Halt at Chambéry

Picking up from last post, we are leaving Lyon. Hard decision, we were so pampered there, Mama Jennifer and Papa Olivier were taking such good care of us, why did we have to leave their loving care? Obligations of a road trip, I suppose! Other lovely friends to visit, other crags and other rocks to crank on, and of course Sicily waiting for us!

And so we had to go, so we left. Onwards to Chambéry in the Savoie region, where my old friend (we met 15 years ago!) Taos was waiting for us.

As Taos was working until 18:30, we have a lot of time to kill, so we park the van and go into Chambéry town centre. First compulsory stop at a bakery, with beautiful breads galore, confirms our good feeling of the town. Delicious forest bread sampled and purchased. Next stop occurs as we walk passed the knife-filled vitrine of a shop. The shop is an outlet for the famous local knife maker Opinel. Luckily, they also sell books, and lo and behold, they’ve got the guidebook for the crags we want to climb. In the bag! We then met up with Taos in the evening, get to her place and go out for some beers and a little gig (lunar rock) in a bar with some of her friends. One of them, Jean-Michel, a climber, confirms Cessens’ quality climbing, psych goes up another notch.

Next day, we’re off to the crag. It’s a beautiful drive along the Bourget lake, nestled in between high mountains covered with crags. We get to the place where to park the van, up a steep mountain side (first mountain road test for the van passed), and off we go. The guide’s approach description is not exactly precise, so we find ourselves 150 meters below the crag down a super steep hill side. Angus is loving it, he’s running up and down, chasing squirrels, we’re mildly lost, sweating and we’re looking at a nice hard walk up a steep hill, and we still haven’t found the crag. Eventually, we get back up the hill, we find a crag with new bolts, it’s not in the guidebook, but we’re getting warmer! Another wander through the woods and imaginary paths (“is this a path? Are these wild boar tracks?”), and we finally find the crag! It’s now been well over 3 hours of search, it’s getting dark and cold. Luckily, we were expecting all this, so we hadn’t brought our gear, and we ready to go back home and to have a full day the next day. On the way home we go to Vertilac, the local climbing wall. Very nice place with a high lead wall, and we experience how different it is to climb routes indoors after 7 days outside on real rock.

Next day, we go for our first day of climbing on Alpine rock in Cessens!


Cessens is a beautiful crag, no one there but us, Angus and serious limestone overlooking the lac du Bourget. The Climbing there is great, the rock has great friction but isn’t sharp, there are some loose bits for adrenaline rushes, and the bolts have great wide spacing, which spice things up too ! Still, we spend 3 days there, coming back every evening to Chambéry to hang  out with Taos, her partner, and one of their friends  Arnaud. We’re once again made to feel right at home and very warmly welcomed and cared for.

On our last day in Chambéry, we take our hosts and friends to another crag, Saint Léger, to give them a first experience of climbing on real rock!  Saint Léger’s a large rock outcrop of gneiss encased in a small valley, and it looks a lot like slate!



The St Léger crag


Arnaud on a bold crux (and Rob too)


The crag supervisor ever watchful


Taos trying a very hard route, strong show of determination there.


Finally, as our ferry deadline looms closer and closer, we once again leave a lovely place, with old friends welcoming us into their homes and making us feel all fuzzy inside!


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