The Cirque de Labeil was one of the “must visit” crags recommended by Keith and Fiona, but we’d struggled to time our visit with an appropriate weather window. On the final day before a storm system moved in, the meteo wasn’t promising – mostly overcast and a stiff northerly. What the hell – we decided to take a chance…
The Cirque and its associated Grotte are something of a local tourist attraction, and while only a few km from the A75 are an idyllic peaceful haven. The Cirque itself contains a lot of rock in its wide sweep, but has only been developed for climbing very recently. There’s no topo but you’ll find approach details on ClimbingAway and a partial list of routes and grades on TheCrag. Basically, park at the parking area:
… you get a good view of the Cirque from the parking area:
… and follow the little blue arrows down into the Cirque and hang a left when you arrive at the path which runs below the base of the main tier of cliffs.
You know you’re in the right place when you pass this gentle reminder:
The most developed sector, or certainly the most popular, seemed to be the obvious impressive undercut wall, reached via a stepped path about 30m after you pass through a metal gate. Great looking rock, and in more good news we were out of the wind and there was a lot more blue sky than forecast. Game on!
Helpful locals were happy to point out the best routes and their grades. Those on the big wall were a bit outside our pay grade (7b to 8a+), but about 30m left there’s a much friendlier “Mur a Cinq” with half a dozen routes in the 5b-6a range, some of which are around 35m long, and all the ones we did were very good.
Moving rightwards from the “Mur a Cinq” there’s a tall wall with two routes which share a common start. Here’s Coralise on the left line – 7a+/b (the right one is 6b+)
Right again, Discours de la méthode, 6c, takes the arete and then fine pockety wall – fun, thought-provoking climbing with a tough move to the chains!
Right again (and just left of the big wall) there’s a vertical wall with two 6a+s, the central one of which is La voie de la bergère (outstanding, but tough for the grade)
The wall and arete on the left of this buttress (tackling the small roofs in the shot above) is La Malédiction du Fatal Kebab – the crag cognoscenti said 7a, but annoyingly it’s down as 6c+ on the web (more fake news!) Anyway, it’s simply outstanding – tough sequence through the little roof, another stiff move around 2/3 height, and a potential heart-breaker heading to the chains (I just about hung on!)
Meanwhile, Loic, one of the friendly bunch of locals, was putting in a photogenic performance on his 8a+ project up the arete…
… via a bouldery direct finish:
A few clouds rolled in towards the end of the day, prompting a rapid change from shorts and shirtless to double duvets. Back at the car park, a final burst of the setting sun lit the crag with a blaze of illumination like a laser-pointer. Stunning!
You can just about make out some hardy stalwarts who’d hung on for a final route, and been rewarding by their own personal Cirque de Soleil show (probably on La Malédiction du Fatal Kebab)