Kristina and I rented a car in Grenoble and made our way south toward the famous climbing area of Céüse, known for densely packed incredible quality climbing that leans heavily on the very hard spectrum of things. Chris Sharma actually climbed the first 5.15, Realization, here just 16 years ago.
We first arrived in the town of Gap, just 30 windy minutes away from Céüse.
I just spent the last minute searching the difference between breezy windy and curvy wine-dy. Apparently you’re supposed to say winding, not wine-dy, but that ain’t me.
Anyway, we headed up to the parking lot just below the crag. There is very reasonably priced pay-for camping a little ways before the parking lot, but there are a lot of cheap people like ourselves that choose to instead camp in the parking lot. There’s a water spicket with drinking water, so what else could you ask for? We made friends with an awesome crew of frenchies, some of who were heading out due to the incoming weather, but we convinced the beautiful Maïa and infectiously merry Florian to join us the following day despite the forecast for rain.
Next morning, good weather to start the day…
…and then the rain came in! We found a nice shelter under some 5.13’s and watched our new german friends project one of the routes whilst we snacked and relaxed. We met a friendly couple from Flagstaff, taking rest day due to the weather by hiking around the climbing area. They had married and are parasailing around France for their honeymoon!
The following day was colder and rainier, but we got to enjoy some time in town. We had a great time at dinner with the Flagstaff couple, Chrissy and Jason to end the day.
Saturday was fortunately a far better behaved day. We woke up to the sun shining and headed up for a long anticipated full day of climbing. We hit up Grande Face, on the far east side of the wall, which as the name suggests, is a huge face. There are a few multi-pitch routes but also some lower angle shorter and easier climbing. I was surprised at how technical and thin even the 6a (5.10b) was. I flailed on an overhung 7b+ and then got on a beautiful and technical 6c+. The holds were so shallow that if I could get anything more than a little traction with the pads of two fingers I was ecstatic. I ended up having to bail at a point where the “holds” all of disappear.
We wound up meeting Margo Hayes at the cliff that day. For those of you who don’t know, she is a climber from back home: Boulder, Colorado, who became famous just this February after completing La Rambla, 5.15a, and becoming the first woman to climb at this inconceivably hard grade. She’s the tiniest little 19 year old and adorable. She was climbing with another new friend of ours, Jan Novak, a czech climber who does some incredible photography. Check it out here!