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HomeSportsIn the Vercors, climbing in complete freedom threatened by a new regulation

In the Vercors, climbing in complete freedom threatened by a new regulation

“Climb wherever you want, wear your helmets and have fun. » After the safety briefing, Benjamin Ribeyre, high mountain guide gave the starting signal for one of the workshops he supervised during Camp 4 Vercors. The ninth edition of the climbing festival brought together 450 participants at its base camp in Pont-en-Royans (Isère) from August 22 to 26.

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Gathered in the Dalarhum sector, in Presles – an impressive 7 kilometer long cliff, a national multi-pitch monument (climbing several pitches) – Antoine, Zoë, Chris and a few other young people discovered climbing on jammers, consisting of progress on a cliff by placing your own protection.

A few weeks ago, they might not have had the opportunity to experience this ultimate freedom to choose their own path on the wall. Since February and until the end of May, a quarter of the Presles cliffs were closed. Laurent Garnier, the all-powerful owner of the land, had become very angry following the decision, taken in 2020, of the French Mountain and Climbing Federation (FFME) to put an end to the agreements for the use of climbing sites – which effectively means that responsibility is now transferred to the owners of the cliffs. The process took two years.

“After years of working hand in hand with the federation, I learned through the press that they let me manage the risks of tens of thousands of people who come to my home! That’s a problem”annoys the manager of the Choranche cave.

A question of survival

Out of around 3,000 natural sites in France, 1,100 agreements were transferred between 2020 and 2022. At the origin of this change of regime, there is a lawsuit brought against the FFME. A high mountain guide and his client, victims of an accident in 2010 caused by the fall of a rock detached from the wall on the approved site of Vingrau (Pyrénées-Orientales), obtained 1.62 million euros damages in 2020.

“We were forced to do so under penalty of becoming an uninsurable sports federation and abandoning our 115,000 licensees”, justifies the president of the FFME, Alain Carrière for whom it was a question of survival. In 2020, compensation expenses and provisions entered into with the federation’s insurer amounted, for the last ten years, to 8.3 million euros, i.e. nearly 5 million euros more than the bonuses collected from licensees over the same period, specifies a press release.

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