Last days in Spain, first days in France

In my last post I described our trip to Montserrat, where we walked and climbed in the mountains above the Monastery. The views in this place were out of this world, towers of rock stood atop of a huge mound, and from a distance it looks like a hedgehog. We enjoyed our time there, although neither Jess nor me was overly into the rock type found on the towers, and therefore decided that after a couple of days we would move onto a new location.

This randomly ended up being a rocky outcrop near a town called Moia, the only reason for this was I found a single topo for the and it was close! As it turned out we struggled to find the crag, as the van was too big for the road. In the end we parked on the edge of town and had to walk through the wood where there was no path. This was a nightmare, however we eventually popped out on a path and found the crag at the top of the hill.

To be honest the rock was quite loose in places and did not inspire confidence. We only did three routes in all, and each one that followed was better than the last! The final crack problem was great fun which was weird, as I usually hate crack problems. The whole area reminded me of Dijon in France, the look of the place; the vibrant green of the woods and the smell, it was a little crazy to think we were still in Spain!

The next morning we started our looong drive to France! We had plans to return to Chamonix for a few days cheap skiing and maybe get some climbing in as well. The drive took two days and was a bit of a slog! That said there was a lack of traffic and lorries due to it being Easter weekend. When we drove into Cham, it was pretty special, although the clouds blocked the summit of Mont Blanc, the mountain scenery was amazingly beautiful, and so much more snowy than I’ve ever seen it, as we always come in summer!

On our first day in town, we inquired about ski lifts and passes, and also managed to get out into Servoz in he afternoon for some climbing. After some help from folks on UKC I knew the crag was dry enough to climb, and on arrival there was a few teams on the rock. I have climbed here before, and it’s always been pick the route that’s not being climbed, as well as this the left section is often overloaded with top ropes, as the lower pitches are all low grades. As this section was free we headed there first, it’s a great section of rock as the start is easy, the mid is mid grade 5c/6a, and the tops start at 6a+ I think? All in all it progresses the Climbing and the grade the higher you go.

We did one route to the top, with jess leading the hard top section. It was weird adjusting to Climbing on this rock, after so long on limestone! On the abseil we could not reach the floor, and ended up on the ledge above the easy section. We decided not to descend and climb from where we were. We were unaware of the grades, but I thought it looked ok. I thought the route would only go to the second pitch ledge, and then we could descend, however the route went on and on!! It was harder than I thought too! Eventually I had to make a couple of quickdraws out of prussics and screwgates to finish the route. It ended on this overhang that looked as though it had the holds, but would be tough. It was, I worked out the step by step moves and just went for it, I was so happy when I reached the ledge! It turned out this was a 6b+ finish, and the rest of the route was 6a+, so I was pretty chuffed, these were good grades for me to be Climbing!

That night we slept in the car park, listening to the waterfall and occasional avalanche crash in the distance, it was a nice spot! The next day we drove to Les Gaillands and started climbing at our favourite sector, Frendo. I did a corner route that was still a little groggy and wet. I’d dogged up this route a few years before, so it was nice to cleanly climb it in bad conditions, although it was still a nightmare style Climb. After yesterday’s grade achievements, I was in the mood for another hard climb and chose a 6b slab that I missed out on Climbing last time we were here!

Jess tried the lead and then I moved up to have a go. From the bottom the crux looked ok, however on closer inspection it was a nightmare! I tried a few different ways up and eventually decided that it would go on the right if I could find the right foot placements, after a few attempts I managed to get it and the rest of the Climb went well, although I was tired, and was glad it was a slab!

So far so good on our return to Cham, it’s only been valley cragging, but it’s been great fun! Hopefully we will be off skiing for a couple of days over the weekend. We have been trying to get some skiing in since the start of winter and hopefully we will now have the chance!

Avalanche debris at the crag

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