/ Verdon - what trad gear for La Demande?

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pawelx - on 12 Oct 2012
We are intending to climb this weekend, and I just realized how heavy my bag is with the double ropes, 12 quickdraws and all the gear!

Would you advise leaving any of: full set of nuts (1-10), micronuts (5 pieces), cams 0.5, 0.75, 1, 2 (already left camalot size 3 at home..), smaller cams (4 pieces)

?
I guess there is not even a point in thinking about leaving the twin ropes at home at just taking a 60m single?

thanks
Peter Milner - on 12 Oct 2012
In reply to pawelx: I seem to recall placing only one or pieces of trad gear in each pitch, as there are bolts (albeit rather spaced) on each pitch. Having said that, that's probably about the same rack as we had. The one placement that sticks in my mind was a small cam (alien 3?) on leaving the belay on the crux chimney pitch, as there seemed to be some rather bouldery moves with the first bolt still a good 10 feet away.
Martin Haworth on 12 Oct 2012
In reply to pawelx: I would leave the micro nuts, take cams 0.25, 0.5, 0.75,1,2 and a set of nuts (1-10), take a few slings as well. Take the double ropes.
The route is hard for the grade and quite sustained, worth f6b.
pawelx - on 12 Oct 2012
In reply to Peter Milner: thanks, very useful. Perhaps I'll do what I sometimes have done climbing in the Alps, and only choose 5 of the full set of nuts e.g. only odd numbers..
tom84 - on 12 Oct 2012
In reply to pawelx:

we did it on a single rope and it was perfect, theres really no need for half ropes unless you plan on retreating which is tricky anyway. its quite well bolted for the most part, leave the small gear behind, i remember placing a couple of larger nuts and maybe on or two medium cams. its a good route, take care on the first pitch as its very polished, and if you run the first two pitches together as we did- take care leaving the ledge at the start of the second pitch as theres not much gear until the first bolt- if you go for it it will be fine.

have fun
pawelx - on 12 Oct 2012
In reply to Martin Haworth: thanks Martin. Interestingly, I have been thinking about doing this for about 2 years, speaking to people and even emailing a guide who is based locally. Then finally yesterday we decided to go, booked our flights - and then I read your comments in the logbook and started having second thoughts, haha! But I also saw that you found Visite Obligatoire on Dibona about the same grade, i.e. 6b. How would you compare the two? I did Dibona 2 or 3 years ago.
tom84 - on 12 Oct 2012
In reply to Martin Haworth:

> The route is hard for the grade and quite sustained, worth f6b.


i agree with martin about the grade, rope wise you cant go wrong with taking half ropes, the reason we didnt was to go a bit quicker with a bit less rope faff!
Martin Haworth on 12 Oct 2012
In reply to pawelx: I found VO and La Demande about the same grade f6b. La Demande is a more physically demanding route. The problems we had on La Demande were more to do with the slow pace of my climbing partner! ignore his comments about the route, he was just knackered.
pawelx - on 12 Oct 2012
In reply to mountassguard: which pitches are 6b, and are these well bolted?

tom84 - on 12 Oct 2012
In reply to pawelx: it was one of the chimney pitches and there was a bolt right underneath the crux moves as i remember. the bottom line is that this route is entirely climbable without trad gear if you're happy running it out a long way. particularly off the belays higher up the route, but the fact that the belays are bolted perfectly and there are enough bolts to make it pretty safe means that the trad gear recommended enables you to relax between the bolts, or even gives you the chance to pull through on a bit of aid if you need to!

i found it hard work because my hydration bladder leaked and i didnt have any water on the route- my partner led the last 3 pitches because i was cramping. take 2-3 litres of water each and you'll be fine if its hot, its quite a sheltered and not hugely exposed route
metal arms on 12 Oct 2012
In reply to pawelx:

I'd just take 1-10 wires for the lower finger crack pitch. I think we only placed a couple here even though there are bolts it just felt a bit insecure.

The rest of it felt fine just on the bolts.

Oh yeah, A couple of slings too for trees near the top.

Brilliant route, enjoy!
johncoxmysteriously - on 12 Oct 2012
In reply to pawelx:

As said you certainly don't need micronuts. The rest - well, personally I'd take a full set of nuts and about, say four friends.

A single rope will be fine if you're happy climbing in that style.

The route is absolutely nowhere near 6b, certainly when compared to the average Verdon face climb. There is a single fairly well-bolted pitch low down which is about 6a, a not-so-well-bolted pitch in the middle up some snaking cracks which is HVS or so and on which it is possible to take the wrong line (this is how Ron Fawcett's soloing nightmare happened), and some chimneys higher up which are about Severe by British gritstone standards, but will feel harder if you're useless at chimneys, as the above posters evidently are. The main difficulty with them is bridging out 20 feet or so from time to time to clip the bolts, which have been put in completely the wrong place by idiot Frenchmen who can't thrutch.

On the other hand, of course, it's a long way with everything that implies.

jcm
Martin Haworth on 12 Oct 2012
In reply to pawelx: Despite JCM's comments(he climbs E6) I would stick with my grade of f6b when compared to the majority of french routes. I don't recollect a single pitch that individually was that grade, just lots of f6a and f6a+ giving an overall grade in my mind of f6b.
Regardless of the grade its a great route and you should have no problems on it.
The Grist - on 12 Oct 2012
In reply to pawelx: I would recommend 2 halves. you are taking a chance with a single.

I did it a couple of years ago and got within 4 pitches from the top on a single when big storm hit. We had to retreat and it was much more difficult on one rope. I would go as far to say it was dangerous. The route traverses more than you realise and the abseil on a single rope is hard. It got stuck a few times. In a lightening storm it was not fun retrieving it. The forecast the day we did ot was for sun and we did it in a settled period.

It felt about e1 and very polished until all hell broke loose.

Ula actually felt easier to me although I led through on that but was leading all of La demande.
metal arms on 12 Oct 2012
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:
> (In reply to pawelx)
> The main difficulty with them is bridging out 20 feet or so from time to time to clip the bolts, which have been put in completely the wrong place by idiot Frenchmen who can't thrutch.

So true! Definitely the crux for me was getting to the bolts. I was trying to stay as deep in the chimney as possible (I have a terrible aversion to being scared). My mate who had done those pitches in the past said it felt much more reasonable bridging out all the way for the chimney pitches.
Iain Peters - on 12 Oct 2012
In reply to metal arms:

Climbed it twice, the first in the 70s soon after Livesey/Sheard first described it in the mags. Not a bolt in sight then, one peg low down in the chimneys and the advice was to be brave and go nowhere near their depths. Unprotected British 5b we reckoned, and coming on top of a lot of sustained climbing they felt like the crux. Again in the 80s when the first couple of pitches had a few bolts.

Don't be fooled by JCM's assertion that the chimneys are Grit severe - they ain't. Bolts or no bolts you will be overjoyed to grasp the tree at their top!
johncoxmysteriously - on 12 Oct 2012
In reply to Iain Peters:

>and the advice was to be brave and go nowhere near their depths.
>Don't be fooled by JCM's assertion that the chimneys are Grit severe - they ain't

Well of course they aren't if you bridge daintily up the outside!

jcm
Peter Milner - on 12 Oct 2012
In reply to Iain Peters: My memory may be a bit scrambled, but I thought the crux was probably leaving the top of the chimney proper and leftwards onto a rather worrying technical wall above with a potential factor2-fall scenario onto the belay itself, until the first bolt is clipped which was a longish way up (which was why I placed a small cam). The chimney climbing itself probably wasn't that hard.
pawelx - on 12 Oct 2012
In reply to johncoxmysteriously: sorry what's the deal with bridging "inside" versus "outside", I'm confused? How are these chimneys best climbed?
thx.
SteveSBlake - on 12 Oct 2012
In reply to pawelx:

I've done this four (or is it five) times, most lately last year. For what it's worth:

I'd take doubles/twins or a very long skinny single.

Last time we took a light rack, some small nuts were used on the rib variant on the first pitch into the chimneys, (better to stay in the flare next to the bolts), and a red and gold camalot were used in the chimneys.

I thought the crux the penultimate ramp pitch and that it was a slick 6b. (Photo in the gallery)

If you aren't up for some slopey back and footing, then the penultimate chimney pitch (up to the tree) can seem a bit runout.(Photo in the gallery).

The top half is in the shade....

It is a great adventure, and quite physical, but fun. The belays are all good and there's usually a bolt close to the hard bit on each pitch.

Have fun.

Steve


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Iain Peters - on 12 Oct 2012
In reply to Peter Milner:
> (In reply to Iain Peters) My memory may be a bit scrambled,

Probably less than mine; it was a while back. What has stuck in my mid was the run out nature of the bolt-free chimneys (as I said, just the one peg low down and no cams in those days). We made the same mistake as Ron IIRC and found it very exciting. I think Livesey gave it E1 or 2, and the French TD with ULA TD+. On that first trip we also did Peril Rouge, Lunabong, Eperon Sublime and I think Nechonimicron. There might have been the odd mickey mouse bolt but they were all very much trad routes in those days.
tom84 - on 12 Oct 2012
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

funny, i'd agree with iain and livesy on the grade. john seems to be a bit full of himself for someone that only climbs e7
johncoxmysteriously - on 12 Oct 2012
In reply to pawelx:

Well, they're quite big chimneys, say about 40 feet from the back to the front, widening towards the outside. So you can either back and foot up in a sedate kind of manner towards the inside, or bridge up elegantly further out. The former is easier assuming you can do this sort of thing, but the latter is where the bolts are.

But hell, it's 8 pm and you're climbing in the Verdon tomorrow. The time for beta is over.

I do wonder whether some of the posters who think this is 6b have ever climbed what one might call proper Verdon 6b.

jcm
woolsack - on 12 Oct 2012
In reply to Iain Peters:
> (In reply to Peter Milner)
> [...]
>
> Probably less than mine; it was a while back. What has stuck in my mid was the run out nature of the bolt-free chimneys (as I said, just the one peg low down and no cams in those days). We made the same mistake as Ron IIRC and found it very exciting. I think Livesey gave it E1 or 2, and the French TD with ULA TD+. On that first trip we also did Peril Rouge, Lunabong, Eperon Sublime and I think Nechonimicron. There might have been the odd mickey mouse bolt but they were all very much trad routes in those days.

We did ULA in preference to La Demande and I've always wondered if we'd gone for the right route with ULA being 20m shorter. I'm sure we took a set of nuts, this would have been mid 80's
SteveSBlake - on 12 Oct 2012
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

'I do wonder whether some of the posters who think this is 6b have ever climbed what one might call proper Verdon 6b'

Wonder away,

Steve
In reply to Iain Peters:
> I think Livesey gave it E1 or 2, and the French TD with ULA T

I think he gave it 5a and 5.10.

There is a photo of that page of Livesey's book in my CdA guide which I don't have here. Me and GP thought HVS 5a - long before it was bolted.


Chris
SteveSBlake - on 13 Oct 2012
In reply to Chris Craggs:

I thought it about that in 76, but I don't now........

Steve
Iain Peters - on 13 Oct 2012
In reply to Chris Craggs:
> (In reply to Iain Peters)
> [...]
>
> I think he gave it 5a and 5.10.
>

> Chris

You're probably right Chris, and we were certainly climbing far harder than HVS at the time, but my impression was that given the length, sustained climbing, particularly above 1/2 way, and above all the heat, it felt more like E! or 2. Both times I led every pitch so was quite knackered by the time we reached the bomb bays.The key IMO to climbing on multi-pitch Sun Rock is timing to make the most of the cooler mornings or evenings. 2nd time on LD we started at dawn and were off the route before midday (and also arranged an extra car at the top!)

Iain Peters - on 13 Oct 2012
In reply to Chris Craggs:

I'm not sure Livesey's book had been published so we used the torn out pages from his or Sheard's magazine article, and got further beta from some French guys at the campsite. The route, as the name suggests, was considered a major undertaking in those days, and probably still is if you are more used to single pitch HVSs.
jon on 13 Oct 2012
In reply to Iain Peters:

What you and Chris are missing, Iain, is that the Verdon is in France. Here, rock climbing doesn't start till grade 7 and 7a, 7b and 7c are warm-ups. 8a, 8b and 8c are to be onsighted, 9a is a short term project and 9b long term. Discussing if something is HVS or E1 is largely irrelevant as it equates to 6a or 6b and therefore is the way down.
In reply to Iain Peters:

We did most of the classic longer routes back then. Left the tent in La Palud in rock-shoes with rope rack and harness. Hitched down to Point Sublime, treked through the tunnels (usually getting wet feet on the way) - do the route, then hitch/walk back to town for a beer!
I don't recollect carrying any spare clothes, water etc - just a few sweets in the chalkbag.


Chris
Iain Peters - on 13 Oct 2012
In reply to jon:

I realize that Jon. We were just scrambling back in the day! Of course it's just the same over here, on-sighting a new E3 at Carn Gowla is basically a Via Ferrata without the ferrata! Now where have I put my EBs?
Iain Peters - on 13 Oct 2012
In reply to Chris Craggs:
> (In reply to Iain Peters)
>
> Left the tent in La Palud in rock-shoes with rope rack and harness. Hitched down to Point Sublime, treked through the tunnels (usually getting wet feet on the way) - do the route, then hitch/walk back to town for a beer!
> I don't recollect carrying any spare clothes, water etc - just a few sweets in the chalkbag.
>
>
> Chris

Aah but you were well 'ard. Chalk, very naughty.

Ian Parsons - on 13 Oct 2012
In reply to Iain Peters:
> (In reply to Chris Craggs)
>
> I'm not sure Livesey's book had been published so we used the torn out pages from his or Sheard's magazine article,

From John's - Crags #10: "The Demande is a superb route up a leftward-trending crack which gradually straightens to a long chimney line. The guide suggests a leftward traverse from the lower crack which involves HVS climbing, but it is possible to stay in the crack all the way and enjoy a sustained VS to the top."

"Ok - I have VS from the gentleman at the back....Any advance on VS?....I'm selling at VS, ladies and gentlemen...."
jon on 13 Oct 2012
In reply to Ian Parsons:

It took you an hour and a half to get up to the attic and find that Ian!
Goucho on 13 Oct 2012
In reply to Ian Parsons: In 78', we reckoned about HVS 5a.
Ian Parsons - on 13 Oct 2012
In reply to jon:

No - moved them all downstairs when I started to worry about the weight; I live in the attic and didn't fancy waking up airborne.
Ian Parsons - on 13 Oct 2012
In reply to Goucho:

Don't tell me, I'm just a scribe; specifically, one that hasn't done the route in question!
Iain Peters - on 13 Oct 2012
In reply to Ian Parsons:
> (In reply to Goucho)
>
> Don't tell me, I'm just a scribe; specifically, one that hasn't done the route in question!

Never shoot the messenger. I back down under the weight of such distinguished and venerable opinions as expressed above. It was is and ever will be a path at Grit Severe and I must have been having an off day!

Ian: you must do it. Easyjet to Nice will carry our zimmers FOC on production of a bus pass.

Iain

Ian Parsons - on 13 Oct 2012
In reply to Iain Peters:

Yes, Iain - but who's going to carry me?
abcdefg - on 13 Oct 2012
In reply to Iain Peters:

> Climbed it twice, the first in the 70s soon after Livesey/Sheard first described it in the mags. Not a bolt in sight then ...

It was bolted in the Summer of 1990.

It was a better route without bolts: I thought the entire point of the route was the unprotectable (but very safe, provided you keep your head) chimney pitch.

In UK grades, in its original state, E1 5a would sound about right to me. There is no way it is French 6b.
Iain Peters - on 13 Oct 2012
In reply to Ian Parsons:
> (In reply to Iain Peters)
>
> Yes, Iain - but who's going to carry me?

I'm sure Jon can find us a couple of 9a+ heroes who would be happy to oblige on a mere 5+.

BTW Jon, whenever I cross the ditch for a wee bit of Gallic sunshine, I frequently descend 8b. A free abseil is so much more comfortable on the old joints.

Ian Parsons - on 13 Oct 2012
In reply to Iain Peters:

> I'm sure Jon can find us a couple of 9a+ heroes who would be happy to oblige on a mere 5+.
>

He never finds any when I go to visit! Mind you, there was once this gnarly-looking moufflon at Gietroz that looked up to the job; unlike Menet its legs were not only picturesque but also distinctly symmetrical. Jon can probably provide a picture.
Ian Parsons - on 13 Oct 2012
In reply to Ian Parsons:

Ok; hands up, mea culpa, etc - it's spelt mouflon. And, now I recall, it could have been a bouquetin. Maybe sheep/goat-type-thing-with-big-horns would have been simpler.
jon on 13 Oct 2012
Ian Parsons - on 13 Oct 2012
In reply to jon:

I knew it! I just ******* knew it! Show them a ***** goat and they think they know all the ******s.
Iain Peters - on 13 Oct 2012
In reply to Ian Parsons:
> (In reply to Iain Peters)
>
> [...]
>
Mind you, there was once this gnarly-looking moufflon at Gietroz that looked up to the job.

Good idea, I reckon we could get sponsorship from Saga, Stannah Stairlifts or Green Cow, world famous makers of fine chamomile teas.

GrahamD - on 15 Oct 2012
In reply to pawelx:

Most of the hard bits are bolted. The only gear I can really remember placeing were some medium cams. Its more like sustained HVS in feel than anything else.
andyr - on 15 Oct 2012
I've done it twice. Once in '76 and then about five years ago. Both times I thought the difficult bits were 5a. So, E1 5a because of the length of the route.

We had a set of Rocks and two medium cams; and were definately well overgeared for the route.
pawelx - on 16 Oct 2012
In reply to pawelx: Just wanted to post an update and thanks everyone once again for your input. We tried the route on Sunday, got rained on after pitch 8 and had to retreat. I found the Rockfax description very accurate – it is, probably, HVS 5a, but felt like E2 to “wall rats” which we basically are. I remember doing another 13-pitch, sustained 6a route in France (Visite Obligatoire on Auguille Dibona), and found that one quite significantly easier. I think it just has to do with the style of climbing, it’s easy to practice vertical and slightly overhanging face climbing at an indoor wall, but bridging and jamming are a very different story.

Knowing that we only had 1 day to try the route, and that the forecast was for rain starting around 2pm, we did the approach in the dark and started at the base of the route just before sunrise, around 7:30.

Nuts and cams were useful, if I were (and we’re going to!) do it again, I would take fewer nuts, leave the small (<1) cams at home and perhaps take 2 of each #1, #2 camalots.

Knowing that we still had 4 or 5 pitches ahead of us, I guess the actual crux was still higher up?
GrahamD - on 16 Oct 2012
In reply to pawelx:

Not really, I don't think there really is a crux - just more of the same !
pawelx - on 16 Oct 2012
In reply to GrahamD: I thought there was some "much feared" chimney on pitch 9 or 10? The one where you get to the "sanctuary of a tree"? We did one chimney on pitch 7 I think, it was only for about 8 meters or so and could be partially circumvented by climbing a layback crack immediately to the right of it.
SteveSBlake - on 16 Oct 2012
In reply to pawelx:

The pitch up to the tree (which goes a way beyond) is the penultimate one. There's a photo of it in my gallery. The one of Graeme with the bag dangling is looking down from the belay below the tree pitch.

Steve
pawelx - on 16 Oct 2012
In reply to SteveSBlake: great, now I see. And one final question about protecting this pitch, as I said we're planning to try the climb again in May.. Clipping bolts requires wide bridging, so if I want to back-and-foot inside the chimney, will I be able to place cams or nuts in the crack there?
SteveSBlake - on 16 Oct 2012
In reply to pawelx:

You can reach the bolts while back and footing, it's not that awkward. The chimney used to be nasty, because back in the day there was one peg, just above the belay, and you then ran it out to the tree!

You can see it's a bit flared and the footholds slope away a somewhat, so it can feel insecure, just press hard and you'll be ok ;-)

The crack is 7 to 8 inches wide methinks with an interior like sharp Broccoli - you would want a neoprene suit to jam it! I don't think anyone ever would, or would take a cam.

If you got as far as you did you will get up it, but there's a couple of burley pitches still ahead.

Have fun,

Steve
mikkistorey - on 16 Oct 2012
In reply to pawelx:

I would take a torch though. We had to retreat due to weather and it wasn't funny walking through the tunnels in rock boots stubbing your toes on boulders

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