Aiguillette de Laus de Cervieres and Terre Rouge

After our Queyras jaunt we tootled down the far side of the Col de L’Izoard through the Cerveyrette valley, using the time to suss out some of the crags. Rounding a bend, expecting to spot the Aiguillette de Laus de Cervieres, we had the added bonus of catching some in situ climbers, and determined to return to climb this aesthetic spire.

We returned a few days later, and headed up, despite the truck thermometer reading 7C in the sunny parking. There’s not much evidence of a path to start with, but follow your nose through the meadow and you will soon pick up a track. Top tip: Ignore the temptation to blast up the steep scree as soon as you spot the needle and instead keep faith with the track until you pick up some big cairns and take a pleasant zag to the crag (track below recorded on descent with the benefit of hindsight!):

There are only two routes on the pinnacle, and we found the guide a bit ambiguous. The 2-pitch 60m 6b we’d planned to climb takes the narrow arete facing the road (just to the right of the sunny East Face in the shot below). You’d have to be up pretty early to catch it in the sun in October, at which point the air temperature wouldn’t be much above zero – we reluctantly added it to the 12CB4 list. That left the other route, on the south west arete – 30m long (as it is on the upwards slope of the hillside) and given the intriguing grade of 6c (A0). The start was still in the shade and there was frost on the ground, so rather than prevail on Helen’s generosity for a very chilly belay I had the bright idea to aid-solo it.

This proved to be very straightforward as there are three generations of gear along the route – an ancient collection of pegs, a perfectly serviceable set of expansion bolts and a bunch of brand new glue-ins. French-free and with the rope tied into the bottom bolt and running through an auto-locking belay device on my harness (we use an Edelrid Eddy – a bit like a grigri). Satisfactory, but I think I’ll need to refine the system before soloing El Cap!

… and like all good pinnacles, it’s got a summit book…

… and a cross! What more could you want?

Here’s me on top 🙂

That kerfuffle wasted about enough time for our afternoon objective to come into the sun. Terre Rouge is just a couple of km down the road and accessed in just a couple of minutes from the car (park just SE of the bridge and there’s an obvious cairn marking the path) and a shiny sign just up the path:

Only a dozen routes, but a good spread of grades from 5c to 7a and an idyllic location. Having said that, the 5c (actually 5c+) is desperate, and you are much better off on the 6a just to its right, Fesse de Huitre, which is very good.

With the “easier” routes proving tricky, I was prepared for a spanking on Le Paradis des Mordus, 6c, but got up it in pretty good style.

So much so that I was tempted to try my luck on Hier Encore, 7a, which also went down (though with more of a struggle!)

With the first 7a of the trip in the bag, a celebration was called for, so we dropped into the Tourmente microbrewery in Briancon to stock up on refreshments!

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