Spring Break 2014 – Climbing in En Vau: Take 2


Friday, 23-May-14

Location: Cassis, France – Les Calanque D’En Vau (pronounced “onn vow”, if I still have got it correct)


Quote of the day:

Erin (resting on the stones) – “Yay!  I found a snail in my cleavage!”

Ben (climbing) – “Wait what now?”


By this point, we’re getting quite good at the whole morning routine.  Awake, breakfasted, coffee’d, bacon’d, and ready to start walking all in 45min or so… and that’s taking a relaxed breakfast where we chill, watch the sky, and eat a delicious croissant.  Or two.  Maybe one with chocolate in it as well.  This is France, I can do what I want.

Even the walk down to En Vou was quicker today, or it at least seemed a lot quicker.  I think the trail was a combination though – instead of tons of crowds, it was just us.  And instead of taking an insane detour away from the trail, we actually stuck to the normal trail that leads directly over to the Calanque.  So that probably helped.

But either way – we made it, and set up shop at Le Petite Aguille.  Climbing details are, as always, listed down below.  But the non-detailed version is that the climbing was amazing, the views were perfectly clear, and the sun was burning brightly down upon this, our last day of adventure on the Mediterranean.  We climbed, we chatted, we ate, and we posed like rock stars while summitting “The small needle”.

In fact, that posing part was pretty key – As I summitted the top, I struck a nice and solid pose… which elicited a resounding cheer from the cliffs.  What.  Why… I look around, then look down, and see that just as I finished a whole group of tourists had been walking past.  I guess they’d stopped to watch me finish the route, and took my pose as a call to cheer and clap.  Huh.  Nice to know I’m appreciated, I guess.

So we climbed, we enjoyed, etc…

Then, it was hot out.

There was a beach nearby.  A cool Mediterranean beach.  That had crystal-clear water to swim in.

We went swimming.  Bjorn went deep-water soloing; a solid traverse out a ways.  Rebecca swam all the way out to the deep water of the boat-lane.  I did some bouldering on the cliffs near the beach, and sunned myself there for a while.  Daniel stepped on a sharp rock.  We enjoyed ourselves immensely.

But there was still more climbing to do afterward…



La Petite Aguille

  1. Variante Nord-Oeste – 5.9 – Daniel leads.  Sort of.  Daniel actually lead two climbs as one… he got distracted by a shiny bolt halfway up, and decided to take a different route instead.  It’s ok though, because they were both super fun.  This one took a solid Arete to the pinnacle.
  2. La Face Norde-Oeste – 5.9 – Rebecca Leads.  Actually, since she just took one side of the route Daniel had done, and went to the correct anchor.  This climb was a bit more protected, since it was in an off-width about half of the time.  But not a normal offwidth… instead of a crack, this was a crack that lead into a cave.  Too small of a crack to fit a whole body through, but enough to chicken-wing an arm into.
  3. Note on actual summitting… it wasn’t easy.  See, the previous climbs all terminated about 10ft below the summit… and there really wasn’t any gear above the anchor.  At all.  So you had to climb up 10ft, then stand on a 4 sq.ft. ledge, then downclimb 10ft again.
  4. After Swimming   Face De La Mer – 5.6 – Ben & Bjorn Lead. This climb was directly viewing the beach, and it was quite fun.  Simple, lots of small ledges and interesting holds from the salt erosion, and somehow it wasn’t even super polished.  Crazy-talk.


Dalle Du Chat (A crag right by the beach)

  1. Passagers Du Vent – 5.10c – Bjorn leads.  This was an amazing climb.  I think it may be the hardest outdoor climb that I’ve completed, to be honest, and it felt like it.  Lots of tiny holds… they were good, but never where you wanted them.  I’m sure that it would be progressively easier the more times you do it, but the first time… yeah.  Lots of tough pulling, cursing, and just lunging for it.  Totally amazingly worth it.


La Saphir

  1. La Saphir, P1 – 5.6 – Ben Leads.  A good and fun end to a great and amazing climbing trip.  Erin and My last climb in Southern France, and it was excellent.  A lot more run out than I remember it being before, but quite fun with an amazing view at the end.  Excellent.

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