Forums: Climbing Information: Trip Reports: Le Reverend, Gorges de la Jonte, July 2009 Part I: The ascent: Edit Log


Aug 5, 2009, 11:50 AM

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Le Reverend, Gorges de la Jonte, July 2009 Part I: The ascent
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Trip Report: Le Reverend, Gorges de la Jonte, France.
July, 2009.
Part I: The ascent

"I think we should do this route," said Greg as he pushed the guidebook towards me, Peter bent over looking over my shoulder between bites of his breakfast croissant, "what do you think?"

I paused with reserved apprehension. A 100m 4-pitch route for first climb of the day right after breakfast? With a group of 3? With two very tall gentlemen (both Peter and Greg are above 5'10, while I'm a 5'1 shorty) who hadn't met each other before last evening? With two ropes of uneven length (I had brought a 50 meter, Peter had a 60 meter with him),
mine still emanating the flowery scent of Woolite with which I had washed it two weeks ago at every swish of its length? And what about...

"Sounds great!" Peter exclaimed in his serene British accent, before my brain could raise another 100 objections and interrupting all sorts of self admonitions a la "Oh, Elisa, what are you getting yourself into? Isn't France supposed to be all about the bread, the cheese, the food, the wine? And you came here to go climbing with these two guys instead?? What were you thinking?"

Greg and Peter looked at me.

"Uh, yeah, sounds great!" I squeaked, hoping my voice did not betray the nerves that had started running wild the second I saw the guidebook picture.

"Cool," said Greg. "We can even walk to the base, it looks like the walk-in is less than half an hour."

About an hour later (hey, in my defense, I was carrying the 50m rope, remember? Besides, these tall guys have long legs, so approaches are faster/easier for them!) we finally found ourselves at the base of Le Reverend at the Gorges de la Jonte in Southern France.

Two Frenchmen who had passed us on the uphill walk (o.k., I admit, it was my fault, but I forgot to tell you I was also carrying the 2-foot long baguette we had brought at the market on the way to the crag, and those things are hefty! See picture if you don't
believe me...) were already starting up the base, so we milled around for a while under the pretext of starting up another route, but that other one was too difficult to find, and by the time we gave up the Frenchmen were already out of sight over 30m above us.

Good, the Frenchmen were a tight-knit, fast, efficient party, no chances they'd interfere with us. Hey did I also mention I had seldom climbed above F5b outdoors, and it was also Greg's first multipitch adventure? Therefore, indeed, no chances they'd be
disturbing us. ;)

Peter took off leading the first pitch and I followed with Greg, chillaxed California guy, cleaning. It was a lovely, fun, no nonsensepitch with lots of very pleasant handholds and a small ledge belay where Peter took the opportunity to emphasize the fact that
neatness is the key to climbing safety.

For the second pitch, it was my turn to lead. I took off excitedly, first lead of the day jitters gone in the face of very pleasant, easy climbing (albeit with rather spaced-out bolts, around 2m apart, but no big deal) until I soon found myself off route, about 3 m
above my last bolt, with no other bolt in sight. Keep climbing or downclimb? No way to tell. After shouting down below that there were no bolts in sight Greg pointed out that the route seemed to veer far left, and sure enough after a bit of neck-craning I found the next bolt about 5 meters to the left and about 2 meters below me. Darn. I hate traverses, no way I could clip that bolt by traversing from where I was. So Elisa starts a rather hairy downclimb to get back to the 3rd bolt where the "off routing" started.

The downclimbing was nerve-wracking and exposed enough (a fall would've landed me bum-smack right into a big tree root poking helpfully straight out from a chimney ledge right below) that I finally had to grit my teeth at the failed lead embarassment and passed the baton on to Greg, who cheerfully set off to the rather run-out and very exposed traverse. After a while we hear him shout:"aaf, elay!", which
Peter and I took to mean he was safely anchored, so we chit-chatted as we waited for Greg to start reeling in the ropes.

Nothing happened, however. There was a lot of "AAaaping?" and "Woah hehaw wwah wah" exchanges in a garbled message mis-carried by the wind before it was finally clear that Greg was waiting for us to let him know it was o.k. for him to pick up the slack in the ropes about half an hour after he had arrived to his belay position. Anyway, Peter and I finally followed Greg's lead onto the spacious 2nd pitch ledge as I exclaimed how impressed I'd been at Greg's courageous lead over this highly exposed, nerve-wracking traverse. Glad I didn't lead that, after all. :).

Peter set off onto the next pitch, 5c, followed by Greg and finally me, with much cursing, as the 5c seemed easier for taller people, especially the start. Then Greg again took the lead on the fourth pitch for a very run out but fun chimney that had its "special" moments (see pic below) and ellicited some rather, uh, spectacular bridging by Peter as he cleaned. Oh, yeah, and did we mention the birds who used the chimney for, um, "nesting" (and other things?). Yeah.

In the end we made it to the top o.k. in between cursing and laughing, not bad at all for this casual group of 3 weirdos climbing up in France.

To be continued in Part II: the descent.

(This post was edited by blueshrimp on Aug 5, 2009, 5:25 PM)

Edit Log:
Post edited by blueshrimp () on Aug 5, 2009, 11:52 AM
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Post edited by blueshrimp () on Aug 5, 2009, 5:25 PM

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