Vaferdeau/Rochers du Midi, via "Joe Brown", 100m, 6a

With a somewhat uncertain weather forecast in the high mountains Arne and I were looking for options in the Northern canton of Jura. The cliffs are shorter there and the climbing less committing, affording us the option to bail should the thunderstorms catch up with us. Neither one of us had been to the area before. Turns out that it is a popular crag and secluded parking spot for wild camping. Consequently there were already a bunch of people there when we showed up. The limestone wall is mostly hidden behind trees. It offers dozens of routes, most of which are hard overhanging sports routes. People set up camp at the base, including a barbeque fire, a camping stove for coffee, their dogs and folding chairs. Then work on their projects all day long. Chill atmosphere but not our preferred style of climbing. We enjoy longer routes in more reasonable difficulty grades more. And then climb them cleanly on-sight rather then puzzling them out move by move.

Cool single lane road on the way in.
Awesome tree (?) snaking up the overhanging wall.
Arne admiring some of the harder routes.

We have some difficulty finding the start of our route and walk back and forth along the base of the wall, trying to decipher old faded route labels and match our topo to the features of the rock. In the end, it turned out that a chalked "X" on the rock, that we found in the very beginning, did indeed mark our route. Bad luck, because by the time we decide that that must be it, another party of two women starts up before us. So we queue and wait. Usually an "X" is used as a warning that there's something wrong with a route, like loose rock or broken anchors. This time it really just seemed to mark the spot ;-/

Me leading the first pitch. Should have stretched before attempting such moves!
Breaching the tree tops.
Arne coming up through a nice dihedral.

When we finally start climbing, it turns out that we are much faster and more comfortable than the party in front of us. I quickly catch up to them and set up an improvised anchor next to them. The route is well bolted already, but they spend a lot of time placing additional gear and slowly inch their way upwards. When we share a big comfortable anchor about halfway up, they graciously let us pass. Arne and I top out quickly afterwards. We enjoy the nice vistas from the top and congratulate ourselves for our choice of route and location as we watch menacingly dark clouds roll in and the first sounds of thunder roll over the valley.

Pumpy layback moves near the top.
Hanging out high over the valley.
The final pitch was pure plaisir climbing. Easy, but super nice.

A quicky but goody ;-) I can totally see myself come back to this crag on a hot summer day to try some of the harder single pitches. It really is a nice area to hang out.

Sören and Arne.
A snake on the trail back.

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