Situated inland between Nice and Marseilles, the river Verdon cuts a deep limestone gorge, 100's metres high, through the Provence countryside. This area of France has long been an established as a classic rock climbing area that offers a wide variety of climbing, with over a 1,000 routes. Here there is everything from short friendly sport routes, to big wall rock climbing that are both bolted and with traditional protection that requires plenty of commitment. Whilst it is possible to walk down the gorge to some routes, the Verdon experience is abseiling down your chosen route, pulling the ropes and climbing out. This is definitely an experience for those who enjoy the exposure and commitment of being on big multi-pitch routes.
The above information has been extracted from the "Aiguines, Verdon rive gauche" and the “Rockfax, Cote d’Azur” guidebooks. The “Aiguines” guidebook generally covers many of the short sport routes in the Verdon Valley, though Les Cavaliers and Sallieres crags are big walls that require abseiling in. Whilst the “Rockfax, Cote d’Azur” guidebook covers the longer more committing routes. Buy these guidebooks from our shop.
Rock climbing areas at Verdon
|Crag no||Crag||Are some routes Multi-pitch||Grade Range||Total No. of routes||Which Guidebook?|
|1||Galetas||No||3 to 6b+||20||Aiguines & Rockfax|
|2||Pas de Gairou||No||6b+ to 8a||5||Aiguines|
|3||Hauts-Vernis||Yes||3c to 7c||93||Aiguines & Rockfax|
|4||Col d'illoire||Yes||4a to 6a+||18||Aiguines|
|5||Vallon d'Estay||No||4+ to 6c||45||Aiguines|
|6||Bauchet||Yes||6a to 8+||100||Aiguines|
|7||Sallieres||Yes||5+ to 8a||25||Aiguines|
|8||Petites Pointes||Yes||5+ to 7b+||10||Aiguines|
|9||Cavaliers||Yes||6a to 8a+||83||Aiguines|
|10||Pantin du Neant||Yes||7a+ to8+||18||Aiguines|
|A||L'imbut||Yes||6b to 7b||5||Rockfax|
|B||Belvedere||Yes||5+ to 6c||6||Rockfax|
|C||Eycharme||Yes||6c to 7b+||3||Rockfax|
|D||Miroir du Fou||Yes||5+ to 8b+||14||Rockfax|
|E||L'Escales||Yes||5+ to 8a+||143||Rockfax|
|F||Le Duc||Yes||6b to 8b||5||Rockfax|
It is the L'Escales crag at around 400m high that captures the very essence of rock climbing in the Verdon Gorge, and this is extensively covered in the Rockfax guidebook. To climb these big wall routes it is necessary to abseil down to the start of the route, which will be to a hanging belay or a grassy ledge. This atmosphere can be intimidating and is certainly committing, knowing the only way out is to climb your chosen route. However there is a good range grades on these multi-pitch routes that go from F5 up to F8b. It is worth noting that to climb these routes twin 60m ropes are required, and whilst many of these routes are well bolted it is advisable to also take a small traditional rack.
The routes on crags such as Les Cavaliers and Sallieres also require abseiling in though these are generally shorter at 2 to 3 pitches long and well bolted. These two crags are covered in the in the "Aiguines, Verdon rive gauche" guidebook, which is available to buy from our shop
However there are plenty of single pitch sports routes to be found in the Verdon gorge that start from the valley floor, and are therefore much more friendly and safe, at crags such as Bauchet. There are other limestone crags in the immediate area around the gorge that offer mainly single pitch sports routes, along with some multi-pitch routes. All of these routes are covered in the "Aiguines, Verdon rive gauche" guidebook, which is available to buy from our shop.
The above photograph shows the atmospheric rock climbing available in the Verdon Gorge.
For most of the multi-pitch routes it is necessary to abseil from the top of the gorge to the belay ledge and then climb out.
Image courtesy of ClimbFrance.
Rock climbing guidebooks for Verdon. The “Aiguines, Verdon rive gauche” guidebook generally covers many of the short sport routes in the Verdon Valley, though Les Cavaliers and Sallieres crags are big walls that require abseiling in. The “Rockfax, Cote d’Azur” guidebook covers the longer more committing routes at crags such as L'Escales, Le Duc and Miroir du Fou. Some of the shorter sport routes are also covered. Buy these guidebooks from our shop.
The best time to rock climb at Verdon is the autumn (mid-September to mid-November) when there is less heat but is still very dry. The gorge is situated at an altitude of around 1,000m, so in the winter it is very cold. The spring is also a good time though it can still be a little cold if you are not climbing in the sun. The summer is very hot, though it is possible to find crags that are in the shade.
With regards to climbing gear, twin 60m ropes are required for the long multi-pitch routes, along with 16 to 18 quickdraws. Whilst many of these routes are well bolted it is advisable to also take a small traditional rack. For the single pitch sport routes at 70m rope is required. It is also possible to climb some of the shorter multi-pitch routes with a single 70m rope.