Rocher de Roquebrune - East ridge
Spectacular and interesting ridge traverse which stays on or close to the crest the whole way, going up and down over or around various peaks along the way. Big views in all directions, lots of interesting moves on sound rock, different from elsewhere in Provence.
The climbing sections are short, most at difficulty 2 or 3. One short sequence at difficulty around 5a+, very well protected by modern bolts - (perhaps avoidable by a variant route). Some of the easier climbing sections are explosed to falling, but not bolt-protected.
The route is complicated but generally well-marked by painted white stars or blue marks. Sometimes the white stars go one way (with more difficult climbing), while the blue marks offer a different alternative way (not as difficult) – see under Variants.
Option: The most sustained and difficult climbing, also the only rappel, are on the “South Tower”, which can be avoided by a single Variant b12 see further below. So it is possible to have a fun spectacular outing of the overall ridge climb but with less difficulty and a shorter rope.
Parking: From the DN7 between Le Muy (A8 exit 36) and Puget-sur-Argens (A8 exit 37) go South on the D7 toward Roquebrune-sur-Argens about 2km. Just after crossing the river Argens, turn right and go West about 1km. Just after the road curves left, turn right onto a narrow road and go West about 600 meters … past orange-red building and ruined stone building on south side of road, then just past metal gate on north side the road curves left – see unofficial parking on dirt on right (latitude/longitude approx N43.4507 E6.6163). Or could continue driving NorthWest another 500 meters to parking (lat/long N43.454 E6.613) on south side of road for the West Col Northeast trail (recommended descent route). (All the GPS points in this desctription, also additional tracks, are included a .GPX file linked from this page.
Approach: Walk back East along the road about 50 meters, passing by a metal gate on north side of the road. Before reaching a ruined stone building, see electric-wire pole number 038411 (approx lat/long approx N43.4506 E6.617). Turn right off the road and start walking SouthWest up broad slope with some blue paint markings.
Route: . Notation: . . var = Variants are indicated by an identifier in brackets, like var5, and later a description is given further under the section “Variants”. . . Peak9 = There are thirteen smaller peaks along this route, so we have numbered them. Each one is shown with latitude/longitude in the detailed GPX file.
Description: Aim for the obvious rock (Peak1 in the detailed GPX file and descend its West side - b3.
Continue up obvious track SW to toward the first major buttress of the East ridge. The idea of the “white star” climbing route is not to try to climb this directly, but instead go diagonally toward the right. The obvious track goes around the left (SE) side of the buttress b4. Lower before this there is a cairn in a small open area (N43.4465 E6.610). Here the climbing route (no marking) turns away from the obvious track and goes diagonally up Right for about 25 meters (with some thrashing thru trees) to reach the base of a mossy face (white star) - (or with less thrashing can soon aim more straight up, then a descending traverse to Right to reach base of mossy face).
Climb the mossy face with at least 1 bolt (not easy to see). At the top of this face, traverse Right 15-20 meters thru some vegetation and past some steep rock to reach a white star marking. There make a move up on rock. Next some easier scrambling straight up a little ways, then the obvious track goes diagonal up Right -w4- under some trees to reach the crest of the East ridge - v5.
Go west along the ridge about 75 meters and pass by S side of Peak7 + Peaklet 7b. Another 125 meters: first across a wide section of the crest, pass by S side of Peak8, then climb up Peak9 and over Peak10.
About 50 meters to Peak11 - b11. The “white star” climbing route takes an interesting approach to the NE face of Peak11, then some interesting climbing up it (perhaps with one or more bolts) to an intimidating view of the South Tower, then down the other side to rejoin the blue route. Next about 30 meters to reach the …
East face of the South Tower (Peak12 in the detailed GPX file. The easier blue route avoids both this face and the summit and rappel descent - b12.
From the col at the bottom of the rappel, climb west up Peak13, then down its north side (some thoughtful moves at the top of the downclimb) - b13. Then North up to the highest summit (lat/long approx N43.4493 E6.6039) with the three crosses.
Descent: The easy simple way back is by trail NorthEast down from the West col – see GPS track in the detailed GPX file
At first go back south a few meters from the first cross, then down west + north following yellow paint markings, then down much farther (three short sections with cables for aid), then traverse west + north to a wooden signpost at the west col marking a junction of trails. Follow the sign for “Retour Parking Rochebrune”. The trail is fairly well marked with yellow paint. There are three short sections with cables or chains for aid. If the way is starting to seem very difficult or mossy, or if it is been a while since you’ve seen yellow paint, then you’ve gotten off the trail, so better go back before it gets worse. Reach the asphalt road at a dirt parking lot (lat/long N43.454 E6.613). Turn right and walk East on road about 600 meters back to original (unofficial) Parking for East ridge.
Variants: b3 - The blue-marked route bypasses Peak3 to its SW side.
w4 - Reaching the top of the buttress (Peak4 in the detailed GPX file. Then NW along the ridge crest to pass by S side of Peak5 + Peak6. (This climbing and the appearance of Peak4 are less interesting than much else on the route, so not to worry if miss the unlikely turn).
v5 - Just where you reach the crest, can make a side trip SE for two interesting pillars (Peak5 + Peak6 in GPX file)
b11 - The blue-marked route bypasses Peak11 to its N side with a section aided by a cable.
b12 The blue-marked route avoids both the east face and the top of Peak12 by going around the SW side, starting with a chain for aid thru the initial downward section at left side of base of east face. Later a cable for Aid. Some interesting scrambling moves along the way, but finishes with lots of less interesting hiking up to rejoin the white star climbing route at the small col.
b13 Seemed like maybe the blue-marked route attempts to avoid the tricky down-climb moves on N side of Peak13 by going out around to the south, but it did not look inviting, and we did not check to see how well that actually works.
The text and images in this page are available
under a Creative Commons CC-by-sa licence.