KARPOS – The Verdon Gorge: Going Back in Time

Published by Mountainblog on .

The green is intense and captivating this morning. The last fog is rising from that deep chasm, and the first morning light illuminates various planes of the enormous cliffs of the Verdon Gorge. We have been traveling since yesterday evening, and after many years I am again seeing these places that in my youth marked the changing seasons—spring and fall spent in the sun of Haute-Provence, a place capable of producing emotions both strong and sweet at the same time. Here the aggressiveness of the rock walls alternates with a bucolic rural landscape; the vertical and the horizontal coexist without compromise. The lavender is not yet in bloom, but its color is called to mind by the shutters and doors on the houses. Everything else is green, water and light.

The Verdon, like El Capitan, resists every changing fashion. For us climbers, it’s a constant—something of absolute value and with a significant history. Mountaineers from around the world challenged themselves on its sun-drenched slabs, and their images inspired generations of climbers. In the late ’70s, Edlinger, Berault, Ron Fawcett and many others initiated a true revolution that brought climbing to its current technical and conceptual level, and these cliffs were their stage.

Today, these vertiginous faces serve as the theater for the young mountain guide Marco Bergamo. This time I am director, operator and photographer on some of the most legendary climbs on earth—the Bombé de Pichenibule, the Chrysalis pillar and the yellow cliffs of L’Ange en Decomposition.
Now three of us are suspended in the air. I’m the highest, buried in bags, equipment and ropes, and always with my ridiculous pole with the GoPro. Paula belays Marco, who is is advancing using incredible single-finger holds. The ropes sway in the wind, and below is a vast emptiness that impresses even the most intrepid. At the bottom of the abyss flows the Verdun, meandering and unfazed. Above, enormous eagles soar in wide circles, approaching and almost touching us, as if to let us know that we clumsy humans are invading their world.

The Verdon Gorge – France

Experience by Marco Bergamo & Paola Medina