Verdon, France - Climbing in the Grand Canyon

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Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Original Post - Apr 11, 2015 - 12:27pm PT

Verdon

If the mountaineering trilogy is composed of the Eiger, the Grandes Jorasses and the Matterhorn, the climbing equivalent is the Verdon, Ceuse and Buoux. In certain respects these “mythical three” were the birthplace of sports climbing during the 1980's and '90's, each different, yet each one with three fundamental characteristics: a breathtaking natural setting, incredible limestone, and hundreds of top quality routes.

The steep walls of the Gorges du Verdon witnessed the entire evolution of this sport: from long trad routes opened from below in the '70's, up to the introduction and systematic use of bolts in the 1980's and ‘90’s. Single pitch routes became the norm, as did top roping, invented here they say, and bolting from above. For obvious reasons. And the Verdon remains unique perhaps also because of this: that to reach the routes, you need to abseil down into a truly impressive drop.

A frightening drop, above routes that have made their way into the history books; classics such as Pichenibule, Ctuluh, Gwendal, Debiloff Proffondicum, l’Ange en decomposition, Surveiller et Punir, Papy on sight, Les Specialistes… the list is endless. As is the list of main activists: Jaques Perrier, Jean Marc Troussier, the Remy brothers, Jean Baptist Tribout, Patrick Edlinger… all attracted to this incredible limestone which, for its quality, has become world reference point.

Nicholas Hobley, PlanetMountain


From its source in the French Alps (2572 m high, not far from the lake 'Lac d'Allos') to its estuary in the river Durance (south of Manosque) the Verdon covers a distance of 170 km, but the most spectacular part of the river (the actual gorge) is about 40 km long and lies between Castellane and the lake of Ste Croix. Impressive, sharp cliffs and vertiginous drops, with the famous Falaise d'Escalès as an absolute climax: an 800 m high perpendicular mountainside where mountaineers from the whole world come and tempt fate.

Les Gorges du Verdon or "Verdon Gorge" in English has derived its name from the Verdon River, which was named after the colour of the water: vert meaning green in French. It is located from the north in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence district and stretches to the south district of Var in south-eastern France. Europe has already deemed it to be one of the most beautiful, breath-taking places on the continent.

As well, it is Europe's deepest gorge. One of the reasons for it being considered a natural place of beauty is because of the turquoise-green colour of the river at the bottom of the gorge. The sediments in the water from eroded limestone as well as small plants allowed for the water to turn an interesting green. This is Gorges du Verdon's most distinguishing characteristics, one that captures many tourists in visiting, hiking, climbing, or kyaking across the clear, reflected water. At the end of the Verdon River, the water flows into the lake of Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon, or Lac de Sainte-Croix.

Creation: During the Triassic period, the French region of Provence subsided and was covered by the sea, leaving thick layers of various limestone deposits. Several million years later, with the arrival of the Jurassic period, the area was covered by a warm shallow sea, which allowed the growth of various Corals. The Cretaceous period saw what is now Basse Provence being raised and the sea reaching the current location of the Alps, which were themselves erected during the tertiary era. As a result of the large-scale geological activity, many of the Jurassic limestone deposits fractured, forming relief with valleys and other such features. The origins of the Verdon Gorge can be traced to this era.

The dawn of the Quaternary period had large-scale glaciation, transforming water pockets and lakes into unstoppable rivers of ice, which remodeled the topography, scouring and striating the landscape. At the end of this activity, erosion by rivers continued, forming the Gorge as it is today. The Verdon’s riverbed was scoured for a second time of the accumulated coral and limestone sediments, by a water delivery rate nearing 2000 to 3000 cubic metres per second.
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 11, 2015 - 12:32pm PT
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 11, 2015 - 12:49pm PT

A Biography: Les Fous du Verdon by Bernard Vaucher

Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 11, 2015 - 12:53pm PT

Verdon by Jean-Marc Troussier in Mountain 97, 1984

Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 11, 2015 - 12:58pm PT

Verdon Dreaming

Monique Forestier climbing "Tom et je Ris" (8b+).
[Click to View YouTube Video]
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 11, 2015 - 12:59pm PT

Patrick Edlinger - Opéra Vertical
[Click to View YouTube Video]
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 11, 2015 - 01:02pm PT

Alain Robert Solo intégral "l'ange en décomposition" 1992

[Click to View YouTube Video]
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 11, 2015 - 01:04pm PT

Verdon on old postcards

Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 11, 2015 - 01:09pm PT

Katie Lambert and Caroline George climbing in the canyon
[Click to View YouTube Video]
Flip Flop

climber
salad bowl, california
Apr 11, 2015 - 01:38pm PT

This might result in a thrashing but limestone is the funnest rock. It's nice that everything looks impossible.

Truly a magnificent place and a must make pilgrimage.
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 11, 2015 - 02:09pm PT

Flip Flop.

Thanks for posting. This thread was started because Jeremy's Southern France thread (including Verdon) has disappeared from ST. There was a lot of informative stuff posted by different forumers on that thread and it's now gone. I therefore started this Verdon thread and invite everybody to repost their Verdon stuff.
Blakey

Trad climber
Sierra Vista
Apr 11, 2015 - 03:19pm PT
http://www.supertopo.com/tr/The-Verdon-Some-Recollections-and-La-Demande-a-34-Years-On-TR/t11411n.html

http://www.supertopo.com/tr/Old-Soldiers-Never-Die-A-Flying-Visit-to-the-Verdon-April-2013/t11941n.html
Blakey

Trad climber
Sierra Vista
Apr 11, 2015 - 03:26pm PT
http://www.supertopo.com/inc/photo_zoom.php?dpid=Ojw-NjwlJCIkJA,,
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 12, 2015 - 12:13am PT
Blakey.

Thanks for links to the Verdon TRs.
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 12, 2015 - 12:18am PT

Verdon on Mountainproject: http://www.mountainproject.com/v/gorge-du-verdon/107437053
pierref

Trad climber
france
Nov 6, 2015 - 05:56am PT
http://www.topo-grandesvoies-verdon.fr

A good best off in french
AP

Trad climber
Calgary
Nov 6, 2015 - 08:57am PT
Had lots of fun there back in 1985. Some of the most enjoyable climbing I have done.
squishy

Mountain climber
Nov 6, 2015 - 09:29am PT





Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 6, 2015 - 10:16am PT

pierref

Thanks for posting the topo with the 100 best (or most beautiful) Verdon routes. A great way of linking routes and photos from the routes.
TacomaDome

Trad climber
Tacoma, WA
Nov 6, 2015 - 12:58pm PT
I have never had the chance to climb in the Verdon, but we did bike through it a few years ago. Amazing place that I would like to go back to for some climbing one day.

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