Altitude 554m a.s.l
Mesa Verde Indian Ruins ,about 700 years old , Cortez ,Colorado © USBRIT
A huge, impressive gorge with masses of rock, cutting into the hills to the north west of Vence. There is a lot of climbing here, though much of it is very hard, and due to seepage and shade, several of the cliffs come into their best in the summer months. Listed here are routes on two large cliffs at the lower end of the gorge.
It is worth a ride through the gorge to investigate the amount of rock and some impressive waterfalls - it all makes Cheedale look a bit weak.
Often cool and blowy, the gorge is a popular venue in the summer when the heat is on (shade after 2pm on the west side). The cliffs described here can offer climbable conditions in the winter, though their recessed nature means they are slow to dry, and an extra layer may be needed to keep warm!
Humidity from the river can be an issue on Mesa Verde, as can seepage after heavy rain on both cliffs.
Jurassic and Cayenne face east, so they get the morning sun until midday. There is usually a good breeze at Jurassic, but it is usually hotter and much less breezy at Cayenne. They both offer shelter, so it is possible to climb during the rain. When walking through the tunnels, check whether the pipe/concrete is dry or damp. This will indicate either good or sweaty conditions at the cliffs.
For Déverse, the crag is in the shade until about 2pm, and always has a good wind. The cliff is very steep and stays dry for at least a week during heavy rain.
Most of the crags are up stream from the village of Pont du Loup (however La Jungle and Karaoke are down stream from Pont du Loup). The crags are accessible from the D6, between La Colle sur Loup and Bramafan (apart from Jurassic Park, Cayenne and Les Pistones which are accessed from the D3 between Gourdon and Bramafan).
Access for the crags is described from the furthest up stream. The orientation is given for each cliff.
L'Iroquoi (east): is immediately on the left before the 2nd tunnel driving up the gorge. Park either after the tunnel on the left, or down the road in a layby. (1 min).
Déverse Satanique (west): park on the left immediately after the 1st tunnel driving up the gorge. The official path goes up the hill approx 50 metres down the old road around the outside of the tunnel. (5 mins).
La Piscine (west): park in one of the small laybys near a sign for the Auberge de Courmes (approx 500m before the 1st tunnel). Follow the path up hill, which starts on the right of the dry canyon next to the sign. (15 mins).
Le Phasme (west): park in a layby on the right (5 cars) just after an obvious entry/view point on the left. Follow the stone wall back down the road until a path on the right leads down to the crag (where the wall finishes). (2 mins). It is possible to get to Mesa Verde from here by following the path towards the green bridge across the river (hand line in place for the final bit before gaining the bridge). (6 mins).
Mesa Verde (east): either follow the approach described above for Le Phasme or park in the village of Pont du Loup. Follow the path from the sweet shop car park up stream (20 mins).
L'Hermitage (east): Same approach as for Mesa Verde but continue walking another 5 mins and scramble up the hillside to the obvious large compact crag. (25 mins).
Les Pistones/Jurassic Park/Cayenne (east): approx 5 km after the village of Gourdon and 100m after the 2nd set of hairpin bends there is a track leading down hill on the right. Park on the road and follow the track down until the water pipe. Turn right and follow the pipe down stream through 6 tunnels (head torch needed). The path for Les Pistones goes uphill just after an inscription (Picardie 29/05/98)in the concrete and just after the 1st inpection cover about 100m after the 6th tunnel. Continue for Jurassic. Cayenne is after 2 more small tunnels at an obvious bend in the pipe. (30 mins).
Parcours du Sante (south east): From the small roundabout in the village of Gourdon, drive in the direction of Jurassic Park along a long straight section of road. Pass the obvious field and pull in at the pinic area on the right (approx 200m from the roundabout and before the 1st bend). Park here. Walk towards a sign on the edge of the cliff, then trend left down and then back right to the base of the cliff. (5 mins).
Karaoke (south): park on the right approx 3 km after passing Les Rives du Loup campsite near a wire mesh fence (2 cars). The path goes uphill from a couple of white plastic bollards, then traverses along a more obvious path past a rocky outcrop, then follows a less obvious steep and narrower path heading towards a prominent rocky col. Take care to descend to the crag from the rocky col (easily missed). (20 mins).
La Jungle (north): park on a very sharp bend approx 1.5 km from the junction with the D7. Cross the road and step over the road barrier. Follow a path down to the river. Wade across the river and ascend the steep wooded slope past several hand lines to arrive at the left end of the crag. (15 mins).
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