/ Vercors access under threat - petition

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glasgowcaver - on 14 Jan 2014
I have been sent a copy of an article in 'Speleo' magazine, about a threat to access in the commune of Choranche - basically it seems that the village council wants to sell off the communal footpaths to landowners, which will then make it very difficult to walk around the commune, for example to access the cliffs (the falaise de Presles) and caves.

An association has been formed to oppose this 'privatisation' of footpaths - 'Chemins pour tous' - and they have a petition at:

http://www.change.org/fr/p%C3%A9titions/monsieur-le-maire-de-choranche-abandonnez-l-ali%C3%A9nation-...

A very good video explains the situation (in French) and is here: http://vercorstv.wmaker.tv/Choranche-des-chemins-pour-tous_v728.html

Hilariously the Mairie will get an email every time someone signs, so please support the fight to keep access.
IPPurewater on 14 Jan 2014
In reply to glasgowcaver:

Signed. It would be a catastrophe if access to the cliffs at Presles was threatened.
jon on 14 Jan 2014
In reply to IPPurewater:

Couldn't agree more. The best multi-pitch crag in France.
Dave Garnett - on 14 Jan 2014
In reply to jon:

> Couldn't agree more. The best multi-pitch crag in France.

High praise - you've certainly been to more multi-pitch crags in France than I have, but I'd agree!
jcw on 15 Jan 2014
In reply to jon:

I am afraid I don't understand. From what I have seen of this there is no threat to climbers accessing Presles. The usual way is from the road along the base of the cliff as I remember it. The only people concerned a I understand it is for walkers wanting to reach the cliff from Choranches. There is a public road up to this end of the cliff. Any comments?
jon on 16 Jan 2014
In reply to jcw:

Yes, it did seem to be that path that was in question, John. However, in the last few years there have been lots of access problems at Presles, specifically the climbers' path to which you refer, ie the one that starts at the hairpin on the road leading up to the plateau and which provides access to the main crag - Buis/Chrysanthèmes/Pilier Souvenir and beyond. I believe it's the landowners that live on the slopes under the main cliff that are responsible, and whose land presumably this path traverses. Also cars have been vandalised in the parking areas habitually used by climbers whether roadside or up on the plateau. These problems get resolved from time to time but I'd imagine that the landowner's underlying feeling of resentment is still there. I'd imagine that any 'give' on the part of walkers/climbers would only serve to encourage these landowners to continue their actions. Probably worth googling camptocamp for a more accurate account...
jcw on 16 Jan 2014
In reply to jon:
Thanks Jon. That's particularly bad because not only is Presles great climbing, but it is the best potentially fair weather cliff reasonably accessible from Cham. There have always been break in problems, but deliberate vandalism is a different matter. I knew there had been some hassle, but looking at camptocamp and other sites I see nothing especially prohibitive except requests not to annoy the inhabitants. There are some local economic interests at Presles which are associated at least partly with climbers and it is here that the concentration is required. Presles is a different commune from Choranches and it is on their land that access is essential. My impression is that Choranches is mainly of interest to speleologists? On the other hand with the new grouping of communal interests perhaps that situation has changed. I don't like signing petitions unless I am certain of the facts which is why I am raising these points/questions.

Incidentally, you will have noted that I responded to your photo remark. Problem is I haven't many 5s left. I'll shove up some historical ones next I think.
jon on 16 Jan 2014
In reply to jcw:

> Presles is a different commune from Choranches and it is on their land that access is essential.

Googling 'Presles' shows that the crag is itself the boundary of the communes - who owns the vertical bit (the rock)? The habitual approach path from the hairpin must be in the commune of Choranche. Approach using the Presles commune's footpaths would require abseil approach to get to the bottom. https://maps.google.fr/maps?q=presles+38&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x478abdd9834abaf7:0x408ab2ae4be7000,Pre...


I had it in my mind there was a long thread on c2c about the ongoing problems but couldn't find it myself - which is why I suggested you search for it! Maybe I was mistaken...?

Yes I had noticed your photos! You must have lots more...
Post edited at 21:39
jcw on 16 Jan 2014
In reply to jon:
Yep, but looking at the boundaries of Choranches they do not seem to impinge on the Presles access. And I note the origin of this post is a caving interest.
glasgowcaver - on 17 Jan 2014
In reply to glasgowcaver:

The problems at Choranche affect everybody who wants to explore the commune for whatever reason - for example one of the issues highlighted in the video http://vercorstv.wmaker.tv/Choranche-des-chemins-pour-tous_v728.html is that if paths are closed then walkers are going to have to use the path at the foot of the crag - which is a terrible idea for them in terms of safety, and not good for climbers having walkers underneath.

I quite agree that you shouldn't just sign any old petition without looking into it, but access problems like this end up affecting all users, which is why I think outdoor enthusiasts need to stand together against paths being closed.

If you look at the first two comments on the petition (most liked) you'll also see that there's a history of bad behaviour and bullying in this commune. Incidentally there have been landowner problems at the top of the cliff as well so don't assume Presles is exempt - and there is at least one landowner who owns land up at Presles as well as Choranche.
Helen Heanes - on 17 Jan 2014
In reply to glasgowcaver:

Signed. Thanks for making this more widely known
jon on 17 Jan 2014
In reply to jcw:

> Yep, but looking at the boundaries of Choranches they do not seem to impinge on the Presles access.

Well yes they do. The only way to the bottom of the crag ON FOOT is wholly in the commune of Choranche. True, if you park on the plateau and approach the top of the crag via one of the maze of footpaths up there, then you are in Presles but you have to then locate the top of your route (or an abseil piste) and abseil down to the bottom of the crag. Locating your route of choice - especially for first time visitors - is not easy. However, glasgowcaver's last paragraph is rather worrying:

> If you look at the first two comments on the petition (most liked) you'll also see that there's a history of bad behaviour and bullying in this commune. Incidentally there have been landowner problems at the top of the cliff as well so don't assume Presles is exempt - and there is at least one landowner who owns land up at Presles as well as Choranche.


jcw on 17 Jan 2014
In reply to glasgowcaver: and Jon

OK I'll sign. My reluctance really derived from the fact that these commune affairs can be very touchy and sometimes one can make matters worse by ill advised good intentions. Incidentally if you want to see an illustration of that see mayor Peillex's (St Gervais) reaction to Guichonnet & Mollier's new book A qui appartient le Mont-Blanc?
Enty - on 17 Jan 2014
In reply to jon:

I remember there being access problems along the top of the cliff back in 96 and 97 when I spent 2 summers up at Le Charmeil.

E

jon on 17 Jan 2014
In reply to jcw:

> mayor Peillex's (St Gervais) reaction to Guichonnet & Mollier's new book A qui appartient le Mont-Blanc?

I assume this is a St Gervais vs Chamonix thing? Of course it should be a France vs Italy thing as France nabbed the whole of the summit - on French maps anyway, but not as I remember, on Italian ones!

jcw on 17 Jan 2014
In reply to jon:
Yes, but its more complex than one might think: the book is very interesting, and well worth looking at.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Morgan Woods - on 17 Jan 2014
In reply to glasgowcaver:

It's certainly a cool spot so access restrictions are unwelcome. I took a few pics of the cliffs in and around Choranche:

http://chezmorgs.blogspot.com.au/2009/09/random-crag-shots-from-france.html

certainly no shortage of rock! I wonder if there is more stuff that could be developed if somebody wanted to or if access is impossible?

Obviously the tufa lines above the cave entrance are a no no (even if you could climb 9a).

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