Les Guions

This post starts with a few pics from another mission for Helen to  enjoy leading routes she was only able to second when we visited with her broken ribs a couple of years ago. This time on Lezaroide, the Les Traverses sector beneath the road. More beta here from our previous visit:

Into the Durance and a couple of days at Les Traverses

… and this time we were joined by Special Guest Mike – this year it’s his turn to be recuperating from an injury.

Fabulous autumn colours on the short walk down
Amazing crinkled rock – fossilised dinosaur scales?
On the airy arete of Aerobic
Me on Triskell, 6b+ on the other side of the arete
Mike on the sharp end on Bronzing
Me on the 6a+ on sector Tuti Fruiti

Having caught up on some unfinished business, our next foray took in some new territory on Les Guions – a sector high above St Crepin. The guidebook suggests that you could access this by walking up from the village, but you’d arrive in a sweaty mess! Much better to punch “Les Guions” into your satnav and follow the zigzags up to this tiny hamlet (maybe 15mins for 5km and the last km or so is on a good gravel track). You park on the final hairpin just before the village, and follow a trod from the back of the parking space which traverses the hillside. Look out for a cairn on your right after about 100m where a winding climbers path leads down beneath the crag – if you miss the cairn you’ll find a cross; you are now on top of the crag!

The main sector is a series of west facing slabs (sun from 1ish) up to 40m long, with grades from 5a to 6b. These are very much in the grand tradition of French limestone slabs, with key features (cracks, pockets and gouttes d’eau) separated by blankness. Happily, the “blankness” here is on barely touched rock and therefore still retains some friction. Consequently (and somewhat dependent on reach!) you can enjoy these routes at more or less the given grades. Le Mystere and Plaquettes free Vol are both 3* 6as. What they’ll be like in a few years time is anyone’s guess!

Further right there’s a more northwest facing wall that comes into the sun around 3ish. It’s accessed by a scramble protected by a fixed rope and has a bunch of attractive looking routes, some following quite “traddy” lines.

Helen leading La Guilonette

These are little frequented / very new! I was tempted into an effort on the imaginatively named “17” given 6c/7a (being a shallow person I was hoping for a 7a tick for the price of a 6c!) What I actually got was disappointment at a stopper move after plenty of 6c climbing, followed by a further letdown when the route petered out in a bushy crack. I ended up escaping up “16” which was a fun 6a.

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