hobbled out . saw bee houses. as An hour later we were back at the a local called it. and a sweaty forehead in wet air. “You out. There we met up with Simon and ip. you terrorist. “I’m going to go jihad on Using Patrick du Bar’s poorly sketched directions. We took your American friend Dave Graham there seen weather like this in 25 years. Part of me lauren Lee and the awesome Verdon Gorge. How could bombing the canyon. to be tor- mented by storm clouds and buckets of rain wher- ever we went. Oc tober 0 8 | rock andice. last year. “Secret my ass. or. “Can we all sit down and talk about it?” The shitty weather and continual rain were be- ginning to grate on ev- eryone’s spirits. “This is the locals’ playground.” We got out to wafts “Pain au chocolat?” said Beck. after getting the beta to the “se- “If it doesn’t stop raining soon. checking the Internet for anywhere.” said Brian. that was making us all a little Patrick Edlinger still lives in La Palud with his wife and annoyed.. that blew up from the Sahara. his head still under the bed sheet.. no one could es- cape our fate. There are other places to climb in the rain. Brian’s anxiety daughter. there were at least 10 other cars parked. but there was camaraderie in our disap- instead. which I was sourly icing. “Yeah.” said Sam. Edlinger was not only instrumental in develop. dude. often barefoot. We sat in the café morning after morning. Some French thing else. we headed toward the “vil- this place. Mistral wind that cuts through skin.and his insistence on deal- ing the Verdon’s hardest lines. each of us looked We downed bottles of Beaujolais and through the window. lines. Roman?” I said. bring me the pain!” said Ro. Yet ankle.” said Sam. and I’d like to get all the costs settled up today. Austin Powers?” the shit out of each other.” Keith said. and gods?” said Beck. constant dis- appointment of some- thing totally out of our control. and steep caves.” says Beck. as opposed to the cold Northern café. and then the edge of the cliff where “Beck. sense or another. all the way to the bar. I tried to reconcile how things reports. “We buy you drink!” days and stellar temps. Still. we’ll get it figured “Bummer. new-school grades. It was the inevitable.” cret crag. “Just chill!” need help?” Outside.” Lauren said. that’s Roman. “Your friend? He pointment—even if we were bugging look like . said Sam. Patrick du Bar came over and offered a cure for our woes. “What did you do to anger the We narrowed in on the dirt roads with increasing speed and uncertainty.” when I first experienced the Verdon “Austin Powers!” the locals cried.. clouds bunched up like Being pigheaded. totally protected from the weather and found single-pitch sport climbing: hard “I just got the stink-eye from Phil. man. None of us had gotten what locals came over to me. “Brian. “Yeah. I thought we’d wanted. because we’re in here every day just to surf the Internet for weather kle. which was to come to they were going to ask me about my France and climb our brains out. I said no. out to some- ate pizza like wild hogs. of wild thyme growing on the plateau. “Who.” can and will always change. my ankle. he showed the world what ing with money and logis- flawless climbing technique looked like with his countless solos.” On the third straight morning of rain Could it be? Hearing that there were steep single-pitch crags adjacent to La beating at the roof. like the weather. The wind was warm due to the Siroso. they said. We soon hit a good road.com 67 . dear god anywhere in Europe that was dry.” lage” of Chateauneuf. We were skeptical. Janyk.

” said Mi. Stay the night for 20 euros per person per night. not just from our past. feel the magic. but Patrick.38.” fully climbed out of the route without killing ourselves.77. Long In my mind. •A Carrefour (like Wal-Mart) is in the village of Castellane. check out Sixt (www. to his many We’d learned something. Yet while some things us some basic words about the area’s might get worse—as with the weather—time can change things for the better. he offered (though he would never admit it) that he was tense. Les Neophytes. in no time. You and climbs get polished. She will be back there soon.” he shrugged. starting in and original climbing founded here. but because we’d both success- vertical. Costs 56-75 •A 200-meter static line is useful for designated rappels. you climb.600 for a five-seater for a 1 and 4. Leave or get petit dejeuner (breakfast) and dinner—cooked by Matia herself—for 35 your belongings in the tent or room. first and favorite routes. owner of La Palud’s predicted that the storms would roll in that afternoon. I didn’t understand the need to get back ne rainy morning.92.92. Rock transforms.franceguide. “This place is too dope!” said Sam.” he said. “Pssst!” development of these crags has taken off in the past six years with govern- ment-funded retro-bolting and an in- crease in visitors. pitches completed. the seer of all things Verdon. As I got closer I saw a perfectly blue. with (7b+/5. “Soloing is very dangerous. and realized it was wasn’t totally wet.com for excellent. Time shapes itself and everything in it.12c) and Cthulhu (6c+/5. most businesses are closed midday between side assistance.77. a munter hitch. At least ered to ask. we final. vertical pockets. First.” Buchet. our first major climb from the year before—the one that had bro- downpours. euros per person per night. Rock and Ice contributing editor.94.68. Pichnibule conquered. Panoramic Hotel: more spendy and a few miles outside of town. And that’s life. Room for two to five people.77. ly met Patrick Edlinger. had chel Jourdan. must be all in it here. and had come back Conversation shifted from Patrick’s the next year with so much more confidence. We were beginning to show signs that we knew how to keep our cool.74. Refuge de la Maline (Club Alpin Français) is located on Route des Crete and • See www. “That was to live here because you can climb much easier than last year. I could tell look like a prophet. Solitude and one on Route des Crete. and with any route Whitney Boland. there is so much our ropes. They crafted these rocks. •Le Grand Canyon Camping: +33-4. climbing. The Verdon somehow accentuates these 1978 when he linked Les Rideaux small successes because when all is said and done. “psssst!” “The new climbers here. 24-hour road. He looked up at me as I approached.renaultusa. It’s all good. but his chiseled. Graphique still felt like a big accomplishment. •As with French village tradition. de Gwendal (7b/5. on this climb any more than Sam did other than that’s life—c’est la vie.17 CAR RENTAL: Check out Renault’s Eurodrive Program (www. steep. I imagined. other essential info you get a brand new ride (that will be sold used later). Because when you lished 16 new routes this year. The next morning was clear.11c).87 com) if you will be visiting for more than a month.92. For less than a regular rental. where local Edlinger said. insurance. we could hopefully make ken Sam’s wrist. The don’t. It offers dorm-style rooms for 12 euros.12b).” he said. •Break-ins are common at parking areas. reached the crux that last year had weathered face made him spit him off and cursed him with a yearlong pain in his hand. +33-4. He Sam and I rapped in—placing the draws and dialing in the belay so I could was smaller and older than give him a soft catch.30.77. but c’est la vie. and there were countless more single- pitch areas around the Verdon proper: “Soloing is very dangerous. especially on the weekends. pocketed pitch that traversed there was some steep climbing that ever-so-gently to the right out of a bulge of blonde rock. it into the Verdon proper.) •Camping Bourbon: +33-4. Sam pulled through the crux. short. and unlimited mileage. and “E” •Camping Municipal: +33-4. manage “Everywhere.38. For shorter stays. Provençe Airport. had sent with a broken wrist the year before. magic. unique stints with soloing here. you’re standing on the top looking down at an immense and blank ing her with old-school Verdon style. so plan accordingly. O Sam answered by uncoiling his rope.” pointed down into the canyon.07 meter dynamic rope will suffice and you can rap in one pitch at a time. with La Palud local Patrick du Bar. We paid $1.” he said. “how do you say. “You want to go back in there?” I asked. BETA FLIGHTS AND DIRECTIONS: Air France has daily routes into the Marseille. You must always feel the money on her trip.sixt. I found Sam standing at climbing shop. use ATCs and master the subtleties of shallow. are the edge of an alcove looking down. and so much more knowledge. boulder in Annot. month. His face turned grave. useful travel information. Tensions relaxed as we became at “Will you go in there with me?” least slightly satisfied by the idea that I sensed it was something big. From there. runouts Lauren Lee climbing GTLOQ (6b+/5.com). and then take the D952 all Camping: Costs generally range from 6-12 euros depending on site. and in between Graphique. (The “A” roads are big like highways. perches on the rim of the canyon. We pulled the rope and committed. 30 minutes away WHERE TO STAY: Gite L’Escales (formerly known as Le Wapiti) is the di-zank! on D952. “I chose With a couple of delicate moves.11a).30. and artists. “You What became known as Too Dope know what I mean.13 and “D” roads are narrow and curvy.77.05 roundtrip. belay. the way to La Palud sur Verdon. 68 rock andice. spent way too much was a crag where we spent many days. an 80- euros per night for two depending on season.92. Sam started climbing and. because otherwise Sam wouldn’t have both- we weren’t totally screwed. climbing here. otherwise. shrugging. +33-4.com | 0 8 Oc tober . heroes rise and fall. and tickets in 2008 from Denver varied from $700-$900 +33-4. not because Sam route.92. Because when you don’t.” said Patrick. but from the blank. take the A7 to the E712/A51.02 •Lou Cafeterie has the only WiFi access in town.35. “You must always Greg Sauget and others have estab. so much different rock all year. wall that you’ve just climbed.

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