Friday, 5 August 2011

Climbing in the Ariege Pyrenees - The Dent d'Orlu - Fleur de Rhodo


Dave's 'Big Day Out' on the Dent d'Orlu

Situated in the middle of a nature reserve (Réserve nationale de faune d'Orlu), the Dent d'Orlu is the jewel in the crown of Ariege climbing... Located in the south eastern part of the Ariege, close to Ax-les-Thermes, the 'Dent' or 'tooth' is a massive pyramid of very fine granite that rises up to a height of 2222 metres. There are over 50 climbs, ranging in height from 30 metres to 1150 metres... Many are fully equipped sport climbs but there are also plenty of 'trad' lines to have a go at.


This trip was Dave's first visit to the 'Dent'... We had been hampered by bad weather (snow in June?), in the previous few weeks, so when we finally got some good conditions we were raring to go... The chosen climb for Dave's first outing on the Dent d'Orlu was 'Fleur de Rhodo'... A 350 metre climb consisting of 11 pitches with a maximum difficulty of 5c+. The climb is a fully equipped and is three star rated. 

The walk in to the east face of the Dent d'Orlu took us exactly 1 hour and a half and we were soon 'swinging' leads up the east face. Most of the climbing ascends easy angled slabs with just the occasional difficulty to give pause for thought... A good way to get your head back into the discipline of multi-pitch climbing. The climbing also provides the opportunity to work on your 'friction' technique, as there aren't many holds along the way!

The main thing is that the views are spectacular and this climb has the advantage of being one of a handful that finish directly on the summit (most of the other climbs gain the summit via a scramble along an easy arrete). The summit offers very fine views of the Orlu nature reserve and the Ax valley. Also if you keep an eye out it is likely that you will be able to see isards, golden eagles and egyptian vultures.

There is a good quality guide to the climbing on the Dent d'Orlu... This is in the 'Escalades en Ariege Pyrenees' series of guides published by JD Achard. Also, information about newer climbs that have been added since the guidebook was published can be found by visiting the CAFMA website http://cafma.free.fr/Orlu/fr_orlu.htm

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