The Old Man and the Sea - Gorge du Verdon, France

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Lamprecht on Le Vieux et la Mer (8a/b, 7 pitches), Gorge du Verdon, France. Photos by Michael Schoefer

Lamprecht on Le Vieux et la Mer (8a/b, 7 pitches), Gorge du Verdon, France. Photos by Michael Schoefer

In August and September 2009, Toni Lamprecht, Uli Strunz and Benno Wagner spent several weeks in the Gorge du Verdon with the target of establishing a first ascent on one of the amazing limestone walls in the south of France. The result is Le Vieux et la Mer or The Old Man and the Sea, with 7 pitches up to 5.13b/c. German climber Toni Lamprect believes this one of the nicest and most beautifull first ascents he's made. Lamprect had the project in his mind for several years, but finally caught the "big fish" this summer.

Lamprecht had this to say about his new route:

"If you ever climb a route at the Sektotr Ula in the Gorge du Verdon there's no way not to look at the beautiful, blank looking pillar to the right. And so did I, and soon got involved finding a climbable line in the sea of grey rock. I rapelled several times into the overhanging maze of unclimbable looking stone, until I finally found the only freeclimable line: a serpent- like-greeping-way up on little, tiny edges and pockets. It was a present, and it was just waiting for someone to come along and pluck it. That was in summer 2008, and I swore to myself to come back one year later.

Le Vieux et la Mer. Photos courtesy of Toni Lamprecht

Le Vieux et la Mer. Photos courtesy of Toni Lamprecht

And so it happened that exactly a year after seeing the crucial way, we started to work out the moves on the hard pitches until we could find the solution. We made a team of different climbers: Uli Strunz - the dreadlocked skiny mover, Benno Wagner - the "Young Gun" and myself, Toni - the "Old Fox". We had a good mixture of different skills from jumar-power to drinking to partying skills (not to forget the fanatic climbing-abilities) that promissed success – and so it happened that after a few weeks we finally redpointed the last missing pitch of our new route Le Vieux et le Mer (6b, 7a+, 8a/b, 8a, 6a, 7a, 7c+, 7a), the nicest fish I've ever caught out of the grey-blue looking sea of rock… ."