Its been a few years since I climbed this route, but it still stands out as a highlight in my entire climbing life.
This route has to be top of the list for anyone capable, a contender for one of the best routes in the world!

The Verdon is my favourite place in the world. I spent a few summers there as a kid while my parents battled with the big trad routes, and at 17 years old The Gorge was my first real climbing trip; 7 fresh faced weeks of perfect grey limestone. I’ve been back plenty. The route Tom Et Je Ris slid onto my radar many years ago, its line, originally un-apparent in my youth on the impossible bulging walls, became a stand-out feature as I became fluent with the tufa style. The name sticks too. Tom and Jerry – Tom Et Je Ris. In French: ‘Tom and I laugh’. A beautiful title from the first ascensionist Bruno Clement named after hi son.

 

Its been a few years since I climbed this route, but it still stands out as a highlight in my entire climbing life. I doubt I'll ever forget it. The reputation weighed heavily. Even deciding to try felt like a huge effort.
But we still left it till the last day, storms rolling in most days, lightening battering the rim. Unprepared, having watched no films and with limited information (the walk in was a 2.5 hour march compared to the ‘usual’ one hour) we finally peered over the immaculate line into the void below.
Abseiling in I placed the draws, mainly to keep myself in to the rock as opposed to make the route easier; a straight abseil would leave you miles from the middle of nowhere belay. And that gave me chance to look at the holds too. I must point out that my ascent was a pretty poor grade ‘flash’. More of an abseil inspection flash, or a ‘fl -  ail’ style. It was simply a no falls first go effort. But not sure how you’d do better, maybe dropping in faster, or with a blindfold, it could be done, someone will!
Style aside I just wanted to experience the route. However, part way up, and aware of the tourists watching me from across the gorge there were sudden screams, their pitch not compatible with watching some tiny red speck inching upwards, more like they’d just seen something really impressive – like….. A MASSIVE clap of thunder told be what they’d seen, lightening for sure. The thought of a storm unsettled me (I was within 100m of three cyclists who were killed near the gorge rim a few years ago), but at the same time brought focus. I wouldn’t be going down again! This was my shot. Pumped within 30 seconds of the start, the 45 minute journey was a recover epic; enough good holds along the way but with a clock ticking in both energy and building blackness.
Topping out was incredible, the grade irrelevant, and also the style, but to have simply climbed such a route with such a reputation.

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