/ Verdon Gorge - closure of Sentier Martel from Sept 5th 2011

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Lurkio - on 01 Sep 2011
For anyone thinking of heading to the Verdon this Autumn, the Sentier Martel is going to be closed for restoration work between September 5th and December 31st 2011. This will mean it will not be possible to walk in to the bottom-top routes like La Demande and ULA, though of course you could abseil in from the top.

Details here: http://www.alpes-haute-provence.com/randonnee-verdon/fermeture-sentier-blanc-martel-pour-travaux

Translation of the key info:

2011
The trail is open until Sunday, September 4 inclusive.
The trail will be closed to the public from Monday, September 5, 2011 to December 31, 2011.
(the area of ​​the Couloir Samson, until Trescaïre viewpoint, will be open until Monday, September 12, 2011)
The entire trail will be open to the public from January to September 2012

2012
Work will begin early September and end mid December.
The central part of the route (Brèche Imbert) will be closed to the public.
The upstream and downstream sectors will remain open to the public during the construction period.
Fraser on 01 Sep 2011
In reply to Lurkio:

FYI, I think I read on c2c that 'Ula' had recently been de-bolted. For those with this classic in their sights, they may not be aware of this.
Fraser on 01 Sep 2011
NickAL - on 01 Sep 2011
In reply to Fraser:

Can't follow that well enough to tell - but I presume they haven't removed the bolts from the bottom one or two pitches. I don't recall that bit being trad protectable. The rest of the route, however, may be a little less bold, as I remember some of the bolts being a very long way apart. Glad I did it on bolts though - we almost got benighted as it was.
abarro81 - on 03 Sep 2011
In reply to Lurkio:
Do you know if this will affect access to the GR49 from just after Point Sublime? I'm trying to work out if it will affect getting to the route Tom et je Ris, via this approach:
http://www.chadurif.fr/topo/tom_et_je_ris/tom_et_je_ris.pdf
but am struggling to work out what's what. I think this approach follows the Sentier Martel down to the river but then splits to walk up the other side - any idea if this section will be accessible?

Thanks for any info
Alex
Paul B - on 03 Sep 2011
In reply to abarro81:
I can't really tell if that affests your approach shown on the Durif website however, I think you can approach T&J from the other side of the valley regardless (although if you're hoping to live La Palud side this isn't a short drive!).
Enty - on 03 Sep 2011
In reply to Lurkio:

Can you still walk through the first two tunnels to Paroi Rouge?

E
Carney - on 03 Sep 2011
In reply to Lurkio: To access Tom et Je Ris, easiest is probably from the opposite side via Trigance and Encastel as there is very little height gain. You will also be able to access from the right bank of the Verdon via the 'Pont de Tusset'and the path that leads behind the 'Duc'(about 1.30hr uphill walk) but will not be able to park on the road that leads down to 'Couloir Samson'. The 'Sentier Martel' access at Couloir Samson and the tunnels will be closed.
C.
rgd1977 - on 03 Sep 2011
In reply to Lurkio: Oh no that's not good news. We're going to the Verdon in October and the main reason for our visit is to climb La Demande. It will be our first visit and so we do not know the area at all, has anyone abseiled the route and if so can you tell me if it's straight forward please?
Enty - on 03 Sep 2011
In reply to Carney:
> but will not be able to park on the road that leads down to 'Couloir Samson'. The 'Sentier Martel' access at Couloir Samson and the tunnels will be closed.
> C.

Bollocks! That's my autumn projects doomed!!

E

SteveSBlake - on 03 Sep 2011
In reply to rgd1977:

You would be able to ab in down the Dalles Grises, then down right two the two that lead to the base of ULA. Five min max to the base of the Demande from there.

The least scary of the abseil pistes on the crag (imho), while not as much fun as the tunnel approach you do at least end up back at your car (if you have one)

Steve
In reply to Carney:
> To access Tom et Je Ris, easiest is probably from the opposite side via Trigance and Encastel as there is very little height gain. You will also be able to access from the right bank of the Verdon via the 'Pont de Tusset'and the path that leads behind the 'Duc'(about 1.30hr uphill walk) but will not be able to park on the road that leads down to 'Couloir Samson'. The 'Sentier Martel' access at Couloir Samson and the tunnels will be closed.
> C.

Thanks for that, always good to have local experts and their knowledge on hand.


Chris
SteveSBlake - on 03 Sep 2011
In reply to Lurkio:

I posed a question to Alan Carne regarding the debolting which he kindly answered, I repost the gist for the wider benefit of the UK massive.

While Alan hasn't reclimbed the route since it was debolted, he believes the stances remain equipped, it is the protection bolts which have been removed.

A double set of cams biased towards large, and some wires are now required.

I'm off out there at the end of the month and will (based on success) provide an update.

Steve

rgd1977 - on 03 Sep 2011
In reply to SteveSBlake: That sounds good thanks a lot, that's a lot of abseiling but like you say at least when we finish it won't be far to walk back to the car.
abarro81 - on 03 Sep 2011
In reply to Carney:
Thanks for the info. The Pont de Tusset/Duc approach is the one we were planning on using. Is the parking you refer to the one for that walk-in?

Do you know if the approach to the T&J area from the other side is described in the newest guide? I've not got it yet as can't find it in Sheffield so was going to pick it up out there - I'm just going off the info on Durif's site at the moment which describes the walk in from the normal side. I'm not psyched on getting lost on the walk in, which sounds all too possible without a detailed approach description!

Are there shops/water on the 'other' side, close to where you'd park to walk in? We're in a van so can stay on that side if it's easier to get to the route from there..

Thanks again.
Alex
Carney - on 04 Sep 2011
In reply to Lurkio: T&J isn't in the local guide. The one day I've been on this route which was about 5 years ago we accessed the plateau from Trigance driving a VW camper on some pretty rough tracks. It was then a short walk north (30mins max)and we eventually picked up the odd cairn. If you go to the belvedere de Rancoumas (a well known viewpoint for L'Escales) then head north maybe 300m you should find the rap bolts/chain.
If camping up there (which is awesome if the weather is good)you'll need to stock up on food. Water might be available in Trigance but to be sure take a jeerican. If accessing via the 'Pont de Tusset' you'll have to park somewhere on the D952 and walk down the Couloir Samson approach road to the picknick spot on the left, from where the marked path leads down to the 'Pont'.
It's an incredible route - enjoy!
C.
Dave Reeve - on 07 Sep 2011
In reply to rgd1977: We abseiled down for La Demande from the popular block with the big chain (near Cocoluche) down to the massive ledge and then again down to the base using a pair of 50m ropes. It took 5 or 6 abs from memory and quite a long time. The walk to find the start of La Demande wasn't that straightforward either and given the shorter days in October I'd advise an early start on the abs. The other thing to consider is what you'll do if you can't top out as although you can ab back down La Demande (with a bit of difficulty) you won't be able to walk out through the tunnels...
Ben C - on 07 Sep 2011
In reply to Dave Reeve:
> (In reply to rgd1977) We abseiled down for La Demande from the popular block with the big chain (near Cocoluche) down to the massive ledge and then again down to the base using a pair of 50m ropes. It took 5 or 6 abs from memory and quite a long time. The walk to find the start of La Demande wasn't that straightforward either and given the shorter days in October I'd advise an early start on the abs. The other thing to consider is what you'll do if you can't top out as although you can ab back down La Demande (with a bit of difficulty) you won't be able to walk out through the tunnels...

...walk downstream along the path and out
Dave Reeve - on 07 Sep 2011
In reply to Ben C: Hmmm, I defer to those with good local knowledge but having walked the Sentier Martel several years ago in the day I wouldn't like to do it in the dark with a head torch which might well be the case if you had to retreat off La Demande...
nick simons - on 08 Sep 2011
In reply to Lurkio: I'm guessing that the Escales routes (ULA, La Demande etc) would all still be escapable if really necessary back along the Sentier Martel, even if it is officially closed. It would be bonkers if they allowed climbers having an epic to get trapped on the wrong side of the tunnels. I remember an abseil approach down Pilier Des Ecureuils that is a good entry point, by the way.
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rgd1977 - on 08 Sep 2011
In reply to Lurkio: We'll be there really early to start the abseils as soon as it's light enough to hopefully give us plenty of time to get back out. I was also thinking it would be unlikely if they made it impossible for trapped climbers to walk back out.
Dave Reeve - on 08 Sep 2011
In reply to rgd1977: I don't wish to sound like a harbinger of doom but, having personally had to ab back down a route to the foot of the gorge in the dark and then walk out along the Sentier Martel and through the tunnels, not to mention the 8 mile walk in rock shoes back to the top of the gorge, I can say that what is fairly straightforward in the day is a very different proposition at night. If you add in construction work which may well involve removing part of the path, or rebuilding the metal walkways etc then you could be seriously compromising your safety attempting a walkout in the dark.

However, if you make a very early start and the climbing is well within your grade range I'm sure you'll have no need to retreat off it but from personal experience again the time just seems to slip away in the gorge doing the abs, finding the start of the route, doing pitch after pitch etc.

It's a great experience though !
rgd1977 - on 08 Sep 2011
In reply to Dave Reeve: " 8 mile walk in rock shoes back to the top of the gorge"

Ouch that doesn't sound like fun! My trainers will be in my rucksack. Past experience has taught me to keep a close eye on the clock, ha. Sounds like you had a memorable trip!
SteveSBlake - on 08 Sep 2011
In reply to rgd1977:

Take a head torch and some matches. The If you do have to bale, the easiest way out could be up the bottom of Pilier des Ecreuils and then up the Dalles Grises. And if you had to you could always have a night out at the bottom, lots of caves, lots of shelters. You still have to get out though.

But think positive - it ain't gonna happen!

Steve
rgd1977 - on 09 Sep 2011
In reply to SteveSBlake: Yeah never climb anywhere without my head torch, I was looking in the guidebook at those caves and thinking the same thing, would rather sleep there and try to get out in the morning. But yes positive thinking and hopefully we won't have to sleep in a cave!

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