Climbing in Belgium
By Gary ‘Who Ate All The Buns’ Hill
"Yes, Brian, we did try the Bierre Blonde, although Pete and I took it back saying it tasted bloody awful and it was cloudy as f**k. The bar chap said it should be like that and tried to persuade us that a lemon would be a good addition, so we drunk it anyway. Quite an acquired taste!"
Having bought the Chris Craggs (1994) Guidebook in a sale, Frank Fulcher ‘Our Leader’ hatched the plan to go climbing in Freyr. The trip to Belgium could not have been simpler. Less than 2 hours from Reading, having collected Pete Brown and Frank en route to Dover, then a 1.5 hour Ferry crossing to Ostend, followed by a drive of less than 3 hours to Freyr! (See figure 1). We were snugly tucked-up in our tents just after midnight having left work that evening.
Figure 1: Route Map to Freyr
The campsite was right on top of the Freyr crag (see figure 2) south west of the Belgian Alpine Club (CAB) refuge, and was an extortionate 80pence a night! All we had to do was walk 5 minutes down to the crag and 'crimp like bast**ds' (Tear (1997)) for the next 4.5 days. There was a great bar north east from the camp site, Bar Chamonix, which sold a good meal with side salad, 3 Grande Bierres a free liqueur and pistachio nuts all within the bill for under £20 for 3 peeps! Needless to say we spent all 4 nights there. Once at Freyr, the only driving was each morning for our ‘healthy, lean-mean-climbing-machine’ breakfasts. We went to the best bun shop in Belgium each purchasing 3 big sticky buns every morning for this the ‘fat-lardy-Anglais-on-holiday/who-ate-all-the-Belgium-buns-crimping-tour’ (One day we had the shock of discovering that only 2 of our favourite breakfast treats were available. The dilemma was settled by Frank, the first to the counter, who ordered both – thanks, mate!).
Photos: Gary 'throwing some shapes'!
The climbing was sh*t hot and hot! I haven't sweated so much. The nearest description is, it was like a Tissington Spires, but bigger. The Spires/Fins/Aguilles were like High Tor and the valley was like Matlock without all the buildings. We climbed some interesting routes (See Table 1) mainly 5, 5+ and 6a's. They were all interesting routes and under graded in our guidebook, according to the locals. Various ‘frigging’ went on, and the portable winches (Pete or Frank) were often used for me, Gary 'who ate all the buns' Hill. Our last multi-pitch route (7 pitches in theory) saw Frank 'I didn't grab the quick-draw, honest' Fulcher clipping into a long steel cable and running off across the blank rock face to pendulum to the next stance.
Figure 2: Crag Location Map at Freyr
All in all I was physically wrecked after 4.5 days of pulling on gear and sitting in a harness, but it was really good climbing. I probably pushed myself more than I have done before. (On the climbing front as well as the sticky bun front). I would certainly recommend Freyr as a long weekend option for those that fancy a change. (August 1997)
M. Bott & R. Beckers (2014) Topo Freyr.
BELGIAN ALPINE CLUB, Web Site: http://www.ping.be/~ping1122/freyr/escalade.htm.
Table 1: Routes Climbed at Freyr