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Altitude 837m a.s.l
Pete Climbing in the shade near Buis les Baronnies © Aaron Tonks
Ax-les-Thermes is a pleasant town tucked in the folds of the mountains where the road starts to head resolutely up towards Andorra. Ax has a few shops, some great spas, skiing in the season and a couple of crags that are worth a visit if you are passing through. Work on a by-pass has been on-going for several years - but appears to have stalled. If it is ever opened it should free up the town centre from the heavy summer traffic. There are three areas of interest: the Rocher de la Galline (often referred to as Sector Piscine) is in the town and only minutes from the road. On the same side of the valley is the slightly more remote (15 minutes walk-in) Sector Entreserres. On the opposite side of the valley and close to the ski area, is Sector Bonascre, which receives morning sunshine and is reached by a short downhill walk.
Ax is set at an altitude of 750m, so can be a little cooler than the cliffs around Tarascon. Snow is quite common in the winter and the crags can be green after damp weather. There is a choice of aspect and the cliffs are generally quite sheltered, but a strong Föhn-type wind occasionally roars down the valley.
Ax-les-Thermes is situated where the valley carrying the Ariège makes a right angle and heads off southwards into the higher mountains. This is around 25km east of Tarascon, and is easily reached via the N20. Normally quiet, the road and town can be busy in high summer or in the ski season.
|The Grand Dalle of the Piscine crag provides some enjoyable routes in the easier grades. However, some of the grades in Rockfax don't make much sense to me, including a very easy (3+) given 4b and the first pitch, first part of a route given 4a when the first few moves are at least 5b. And there's more.|
Rog Wilko - 18/Sep/19
|A surprising pleasant venue despite its proximity to the town. I can't track down a topo online, but if you go armed with the list of routes above, you will likely find your way around OK. Several of the routes in the centre of the main slab have halfway lower offs - the bottom sections are generally in the F3+ to F4+ range.|
Mark Bull - 28/Oct/12
|A visit in Oct '12 found this crag mossy, lichenous and looking generally unloved. Maybe it is better in the height of summer, but otherwise I would recommend going to the Piscine crag http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/crag.php?id=10544 instead.|
Mark Bull - 28/Oct/12