At our last days in Seynes, we got to know the full power of the sun in Southern France. It was incredibly hot on the wall of Seynes and there was no shadow and no way to escape. So we needed to find an alternative. The decision felt on Russan above the river of Gardon near Nîmes.
The description in the climbing guidebook described the curved wall as a parabolic mirror – perfect for cold winter days, but unbelievable warm in the summer. Somehow I was not convinced by the idea to escape from the heat to Russan, the hottest of all crags. But this critical view was disturbed the more and more I saw from Russan. Russan is placed at the curved cliffs above the river Gardon. The whole region is part of a national park and the landscape is stunning. The eroded limestone and the wild flora formed a somehow magical place.
At the left side of the cliff, there were some easy and short slab routes (~6a). They were located in the full sun. But at the right side, there was a huge overhanging part. Big stalagmites as tall as me were hanging in the roof. A big hole with a diameter of about 8m was eroded into this roof. Some climbing lines used just the stalagmites and lead from the ground through the hole to the top of Russan. I was so fascinated by this magical place that I had to touch these lines even though they were pretty hard to climb. The climbing style from one stalagmite to another like on a stairway to heaven was very powerful and unused. The whole time you have to pinch, hook, knee bar or even sit on the tufa stalagmites. After about 6 tries in ‚Rubignolles‘ (8b) I was completely done.
A little bit further right, there was another small sector (Maelstrom) in the shadow with vertical tufa routes in moderate grades. Magda climbed there a very athletic route called ‚Macumba‘ (7c). Markus showed a stunning fight on an 8a one to the left and it was quite impressive to see him clipping the anchor after his battle. Repeating ‚Macumba‘ was the only thing I was able to do after struggling with the big stalagmites. But after two days I truly can say: the cliffs of Russan are a (small) pearl of all crags in Southern France and I will visit them again. 🙂