The Verdon Gorge or Les Gorges du Verdon in French is simply one of the world's great climbing areas. The Verdon, a place to rival Yosemite Valley, offers over 1,000 routes of all grades on the vertical gray and blue limestone walls that line the 13-mile-long canyon in southeastern France. Here are some of the finest free climbs in the world, routes that require impeccable face climbing technique on perfect pocketed limestone and a calm resolve and steely nerves to move upward above the exposed void.
The Verdon Gorge is also one of the places on the planet where sport climbing, the discipline of ascending gymnastic-style routes protected by bolts, evolved. Initially long routes like La Demande were established in a traditional climbing style from the ground-up and with only a few hand-drilled bolts.
But in the 1980s, the Verdon, along with neighboring areas like Buoux, became a laboratory for sport climbers who rappelled down the faces and placed bolts for protection before working extreme moves to get up extreme routes without falling. It was during the eighties too that many single-pitch routes were established along the canyon rim for both top-roping and leading.
The Verdon Gorge is one of my favorite climbing areas, a place I have returned to many times for up to two weeks to climb spectacular walls up to 1,500 feet high, get some air under my soles, and relish the art of climbing movement on immaculate limestone. Oh, the camping at the nearby village of La Palud-sur-Verdon as well as the bakery and the restaurants and the fresh baguettes smothered with brie or Nutella add extra zing to your European climbing vacation.
Read more about the Verdon Gorge and its marvelous climbing opportunities and then make plans to go to Europe by reading two new articles:
Verdon Gorge -- Rock Climbing Adventures in Europe
Rock Climbing at the Verdon Gorge -- Trip Planning Information for the Verdon
Photograph above: Ian Spencer-Green hanging out on "Wide is Love," a classic 5.10 route at the Verdon Gorge in France. Photograph © Stewart M. Green