Kathy & Mark visit Les Calanques • October 30 - November 7, 2013

Continuing our Fall vacation theme, we made the not-too-long drive down to Cassis and Les Calanques, France's answer to Norway's fiords, and Laguna Beach. We met a couple friends there, Gini and Tina, and enjoyed climbing with them for a few days before their return to Paris and the US. Then, off on our own we had a number of fantastic adventure climbs, Calanques Classics.

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Our first day, with Tina (in the lead) and Gini on Diedre Guem.


Gini starts up the dramatic, but easy last pitch of Diedre Guem.


After the Diedre Guem, we did a number of one-pitch routes on perfect rock, in an area known as l'Ouro.


The next day, Gini joined us on l'Hallu Nulle. Mark starts up the first pitch.


Looking back at the belay from virtually the same spot as the previous photo. We love those routes that start at the water's edge.


The next day, all four of us went to the Calanque En Vau. Kathy and Mark did the Sans Souci Integrale and Le Sans Nom, while Tina and Gini did Saphir. That's Tina celebrating at the top of Saphir.


On our fourth day, unfortunately without our companions, we visited a sector new to us, called Rumpe Cuou. We did a combination of routes, starting with three pitches of Le Farniente des Oursins (mouse over the image to see the first 3 and a half pitches. Then we continued up another 3 pitches on a new route not found in our guidebook. Very fun.


Looking down the second pitch, a superb slab of cracked limestone.


Another climber on the line just next to ours.


The route ends on a wee summit.


Looking out towards Ile Riou.


The following day, we hiked into the Eissadon and climbed an absolutely wonderful route called "Et la Mer Profonde et Bleue"

Mouse over the route to see the somewhat complicated approach and route. To get to the climb, one traverses in from the left, across a couple easy pitches, then up into a large arch. Here rappel 30 meters and then follow this with a sideways pitch to get on to the pillar proper. Rappel again, to get down to the water. Then it is all up to the top of the pillar.


Our second sideways pitch, getting to the pillar.


Looking back in the other direction from the belay on the pillar.


Finally, we are established on the route, climbing amazing sculpted rock.


Looking down on the Aiguille de l'Eissadon, the site of a later adventure.


Poor weather was forecast for the following day, so we decided to take in the sights of Marseille. This is the Vieux Port.


There is a wonderful installation created by Norman Foster, a giant reflective ceiling.


And in addition, a series of "wild" animals.




We walked through Le Panier, "old" Marseille. This is La Vieille Charité, an eighteenth century almshouse for the poor.


The Cathédrale de la Major.




With a somewhat better forecast for the next day, we came back to Rumpe Cuou and climbed a fun 3-pitch route called Les Pieds dans le Plat.


Unfortunately, on the last pitch it started raining lightly, so the day's climbing was over.


And the next day, back to Sormiou, to Le Couchant, a super classic on the Bec de Sormiou.


Wonderful rock on a steep wall.




Our last day's climbing before returning home was without a doubt our best. We did a modern route called Sur les Traces de Gaston, on the Aiguille de l'Eissadon. Mouse over the image to see the spiraling route.


The climb starts nearly in the water. In fact, with the sea in a slightly agitated state we were wondering if the route was feasible. But it all worked out with only occasional refreshing splashing. Here, Kathy comes round the end of the first pitch.


This, the second pitch, is perhaps one of the shortest in France, only some 3 meters long. But certainly quite memorable! It is a bit of a stretch to get across this gap.


And the start of the 3rd pitch.


A couple pitches later, the route climbs up and left, across this steep wall.


But then, it descends once again to the water's edge. This is The spot where we got the most wet.


Finally, we have left the water, and are now well into climbing up the Aiguille. Kathy comes across a steep traverse.


Looking down on the hardest pitch of the route. Very dramatic.


The final, difficult moves to the belay.


Two more easier pitches lead back up sunny rock to the summit.


A great way to end a fine week.

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