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“French Yosemite” May Be a Bit Hyperbolic. But It’s Still Pretty Sweet

The latest episode of Seb Bouin’s “Hidden Gems” series takes us to a brand new crag in Southern France: French Yosemite.

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Each time I watch an episode of Seb Bouin’s “Hidden Gems” series—each of which chronicles yet another rarely visited French crag—I’m freshly reminded of the unfairly high concentration of unfairly high-quality sedimentary stone that’s been uplifted in that particular region of the world.

This episode, the fourth in the series, spotlights a new crag in the Champsaur valley, not far from Céüse. Bouin and friends first found it in 2020, and Bouin has since begun referring to it as “French Yosemite.” It took them a day just to find a way up the steep gully to the base of the wall, and even with a trail, the approach is pretty brutal, Bouin says. (I’d take Bouin’s word for it: he recently returned from a long trip to Clark Mountain, where he added a 5.15c direct start to Jumbo Love—he’s no stranger to long approaches.)

 The rock? Well, it looks a bit like Yosemite granite: sheer and white and crisscrossed with major flakes. The catch? It’s sandstone. The other catch? It may be a large wall, but it’s got nothing on Yosemite’s scale. Still, in proper Bouin fashion, he manages to find, bolt, and try a potential new 5.15b—something that Yosemite, so far, doesn’t have.

Seb Bouin climbing in Le Champsaur, A.K.A. French Yosemite.
Seb Bouin climbing in Le Champsaur, A.K.A. French Yosemite. (Photo: Thibaut Marot)