Friday, August 28, 2009

Duncan & Robs Bogus (French) Journey!!!

Duncan & Rob's Bogus Journey (Or: How to not go climbing in France...)


Part 1 - In the beginning...

After the decadence of our previous 10 days in Sablet lounging by the pool, drinking wine (we went through 80 litres all up haha), eating amazing food and enjoying fantastic company Rob and I headed off to try and enjoy the limestone multipitch climbing in the Gorges Du Verdon. From the outset we were doomed...
We Trained our way to Marseille with all the girls, said our goodbyes then trained it to Manosque. Walking for hours in all the wrong directions with all our stuff we still could not find a place to stay until a lovely lady drove us to a campground were we huddled into my small 2 man tent, watched a movie then passed out. Waking the next mornng we walked the several miles back into town only to find that not only was Manosque the wrong town to go to in order to get to the town we need to get to (La Palud dans Le Gorges Du Verdon) but also that we could catch a bus to the right town but then still can't get to La Palud until tomorrow... which means it is going to take us 3 days to get somewhere that can be driven in about 5 hours... Good to see we are off to a good start!


Part 2 - Can you spell 'epic'...???

Oh my god, Where the f*ck are we? That is what I just said as opened this to write the rest of todays epic adventures and 5 million cars started beeping their horns outside the window of the dingy little room Rob and I have for the night right across the street from the Marseille train and bus station. Marseille I hear you say? But didn't you leave there yesterday? Hmmmm... yes we did.
Here's what happened. Rob and I left the lovely town of Manosque, a town full of lovely people that talked to us despite our terrible French (Je parle Francais une pur...) and helped us at every turn (one old man walked us all the way through town when we were lost, one woman drove us to the campsite for no reason other than to be friendly and one other older woman chatted for ages at the bus stop with us and interpeted the announcements for us), we headed to the quaint town of Peyrolles on the bus where we had been advised by the bus station staff we could catch a bus to LaPalud, albeit the next day. We got off at Peyrolles only to find the that there didn't seem to be such thing as a bus to LaPalud from Peyrolles and that the Tourism Office was closed on Monday's (note to self - EVERYTHING is closed in Provence on Sundays and Mondays... dont travel on those days in future!). Now, this was ok as we could catch a bus to Aix-En-Provence or Marseille and start again from scratch, BUT, oh look... no bus untill 7:30pm... it was midday... how do you pass a day in Provencal France on a Monday? Drink cheap wine and eat baguettes of course! So thats what we did... until the bus came, we got on, ended up in Marseille desperate for a bed and a shower. So thats how we have ended up in the WORST hotel you could ever pay $70 for, right on a main road outside the Marseille St Charles Train Station...
Epic. That's how you spell it.


Part 3 - From f*cked up to Fontainbleau...

From where to where??? I'll explain.
So waking up in our disgusting excuse for a room in Marseille we exited first thing and ran to the train station only to find that no buses went to the Verdon from there today... ghey. Right so, what to do? After some debating we bit the cheapskate bullet and hired a car. By 2pm we were on the road in our silly looking but perfect little Fiat Qudo and heading to the Gorges du Verdon!
We arrived that evening and after scouting town for some fresh baguettes and a beer we went to camp on the edge of the gorge. When we saw what we had gotten ourselves into we nearly needed a change of underwear. The Verdon Gorge is ENOURMOUS! Huge towering walls of grey and oragne limestone up to 500 metres high... scary stuff. So we camped the night on the edge of the gorge then in the morning, armed with photos of the guidebook from the local guide store and a brief description of how to get to our selected crag, we headed off to climb some big wall limestone.
True top form we got lost. We found a descent roughly where we thought it should be, down 150m of fixed ropes and into the gorge. But where were the routes??? We found one with nice shiny new bolts and decided 'stuff it - lets just do that one...' but it was a project that hadn't even been cleaned yet so after getting scared on the first half of the first pitch sliding around on loose rock I bailed off and we climbed back up the fixed ropes instead.... fail.
We drove around and realized our mistake. Wrong descent. So we had beers and sangria then retired on top of the gorge again for the night ready to do it properly tomorrow. But wait, whats that? Thunder? Lightning? Rain!!! Argh!!!! So long story short we got rained out of the gorge and had an uncomfortable nights sleep in the car again.
So what to do? Wait for the crag to dry out in a day or two and start again? Bail? Yep, bail. But where? We wanted to climb Mt Blanc but discovered that it costs a fortune to catch the cable cars up so that was canned... so... FONTAINBLEAU!!! We woke up early and after many a wrong turn and "oops, I think the map was upside down" type moments we finally arrived in the bouldering mecca of Fontainbleau just south of Paris and are holed up in a neat little hotel room. Tomorrow we will try and get out and do some bouldering... lets hope our luck has improved...

Baguettes and Rose in Peyrolles

In our little car finally!

This is literally what we tried to use as a guide... this photo...

The streets of La Palud Sur Verdon

Looking into the gorge before our epic

Rob during the fixed rope descent

What do you do when its railing and your stuck in your car? Drink Sangria!!!

Where to now???

Half wild Verdon goats... better climbers than we are... sad but true...

Road tripping through the south of France to Paris wia the edge of the Alps

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