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Haute Provence


FRANCE-Haute Provence

by Adrian Berry

Published by Rockfax

Reviewed by Karin Magog

This is Rockfax's latest guide and certainly doesn't disappoint. It basically covers the area east of the main autoroute du soleil, between the towns of Gap in the north-east and Avignon in the south-west, or in crag terms Ceuse in the north and Buoux in the south. The guide covers fourteen crags in total with some of the other well known crags in the guide being St Leger, Volx, Sisteron, Orpierre and Les Dentelles. The area is divided into four geographical regions each of which come with the usual detailed info such as map, where to stay and local guidebooks. The individual crags then have their own intro giving you an idea of what to expect from the crag, best time to visit and how to find it.

As you would expect each crag also comes complete with clear photo topos, which give an excellent indication of what to expect from the climbing. The guide seems well balanced with a good mix of high and low grade venues and routes, therefore offering something for everyone. Obviously this area has many outstanding crags and the author needed to be selective, however I was still disappointed to find Ventavon missing for example and some of the routes I'd done at both Buoux and Ceuse didn't make the cut either, but I know it's impossible to put everything in. The action photos are okay, generally reinforcing the nature of the climbing at that particular crag rather than inspiring you to do a certain route. However, for me the one of Toby Dunn climbing Mariotte at Combe Obscure really stood out. If you ever wondered what a 7c slab would be like check out page 183 horrendous!

One design feature that I wasn't too keen on was the see through textboxes on top of some of the photos. It's a good space saving idea I agree but personally I would just make them white, less distracting. On the whole the guide seems well researched and pretty accurate, however, one typo that stood out was the sentence that suggests that the Cascade area at Ceuse gets the sun until late morning when in fact that's the only time it's not in the sun, a very important difference. On the whole an excellent, well put together guide and a good effort by Adrian. For a sport climbing holiday this area of France should be high on everyone's list of places to visit, making this guide an essential buy.

FRANCE Haute Provence by Adrian Berry is be available now, price 21.95. Reviewed 9th January 2010


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