Pilier de Nugues: la classique de la falaise (the cliff classic!).
This fun 5 pitch route ascends weaknesses through steep terrain on fairly compact rock to the summit plateau.
P1: rise on broken ground, above the foliage, and on steep holds, gain a lower angle face. Belay below the crumbly looking orange rock. 25m, 5.7.
P2: climb up, clip pin in thin crack and traverse left at an angle, following the gray rock around to the left, staying below the orange colored rock. On the left side of the orange rock, climb up, load up for the hard move, and, climb through, passing an uncomfortable belay stance and up and over to the left to the base of a wide-ish crack and belay anchor. If the crux is A0’d, then the pitch is only 5.9 obligatory. This and the next pitch can be easily combined. 20m, 5.10c/d.
P3: Up steep crack to perch (chained rappel anchor) on a shallow, flat stance. 20m, 5.9.
P4: up slightly to the right, then straight up very steep rock on the left side of a left facing corner system. Belay left of trees . This pitch can be comfortably extended into the next pitch. 20m, 5.8.
P5: up solid gray rock on steep ground. Belay anchor right before the rim. 20m, 5.8.
Finish by scrambling up to the summit plateau. A belay up to the rim may be prudent as this is a very exposed location.
Take care especially on the finish of the last pitch as there is a bit of loose rock.
Descent: possible to rappel the route if need be, but, much easier to just hike on the pleasant trail atop the flat summit plateau towards the east, to the road, past the Gîte Gazon and down to the D292 road.
From the first hairpin turn past the tunnel on D292, walk on a very good trail to the west, paralleling the base of the crag. After around 5 minutes on the trail, a short rock wall will appear and the trail will split. Take the right hand trail up to the bench on top of the aforementioned rock wall (and “bolt laboratory”). Traverse on the trail continuing to the west. Pass a large left facing crumbly wide crumbly corner area (bushes too) and just left of that note the gray rock at the base with the orange patch of rock 20m or so above. The route starts at the base of the crag below this patch of orange rock, amongst a bunch of trees.
Further left, are a number of single pitch bolted routes which will look much more difficult (all in the 6c to 7a range, with some route names written at the base of the routes). This area will have smooth, gray rock and plenty of lead bolts. Back to the right, amongst the trees, there should be a bolt or two visible on the steep, but fairly featured face signifying the start of Pilier de Nugues.
Pilier de Nugues starts about 70m to the left of the route Super Nugues. Super Nugues starts well to the right of the broken, left facing lower angle area mentioned above and just where the trail ascends to the bench atop the shorter crag below.
In all, from the hairpin corner, the approach shouldn’t take more than around 10 minutes of walking.
A set of quickdraws (perhaps 8), a few shoulder length slings, and a set of nuts and cams (.5 to 3 Camalot or equivalent) should prove sufficient.
On the second pitch, there’s a small, 4mm cord threaded through a very small hole. Should this cord be gone, and, the 6b move not free climbable, then replacing the cord would be great, or, a sling on the lower bolt might make it possible to pass this difficult spot. Originally protected by a fixed piton which has since disappeared.
Matt (and Jon below) coming up the first pitch of ...
Jon gets some p5 on him on Pilier de Nugues
Jon just off the p1 belay on Pilier de Nugues.
Jon on p4 of Pilier de Nugues
Matt on p4 of Pilier de Nugues
Matt on belay at the top of p5 of Pilier de Nugues