By Zoe Duby
Zoe Duby takes us on a journey through some of Europe’s finest boulder areas and gives us a few choice tips on dumpster diving.
Any academic who has completed their doctorate will attest that writing up a PhD is a slog, so as motivation to power through this epic task, I promised myself a mini bouldering sabbatical once I’d handed in. I’ve been bouldering for almost as long as I’ve been doing my PhD, but had never been on a dedicated bouldering trip. This would be my moment to take a few months off from wrestling research to focus my efforts on wrestling pebbles at some of Europe’s finest bouldering areas. After a restful (so restful that I lost my carefully cultivated strength and fitness) annual family and friend catch up in the UK, I set off on my mission. Step one was a rendezvous with my cousin Jo who was delivering my newly purchased trusty steed for the trip – an Opel station wagon that I christened Claudine.
So, Jo, Claudine and I sailed forth into the Alpes de Haute Provence in southern France to check out Annot, a bouldering area set above 1500 metres on the flanks of Mount Argenton. We got a topo print-out and directions to the camping area from the local tourism office, and drove up a long, steep (and slightly sketchy) winding gravel road, up the mountain and through the forest, eventually arriving at a beautiful isolated farm where camping, basic but totally adequate, was only 3 euros a night. The only downside of this heavenly spot was the seriously aggressive goose you had to contend with on the way to the ablution block. The Annot bouldering topo describes the various sectors relative to their position according to the ‘epingles’ (hairpin bends) in the long gravel road that winds up the mountain. Jo and I spent four beautiful days exploring as many sectors as we could. In short, the bouldering in Annot is on great quality font-like sandstone, with numerous sectors spread out through the mountainside forest, often with mossy (due to getting very little traffic) slopery topouts. Prognosis on Annot: definitely worth another visit. Read more…
IMAGE: Camouflaged on Le mouton à 6 pattes (7a), Fontainebleau, France. Photo Jimbo Smith