Thursday, October 30, 2008

We awoke this morning to find our tent sagging under the weight of fresh Spanish snow! Can't believe it, a few days ago we were sweating in 25 deg heat as we climbed, and now those same crags are covered in white stuff.

Other new... we have jobs! Our winter season at Sainte Foye is secured, so we'll be working in the French Alps from December until April '09. Wahoo!

Hola from Siurana, Spain

Sunday, October 26, 2008

We've moved camp to Siurana, Spain. Siurana is about two hours drive from Barcelona, south-west and inland a bit. Its quite high, at 700m, so its not been the warmer destination we've dreamed of. The first two days it poured, and on the third it fined up into a beautiful blue-sky warm day. Today was the same. The day it cleared we walked through the old village as the mist rose and descended, and we took some cool photos.

The campground is awesome. Its run by a chap called Toni. He's very friendly and full of great advice. He's also an amazing climber, and has set a huge number of routes in Siurana, and other parts of the world. To add to his hi-achieving, he's also qualified and attending the New York Marathon next week. The campground is also home to about 4million stray cats. Leaving a plate out will result in feline licking noises five minutes after you've gone to bed.

We're really enjoying the presence of other climbers, as when we left Gorges du Tarn, we were the last to leave. Its been much more social and easier to meet people here.

Some photos below;
Siurana Pano

The Old Village - Siurana, Spain

Siurana, Spain

Siurana, Spain

Siurana, Spain

Siurana Pano

Video - Aguille du Midi

Friday, October 17, 2008

We've had the footage just sitting there for this one, and only just got around to editting it. Hopefully I'll have a video from our Ardeche footage up soon too. Until then, enjoy the sights from the Aguille du Midi, altitude 3800m!

Don't trust Google Maps!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

We're in Gorges du Tarn this week. We arrived on Sunday night after getting horribly lost somewhere odd. Do not trust google maps, ever! The instructions were just plain wrong, and nearly led us into a nasty mess, which might have made recovering the car difficult. There's a good two hours of my life I'll never get back. I wonder if I can sue Google?

Purely by chance we found the right track, and drove for a few hours through beautiful villages framed in incredible autumn colours, over a pass near the headwaters of le Tarn and then down into the gorge itself. Gorges du Tarn is home of the Millau Viaduct, famous for being the tallest vehicle bridge in the world.

Around 9pm in the dark we found the only campground that is still operating, everything else is closed for the season. Its supposedly three stars, but the amenities are pretty disgusting.

Gorges du Tarn is also home to some amazing climbing. The majority of routes here are harder than 6c, meaning we need to up our skills or take some falls! Today we went to a couple of crags and were pleasantly surprised. I got an comfortable onsight on a 6b (20) - hardest onsight yet - which Dani also red-pointed. Dani then onsighted a 30m 6a+(19-20), her hardest (and longest single pitch) ever. As our last route today, we picked an enourmous 35m 6b+, which spanked us thoroughly. It was a bit run out and quite steep, so made for exposed and entertaining climbing!

The only major problem being here is not being able to buy a bagette! The shops seem perpetually shut. Isn't this supposed to be France?

Some photos;
Shadocks - Gorges du Tarn
Part of the Gorge where most of the climbing is.

Autumn in Gorges du Tarn
The road through the Gorge is narrow with many tunnels like this.

This is what the climbing looks like, steep and featured. The female climber onsighted this 7c.

Our campsite, and our car. Right behind is the river.

There are ancient little villages like this one, scattered up and down the gorge.

Me looking cheeky.


10 things that suck/are awesome about camping

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tent life has its highs and lows, so on this note, we've decided to compile a list of things that are awesome, and that suck about camping.

Things that are awesome about camping:
  1. Camp-food
  2. Hot Chocolates
  3. Simplicity
  4. Cheap-living
  5. Great locations
  6. Good indoor/outdoor flow
  7. Reading books
  8. No alarm clock
  9. No cellphone
  10. Handpuppets with head-torches
Things that suck about camping:
  1. Camp-food
  2. Mosquitos
  3. Spiders
  4. Slugs
  5. Noisy knicker theiving germans
  6. Mould on the airbed
  7. Holes in the airbed
  8. The airbed
  9. Midnight tent rivers
  10. The general moistness that permeates everything
We've found strange satisfaction in weird things. Like digging a trench with a spoon so your shoes don't float away. Inventing alternative foods - like combining cheese with Nutella (Nutella goes with everything). And terminating bug life. But finally, there is no simpler pleasure than a cup of tea after a day climbing.

Bon Soiree,

A week in the Ardeche

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Our last 7 or so nights have been spent in the Ardeche region of Southern France. The Ardeche region is famous for the massive gorge carving through it. The gorge is spectacular, and the rock crags are great too!

Our campground is based just out of an ancient little village called Chauzon, where the average road is wide enough for about 3/4 of one car. The campground is packed with Germans as it is school holidays in Germany. As far as we're aware, there are no other english speaking people there at all; and we suspect the French are staying away too! The German contingent are rather imposing, and the children are cheeky little buggers. Some evil adolescent stole two pairs of my knickers from the washing line right outside our tent - while I was having a cup of tea inside! NOT impressed at all.

We've had several beautiful warm days climbing next to the river on limestone crags. The majority of the climbing is very hard, and it's taken a bit of getting used to. We managed to catch up with Kirsty, a friend from home, and her mate Pat for a bit of climbing on the weekend. Yesterday the weather wasn't so flash so we visited Pont d'Arc - a large natural limestone arch in the Ardeche Gorge.

Last night the sky opened, and it poured all night. Bone rattling thunder and lightning kept us awake for hours, and the river that now runs through the middle of our tent is somewhat inconvenient. The insects taking refuge in our tent think it's marvellous that someone would erect such a large shelter in the middle of a river though!

Still no word on our jobs, we're waiting on confirmation. We're a little bit worried we might have to start looking for employment elsewhere, or change our travel plans drastically. Hopefully we'll know in the next few days.