Climbing in Ceuse
Your next adventure: Ceuse
Where in the world?: Country: France
Region: Haute Alpes
Town: Sigoyer (Haute Alpes)
Difficulty: Situated at an altitude of almost 1800m, Ceuse seems to have it all, from cutting edge sports routes to a plethora of easy multi-pitches. To really get the full benefit from Ceuse, allow a minimum of 2 weeks in order to get 'route fit' plus additional time for projecting.
Best time of year: Spring, summer and autumn
Wrap up: Despite having a reputation as a hard mans crag, world class routes can be found as low as 6b. So regardless of your ability, you will be able to find amazing rock climbing with a backdrop of the stunning French countryside and enjoy the best rock climbing that planet earth has to offer!
A bit about Ceuse…
Ceuse is widely considered as one of the best crags in the world, and quite rightly so. The sweeping massif of Ceuse towers above the small French village of Sigoyer at just over 2000m.
The steep juggy walls peppered with fist and finger sized pockets run for over 3.5km and canvas 360 routes from 6a to 9a. The orange and white walls streaked with blue water runnels offer some of the best sport climbing on earth.
When to go?
Recommended routes to try:
- Harley Davidson (6b) – grade 20
- Zagreb (6c) – grade 21
- Medicine Deuce (6c+) – grade 22
- Ananda (7a) – grade 23
- La Petite Illusion (7a+) – grade 24
- Super Mickey (7b) – grade 25
- Blocage Violent (7b+) – grade 26
- Vagabond D'occident (7c) – grade 27
- Mirage (7c+) – grade 28
Preparation is Key
Routes at Ceuse are long and pumpy. More so than anything in Australia. You'll regularly encounter 35m routes at 15-30 degrees overhung. Failure usually comes because your forearms are exploding with lactic acid, rather than not being able to “pull a move". The more resistance training you can do before you go the better. The bolting at Ceuse is considered “sporty" by Australian standards and 6-8 meter plummets from the top of routes are common place. Make sure you are comfortable with falling and you have a trustworthy belayer.
Climbing is the best training for climbing
A 10 week training program is enough to get you fit before you go. Break this down into a 4 week component (conditioning), a 3 week component (resistance training), and a 2 week component (power). The 10th week is a rest week before you fly out! Below is a training guide you could adhere to prior to your climb.
- Weeks 1 - 4: To kick-start the program, it is ideal to be out on rock or in the gym for 4 sessions per week. Focus on volume. Climb 10 pitches or more in a day at the crag. Run lots of laps well below your red point grade at the gym. Focus on succeeding on routes at the gym rather than climbing to failure (think marathon running). This will give you a good endurance base to build on.
- Weeks 5 - 7: Aim for 3 sessions per week - 2 resistance workouts and 1 power session (bouldering or campus boarding), making your power session the last session in your weekly cycle. Up the intensity of your resistance workouts so that you are climbing to failure. Run double and triple laps at the gym on steep walls and aim to fail at the end of your 2nd or 3rd lap. On a crag day, pick out some long difficult projects where the crux's are very high up on the climb. If success doesn't come on your projects, drop a gear and lap down on at least three climbs that are 2 or 3 grades below your project. This will build excellent lactic resistance.
- Weeks 8 - 9: Drop resistance and do 2 power sessions per week to top up before you go.
- Week 10: A rest week before you go (no climbing!). Instead, wrap yourself up in cotton wool, study your French and watch some climbing DVD's!
Other things to see & do...
Rest days in Gap (14km away) are fun. Check out the 'Vertige
Montagne' (climbing shop) and sample some of the local patisseries and café's.
The pizza restaurant down the road at La Freissinouse serves up mouth-watering
dishes most nights. Try a picnic in any of the Lucerne bail strewn fields with
a 2 Euro bottle of Bordeaux and a baguette! For a change in climbing scenery
and a break from the Ceuse walk in, Orpierre is one hour down the road and has
over 600 routes from 5a to 8c with a 5 minute walk in from the car.
David O'Donnell for sharing his knowledge and experience of Ceuse with us.
David has many years of climbing experience from having travelled all around Europe and Asia for rock climbing.
For up to date travel information, any associated risks and important matters about visiting France, check Smart Traveller before your departure.
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