The Arc'teryx, Verdon Project was the brain-child of fellow Arc'teryx ambassadors, Keith Ladzinski and Andy Mann. They wanted to discover this beautiful place with two athletes of the brand. I was super psyched when they asked me to participate in the project, along with Jonathan Siegrist. I felt that with these guys, I was finally able to share all of my love for the Verdon and pack them into 3 weeks of photos and video. The Gorge has always been an important place for me and I have spent some of my most unforgettable moments here!
So three weeks ago we met up in Les Salles Sur Verdon at our cute gite and we started to climb on rive gauche. Unfortunately with all the rain, all the tufas were wet, so we changed styles and took to the old school vertical routes.
I was able to flash my first 8a there, Graphique, and did my first 8b, Les Braves Gens, on my second go. What an amazing climb!
When our feet began hurting too much, we went climbing in the huge cave of Galetas, and the balance between exploding biceps and swollen toes was perfect. I did a super cool 8b+ there and Jonathan finished on the extension (8c) and the whole experience was great! You can access the cave only by canoe, which enriched the long days spent there. Our's had a hole or two in it, which made things interesting, especially with all the camera gear!
On rest days, I made the Americans comfortable with French traditions. We visited lots of old villages, tasting local goat and blue cheeses, crèpes, and for most importantly, the good wine of this country.
Jonathan loves climbing history, and so we had to try Les Spécialistes. A steep, powerful, and mythical 8b+. For me, it was the hardest route I've ever tried in my life. There couldn't exist a more untypical-Nina-style route. A real challenge! Jonathan made an incredible ascent in the final hours of our trip. I was close, but the red-point will take me a little bit more time then only two days. Another good reason to come back!
The essential climbing in the Verdon is most definitely the huge multi-pitch walls. So to conclude our trip, we did an incredible 180m 8a+ route, called Dame Cookie. For this, I have to say a huge “thank you” to Bruno Clement (aka Graou.) He's one of the most original people I know and he's always bolting non-stop in the Gorge.
It was also Graou who bolted this five star route in 2004 and since then there has only been one more repetition. It was by chance that a good friend of mine, Nico Potard, was working on the route the same day and so everything was well cleaned and tickmarks everywhere. Thank's Nico!
Beside this multipitch, I also tried Take it or Leave it, an 4 pitch vertical line with a very bouldery 8a pitch in the end. No chance for me to do the moves, bienvenue dans le Verdon!;-)
Working with Keith and Andy, and of course climbing with Jonathan, was just great. We were really on the same wave, we decided every morning where we wanted to climb, or do, which made the whole trip perfect. Also it was really easy to handle the rain. The Gorge offers so much climbing that you can climb in any weather condition.
I'm super psyched about the work we did, the footage, the images, the climbing, and the new relationships...the Gorges of Verdon are always magical for me!
A special thank's to Arctery'x for their support and for their good spirit!!!