The dawn of sport climbing happened back in the eighties. The world traded in their hexes for hot pants and started bolting everything without a crack. The French were at the fore front of this new era putting up routes requiring the next level technical prowess.
After leaving Gorge du Verdon we again had plans of hitting Gorge du Tarn, but after strong recommendations from Yannick to visit the super crag of the eighties we checked the weather and decided on Buoux instead.
Our first day out we arrived at The Mur Zappa wall without a proper guide and were presented with a dozen or so 6a or 6b slabs, seemingly void of chalk after the rains. These climbs proved to be fun and insanely tricky for the equivalent range of upper 5.10s. While we enjoyed the slow motion slab climbing, I was hoping there was more to this place and set off further along the crag. Just around the corner the wall changed from gray to orange, became overhung and was spotted with perfect deep round pockets spread between long spans. Things were looking up. After some more powerful, but no less technical climbing we met some French climbers who loaned us their guide with a promise that we would mail it back at the end of our travels. Armed with this we knew the area had much more to offer and were excited to explore in the days to come.
For the next 6 days, we hiked around the many cliffs of Buoux, warming up on the vertical, slabby, techy climbs and then moving on to the more overhanging climbs for myself to attack. Of course, at this point in the trip the climbing was definitely winding down for Corinne but we still felt that top-roping and cleaning some vertical 5b-6b routes were doable and enjoyable. During one of our days, I took Corinne up her first multi-pitch. It was a four-pitch, beginning with a 6a then a 5b; easy but still epic, as Corinne was pretty scared and I calmly coached her through her quivering. Though she was a bit freaked out, it was one of the most enjoyable climbs of our trip to Buoux. Corinne can't wait to do another one...
On our last day, I was ready to do some crushing, though we had to keep it relatively easy, since a belay on hard 8's with an epic fall was just not an option for Corinne's full body harness. I resigned himself to doing a super classic 7c+ (5.13a) that I had read about called Sous les Pavé in the sector La Plage. The name has to do with a reference to protestors in May of 1968. To get to the actual climb, we had to hike up to a second level via ropes, chains and ladders. After one beta gathering attempt, I banged it out first red point go. One of nicest routes I have done in this latter part of our trip.
Some of our favorites at Buoux, included La Piliers des Fourmis (the multipitch), Sous les Pavés(7c+), Captain Crochet(7b), T.C.F(7a), Rose des Sables (7a+)(AMAZING!), Zappa Maniac(6b+) and a couple of other slabby 6a's and 6b's of which we can't remember the names.
Overall, we had a fantastic visit in Buoux, despite the fact we had to camp in Apt, as there is no wild camping anywhere. Apt is a perfect French town with cheap camping (only 10€ per night), several tasty boulangers, a bio store, and a McDonald's for our requisite internet usage. Thanks to Yannick for recommending such a stellar destination!