McClure Vs Tom et Je Ris 8b+ - No Competition.
Tom et Je ris (sometimes pronounced Tom and Jerry) 8b+/5:14a is without doubt one of the worlds "King Lines" Located on the rarely visited east (shady) side of the majestic Verdon Gorge, in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. A single pitch of some sixty, overhanging meters, climbing for most of its entirety, a single Orange Tufa, with the occasional foray onto a neighbouring Grey brother (or sister). It looks like someone has poured molten wax down the side of the cliff and created a climb of Daliesque proportions, an extremely beautiful climb - a climb crying out to be climbed. But like all worthwhile things, its not a simple undertaking, its not as simple as walking up to it, tying in to the rope and climbing! For a start it’s an hour and a half walk-in, that’s an uphill slog with all your kit. Followed by a traverse of the rocky valley rim to try and find the top of the actual route, and then an abseil in to the abyss, well at least to the hanging belay sixty meters down the side of the cliff leaving you in a very exposed position and that’s before you've even started the climb.
When I first heard Ste McClure and Neil Mawson were heading over to climb on the hallowed walls of the Verdon, it only slightly wetted my appetite, I've been there before, albeit some twenty years ago. But when Tom et Je Ris got a mention, my ears pricked up and they had my full attention, this is a route I'd wanted to photograph for a long time.
So, to cut a long story very short, we got lost on the walk-in and spent way too long trying to find the top of the route. When we did, it started to rain, but only momentarily! The Ab in was, as expected, epic. The climb looked amazing. Ste and Neil abbed in first, sorted themselves out and, by the time I was halfway down the route, Ste was almost halfway up it! and firing on all cylinders. I managed to shoot off a few frames before I had to start climbing back up my rope to get out of his way. In the end McClure Vs Tom et Je ris wasn't so much of a battle, more like a foregone conclusion, with Ste topping out victorious, flashing the route.
At the top he just smiled at me, in that understated McClure way, I almost seemed more excited than he did, perhaps he just hid it well!