The magical Veneon Valley runs roughly eastward from Bourg d”Oisans to dead-end at the tiny village of La Bérarde, passing the start point for the refuge du Soreiller approach at Les Etages a couple of km before.
The camping municipal at La Bérarde might just be the best campsite in the world… Set alongside the raging river Veneon, with wide green spaces groomed to golf fairway standards, and situated at the confluence of two tributary valleys with magnificent views towards The Meige to the north and The Ailefroid to the east.
If that wasn’t enough, the valley holds a dozen or so single pitch sports “ecoles” and another dozen multi pitch crags, with around half of them being within easy walking distance of the campsite.
Our first day was a scorcher, and we made a double mistake of picking the south facing sector La Maye and making a lateish start to make the most of being roasted!
We were also unfortunate to pick the day when the local guides were re-equipping all of the lower-offs and giving the place a good end-of-season tidy-up. This involved heaving off huge quantities of loose blocks in a very alarming fashion, which somewhat spoiled the solitude – however, we’ll return sometime in the future confident in the fixed gear and the rock!
On our second day we went shady (shame it was a cooler day too) and sampled sector Grande Aiguille. This is only a few hundred metres from the campsite (here’s the view down from the crag)
and has a nice mix of the typical slabby granite and some steeper, more featured climbing – a couple of dozen routes in all mostly 6a-b. Meme pas envie and Coup de pompe were particularly good. Here’s Helen on the easy intro Meme pas dur,
and then cranking through the steepness on Meme pas haute (her first 6a on the mend!)