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Back to where everything started: the Verdon!

After my trip to Chile and one week in Bolzano for route setting, I finally managed to spend 10 days at home. I have to say that I really enjoyed this time! I love to be at home with Mel after all our trips: it is a lovely place, where we can just “recharge our batteries” before to leave again, and enjoy a more “normal” life together.

During this period, I climbed a little bit in the gym, trying to recover from my finger injury, but nothing changed. So, as I couldn’t climb as I wanted, I had to find something else to do, and I started to go everyday running on the different trails behind our place; I really enjoyed it and it makes me feel really good: it is definetely funnier than to run always on flat ground.

The wall

The wall

At the end of the month, a “friend” of mine, Siebe Vanhee, joined me in Innsbruck. I didn’t put the world friend between quotations mark because I hate him, but for the simply reason that we have never met us before ;)

Mel met Siebe during one of her trip to Spain, and chatting with him she figured out that we have a lot in common and that we could team up together very well. So, after a lot of mails and chats, he took a ticket to Innsbruck to make a short trip together. Siebe is a super motivated climber, who tries to explore every aspect of his passion and with a very open view about it and the life in general. He spent the last years around, focusing mostly on tradclimbing and multipitch. As my main goal at the moment is to do the same, we hadn’t a hard choiche trying to find out some common projects. The plan was to go to Millau to support Mel during the Bouldering World Cup, and to drive after to Cadarere or Valle dell’Orco to do some trad climbing… but the bad weather changed our plan very fast.

So, after the competition in Millau and one day in climbing in Cantobre, we decided to drive to Verdon, as the weather was supposed to be better there.

I have been there a lot of years ago just for 3 days and Siebe has never been there before, so we were both super impressed when we arrived in the gorge! The big canyon and the perfect rock, make your finger tips sweating even before to start climbing!

Asthe north side of the gorge was completely wet, we decided to spend the first days climbing on some “easy” old school slabs on the most famous side. Honestly I got my ass kicked many times on the super technicals routes and I was really impressed thinking that all those lines were opened/climbed more than 20 (sometimes 30) years ago… climbing has became way easier in the last time ;)

We use the camping “ à la ferme” as our base camp, where we had a lot of fun listening to the crazy stories of the 70 years-old owner! We even got some dowsing lessons! ;)

The weather started to be better and we arrived in front of the hard decision if to stay there or to leave to  Cadarese. We were hesitating so much, that we ended up flipping the coin…the Euro decided for us: Verdon!

We took our first day off: we got some food, we enjoyed some french pastries and we drove around to see the situation of the other side of the canyon. We were really surprised realizing that the steep and big tufas very drying super fast: the strong wind of the last days did his job! The plan for the next days wasn’t hard to decide: for both of us THE line was only one. We both got to know the north side of the Verdon because of a beautiful poster of Nico Favresse climbing on two huge orange tufas somewhere high up in the canyon. It was a lot of  years ago, but I can still remember his picture on the italian magazine “Pareti” and for how long I dreamed about this line.

The next day we started together with David (another belgian climber fallen under the charm of this line) for one hour walk to search the anchor of the route: in fact the only way to reach the bulge, where the 60 meters long route starts, is to rappel down from the top. We got lost for one hour, but at the end we managed to find the right spot and we reach the bulge. I wanted to give it a flash go, but I didn’t feel really good, so I decided to take some pictures. Siebe and David checked out the moves of the route and they both reached the top with a big smile on their face! Siebe gave it immediately another go, finding some new tricks and getting used to this intimidating line. We were about to leave, but they made me so curious, that I just said to myself “whatever” and I rappelled down to make a try. Without warming up I got flash pumped quite fast and my attempt ended not really high ;) Anyways, I also arrived at the anchor with a big smile, and we decided to come back on the next day.

The day after, Siebe did two nice goes and I got so pumped on my first try, that I decided to stop there and to rest for the next time.

We took a day off and we packed up all our stuffs, as we should leave the day after to take our flights to Kalymnos for a bolting trip, and in the evening we hiked up to the top of the route. It was getting warmer and we had to leave early, so we decided to sleep there to climb earlier and to escape the sun. Waking up in such a nice place, make you even more motivated and everything went easier: after a quick warm ups on the first bolts, I gave it a try, fighting my way up to the anchor! I quickly rappelled down to the bulge, ready to belay Siebe for his go. He fought trough the first hard part and after some rests, he climbed up the big tufas to the belay with me screaming behind him. Just the dirt job of jumaring up and remove the quickdraws was missing ;)

Anyways, the trip ended in the best way and, after some more french pastries, we drove directly to Bergamo to take our flight to Kalymnos… but that’s another story.

This has for sure been the best sport climb I’ve done so far: the place, the rock, the run outs… everything together make it simply: TOM ET JE RIS ;)

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