La Centrale - Calanques

La Centrale - Calanques

Page Type Page Type: Route
Additional Information Route Type: Big Wall
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.10d (YDS)
Additional Information Difficulty: French 6b
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 4
Additional Information Grade: VI
Sign the Climber's Log


La Centrale - overview
Overall view of the Grande Candelle A = La Centrale B= Le Couloir suspendu (6a+) Red line bottom right = Armata Calanca (bottom part 6a/6a+)

La Centrale, one of the most beautiful climb in the Calanques.

The cliff is separated in two parts: the 'Socle' above the sea: 180/200 m of a large number of good routes of various levels from French 5c to 7a, averaging in 6a/6b. The usual way to climb La Centrale is to start with a route in 'Le Socle' which in total will make a 300m climb to 320m with the recent Armata Calanca.

The route was opened in June 1941 by Gaston Rebuffat (then 23) and George Livanos (then 19) after 3 attempts, in big boots, no harness and hemp ropes. Each time they were taking their pegs out as then pegs were a costly 'luxury' and the rule was not to leave any behind, so they had to repeg each time, but their 3rd attempt was the good one!

The Centrale was then the longest and most sustained 6b level route in the Calanques, varied climbing on slabs, cracks and dihedrals.

It is today well equipped (not too many points though) and still one of the nicest climb, particularly long when one starts with one the Socle routes. To be recommended as a first part: the classic 'Temple' route (5c), better 'The Gutemberg' (6a+) splendid varied climbing route, 'La Civa' (6a) or the most recent 'Armata Calanca' 6 pitches up to the 2nd part of 6a/6b. In total some 10 to 11 pitches on excellent rock and above the sea.

Getting There

Morgiou small harbour
Morgiou small harbour

The best to start is to go to the parking of the Luminy university, Sciences dpt. From Marseille you take the road to Cassis by 'La Gineste' (D 559). At a roundabout, the University is well indicated.

If you start with a route in Le Socle you can also start at the small Morgiou harbour, but the walk will be 30' longer.

Route Description

Lentgh: 120 m and 4 to 5 pitches (the first and 2nd pitches can be done together with a 50 m rope. 3 to 4 hours.

All belays are equipped (spits and pegs). The equipment in the pitches is enough for a good 6b climber but airy. It is possible to add a cable or two at times (small to medium sizes - up to camalot N°2). 50 m rope to jump the first pitch.

Approach to the top part of La Grande Candelle: 1h - 1h30
parking of Luminy, follow the main trail going to the Col de Sugiton. From the Col, follow the green and yellow trail going to La Grande Candelle. Pass a very large turn on your right with a training cliff above (Le virage). There take a small trail to the left over several sharp bends. Then you enter the Candellon couloir which lies on the left side of the Grande Candelle. Take that couloir until you reach the foot of the 'Arête de Marseille', take a black trail to your right, going east to reach the start of La Centrale. It is in the centre of the main wall with brown overhangs very high up the wall. The line starts between two spurs.

L1: either the 'historical' start with much vegetation, a crack (5b) or better immediatly to the right of the crack and staright in the slab, 30 m sustained 6a.
La Centrale pitch 1
1rst pitch

L2: Small step to get to the first peg, then a thin crack getting steep. Belay in a hollow. 6a+/6b sustained. 50m with first pitch.
La Centrale 2nd pitch
2ndt pitch

L3: Start overhangs, good holds for a mantelshelf, then a nice sustained crack - 6a+/6b. 30 m.
La Centrale 3rd pitch
3rd pitch

L4: the crux and best pitch. Magnificent dihedral to start, then a traverse going up to the left. Delicate, balanced climbing. 6a+/6b. 40m.
La centrale 4 pitch
4th pitch

La centrale - end of 4th pitch
4th pitch - the end of the traverse - getting to the belay

The last pîtch

L5: Very short but very strenuous over 8 m. 6c or A0. Good ledge above.
La Centrale 5th pitch
5th pitch - Strenuous!

Get up to the ridge and to the summit (easy). Beautiful views.

Way down

1h30. From the summit, go to the opposite side to find an abseil anchor. 20 m will get you to a small trail which gets you the Col de La Candelle on your left. From there well marked trails will get you either to Morgiou or to Luminy.


Vidéo Armata Calanca
The same on Gutemberg and La Centrale