Climbing in the Ariege

By Luke Tilley

You must excuse my lack of updates, I know you have heard this many times from many people and I don’t deserve any sympathy but I have just been so busy! Hear me out, enjoy and judge for yourself.

I left you hanging in Ceuse, south of France. The climbing had been to the top, the level pushed and the lifestyle simplified - to perfection. But my body could only take so much of this extremely physical lifestyle and as my time to leave arrived my aching limbs embraced change.

With a complimentary t-shirt rewarding the successful completion of 3 weeks at Camp Guerins in my pack I headed South East to the Ariege. Spending the next two weeks with the family was amazing, a proper bed and real mother meals rehabilitated me but my arms never quite got fresh again even with 2 full days off. Frustratingly I was on the back end of peak performance right on time after 3 weeks of peak. It was still a great climbing trip and I climbed on some wicked routes. Highlights were climbing Octopus my only 8a out there in an unlikely looking cave that yielded some awesome lines, I was schooled in the 3rd dimension with several full rotations of climbing direction required on some of the easier routes. A stunning 7c+ soaring 40m out of the massive cave of Genat from 15m up a 6a slab the climbing turned into the most exciting, exposed and heart racing climbing you can get on a sport route. This was all good fun but it was hard coming to terms with a drop in standard where I had to get the bail carabiners out for two 8as.

So I took it easy and rested, explored new areas and started putting together a tick list for the next trip to the area, I can’t wait to return in good condition and dispatch as many of the stunning lines as possible. I hope to go out there with a small group of strong routers who have never put up a line of their own, and learn to develop and perfect route bolting and to try and develop a new area, get some funny footage and gain a wealth of experience from local climbers and residents. My second year at Chez Arran with John and Anne was as pleasurable as the first and I would, and do recommend, their apartments in this amazing area to anyone wanting to find a quiet top class area with an abundance of 5* climbing, check out the Chez Arran website for more!

From family fun in the sun and desperately trying to maintain good route form, a brief interlude at home I headed out for Austria. Two International events and a taster of granite will follow in my next late update!

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