France : Ariège



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The Ariège region of Southern France is the compact area where the Ariège River cuts through the Pyrenées on its way from Andorra to the coast. There is a lot of high quality climbing in the area with a superb variety of rock types to go at; from the soaring granite slabs of the Dent d’Orlu, to the steep limestone bulges of Génat. Limestone, granite and gneiss are on offer and routes vary in size from boulder problems to long epics of over 20 pitches. Despite its attractions, the area remained off the radar to the climbing world in general, and the lack of a comprehensive modern guide to the area was a large part of the reason for this. This publication has opened up this great area as a destination for travelling climbers.

Categories: , Style: Location: FranceAuthors: Anne Arran, Chris Craggs, John Arran

The full guide is available on Rockfax Digital
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Relative to other Rockfax France books, the area covered in France : Ariège is remarkably small in extent, being not much more than 60km east-to-west and 40km north-to-south. Despite its small compass, the area is extremely varied and this is reflected in the climbing available. There is limestone, granite and gneiss to go at, from roadside caves, to high mountain crags and all stops in between. The proximity of all the crags to each other also means that you can easily sample any of the crags in the book without having to spend hours in the car, and can also visit multiple venues in the same day. Foix to Ax-les-Thermes is roughly 40 minutes drive and that will take you close to most of the climbing covered.

The area has a long and intriguing history and offers plenty to do apart from the climbing, including mountain walking, caving, river rafting, skiing and checking out the many ancient castles. Factor in the year-round climbing, easy access from northern Europe and plenty of high-quality accommodation in the area and it is easy to see that the Ariège region has lots to offer.

The Plantaurel
Arabaux, Roc des Abeilles, Le Carol, Roquefixade, Lavelanet

Calamès Area
La Roche Ronde, Roc à Steph, Calamès, Roc de Sédour

Niaux Area
Sabart, Alliat, Génat, Saut de l'Ours, Arbiech, Sibada, Baychon

Auzat Area
Laramade Bouldering, Goulier, Auzat, Pic Rouge de Belcaire

Sinsat Area
Les Toulousains, Sinsat, Verdun, Appy

Ax-les-Thermes Area
Ax-les-Thermes, Orlu Bouldering, Dent d'Orlu

Mountain Walks

December 2012


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3 reviews for France : Ariège

  1. Denis Corpet

    Yes, it is really a MAJOR added value over previous existing guidebooks:
    – The wide covered area
    – The photo approach
    – The flags/tags/icons
    and of course lovely Sarah on the cover ;o)
    I was eager to have it in my hands

    Denis Corpet (Toulouse)

  2. Matt Heason

    This is a guidebook I have long been awaiting. I’ve been lucky enough to have known the co-authors John and Anne Arran for many years, and it was with a mixture of sadness and excitement that I took on board the news three or four years back that they were upping sticks from Sheffield to the Ariege. Sadness as I’d miss them, but excitement as it would be a great excuse to go spend some time in the mountains. They’ve been there for a while now, and I’ve been down on three occasions totalling 7 weeks (lucky me!). As a kid I used to head over to Europe virtually every summer with my parents and brother in our campervan. By and large we’d end up in the Pyrenees. They were as beautiful as the Alps, if not quite as grand, but were significantly less busy during the holidays. I’m pleased to say that this is still the case today. We spent 2 weeks in August there two summers ago and were delighted with how quiet the area was. Spending the month of September there a couple of years prior to that the place was a ghost town! Anyway, what of the climbing and what of the guide?

    It’s brill. It’s inspirational, thorough, well researched and has been a key factor in persuading us to head out there again this summer! Now I think we are pretty lucky living here in the Peak with so many crags within spitting distance, but I actually wonder whether the Ariege is better provisioned than the Peak! It certainly is for good quality sport climbing, that’s for sure! In summary, within 20 miles of Tarasconne, the town at the gateway to the Ariege there are 76 crags with 108 sectors!

    This Rockfax guide covers a pretty varied mix, from quiet and picturesque granite bouldering circuits in the Orlu valley, to the awesome multi-sectored sport climbing mecca of Auzat, to the 20+ pitch mountain routes on the mghty and imposing Sinsat, and the iconic Dent d’Orlu. There are sections on other stuff to do there – wild swimming, mountain biking, road biking, snow shoeing, skiing etc etc.

    I’d say if you are going to buy one foreign guidebook this year then this should be the one.

  3. Moniek Janssen

    It was just a question of time before Chris Craggs would arrive in the Ariège in midi-Pyrénées to make another superb guidebook. Finally someone who can tell the world how wonderful the climbing is in the area, and I am sure that Craggs is now and honorary citizen of the Ariège. This guidebook covers the 25 (!) best crags in the Ariège, from Calamès to the rugged Dent d’Orlu. There were existing guides to most of the crags, but no book to the full area which will now be welcomed by the climbing world. As an acknowledgement a list of the local books is included at the front, but the choice between this book and seven separate smaller books, some of which aren’t available any more, is quickly made. Not to disrespect the local guidebook writers, but the successful Rockfax formula is now tried and tested. The one thing I always miss is a good overview map.
    – First published in Hoogtelijn, the magazine of the NKBV (a Dutch mountaineering journal)

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