/ Ariege Guidebook
Assuming not, is there anything else available? The Dent d'Orlu guide's out of print, and I've found one in English that's hard routes only.
every thing you need is on line CAFM into google should do it
Darron's right - I printed a lot off the Cafma website and found when I got there my info was more up to date that the local guide books. Last time I was there these guides were widely available locally. I'd guess the Cafma info will be far more comprehensive than the Rockfax, but lack their helpful photos and logistical info.
I have PDF's for much of the stuff on Dent D'Orlu, Sinsat, Calames, and Urs.
It's semi-translated due to my semi-shit french.
E-mail me if you want them - will save you plentiful ball-ache.
While it's definitely possible the new guide will be available before Christmas, it certainly won't be available by next month.
In the meantime the CAFMA topos get you to the crags effectively and help you find the routes. They're very good for what they are and a very valuable resource. What they don't give have are photo topos, indications of quality or other route characteristics, and of course info in English. Incidentally there are crags in the new Rockfax that aren't on the CAFMA site, as well as many on CAFMA not in the guide.
Existing printed guides can be useful too, especially Graham Lynch's lovely guide to Niaux in English. While it's true that there are a lot more steep routes than slabby ones in his guide, there's nonetheless quite a lot of more amenable climing, paticularly at Baychon but also on some sectors of Alliat and Génat. The Bedheilac guide is also quite recent and very usable, and this has a great deal of slabby routes at Calamès and other crags near Tarascon - it should be easy to find locally in sport shops, tourist offices, bookshops, etc.
In reply to Toreador:
November/December is my current best guess.
I'm pretty sure they had the Dent guide in the Decathlon (Foix) when we were there in July.
Will the Dent be in the Rockfax guide? Ta.
Fancy a trip ?
There will be a good selection from the Dent, mostly concentrating on the routes that are pretty well bolted. The South Pillar, 17 routes on the South East Face and about 10 on the East Face.
les enfants de la dalle? If so - of course!
Really looking forward to the new guide as I'm psyched for a trip out there.
I'm tempted by the slightly easier route near enfants de la dalle, but I suspect 35 pitches in mid October will be pushing it!
can I just check with you how you are funding the locals who equip the routes and check that climbers continue to be safe?
We at chez Arran have started to equip routes locally and are looking into ways in which we can help with re-equipping existing routes. The difficulty is that there is no local bolt fund or co-ordinated system for strategic re-equipping so it's not as simple as it might be in some other places. In any case we are providing something which is very much needed in the area - i.e. consolidated subjective crag and route info - and that itself should help bring more climbing tourism to the area and help in discussions with local communities who have in the past been keen to help further encourage such tourism by providing funds for equipment.
It's in our interests that the routes here are plentiful and well-equipped so we will continue to be keen to help with this wherever we can.
I am not sure that Philippe Bougada in Aiguines in the Var would agree with you as he relies on people buying his local guidebooks regardless of how many tourists visit the areas.
(will he be able to feed his family this week!!):)
This is a thorny subject that often comes up, as an aside, I never seem to see the same questions asked of those writing articles or putting photos in magazines who equally are making a living on the existence of routes.
The bottom Line is that regardless of location it is daylight robbery!
At least Dick Turpin wore a mask...
I'm keen to buy local guides, but there aren't many, and those there are, aren't available in the UK. For the Ariege region, the main source of information is currently the Internet, which provides no income at all for anyone!
It is good to hear that there are people out there who know that it is important to buy the local guidebooks and the reasons why. I have just been to Ariege and climbed on the dent d'orlu. Brilliant place to climb! have a great time.
But somehow the guidebook has gone out of print!
Let me get this straight. By your own admission there's demand for a guidebook and there's no guidebook currently in print. The last guidebook was written by someone with no apparent mechanism for it helping to support equipping or re-equipping. The same or similar is true of many/most of the crags to be covered. Of the existing guides only Graham Lynch's excellent Niaux guide has risen to the challenge of giving English-speaking climbers what it seems they want from a modern guide - specifically photo topos, quality ratings and English text. As one of the authors I've been actively pursuing ways in which we can help with route re-equipping in a structured way but it's not straightforward as there's no local bolt fund or single organisation responsible. Nevertheless we'll certainly be helping in one way or another.
I'm curious as to exactly which French locals you think we'll be 'ripping off'?
Believe me I'd be delighted if there was a French equivalent of what Rockfax is bringing to the area and I'd be fully supportive of it, but there isn't. What there is is a growing hole to be filled to help visiting climbers of all nationalities get the most out of the area so I'm delighted that someone - in this case Rockfax - has been proactive in trying to give climbers what they want. If it had been French guide writers planning to address the demand with a similarly quality product I'd have been equally happy and would have been just as keen to help make it happen.
I actualy helped Mr Bugada and his family with checking the routes ,photos ,translating etc for the guide which as you know take time and money!
> I actualy helped Mr Bugada and his family with checking the routes ,photos ,translating etc for the guide which as you know take time and money!
Chateauvert is covered in my Cote d'Azur guide along with a whole range of crags from St Victoire to La Turbie and the Verdon Gorge. I am pretty sure all the cliffs in the book are in 'local' guides so you are right, another guide isn't actually 'needed'. Despite that I tried to produce a book that would save visiting climbers the need to buy over €200 worth of guidebooks before they go on holiday and inspire them to try somewhere new.
Also you are right - it takes time and money, I spent over a year in the area working on the book and spent a small fortune.
I wouldn’t be under any illusion that the local guide book writers in some areas are happy about the situation!
> I wouldn’t be under any illusion that the local guide book writers in some areas are happy about the situation!
Don't worry I'm not under any illusions. I have had flak for virtually every guidebook I have written from one source or another - including the Peak District, Yorkshire, Northumberland and Lancashire, areas I have climbed in for over 40 years.
I shouldn't worry about the local guidebook writer, he's got a pretty good range of books out there, not just on climbing so I don't think he'll struggle for his next baguette. I also think the extra tourism income to the area must massively outwiegh any loss in guidebook sales in terms of general benefit to the area.
The Orlu book is out of print by the way and there aren't any in Decathlon in Foix.
You've got a totally hollow argument. The only guide we could find this summer was the Sinsat one, and that's way out of date. And in French.
Plus ça change........
No-one is in climbing guidebooks to exclusively make money at all costs, in fact you could almost run that out for the entire specialist climbing industry - there simply isn't enough money to attract big corporate players. We all do it because we enjoy it, and it is our jobs, and everyone's livelihood is effected by competition - that's the nature of competition.
You say that the guidebook to Chateauverte isn't necessary. The easy reply to that is, "let the climbing public decide whether a new book is necessary". Again, this comes back to embracing competition and the modern market economy.
There is an undercurrent in climbing that resents the market economy, and regards 'profit' as an evil word. It would rather keep climbing uncommercialised, relying on open source, volunteer and part-time effort by non-professionals to support it. In many ways this is a noble attitude which does support many aspects of climbing like clubs, wikis, BMC Local Areas, access work and some guidebook producers. Having read you arguments I suspect this is what you think as well.
If you do want to promote this uncommercial climbing world though, then you have to take everything that goes with it. That would mean no competition in guidebooks, and maybe no competition in outdoor trade. Imagine krabs by a single manufacturer priced at what they want with no incentive to improve simply because they didn't want to compete with each other.
UK guidebooks have improved dramatically following the improvements introduced by Rockfax and others since the 1990s - a fact acknowledged by virtually everyone. You can't have that sort of improvement without competition, and you can't get the sort of quality in guidebooks we now have without full-time professional companies producing them.
Another thing you wouldn't have is UKClimbing - ostensibly supported by Rockfax and Rock and Run for its critical first 10 years and allowed to become what it is because of that.
So, by all means, argue for no competition in guidebooks, but don't then enjoy the perks that that competition has provided.
>Not arguing no competition just fair competition!
Well you will have to expand on how the current competition is unfair then.
Is it just me who thinks you're digging yourself into a hole here?
In accordance with the rules or standards; legitimate.
Without cheating or trying to achieve unjust advantage: "he played fair"
Surely the locals have the "unfair" advantage, since they are there all the time and know immediately when new routes are put up? If they choose not to issue guidebooks, or issue a few that are only available from selected outlets and swiftly go out of print, then why should that prevent someone else coming in and publishing their own guide?
If half-decent local guides were widely available, then there'd be no gap in the market for Alan (or whoever) to fill.
Only the bad ones :-)
On my second visit he gave me the updated guide free !
If Rockfax or any other guide book producers were to produce a nice glossy guide to the area Hassan would be stuffed! Actually he wouldn’t be stuffed he would probably be hungry!
I look forward to picking up copies of the free hand-written Ariege guidebook next week. Which hotel does the author use to sell them?
A big publisher could get Hassan to help with their guide, giving it the stamp of local authority. They could then produce a much better publication, with better distribution and availability, and probably five times the price. This would almost certainly benefit Hassan and his dinner table more than anyone else, and climbers would be happy too.
Although I do feel concerned for anyone who has their income reduced by one of the big boys turning up in whatever field it is, I'm not sure you are thinking about the economics. People are often attracted to an area because of a guidebook in English, in a format they are used to. Very little of the money I spend during a visit is on the guide book. I will spend hundreds, on food, accommodation etc. So although an author might have their income reduced, and this could be a serious issue for them, the rest of the community gains much, much more.
I would suggest that rockfax may well have caused several million to flow into many of the hillside communities in Spain alone through this process.
We were extremely brave we actually communicated with the locals a couple of times over a few points regarding the guide as its written in Spanish!
Anyone thinking of visiting the area be prepared for lots of tourists! Where the hell they all come from I have no idea!
Alan - I think you have played down the support Rockfax gives to the Access & Conservation Trust - even though that is UK-based and the argument here is more focussed on abroad.
I do think RockFax has a delicate line to walk in deciding what proportion of routes covered (perhaps I should say covered well?) in 'local' guidebooks they should cover in their selected guides. To my mind, based on the arguments made above, this should be enough to attract climbers to an area, but little enough to leave them wanting more, i.e. to leave them wanting to also buiy the local guidebook.
Clearly people vary in their attitude to guidebooks, some are happy to just print out the topos available on the web (in the Ariege), others will always want to buy every available guide to somewhere they are visiting.
From a personal view I'm very interested to see what percentage of the 540-odd routes in my guide will appear in the forthcoming RockFax guide. What seems reasonable to others - 25% would probably seem about right to me?
From what I've seen of the Languedoc guide, the absolute percentage isn't really a good guide of what is reasonable: crags that are a single line of cliffs tend to have around 80% of the routes, but crags that are more complex and spread out are a lot less so,ething like 15% at a guess.
> Clearly people vary in their attitude to guidebooks, some are happy to just print out the topos available on the web (in the Ariege), others will always want to buy every available guide to somewhere they are visiting.
> From a personal view I'm very interested to see what percentage of the 540-odd routes in my guide will appear in the forthcoming RockFax guide. What seems reasonable to others - 25% would probably seem about right to me?
Rockfax have never really done 'selected route' guides, we mainly do 'selected crag and buttress' guides. ie. if we include a bit of rock, then we will include all the lines on that bit of rock (pretty much, although minor eliminates may get left out, and bigger mountain crags do tend to be more 'selected route'). So to talk about a percentage of routes isn't something we have ever considered, nor would we ever consider it.
We mention other local guidebooks as alternative sources of information, and also mention crags and buttresses we haven't covered pointing out where the information is.
The main issue here though comes back to the competition thing I mentioned above; either you accept competition and everything that goes with it, or you don't. I think guidebooks have improved across Europe by embracing competition and allowing guidebook publishers to produce the best possible book they can, not producing worse books and compromising their coverage to allow sales of alternative guidebooks.
Yes, I'd fully agree with what you say there Tim. From my own guidebook there will be crags that are never going to be visited by a holidaying climber and I wouldn't expect them to feature in a RockFax selected guide, equally there are crags/sectors that are popular and would have a large percentage of routes repeated in the RockFax. The coverage should also vary as a factor of the availability or not of good local guidebooks. There is a valid view that if a good local guidebook exists RockFax should not do more than mention that crag and guide, but in terms of crafting a selected guide fit for purpose I don't hold with this argument. It's reasonable to repeat existing coverage to an extent to give a useable guidebook, but the line comes when that coverage becomes so high that the sales of the existing good local guidebook decline.
Having quickly gone through my guide, I would put something slightly over 200 routes into a selected guide which is above my 25% guess last night, and nearer to 40%. Taken across the whole of the Ariege which has something over 2000 routes, this would give a guide having around 800-1000 routes. Seems reasonable.
I should repeat that different areas will be different situations - in the Ariege there are online topos available to many crags, excellent guidebooks to many crags, good but somewhat out of date books to other areas, and some areas are not currently covered in an in-print guide (unfortunately often the same ones not covered online). The Arrans as authors are also local. This would contrast to an area where the only topos are scribbles on bits of paper available only from local bars and with no access details.
HI Alan - yes, I appreciate that, that's rather what I was thinking about when I say 'selected' guide, really just making the distinction with definitive guides. There is certainly a logic to the user of including all the routes on a coherent section of cliff as it would just be confusing to the user to have gaps (as I'm sure you've ironed all this out in the evolution of these guides) - I certainly wasn't suggesting a fixed percentage of routes on every crag! The approach you advocate is how I did my upward revised estimate this morning.
If you are asking me personally re: competition - I couldn't really say whether competition by RockFax has improved guidebooks, certainly RockFax has over the years woken people up to what is possible and raised standards (if these RF guides could only appear in competition with other guides then by extension, yes, that competition has been responsible).
If RockFax ever chose to be aggressively competitive you can expect to be disliked and criticised in some quarters. As you've mentioned above, climbers as a global entity tend to be a bit politically left of centre and would prefer a more delicate,'ethical' approach and you'll note that I've already highlighted some of your good works in this thread to redress the balance a bit.
In the end, it's up to me if I want to produce a better selected guide to compete with RockFax - maybe I will ;-)
I could do a breakdown of the % of routes from your book in ours, but I am a bit 'full on' at the mo getting it ready to go to the printers - three weeks away. We have certainly give your book a plug where-ever appropriate and said some kind words about it too.
The Ariège guide is looking superb. It shows the area and the climbing in all its glory, I think it is going take a pretty hardened cynic not to be impressed!
Well freshly returned from the Ariege, it's clear that the new Rockfax is going to have pretty much zero affect on the local guidebook sales.
Of the 7 volumes in the "definitive" series, 6 are currently out of print. The Calames guide costs 20 Euros (so even if available a full set would be well over €100), but the only people we saw with copies were fellow Brits. Locals all seemed to use the (mostly awful) free topos from the Web.
I'm looking forward to seeing what the new guide has to say about some of the grades - I hope they're more reliable than some of the semi-random ones in the local topos!
Hope you enjoyed the area.
I was chatting to Bruno Fara, who I believe is the President of the FFME, about our Ariège book and possible conflicts. He shrugged his shoulders and pretty much said that no-one is bothered because no-one goes there!!!
Re the grades - did you find them random, or hard? The area is quite renown for its stiff grading.
I'm sure the new Rockfax will be an excellent and accessible guide, I'm just upset that a relatively unknown, neglected and fantastic climbing area I climbed in for years is now going to be flooded by British climbers who were previously put off as most couldn't be bothered to read the French guides!
I've nearly a full set of the local topos, which are all good quality and gave me, with very limited climbing French, absolutely no problems in choosing or following routes. Photo topos aren't everything, especially on bolted routes, and on the longer alpine/trad routes the description was totally fine. The effect on Achard and the other topo writers I can't comment on, but having spoken to several equippers on routes they seemed to be saying that they got bolts from the commune. I guess the increased tourism will mean more money for the communes so as long as they recognise that climbing is responsible then that's ok as they *should* put extra funds to support climbing. As long as the equippers still feel bothered to go out and replace the bolts in the future....
BTW I thought the grades were pretty consistant (6a and below) and about right, and the grading benefitted from the subdivision of Fr5/5+ into Fr5a,b,c etc. I hope you kept the granularity of the local grades, they work.
> You've got a totally hollow argument. The only guide we could find this summer was the Sinsat one, and that's way out of date. And in French.
> Things change.
A French guide book to a crag in France? And its in French? Bastards!
Soon. We aim to have it ready to go to the printers in just over a week. Alan will sort the pre-ordering once it has gone.
The Ariege is a great area offering multi activities in summer and winter.
Trad, Sport, Bouldering and Skiing. Also fantastic cycling and caving by all accounts.
Accommodation by expat Brits at this place: http://www.chezarran.com/
Home for Stevie Haston too: http://steviehaston.blogspot.co.uk/p/stevie-climbing.html
Getting good printed information has always been a challenge here so the new Rockfax should be welcomed, along with John Arran's assurance that something will be put back in to the local climbing community.
Simon, at least you will be able to tick off your routes in the new guide when it comes out later this year!
We bought the Bedeilhac, but were told that the others were all out of print.
Mostly hard - which is fine when consistent. But there were several that were soft by a grade or two, and one that was undergraded by 2 or 3 grades.
Appy was the worst for inconsistency, followed by Auzat.
> Appy was the worst for inconsistency, followed by Auzat.
We found Appy had a wide spread as well. This should be sorted in the new book.
In general grades seem tough here, more so for longer established routes - newly opened areas seem to be almost generous!
Just a quickie - how did you get down off Penelope (Roche a Ronde) out of interest?
Sounds like you had a fair trip, a good variety of venues and route.
down the path until it emerges at the saddle, then picked a way down the slabs and across the mini-col to the ab station.
Excellent trip, only disappointments were that we couldn't do a route on Dent d'Orlu (too windy), and didn't get back to Sinsat (too wet). Something to go back for :-)
Grimsel still stands out as one of my favourite routes anywhere!
Is Roquefixade going to be in the new guide?
Yes, it will be included with a selection from the Plantaurel just because it is a bit different.
To clarify, only the main Rquefixade sectors will be in. There are several outlying buttresses - some pretty good by all accounts - that we haven't been able to include.
Are the Aguilles below the chateau sector included?
Specifically, Zouk Alors (5a allegedly).
We left those out in favour of the Main Crag - though the footpath down to them suggests they are quite popular. At 312 pages we had to call a halt somewhere!
The main crag is better! Not the best climbing in the area, but a beautiful location.
There were a couple of enjoyable routes on the Aiguilles, but quite short.
Has anyone else climbed Zouk Alors? It's graded 5a, but was by far the hardest route we did, 6a with the crux well above the last bolt. Unless we missed something :)
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