Rock climbing - the Mont Aiguille

mont aiguille


The Mont Aiguille (literally "Needle Mountain") is a giant rock structure, with vertical walls, the shortest being 600 feet high.
I had fun this weekend with a group of friends climbing up its sheer face.

The Mont Aiguille was the site of the first recorded Alpine rock climb, in 1492, a feat which was not repeated on Mont Aiguille until 1834, 342 years later.

And 173 years further down the road, it was my turn (but without any ladders!).
I was up at 6 on Sunday morning to get everything ready, and we were at the bottom of the mountain by 8.

The approach on foot is the first challenge - a very steep 600 meter (2000 foot) climb carrying all the climbing gear. Fortunately we were in the shade, and with 6 of us, the climbing gear was well shared out.

By 10 we were at the bottom of the rock-face, a sheer wall of 200m, 6 rope-lengths high. We climbed a face called "La tour des gemeaux", with most pitches being level 5, 5+, overall it's marked "dificult+" since the approach and sheer length of the climb need some stamina.

Round about lunchtime, when we were two rope-lengths from the top, the wind picked up and became very gusty, not much fun at all when you're climbing a rather flakey piece of mountain!
climbing
abseil We had a quick late lunch up on the sloped, grassy plateau at the top, but wanted to get back off quickly - the gusting wind was brining in storm clouds.

Going down, there's a very steep ravine full of scree that you can half-climb, half scramble down, attached to your climbing partners since there are frequent vertical drops. For a couple of these the only way down was to abseil, the biggest drop being 50m, quite impressive, dropping down from above huge multi-story pinacles to the crevasse between them.

By the time we got to the bottom of the cliff, back down to the car, and home, it was 7pm... and I was shattered but very happy :-)

panorama
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