The Pyrenees Mountains form a natural border between France and Spain, and in the foothills of these mountains there are many excellent sports climbing, rock climbing and bouldering areas. Generally the rock here is usually very good and well bolted.
Rock climbing areas in the French Pyrenees
|No||Crag||Type of climbing||No of routes||Grade Range||Popular Grades|
|1||Superpene/Pene Haute||Sport||213||3c to 8c||5c to 8a|
|2||Calames||Sport||185||4 to 8b+||6a to 7c|
|3||Le Carol||Sports||51||3+ to 8a||6b to 7c|
|4||Sinsat||Sport||168||3c to 8a||5c to 6c|
|5||Alliat||Sport||125||5 to 8b||6b to 7c|
|6||Auzat||Sport||184||4 to 7b+||5 to 6c|
|7||Orlu||Bouldering||No Info available|
|8||Targasonne||Bouldering||421||Fb 3b to 8b||Fb 4a to 6c|
|9||Cavallers||Sport||220||4- to 8a||5c to 7b|
|10||The Gaves Valley||Sport and Trad||1,000+||4 to 8b||5 to 7b|
The above information has been extracted from 4 guidebooks for the area, which are; the bouldering guidebook for Targasonne called Le Chaos de Targasonne Topo Guide; Pyrenees Rock that offers a selected number of climbs at the crags in France and Spain; Ariege from Rockfax that concentrates on the area between Foix and Andorra; and Plaquettes Dans Les Vallees Des Gaves that covers the crags between the towns of Lourdes and Gavarnie. All of these guidebooks can be bought from our shop.
The best place for bouldering in the Pyrenees is at Targasonne, known locally as “The Chaos”, and is located close near the town of Font Romeu on the border with Spain near Andorra. The granite boulders scattered along the Pyrenees mountainside have been developed into the second best bouldering area in France (after Fontainebleau) and offer a good range of grades to suit everyone.
The bouldering consists of plenty of slabs, walls and overhangs, with the rough granite providing good friction. The boulders themselves are between 3 and 4m high, so bouldering mats are essential though the landings are usually very good. The best definite guidebook for Targasonne is called Le Chaos de Targasonne Topo Guide, which describes over 1,100 problems ranging from Fb3 to Fb8b+ in 17 different sectors and can be bought from our shop.
The bouldering at Targasonne is at an altitude of over 1,600m, which means the best time to visit is from late spring until early autumn. For accommodation there is a campsite called “La Griole Camping” that is situated within “The Chaos” or there are plenty of gites to rent in the area.
The Ariege region of southwest France between Andorra and Foix provides an extremely varied array of climbing areas. There is different type of rock including limestone, granite and gneiss. This coupled with short overhanging crags, to steep single pitch and multi-pitch sport routes, to long bolted slabs in the mountains up to 20 pitches long.
Many of the crags are relatively small, with only Superpene, Calames, Auzat, Alliat and Sinsat offering over 100 routes each. However all of these larger crags offer a good range of grades. The majority of the crags are situated to the south of Foix, along the Ariege River, and it is easily possible to climb at different venues during the same day due to the short distance between them. The best time to visit this area to climb is in the spring and autumn.
In the western French Pyrenees to the south of Tarbes is a large climbing area called The Gaves Valley, which is one of the widest valleys in the Pyrenees. Here between the towns of Lourdes and Gavarnie there are many crags such as Pics d’Espade, Sarradets, Larribet and Cauterets that provide in excess of 1,000 routes across a wide range of grades. These crags offer everything from single pitch sport routes to long multi-pitch routes in the mountains, with many of these between 200m and 300m long. The majority of the routes are sport though there are some traditional routes as well. The Plaquettes Dans Les Vallees Des Gaves guidebook covers this area, which is available to buy from our shop.
There are a couple of selective guidebooks covering the sport climbing in the French Pyrenees. Ariege from Rockfax concentrates on the area between Foix and Andorra, and includes Calames, Auzat, Alliat and Sinsat along with 21 other smaller crags. Pyrenees rock includes the bouldering at Targasonne, plus the sport climbing at Sinsat and Superpene, plus other crags across the border in Spain. Plaquettes Dans Les Vallees Des Gaves covers the crags between the towns of Lourdes and Gavarnie, including many long multi-pitch routes. Buy these guidebooks from our shop.