En Gard then En Route

With a cold snap settling across the continent, we headed back to Uzès and more hospitality at Mike and Heidi’s, with the outside chance of eking out a bit more climbing before going home.

A gentle jog on the hills above Uzès on a damp, chilly day, but at least we weren’t in the grip of Storm Arwen at home
Magnificent restored buildings in the heart of the town

Blue skies returned the next day, but would struggle to lift temperatures into double digits

Fortunately, The Gard is blessed with sunny, south-facing crags, and we decided to give Russan a look – another crag we’d visited many years ago and (perhaps prematurely) written off as too polished / sandbaggy after only a couple of routes in sweltering sun.

It’s an absolutely sublime spot, and the 30 minutes approach from the village was no great hardship on a crisp, blue day – time to warm up!

The slightly closer climber’s parking area, which has a reputation for break-ins, had a barrier across the track.

The various crags are arranged in a horseshoe at different levels around a tight meander in the river – a natural solar collector…

By the time we dropped down into the shelter from the northerly breeze, we were shedding layers down to T-shirts. Sector Belle Epoque is pretty much in the centre of cirque,

and Mallefougasse offered a 3* 6a+ with the option of a 5c first pitch up to an intermediate loweroff. The climbing and line are excellent, but no pushover, with a bit of polish adding to cold fingers and some lingering dampness from overnight rain. I got a sudden sense of deja vue making a tenuous rock-over at around 2/3 height, when it struck me that we’d only gone and selected one of the few routes we did on our only previous visit (out of around 250 to choose from!) – another grey-point!

Here’s Helen approaching half-height.

The sunny window disappeared as quickly as it had arrived, and the chill descended – another crag that’s worth coming back to, but we must branch out to a different route!

More sunshine the next day, and the three monkeys gathered to soak up the rays and make a plan for our final day…

Collias, another suntrap, gets the vote (it’s still only 8C) and we head to the sector Brazza, accessed from the start of the via ferrata…

Fab views down to the Gard

… and some brave paddle boarders

Here’s Helen on the excellent but SO POLISHED Lunule’s Party

… and we also did the outstanding Carline, 6a, which would make a great E2 up a pockety crack line. By which time the sun had left the crag and with it any enthusiasm for extending the climbing on our trip.

We’ve been amazingly fortunate with the weather we’ve had throughout October and November – probably only half a dozen days written off as unclimbable (plus a few more where less hardy / foolish folks might have stayed at home!)

It’s “Au Revoir” to the South of France for now, with a heartfelt “Merci Beaucoup” to Mike and Heidi for their company and hospitality, supplemented by an “A Bientot”! We’ll be back!

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