Vingrau, Tauteval and Opoul – Route de la Grimpe

Warning – this post contains no actual climbing!

We decided to spend a rest day getting a bit of the drive north done and recceing the crags around Vingrau. This area, just over the border into France, and confusingly in a region they call Catalan, is another that’s been on our radar to explore for 30 years having appeared in the original “Sun Rock” guidebook. We’d come close to a visit a couple of years ago, but read about a number of crag closures so changed plans. 

Anyway, first impressions as you turn off the  A9 just north of Perpignan and head westward is that there’s plenty of rock! These three villages are only separated by about 10 km and between them there are getting on for a thousand routes. Collectively these are known as the Route de la Grimpe 

First we checked out a couple of sectors around Tauteval, a pretty if touristy village straddling a river. There’s a downloadable topo here http://www.tautavel.com/UserFiles_tautavel/file/topo_guide_escalade_tautavel.pdf which has crag locations and route names and grades but no pictures…

The sector Gouleyrous is a lovely spot, set either side of the river as it has cut its way through the limestone to form a natural gorge. Great swimming spot (though this is banned) and the routes I managed to identify looked to be mostly 4s and 5s on well bolted slabs. There’s a fun bit of cable / via ferrata to access the upper gorge and probably more of the routes (the topo has quite a range of grades). 

The other side of the village there are a bunch more sectors including L’Alentou which looks to be easily accessed from the road.

Looking north from Tauteval, the crags of Vingrau are clearly visible as a long limestone ridge running for a couple of kilometres, dominating the far skyline. One end of this abuts the D9 and there’s a dedicated parking area to access the climbing at N42.8520856, E2.7933598 From here it’s a 2 minute walk up to the nearest routes (a preponderance of grey slabs I’m afraid, and we couldn’t find a guidebook though there’s a suggestion that you could pick up a topo at the tourismo in the village). Reassuringly, there are signs promoting the climbing at a number of the car parks, rather than detailing bans! 

Heading over to Opoul we found a couple of very attractive crags. Les Abeilles is a long crag with about 50 routes from 4c to 7a mostly 5s and 6s, up to 30m high and a 5 minute downhill walk from a handy parking area. This is a great overnight spot which gave fantastic views over the crag and the Pyrenees (now to the south!) in the morning. 

There’s a topo here http://deversud.com/telechargements/fichiers/1490871814.topo.les.abeilles.opoul.pdf We didn’t climb there but did go for an inspection, and the climbing looked well worth a try sometime. 

The other nearby sector, Gratounette,  is only 5 minutes down the road and situated immediately above it. About 20 routes, mostly 5b to 6b and up to 30m high.  There’s a topo here http://deversud.com/telechargements/fichiers/1471595846.topo.escalade.falaise.gratounette.opoul.pdf and it looks well worth a day’s visit. Parking coordinates are at https://goo.gl/maps/G7cGKyBjnZy

There you go – that should at least get you started and I reckon you could happily spend a week in the area. Enjoy! 

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