First weekend as a team in a select committee: Antoine, Gabriel, Arnaud and me. We decide on Autridge, the beautiful cliff perched above the Ardèche gorges. No one knows except Antoine. For him it's a bit like his garden. Our local has done almost all the routes and sends us his desire…
He only has La Belle Endormie 7b max, Max Havelaar 8a+ max 150m or others a notch above. Enthusiasm is overflowing but we are slowing down a bit to go into affordable things. Despite this, Arnaud and I plan for Felicity 7c max over 150m while Antoine and Gabriel opt for La Belle Endormie.
|Felicity’s first length…|
Felicity starts in the center of the balm and goes up along a network of colos... We can't see the end! We will not last long on this path. The first pitch in 7a+ sets the tone: it's ultra physical, even more than expected (!) and it's rather dirty after the resurgence of winter and the little traffic. In short, I got rousted and we wisely redirected towards a less overflowing route for this start of the season! The first length will have at least warmed us up (if not more…)!
We then find Antoine and Gabriel in Sleeping Beauty. The characteristic of this route is to offer our little hands the opportunity to climb a colo perched and isolated in the 7th pitch: the sleeping beauty is waiting for her time.
The route begins at the edge of the Ardèche with two pitches under the ledge of the path (L1: 6b+, L2: 7a). With our setbacks in Felicity, we find our two friends at this level, give them a little head start and then follow them.
|Gabriel in L3 of The Sleeping Beauty|
The 3.6c length demands attention. The rock is not always very good and a good boulder step on the piler requires finesse and concentration. But curiously the climbing of the first half is really pretty there.
The suite, L4 in 7a+, weaves on beautiful, sculpted rock. Small holes at the beginning of the length then give way to small vertical grooves which are not always easy to negotiate. Nice length.
L5, 7a, is rather classic and does not present any major difficulties except perhaps a somewhat physical crack to climb up.
|L6 like on eggs…|
We then arrive at a large niche where a siesta is a must! We still take the opportunity to observe the friends in L6, 7b and encourage them.
|Arnaud at the end of L7|
It is clearly the hardest length, not for the climbing qualities necessary but for the experience to be deployed in the test of holds and the choice of the route. The climbing is demanding and somewhat rough.
|L7 and its sleeping beauty|
L7, 7a+, presents the famous colonette! A little gem of nature! But the equipment does not make me dream too much, a belay very to the left and a potential fall well in crossing. We say to ourselves with Arnaud that it would be almost better to chain directly without making this left hook for the relay. But it's like that ! The camp, although short, is physical and the slab suite is rather shrewd. A great length!!
|Arnaud feasts in L8|
L8, 7a, offers us a slightly descending crossing on small holds and very technical then the following is easy.
|End of L8, with style! 😉|
The last length in 6c does not attract us at all. The output of the relay seems very blocky on a domed and the route a bit far-fetched. We finally opt for the direct exit which must be around 5+! Very nice to finish this route well massaged!
|Antoine appreciates the gifts of the Ardèche karstic plateau!|
Autridge is really a superb cliff as much for the big sustained routes as for the rinds on the camp that the friends will try the next day. To be discovered without being impressed by certain less frequented roads!