Thursday, 4 October 2012

Ceuse - It's not a walk in the park By Jen Wilby


My last blog ended with a week of surfing on the West coast of France in Seignoisse. In the wonderful world of looking back - this was not the best preperation for climbing at Ceuse :)
Seignoisse was my first attempt at surfing and with the storms going along the East coast of the States - made the waves less than ideal for a beginner :

It was hard work, often not being able to get beyond the breaks due to the rip curl that would sweep your feet from under you. I've never drunk so much sea water or experienced what it's like to be in a washing machine. Despite this, it was addictive and if your a surfer Seignoisse is an awesome place to go. One of the high lights was the sunset. Each evening people would gather and sit on the beach to watch the sun sink into the sea - a perfect ending.
Onto Ceuse; literally if you type it into the sat nav and follow. "But we're driving away from the crag" shouts our driver, which resulted in myself and Vass Man replying with "It's fine, just keep going". Error. 12km later in the wrong direction we were on top of Ceuse. It's a lovely view! After consulting the guidebook, which clearly has the GPS co-ordinates of our lodgings - we arrived at the campsite.
The campsite is located at the bottom of one of the walk in's and is convenient if your on a holiday. The price, I've been told has gone up to 5.80e pppn and the WiFi is no longer free. My advice, do not pay for it, its deathly slow! The best WiFi is located just down the road from the campsite at the local cheese farm, its free, just buy some cheese. I'd recommend the pyramid block :)



 When driving towards Ceuse from Gap (large supermarkets and cash points) you cannot miss Ceuse towering above you. My first thought was " I cannot walk up that!!!". Those of you who know me know I hate walking, so after 2.5 weeks at Ceuse, I was suprised to find I enjoyed the walk in and now I'm no longer there I miss it. (I think a year in a van has got to me!).

The walk in is not a walk in the park. So here are my tips. said in the fashion of the "Sunscreen Song" (lots of driving means random music is played to alleviate the boredom):

1: DO NOT race up it, you'll only be too tired to climb once you get there.
2: Take your ipod (charging available at campsite) the music will make the minutes fly by and keep you psyched.
3: DO NOT look up to see how far you have to go - it will only make your heart sink.
4: Water - take lots of it.
5: If you have crap knees like me, get some walking sticks and do some cross training before you go. Else you'll end up with dead arms at the top!
6: DO NOT take the short cuts up, only down, it hurts. I only made this mistake once.
7: Take a change of clothes - you're going to sweat.
8: Enjoy getting fitter!
Obviously these tips only apply if you have my appaling level of CV fitness. The walkin too me on average 50-70min, depenng on how many days on we'd had.
Ceuse if beautiful, the view from the crag is stunning, especially as th sun is setting and the Alpenglow rises. One of the best views this year! With regards to the climbing, I am reluctant to comment as I'm still in my slump suffering from bouts of vertigo which will cause me to freeze on the rock mid route. The result of this has taken all of my confidence from me. The routes that I did do, were pretty cool and the rock is stunning. There are routes of every grade 6 and above at Ceuse but to get the most of out it, climb in to the 7's and you'll experience the best lines. Despite what we had heard, its not all pockets, the climbing is varied from the hold types to the steepness. All in all Ceuse as it all.
Ceuse has been added to my list of places to return to - minus the vertigo and one of the must do activities to visit the pizza joint on the road into Gap. They do the most AMAZING pizza's at a cheap price. Thanks Hugh!

Check out its hair! Horses at the bottom of Ceuse

We left Ceuse due to the heat and the fact that the days were getting shorter. We didnt have much time to climb or project. We headed to Saint Leger, a crag we knew little about, only being told to go be the Rodellar locals. That's because it is AMAZING!

Very much like Rodellar, its set in a Gorge with a sweet swimming spot en route to the crags. Most of the sectors are south facing, so the best times to go are on cloudy summer days or in the spring. We had the Rockfax guide by the local one is available at the Gite near the parking and this has all the crags in in, including the new sector La Baline a steep and tufery sector.
Sadly for us, most of the crags were wet due to some heavy rain, so we headed to the North Face which I can only describe as being Malham with tufa's, its beautiful and makes for some fantastic routes. You can also climb on the North Face when its raining and it will only start to seep after a few days of heavy rain. After a stern talking to myself, I'm now no longer afraid of heights and am beginning to get my confidence back, so St Leger was a new start for me. All the routes I did were outstanding, and the 7's on the North Face are stand out routes. I was psyched at my new found confidence, however the heavens opened, making the rock black, so it was time to leave.
We've dumped the ropes and headed to the fantastic bouldering spot of Ailefroide, set in the shadows of the mighty Ecrin' be continued...

Cute name plates at St Leger

Happy Climbing!


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