Freissinières – Dalles Magiques (not) and La Grande Falaise

With another fine day in prospect, Helen and I decided to have a multi-pitch adventure. The two 100m routes on Dalles Magiques get a big write up in the guide “Jolies voies abordables et bien equipees”, and some scouting around suggested an amenable 15mins approach.

The crag didn’t look awesome on inspection, but at least the approach time wasn’t a sandbag.

The actual routes looked even less impressive…

So we were only mildly disappointed and moderately miffed to find out that all the bolts had been magiced away – someone must have said abracadabra at the wrong moment. Same story on both routes – we couldn’t find any mention on the web, and people logged ascents last year – our only guess is that there had been a major rockfall and the decision made to de-equip.

That left us in the lovely Freissinières valley with half a day to kill…

Nothing for it but to pay a visit to La Grande Falaise – the huge cliff that dominates the valley and is home to dozens of routes from one to six pitches, as well as what claims to be the oldest via ferrata in France.

We found our way to the first of the Secteurs des Grandes Voies – Pilier de la Saint Jean and set off up Mamagama via its alternative start: Papa m’a Dit,

giving a balanced 100m or so, sustained at 6a/+. Our only previous encounter with La Grande Falaise had been some polished horrorshow single pitch routes at Secteur Clematites, so it was a relief to find Papa m’a Dit to be anything but… The rock and line have a real “mountain feel” with little sign of traffic. Tough for 6a+ though.

Here’s Helen following P1

Great belay and views over the valley:

P2 wasn’t a whole lot easier and Helen decided that maybe we should explore the single pitch options a bit further.

Further right on Secteur Pantoutrip, Question d’Equilibre was a good looking line.

Looks can be deceptive though, and it’s a real sandbag at 6a (good value 6b/+) – not helped by a layer of dirt. Nowhere near as enjoyable climbing as the route we’d just abandoned. Hey ho!

Further right again, on Secteur Solitude et Fournaise, the rock changed character again. Sculpted orange rock with traddy-looking lines. Assez Bronze was a good route to end the day on. Still toasty in full sun at 17:30 – you can forgive a bit of sandbaggery for the feeling of warmth on your back and the magical light of the setting sun picking out the autumn hues.

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