Three Sides of Rocher Baron

We first visited Rocher Baron almost 25 years ago, with two tiny tots in tow. The appeal at that point was the roadside / “pram-able” nature of the nearest south-east facing sector: La sieste au soleil. This bit of crag features a number of routes in the 3s and 4s and the photos in the guide of pre-schoolers in over-sized helmets cemented the impression of an “ecole”, reinforced by subsequent summer visits when it seemed as much a picnic area as a crag.

Revisiting on a bright but chilly Sunday at the end of October,

… as earlybirds, we were surprised to find that we weren’t quite the first on the crag.

The gleaming white quartzite making the perfect solar reflector to offset the 5C chill. We kicked off with Titeuf, a stiff 6a with cold hands and damp rock – reassuring to see this youth struggling on it later in the morning:

Helen did Reviens Leon

… and P’tit Frere

and I did Affirmatif Yaka!, 6c, very thin but also very well bolted.

By now the Sunday crew had started to arrive, and families with elaborate (and tempting-looking) lunches and clad in much Decathlon insulation started to colonise the crag from its righthand extremity. We decided to head around the corner to the Face Sud (Quand on a l’amour).

This is a much steeper affair, with attractive orange rock set off by the sparkling blue sky. We did the eponymous Quand on a l’amour, an outstanding 6b up a gently overhanging wall on really sharp, incut holds.

Further left,

… was a less sustained but more cruxy 6c.

Rocher Baron has a third, less-visited, Face Ouest. This is accessed via a cairned path followed by a series of cable-protected ledge-shuffles, which bring you out on an exposed slope above the main Durance valley, with views down towards L’Argentière. Despite the proximity of the road a few hundred metres below, the position feels almost Alpine and the rock certainly has a less-travelled quality.

We just bagged a final last route of the day, before the sun lost its power. Tier Bouchon was a fun long 6a to finish on.

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