HomeCanyoningULSA holiday - Vercors 2018

ULSA holiday – Vercors 2018

This is just a compilation of what everyone wrote in the rant books while on holiday:

9th June.  Via ferrata.  Col de Rousseb.  *Nathan, Brendan, Chris, Mike, Sarah P.

After setting up camp, following an ‘interesting’ flight we headed for a quick via ferrata.  Mike, Chris and Sarah rented gear having never been before.  The via ferrata was situated above a road very popular with motor cyclists, we heard them the whole way up.  We began with Mike in the lead up a sustained vertical section with good exposure.  Climbing behind a large slab was novel, and the next section, an overhanging traverse necessitated I take the lead from a slightly intimidated Mike.  The rest of the route went without issue and the walk back offered great views.  Everyone was glad that they hadn’t tried to use caving kit.


10th June.  Canyon.  Ruisseau du Versud Aval.  30m x2.  *Alice, Luke, Zoe, Ben, *Sarah C

Pulling up to a dry  and dusty layby, filled with wetsuit clad boy-scouts, we figured we’d found the right spot.  After some debate about whether to walk up the hill with or without wetsuits on, we suited up and promptly took the wrong path up the hill (don’t go across the bridge).  Luke put us right and we headed straight up to the top in about 10 minutes.  The start of the canyon is found when the path meets the river.  Zoe and Alice rigged.  No pitch was more than 15m high with newer bolts requiring traverses most times.  The second pitch can be jumped from a ledge half way down if the flow is low enough to allow you to stop, otherwise there are some handlines up the side of the pool leading to jumping positions.  Lots of fun was had jumping from these.  After this the canyon becomes more horizontal with several short toboggans, and ends with two final pitches.  The first of these is easily descended on the left wall and the second from the right.  The final stretch after these had a fantastic 6m toboggan before finishing where a rigged path meets the canyon on the right.


10th June.  Canyon.  Canyon de Leoncel.  *Rachel, Nadia, Max, Fergus, Jake

It was mine, Max, Fergus and Jake’s first canyon.  I rigged the first pitch, and taught the next person and so on.  Good learning trip and confidence building.  Estimated length 3 hours, although we took 5, including lots of fun jumps and faffing around to let the couple ahead get away.  I think we left the canyon a little late and took the scenic route back (estimated 45 mins, actual 1 hour 15 mins).  No technical traverses and easy rigging.


10th June.  Cave.  Grotte de Gournier.  *Nathan, Brendan, Mike, Sarah P, Beth, Michael.

A good display of faff saw us arrive at the cave at midday, behind a guided group who wern’t impressed at our improvised inflatable – Ben’s sofa.  We decided to swim across instead and then realised we had forgotten the tackle bag for the traverse.  Stripping out harnesses and using the pull line resulted in a minimalist traverseline that was servicable.  The large fossil passages were fantastic, especially the large gours and running flowstone.  We passed everal french guided groups and dropped into the river at the first point, pausing for lunch.  “OH MY GOD, I didn’t realise you could bring food”.  The streamway was excellent, crystal clear water and loads of fun.  The main group turned around at some stempled cascades and Mike and Nathan continued along the sporting passage.  We climbed the 12 waterfall via a slightly overhanging and unprotected stemple ladder and reached the salle chevalier, our turn about point.  The two of us rejoined the others not long after the first river access and slowly made out way out finishing with a good jump off the traverse line and a swim across the lake.  A very good trip overall that I would highly reccommend.


11th June.  Climbing.  *Rachel, Alice, Fergus, Max, Nadia, Jake.

Sport climbing, D2g2.  V. Good.  Max bled on things.  Nadia didn’t climb 7A.  I got scared, a bee sting and Ted the Tick.


13th June.  Cave.  Grotte de Favot.  *Alice, Sarah P, Mike, Max, Jake

It was definately more work getting to and from the cave than it was underground.  The layby to park in is just after a stony track which leads up to the cave entrance.  Follow the more obvious track until it levels out, here there is a muddy path that leads up the hill. Even with the very high water in the rivers, the cave was dry except for a few drips in the gour pools.  After rigging the handline down the entrance slope we found 3 groups of kids with instructors.  Following the most obvious path through the cave leads to the big pitch where hangers are required for descent – there are not enough naturals to avoid the rub points.  It looks like noone has been down there in a while.  To the left of the pitch there are steps carved into the flowstone.  It is well worth going up these to find clear gour pools and some stal at the top.  On the way out we took a left turn up a boulder slope which is good for exploring, all of the little side passages join back onto one main, straight passage. Sarah dissappeared down the obvious straight passage while Mike Jake and I turned right to go down into a chamber.  A climb up the left wall of this chamber leads to another smaller chamber and some fun climbs back to Sarah’s level.  She came back after getting bored of the passage, which Mike and Max promptly dissappeared down, to report there were pretty gour pools instead of the expected breakdown.  A fun trip.  Would reccommend for freshers if it was in the UK.


14th June.  Climbing.  Above Choranche.  Fergus, Jake, Nadia, *Alice

The day started with Jake, Fergus and Nadia each waking my up in turn trying to encourage the stoke for climbing.  After a detour past a bakery and outdoors shop, we arrived in the layby for 12, where we all headed down the obvious scree slope (the better path to take to get to the base of the cliff is to follow the green and yellow marked path a little way down the road) before turning back and deciding it would be easier to abseil in from the top.  The top of the cliff was reached by 1 and an abseil was rigged from a tree with a chain around it.  Shoes and knives were left at the top (mistake).  There were big enough ledges all the way down for ledge time at the belay points to be comfortable.  The view was stunning, but by the end of the penultimate pitch, stoke for climbing back up was dwindling.  In the end Jake and I continued down while Nadia and Fergus tried to go back up.  I made friends with a tree on the way down, and Jake suggested we try some random single pitch climbs.  He did one, and I managed to slice my hand instead of climbing very far.  The others ended up not climbing back up the multipitch due to a fall and not actually knowing what route they were attempting to climb.  We headed back without shoes along the bottom of the cliff, finding a fairly deathy looking handlined detour which was correctly presumed to be the wrong route.


16th June.  Cave.  Grotte de Gournier.  *Alice, *Rachel, Luke, Brendan, Max

The day started fairly efficiently with the 5 of us reaching the lake at 11:10.  Brendan swam ahead to rig the first handline while a cave diving school started setting up.  Some photos were taken and it was noted that the water was slightly higher than when the other group did this cave.  The 40m swim was *very* cold.  The lake level was 40cm  on the measure which made this trip rather arduous later on.  After the easy handline, pretty gour pools follow, drip drip drippy.  The route on is very forwards, large railway tunnel, stompy massive boulder scrambles.  Very fast when accompanied by Brendan.  Boulder choke, wiggle STREAM! Would be a large stomping streamway if the water levels were lower.  On this day, it became hard work, swimming against a strong current (upstream only) and traversing high over deel pools and over waterfalls, sometimes aided by via ferrata stemples.  Big arm ache to follow.  Big waterfall war. A bit skretchy on the way up times there was so much water, but much kinder on the way down.  No obvious handlines.  A handline was rigged up and over a waterfall which lead to a canal where Rachel and Alice turned back before a deep long swim.  Water throughout was very clear or very rapid.  On the return, it was worth taking care on the toboggans, as they were unfun in the hurting kind of way.  Foam could be seen many meters up.  Some of the bigger lakey things could be floated down, which was fun if you enjoy being rinsed by water in a well ventilated wetsuit.  The downclimbs feel a lot less sketchy than the upclimbs.  Route finding in the boulder choke provided exploration as we tried climbing out of the streamway too soon.  Straight up from the lunch spot goes to big misleading chamber with arrows + “s” pointing back the way you came.  All in all, not bad, flash guns required for pretty things.  Far superior to Grotte de Favot.  V Good.  Tres bien.  C’est magnifique.  Au reviour.


17th June.  Wine + Climb.  Nadia, Rachel, Fergus, Jake, *Alice

Rachel and I gave Mike, Brendan and Luke a lift to the top of death canyon before following Nadia’s directions to Festival crag.  Turns out Nadia brought a 3L box of wine with her.  3 of us played cards and drank wine while Nadia and Jake climbed.  Rachel ate strawberries.  Jake was sober enough to drive us all back.


18th June.  Canyon.  Des Ecouge “sucky death canyon”.  Rachel, Nadia, Luke, Fergus, *Alice.

Very glad it wasn’t any wetter.  Started with a few toboggans before the pitches.  A wire traverse sticking over the edge of a waterfall lead to a reasonably long pitch which required Fergus to do a rope changeover due to the original rope not reaching the bottom.  The next pitch lead to Hell.  Rachel and Fergus went down first, laughed at the predicament a lot before continuing down.  Each of us caught the next person down so that the next person didn’t get swept over the edge of hell.  Tackle bags were tyrilleaned down to the top of the third pitch in that series, from which a very obvious syphon can be seen.  The light after the syphon was spectacular and lead to a slippery waterfall.  Rachel and Nadia watched me derig and gave me a 10 when I didn’t copy everyone else and avioded penduluming into the waterfall.  Going across a tight traverse line proved challenging two of us before we reached the top of the final pitch.  Obvious P bolts can be seen which lead to a traverse across the top of the waterfall to a pitch head, but we used the bolts on the left wall which were described in a previous trip report as looking a bit shabby.  They were fine.  Luke pulled a lot of faces while trying to find the re-belay before shrugging and dissapearing out of sight.