Vingrau and Tautavel
May 2009.   Report by: Bryan Rynne


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For our usual May trip to France this year we headed to the area 20-30 miles north west of Perpignan. There are a lot of crags accessible from here, although the main ones we frequented were Vingrau and Tautavel. These crags are primarily single-pitch sports crags on steep slabby limestone, but with lots of cracks and edges — not just walking up undulations on friction. Some of the sectors were polished and very busy, but if you adopt the long walk-in approach you can avoid the polish and the crowds — in this area anything over 10 minutes is a 'long walk-in'! There are a few multi-pitch routes (up to about 5 pitches) in Vingrau. The other parties tried out a couple of them and gave them rave reviews, but Alf and I were quite happy to stick with the single-pitch stuff.

Although there was lot of good climbing at Vingrau, personally, I thought that the various Tautavel crags were much better. Consistently more interesting climbing on better rock, and with more reliable grades. Both the rock quality and the grades varied wildly at Vingrau, and Alf and I seemed to spend a lot of our time there wandering round either avoiding queues, or looking at a sector and simply deciding to move on to the next one due to polish or poor quality routes. However, this may simply have been bad luck — we only scratched the surface of the available climbing, and overall a good time was had on very good climbing.

The weather was good while we were there, although this is not guaranteed — Ken and Christine were out there the preceding week and had a week of rotten weather.