How do we approach trying to have a green holiday after all we are not in the office all the time. My hobby is climbing and often aim to climb on holiday. There is a new approach to reduce the impact this is called “Green Pointing”.
So what is Green Pointing and can you apply it? (Also know as EcoPointing for esoteric reasons)
We have been minimising flying for the last 20 years, perhaps a flight every 10 years over this period, the last one was to Sardinia in 2014 when the boat from Italy wasn’t running and we would have missed out on the “team trip” without a flight. With family, the journey involved Eurostar and sleeper to Barcelona, Malaga or Venice. These were great starts to climbing trips, some family time and a shared novel before launching into a frenetic week of climbing with a bunch of teenagers, and grownups. In those days we squeezed the children into the smallest hire car for the last leg.
Offspring are long gone but the urge to climb in Europe stays and in early 2020 we invested in electric Brompton bikes so we could get to the destination without a car at all. Then COVID struck and we had to wait until summer 2022 to try them out with our gear. We had a great trip to the Arriege returning to the lovely accommodation of John Arran (Chez Arran) and all his new routes.
This year as the Climate emergency becomes the focus of much of our spare time, we still need a climbing break. In Conversations with our daughter Flo and the Lattice team we have become aware of “Green Pointing” or as they call it “Ecopointing“. So, our trip to Orpierre is just that!
Breakfast at home. A 7-mile spin on the bikes to Newark. Train to London and lunch and then Eurostar to Paris for dinner. Cycling through Paris cycles routes gets better each time and we stayed in a very tiny but perfect flat in an Airbnb before catching the morning train to Grenoble. A coach through an Alpine pass to Eyguians and the final leg back on the Bromptons for 5 miles to Orpierre.
Unfortunately, the precise moment we set off from Eyguians the weather broke and we had one of our wettest rides ever accompanied by hailstones, thunder and lightning. We dripped into our chalet and sorted ourselves out, snuggled down ready for our first sunny days climbing.
We had 2 weeks to rack up a long list of redpoints, flashes and on-sights (All climbing jargon for ascending rock faces.) before we reversed the trip home with a night in Grenoble rather than Paris. And for the really keen climbers who read this…Notable climbs achieved were: Caroline 7b *** redpoint, La Fin Justifie les Moyens 7a+ redpoint and Misere 7a Onsight. All the stars were absolutely spot on. Many more lower grade routs were very worthwhile but often the lower the grade the more the polish. It’s becoming a popular sport!
Green pointing the trip is part of the adventure and although it will still be carbon heavy its much less so than flying. It will almost certainly have cost more than flying depending on how far in advance you book and there is lots of embodied energy in our bikes but they are a long term investment. We have have to change our behaviour in some way in thee face of the climate crises. To all the conscientious climbers out there we can and should do what we can to reduce our impact whilst we do what we do! How can the non climbers reading this apply it? Well that’s up to you … perhaps consider reducing you impact by taking more local holidays , stopping flying and getting into active transport. And may be give it a name! Happy Green Pointing!
Hints and tips:
- I booked the Eurostar and internal French trains via the Rail Europe app.
- If you book your UK trains in person in a station showing your Eurostar ticket you can get it as part of the CIV scheme which means if the UK train is late and you miss the connection you can hop on the next Eurostar without paying… just a hint.
- Brompton electric folding bikes are the bees’ knees but do bear in mind if you want to take them on the Eurostar you need to put them in a bag. I used our rope ground sheet with elastic in the corners to wrap around mine to make it look like it’s in a bag. Seemed to pass muster. I think it’s to protect other bags from oily chains etc.
- The bus from Grenoble was the 51 to Nice, runs once a day and we could only reserve a place via the Zou web site. We could only buy the ticket on the bus which was fine as there was plenty of space. I could not get the Zou app to work to buy a ticket in the UK!
- The camp site in Orpierre, Koawa is great and very close to the climbs, we looked out over most of the cliffs! Most of the campers seemed to be climbers when we went in May. Walking up to the crag… fifteen minutes to the closest and may be 60 minutes to the very furthest towards the North-eastern sectors via Adrech parking. We cycled up to this car park and walked from there.
- Sadly Le Puy sector is currently closed as the locals fear rock falls.
- The France Haute Provence Rockfax guide is good but the local guide has most of the new routes in which are numerous – plenty of un-polished routes. Available in the tourist information centre in Orpierre.
- There is a market on Sundays in Orpierre and a good small supermarket with very friendly staff. Check out the opening times when you get there.
- More on Ecopointing or if you prefer green-pointing