Quinson – climbing by the Verdon, but not as we know it

We’re nicely settled in to the friendly campsite in Correns, and have enjoyed a few days at Chateauvert, on the doorstep, but were looking for a side trip for a change of scenery. A browse of ClimbingAway threw up a rarity – a new (to us) climbing area with over 200 routes, halfway between two “Destination” spots (Verdon and Chateauvert) and not even mentioned on UKC.

Quinson is a pretty village on the banks of the Verdon, only about 10km downstream from Lac Sainte-Croix (though it’d be an hour’s drive from La Palud). It has its own modest gorge (nothing like the scale of things upstream) and associated canoe and water-based activities, but is most famous for its prehistoric museum. More importantly, as far as we (and probably you!) are concerned, it has a load of climbing concentrated in two main clumps: A group of crags around the gorge (mostly east and SE facing so plenty of shade in summer)

and the long west-facing wall of Falaise de L’Aspre (a perfect late-Autumn suntrap). No prizes for guessing we were heading to the latter.

First we had the challenge of finding a guidebook – the website for the village suggests that the topo can be purchased for €8 at “toutes commerces” and so began a little trip down memory lane for a game of “hunt the topo”. This was a firm favourite, back in the day (BI – Before Internet) when we’d often rock up in a random village where we’d heard / read there was some climbing. First stop (as traditional) was La Presse, where the bloke gave me a Gallic shrug and suggested La Mairie. More shrugs there (but I’m not sure how you’d get on in Glossop Town Hall asking for a copy of Over the Moors…) why not try the Office de Tourisme? Third time lucky, and the nice lady was also able to point out the crag location on a handy free map (again, I’m not sure if her opposite number in Glossop would have got me to Hobby).

To reach the sunny sector you turn west off the main road, between the bridge and the village, and head past the campsite for a few hundred metres until a barrier marked EDF no entry, and park considerately here.

The climbing is accessed very easily in a few hundred metres up the road beyond the barrier, which zigs left to a hairpin (follow a path up from the apex for the left hand end of the crag) and then back right to the right hand end of the crag, just before a gated tunnel to the hydro station.

Easier routes (4s and 5s) are concentrated at either end, and seem to be very well bolted – we warmed up on, Coucou l’Archange, 5c, which was good though polished (and had a tonne of bolts!)

Most of the central area is full of 6s and 7s, on vertical walls with goutes d’eau supplemented by the occasional cracks and tufas – and the bolting seems to be a bit less generous, to say the least.. The majority of these routes are 6c and up, with a few notable exceptions where natural lines of weakness allow for some quality easier routes. We did a couple of outstanding 35m 6as:

Les Huit Merveilleux Pitons (there might have been 9 bolts – but in fairness they were generally where you wanted them)

… and La Fiente (Le 6a de la falaise, apparently!)

There are some cracking looking harder routes, like the tufa of Le Choix Dans La Date (maybe?) – 6c/7a and ca engage, ca engage!!! I just wasn’t in the mood for that much engagement!

Over at the left hand end is another cluster of mostly 5/5+s – Helen rated Graelsia Isabellae,

… but we left Masturbation Cerebroverticale as one to come back for!

Almost a hundred sunny routes in a gorgeous Provencale setting, 5 minutes from the car – it’s got quite a lot going for it. Might be a handy option if you got weathered out of the Verdon.

A good day got even better when I spotted a microbrewery: Bière La Tuf in Cotignac – just 15mins from the campsite. What a great find!

Nothing like a tasting flight to end the day – the 6% IPA was a winner, but the 8% Triple with a hint of saffron was a close runner up – lucky the glasses are tiny!

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