At the start of the month we had a week spare to go climbing somewhere. But where to go in the July heat? Fancying a Mini adventure we booked a ferry and cast about for suitable destinations. First on the list was Berdorf, Luxembourg which sounded perfect - totally new to us, the right spread of grades and only a short drive from Calais. However the required climbing permits did not arrive in time and so that plan was jettisoned at the last minute. The next best option seemed to be Briançon, south eastern France. Again, it was somewhere new and different and the promise of croissants sealed the deal.

Waiting for the ferry I was like a kid in a sweet shop - so excited I could hardly sit still. 10 hours later when we still had 60 miles of mountain roads to drive in the dark I was like a kid who had just been told Christmas had been cancelled or that McDonalds was shutting down. Grumpy does not describe it. Whose stupid idea was it to drive this far anyway? At nearly midnight we rolled up to the first campsite we could find that would let us in, pitched the tent in record time and fell asleep exhausted and wondering why we hadn't just gone to Yorkshire instead.

Waking up the next morning to the sound of the bread van tooting its horn and the breath-taking view of the French Alps quickly washed away all my fears. Stunning does not even begin to do justice to the scenery around Briançon. If the climbing was going to be half as good as the view, this would be the best week ever.

One thing that attracted me to the idea of the Briançon area was the variety of rock-types on offer. All too often bolt-clipping takes you to yet another vaguely similar bit of limestone cliff. Don't get me wrong, I am a fan of limestone as much as the next man, but variety is also the spice of life and I quite fancied a change. It turns out I like conglomerate, I like Gneiss, I really like granite and I absolutely adore cheese crepes. Briançon was the place for me!

The aim for the week was onsighting and quick ticks. I am really bad at quick ticks so it's an area I am currently working on. So, the rule for the trip was no longer than a day on any given route. Tick or fail and move on. This meant trying nothing harder than 7c+/8a and leaving routes that I wasn't getting on with first go up - something new for me and a good lesson to learn. I had some near misses, some abject failures, some highs and some lows. Some of the highs were strangely also failures, like fighting for my life above a massive runout on a 7c onsight which I didn't succeed on, and dogging up an amazing granite crack after another failed flash attempt before deciding that it was one of the best routes I'd ever tried but too hard for me to tick quickly. Climbing is funny like that. What I would say though is that every single route I tried was worth 3 stars. The quality of the climbing coupled with near perfect climbing conditions provided by high up crags with a constant breeze in the most beautiful setting you could imagine made this a brilliant week.

Jules Littlefair

[gallery ids="5417,5418,5419,5420,5421"][:us]At the start of the month we had a week spare to go climbing somewhere. But where to go in the July heat? Fancying a Mini adventure we booked a ferry and cast about for suitable destinations. First on the list was Berdorf, Luxembourg which sounded perfect - totally new to us, the right spread of grades and only a short drive from Calais. However the required climbing permits did not arrive in time and so that plan was jettisoned at the last minute. The next best option seemed to be Briançon, south eastern France. Again, it was somewhere new and different and the promise of croissants sealed the deal.

Waiting for the ferry I was like a kid in a sweet shop - so excited I could hardly sit still. 10 hours later when we still had 60 miles of mountain roads to drive in the dark I was like a kid who had just been told Christmas had been cancelled or that McDonalds was shutting down. Grumpy does not describe it. Whose stupid idea was it to drive this far anyway? At nearly midnight we rolled up to the first campsite we could find that would let us in, pitched the tent in record time and fell asleep exhausted and wondering why we hadn't just gone to Yorkshire instead.

Waking up the next morning to the sound of the bread van tooting its horn and the breath-taking view of the French Alps quickly washed away all my fears. Stunning does not even begin to do justice to the scenery around Briançon. If the climbing was going to be half as good as the view, this would be the best week ever.

One thing that attracted me to the idea of the Briançon area was the variety of rock-types on offer. All too often bolt-clipping takes you to yet another vaguely similar bit of limestone cliff. Don't get me wrong, I am a fan of limestone as much as the next man, but variety is also the spice of life and I quite fancied a change. It turns out I like conglomerate, I like Gneiss, I really like granite and I absolutely adore cheese crepes. Briançon was the place for me!

The aim for the week was onsighting and quick ticks. I am really bad at quick ticks so it's an area I am currently working on. So, the rule for the trip was no longer than a day on any given route. Tick or fail and move on. This meant trying nothing harder than 7c+/8a and leaving routes that I wasn't getting on with first go up - something new for me and a good lesson to learn. I had some near misses, some abject failures, some highs and some lows. Some of the highs were strangely also failures, like fighting for my life above a massive runout on a 7c onsight which I didn't succeed on, and dogging up an amazing granite crack after another failed flash attempt before deciding that it was one of the best routes I'd ever tried but too hard for me to tick quickly. Climbing is funny like that. What I would say though is that every single route I tried was worth 3 stars. The quality of the climbing coupled with near perfect climbing conditions provided by high up crags with a constant breeze in the most beautiful setting you could imagine made this a brilliant week.

Jules Littlefair

[gallery ids="5417,5418,5419,5420,5421"]