/ DESTINATION GUIDE: Targassonne Bouldering

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UKC Articles - on 06 Sep 2017
Pleasant winter bouldering in Targassonne, 3 kbTargassonne is a beautiful village in the French Pyrenees, 10 minutes from Spain, an hour from Andorra, with access to skiing, hiking, canyoneering and even thermal baths. All this surrounding a world class granite boulder field (you'll find the words "second only to Font in France" in every other article about it), with pretty much every other form of climbing within a one to two-hour drive. Yet over the years Targassonne has been acquiring a reputation as the place that's eternally "about to be the next big thing". But maybe that's for the best…

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In reply to UKC Articles:

Good article.

Isn't every climbing destination in the world best in either spring/autumn?!

It's worth emphasising that Targasonne is a viable summer bouldering destination. We were there for 10 days this August and temperatures were rarely above 24 degrees maximum and mostly around 20 degrees. Some mornings/evenings were quite cool. That said, weirdly we found the rock to be more conditions dependent than Fontainebleau. On the whole the landings are better than any bouldering area I've been to.

If you've got kids, it's a fantastic area; the campsite is great and there's loads of multi-activity stuff to do.. plus it's quiet compared to the Western Alps. The Super U in Egat is very good and the Lidl is very cheap, I can't imagine bothering to drive further for supplies.
In reply to Tom Briggs - Jagged Globe:

> Isn't every climbing destination in the world best in either spring/autumn?!

Too right! Whilst I exceptions exist, May and September are basically the golden months for rock climbing at a great many destinations across the world.
snoop6060 - on 06 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Went here a few years back and got absolutely spanked. Found everything, whatever grade, but be utterly nails and rip my hands to shreds. My mate loved it but then he climbs 8A so can rightfully just be ignored. Mind you I haven't exactly done a great deal of bouldering on granite.
Alun - on 06 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Very nice article.

It alludes a few times as to why Targassonne is not as popular as some think it should be. I've spent quite a lot of time there and I think the best way to describe it is 'unfriendly'. The rock is horribly sharp, the problems (and even many of the sectors) are generally quite difficult to find, and the grades a bit stiff (particularly at the lower end of the scale). Also, I think a lot of people hear "second in France only to Fontainebleau", and are disappointed when they realise that "second" doesn't necessarily mean "similar" - Font is in a completely different league, if only because the amount of climbing available.

Finally, there is something harsh and austere about the Pyrenean environment in general; it lacks the charm of pootling around the forest, and is far from the beauty of typical alpine landscapes.

On the other hand, there are some amazing problems (once you find them), a nice relaxed atmosphere, and the campsite is everything a campsite should be. It's well worth a long weekend trip; just don't go there expecting Font.
Robert Durran - on 06 Sep 2017
In reply to Tom Briggs - Jagged Globe:

> Isn't every climbing destination in the world best in either spring/autumn?!

Not quite, but an awful lot of them. It's sometimes a bit shit being teacher........
In reply to Alun:

> It alludes a few times as to why Targassonne is not as popular as some think it should be. I've spent quite a lot of time there and I think the best way to describe it is 'unfriendly'. The rock is horribly sharp, the problems (and even many of the sectors) are generally quite difficult to find, and the grades a bit stiff (particularly at the lower end of the scale). Also, I think a lot of people hear "second in France only to Fontainebleau", and are disappointed when they realise that "second" doesn't necessarily mean "similar" - Font is in a completely different league, if only because the amount of climbing available.

To expand on this, in terms of comparisons with the UK, the rock is probably most similar to Dartmoor granite, or that found in Eskdale. It's exceedingly rough, but strangely doesn't have great friction. It favours those that can crimp. You tend to have to 'bear down', rather than 'drag' holds. In terms of the comparison with Fontainebleau, it would be like comparing the Mendips with the Himalayas (well, not quite). I've probably spent 4 - 6 months in Font over the years, and will continue to go there every year. Whilst I can imagine going back to Targasonne, it wouldn't be simply because of the bouldering. I agree the grades are generally pretty stern, though there are some soft touches as well.

> Finally, there is something harsh and austere about the Pyrenean environment in general; it lacks the charm of pootling around the forest, and is far from the beauty of typical alpine landscapes.

This is where I disagree. I thought the area was absolutely stunning and far more interesting than Font. Font is 'charming', but it's very samey and there are few places where you get a view. The views from Targasonne are superb. The air quality was outstanding most of the time we were there. I got into the higher peaks one day (there's a chain of 2800-2900m high summits accessible from the village) and it feels very remote, with few trails (the odd cairn), but terrain that's relatively easy to navigate in good weather.

Arms Cliff - on 06 Sep 2017
In reply to Tom Briggs - Jagged Globe:
> Isn't every climbing destination in the world best in either spring/autumn?!

Alpine areas in CO, Squamish, and desert crags like Bishop and Red Rocks (bouldering) are some exceptions I can think of.
Post edited at 15:51
tombeasley - on 06 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Great article, bought back some great memories of a short visit five years or so ago. The grades are stiff, especially at the lower end, and the rock is sharp and trashes your fingers. But, I loved it! Less busy than Font and has much more of a feeling of adventure. Defiantly a viable summer option, I was there in July / August time, and it wasn't too hot I'd imagine early mornings would be excellent in the summer. At the very least well worth a visit if you are in the area, thanks for the article it almost made me miss climbing for a second.
ian caton on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

No where near as good as Bridestones.

Font. and Targassonne in the same breath .... don't think so.
snoop6060 - on 07 Sep 2017
In reply to ian caton:

Bridestones on its own perhaps not, but the whole of yorkshire grit pisses on targassone. It might be second best in France but it is kinda like saying Espanyol are the second best footy team in Barcelona.

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