Nice climbing, no not nice- Nice!!

22nd Mar 2010

Phew, back from yet another trip to France- it was short but sweet. We stayed in a friend’s fantastic house in the hills above Nice and went climbing at five different crags. We managed to pack a lot into our six day trip.

I was thinking about it and I worked out that I hadn’t actually been back climbing in France since Tim and I spent the winter there in 2006/7! Kind of weird, as I really love France but I guess there’s so many other places to go. Spain seems to have crept into my No.1 spot climbing destination these days.

Anyway, back to the Nice trip. Tim and I want to produce an article on the climbing in this area and with Peter’s help, we got a great tour of the crags. I really love going to new venues, so enjoyed the week a lot.

The first couple of days were spent at La Turbie, which is an extensive crag right above Monaco. It’s a stunning spot with some great climbing, I enjoyed it here and it was so nice to be back on rock- even though everything felt hard (ha ha). I’d seen pictures of this crag over the years and even driven beneath it so it was great to finally go climbing there. It’s a varied place with tufas, steep stuff and vertical walls- great!

Our next spots were a double hit of St. Jeunnet and Peter’s local crag Bagaree. I was having a rest day so helped out with belaying and rigging some of Tim’s ropes. St. Jeannet is a big lump of rock that can be seen from everywhere and has lots of multi pitch. But there is also lots of single pitch, which we found to be good fun and very interesting. There was a nice feel here with good variety, although probably one of the hardest f5+’s anywhere, it was an ‘historique’ wide layback crack, hmmm. We then headed to Bagaree, which is a quick drive from Peter’s house. It’s a friendly crag near the river with lots of routes from f3-low f7’s. A nice place for a picnic!

We met up with Alek, Amira and Szymon here. The guys were resting too but Amira was cranking out some routes, so Tim got some piccies of her.

Our evenings were spent sitting in the kitchen chatting, with Amira concocting some wonderful meals. She is one of these strange people who loves cooking and can make a feast out of nothing. Needless to say we ate very well all week and I think I put on about half a stone. Although we had some semi-arduous walk-ins which hopefully counteracted the high calorie intake!

Next day was Peillon. This is an area with a lot of climbing and we headed for the Grotte. I’d wanted to go to this place for a while after a friend raved about it a few years back, so it was great to finally make it. Wow, very impressive too. Firstly, the sun was shining and secondly the routes looked amazing. After a rest day, I was psyched to get moving. It was a great day with good climbing. I came very close to onsighting a very steep f7b+ but was thwarted by a very long move. Slightly annoying but also I suppose quite pleasing. I felt like I was starting to climb ok again but was finding the grades hard. I think this was a combo of me not feeling up to full strength yet and also some ‘local’ French grading. I also tried a f7c+ in the Grotte, which just felt like the living end, extremely powerful and I found it hard to imagine myself redpointing it. Ok it was in a horizontal roof which to be honest isn’t my angle but even so, it felt demoralisingly hard!

Our next day we decided to go a bit further afield and get a change of angle. So we headed for the quality crag of Chateauvert and ended up in beautiful Provence for a day. Again, we had the sun and Amira, myself, Tim and Peter spent most of the time roasting ourselves high on a ledge above the river enjoying the quality climbing. While Szymon and Alek shivered in the fridge on the longer wall. We eventually headed round there too but after getting some serious rays, mmm, it was lovely to feel the sun again after a long cold winter.

I have to say this crag is very good. I had been very briefly years ago, had always wanted to come back but never made it. So it was a treat to be able to climb here for the day. The climbing was just what we needed, nothing burly, more technical and good quality. Unfortunately, it’s getting polished and there’s a lot of chalk around but the climbing is still good. I had a great day and onsighted a f7b+ and yet again got within a move of another one- oh well. It was nice to feel the fitness coming back. I just need to work on my power levels but have to wait until my shoulder is up to it. Alek is a sports massage guy and it was great having him there as he had lots of ideas and advice on what I could do to help my shoulder problem. He is a very enthusiastic and helpful guy and it was useful chatting to him. My shoulder felt ok climbing but also my elbows were fine and I didn’t feel too hindered by my injury. Not that I needed any confirmation but it does show how indoors is a lot harsher on the body. I felt a lot happier climbing on rock and things didn’t hurt as much. But hey what can you do, it’s difficult to get mileage in the Peak without going indoors sometimes.

Although we had a saturday left, we were leaving at 5pm that day, we all chilled out at the house. Well, maybe chilled is the wrong word because we ended up having a mini sports day. It was great fun, Peter had all the gear and we raced around the garden playing all sorts of things. We started with table tennis, and then went to archery. Then whacked a shuttle round the badminton court for a while, then had a petanque tournament. I had a great time, as there is nothing I love more than playing games, what a fun way to end the trip. I would’ve loved to have played tennis too but I didn’t have suitable shoes- oh well, maybe next time…

So, I feel rejuvenated from this trip. We had sun, good climbing, great people and a lovely place to stay. All things that make a trip work; roll on the next one.