"The Dent looked magnificent, and one look at the new guidebook had me throwing my misgivings to the wind - Les Enfants de la Dalle was too good to resist. It’s allegedly the best multi-pitch route in the Ariège Pyrénées, the climbing is technically reasonable (the hardest pitch is F6a+), and the pictures in the guidebook were mouthwatering."
Alison Cowley describes her and Alex Pryor's ascent of this classic Pyrénées multi-pitch route.
What a great day out - one of the best routes I've done and a fitting end to an excellent holiday. Alison may have been unfit, but it was nice to know she could climb several grades harder than me if we had problems.
For anyone visiting the area I'd recommend Tapas Sans Dalles, and Fleur de Rhodo on the E face as good warm-up routes, as well as one or two of the longer harder routes like Ours en Pelouche on the SE face. Don't forget to take a head torch.
In reply to Alex Pryor:
Another vote for a magnificent route. However, I now have unfinished business with this. On sunday, after 2 weeks of dry weather the lower slabs were dry, and pristine. Having made fast progress to the upper wall and with the crux pitch 15 below us, the weather broke earlier than expected, frustatingly forcing a retreat, just before we reached the ridge. I'd also second Alex's advice to recce the mountain with a trip to the E face 1st, where you'll find more well equipped excellent granite slabs. Plenty of other valley cragging in the area also for those days off/winter days.
If you're looking for somewhere to stay, you couldn't do better than a stay at La Forge near Foix - see:
http://www.climbariege.co.uk/ However, don't expect Graham to climb 'Les Enfants' with you, as I've booked him for a return visit...
In reply to Jem:
That's tough luck! How was the abseil? I imagine you'd need about 2 1/2 hours to get off from there, by which time the lower slabs could well be waterfalls? There's one stance, around pitch 7 IIRC which is very comfortable but might need a snorkel in heavy rain.
In reply to Alex Pryor:
Yes, 2 1/2 hrs sounds about right. Fortunately (but irritatingly), the rain stopped during the descent and the waterfalls cleared quickly, allowing a relatively dry descent. However, the claps of thunder around the summit, some quickly developing towers of cumulus, and return of rain as we neared terra-firma confirmed we'd made the right decision. The lower slabs were actually OK as the diagonal trough you describe seemed to channel the drainage off rightwards towards the line of Durendalle.
We were a bit gutted to be robbed of such a quality route at that stage, yet perhaps lucky that the storms started when they did as we didn't fancy being cooked for the vultures on the final ridge with no easy descent after pitch 18.
Nevertheless, an outstanding day of climbing on wonderful rock on a stunning face. I look forward to the re-match.