« Few places have marked and allured me in my travels that the gulf of la Ciotat. It’s a combination of grace and strength. » Lamartine, Voyage en Orient.
And Lamartine was not a climber ! It is true that the landscape is gorgeous with the beautiful Mediterranean Sea in background. In addition to that, the local geology is a bit crazy, mixing Limestone, sandstone and conglomerate in the same multipitch… The climber’s nirvana is not so far…
Our visit to Cap Canaille was not planed at all. After Nepal, we just wanted to change our minds with Ena. A rock climbing trip towards south sounded great. First stop in le Tarn with a buddy band. Climbing, Enjoying, Sharing good moments that reminds you how beautiful life can be.
And Now ? Spain , Verdon ?? A urge to see the sea leads us to these hills between Cassis and La Ciotat. The massif is called « Canaille » and the cliffs « Soubeyrannes ». Arnaud Bayol, who stands for my Geologist hero told me there are beautiful routes, on an amazing rock, to climb in Cap Canaille. After our first route there, we were completely blown away by the beauty, the originality and the quality of the rock. We decided to stay the all week on this « Route des crêtes ». We explored different sectors and here is our little route selection : from the funniest to the nicest :
Ouveur de Bouse – (6a,3b,5c,5b+,5c).
90 m, 5c oblig. – Secteur « Ouvreur de bouse ».
This sector is really classic and might be crowded. You have only 1 minute walking from the car and 2 beautiful and steep abseils. Then the climbing is simply fantastic. On a beautiful reddish sandstone, never hard because the holds are quite big and good. Olivier didn’t climb for two months , but he kept the same big smile all morning, and so did we.
Deux Vauriens, Trois Canailles – (3a,4c,5c,6a+,6a+,6a,4a,6a).
140m, 5c oblig. – Secteur « Pendule ».
Quite similar to « Ouvreur de bouse » in terms of difficulty. Maybe slightly harder and bit more impressive. Approach will take you 30 minutes. Bit of walking and abseiling on the « 14 Juillet », 5 more minutes of walking and here you are. You climb through three type of rock : limestone, sandstone and finish on conglomerate. The ambiance is unique. There is not even one hard or disgusting movement ! THE route to climb in cap Canaille.
Baise Jump ou Boureur de Rousse – (6b,6b,4b,6a+,6a).
90 m, 6a oblig. – Secteur « Ouvreur de bouse ».
Back to « Ouvreur de bouse » sector. It is 7pm when we decided to abseil down. There is no one on this crowded place. Topless climbing on this beautiful reddish sandstone. Sunset on the last pitch : What else ?!
Bienvenue Chez Damoclès – (6a,6a,6c,6a,6a+,6c,6b,6a)
140 m, 6b oblig. – Secteur « Damoclès ».
The approach is similar than « Pendule » sector. Just a bit more walking when you finish the « 14 juillet » abseils. This route is slightly less classic than the others and for sure more demanding. The pitches are quite short and mostly traversing, but they are all beautiful. The rock is even crazier than rest of cap canaille. Incredible holds, fantastic climbing…
Bleu comme la mer rouge – (5b,6c+,6b,7a,7a+,7a+,6b+)
160 m, 6b oblig. – Secteur « Grand Draïoun ».
The guide book presents this one as the most beautiful of cap Canaille. It’s the one we like the best, by far. The ambiance is crazy and the climbing really homogeneous. Must do this one !!
Holidays are over. We drive back to Chamonix where the autumn weather welcomed us.
In our heads still remains the beautiful moments in this amazing place. Only 5h of car separate us from this little paradise. We warmly recommend you to visit Cap Canaille and its crazy climbing cliffs. For sure we will be back ;)
Climbing Guidebook :
Escalade La Ciotat (650 Voies entre Cassis et La Ciotat) ; Gilles Bernard - Gwenaël Drouot – Hervé Guigliarelli.
15 Quickdraws are enough for climbing every routes.
Ropes : 2*50m.