Friday, December 8, 2017

December 08, 2017 - The next step.

Cuvier is, relative to driving distance from the office and walking distance from the car, the most beneficial area after work on a Friday when the office closes at 16h.
The drive is just under half an hour, leaving me with about half an hour of enough daylight left to climb comfortably this time of the year.
Well, comfortably is a bit of an overstatement considering time pressure to get something done, but it's better than nothing. Even ten minutes of climbing can be satisfying.

Last week when I did "La Bérézina", it had crossed my mind to also try "Bérézina-Carnage", but the boulder's best conditions were over and more people started to arrive, so in the end I didn't.
I did have the feeling however, that now I had done "Le Carnage", "Carnazina" and "La Bérézina", that "Bérézina-Carnage" would be a logical next step.
I knew all the moves, had done them all before in previous lines, so there wouldn't be too much time loss working it out. If only the conditions would be in favour.

My skin needed a few tries to get warmed up, but with each attempt, the friction seemed to become better.
After not climbing for a few days, the skin on my fingers becomes so thick that I can't feel any sensation of the friction, even when the conditions are good. It can be quite annoying sometimes.
Anyway, now it luckily didn't take that long to find the friction and to my big surprise I already topped "Bérézina-Carnage" after not even 20 minutes.
A beautiful line!

Fontainebleau - Cuvier - Bérézina-Carnage 7C+

Oh yeah, I've got a new stick.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

December 02, 2017 - There goes the stick.

After going to the S'cape outdoor shop in Fontainebleau this morning, I met Bram (Honorez), Pieter and Thierry (Hardy) at the hippodrome bivouac.
Everything was wet there and I proposed to go South to Buthiers, hoping for dryer conditions there.
Bram and his girlfriend Ruuth had some shopping to do and hadn't decided yet where to go after.
Thierry, who just woke up five minutes ago, agreed to join Pieter and I in Buthiers after his breakfast.

The boulders did look better in Buthiers, but to determine a plan, we first scouted around looking for the boulders in best condition.
By the time we had gone around, Thierry had arrived too and after a short warmup, we started off in "Contrôle A" in which we got necked by the last really far move.
The conditions were getting worse after each try, to the point where the holds started to look dark from the moisture and we had to move.

We moved to the nearby "Insistance" which I did last Monday already and repeated on my second attempt today.
Pieter had to go deep, but followed soon.
Thierry seemed to have trouble with his skin today, because he kept on slipping off those bad slopers.
I only had time left for one more problem, and proposed to try "Résilience" in Buthiers Tennis.
It was also unfinished business for Thierry, so he was up to it and following our description of the problem, Pieter was motivated for it too.

I had already spent three sessions in "Résilience", but always got stuck at the last move.
I can see the top slopey edge, it looks so nearby, and yet every time so unreachable.
It relieved me a bit to hear that Thierry had the same problem on that problem.
Actually, each time before I started my session on it, I stood before it having the impression that this doesn't look hard at all. But, oh boy, how I got punished with a lesson in humbleness.
Now was no different. Until I slightly changed my beta on Thierry's advice.

The new beta allowed me to be in a more comfortable position for the last move which still turned out to be the crux move.
Still when you think you have the edge it's possible to swing off when making the wrong move, which resulted in me crashing on my telescopic brush stick, breaking it in the process.
But I managed to finish it a short while later after all.
Pieter fell off the last move and Thierry still had too much trouble with skin and kept on slipping off.
For me, "Résilience" is one of the hardest 7A+'s that I have ever done, and might as well be a good 7B in my opinion.
Still, a very nice one!

Fontainebleau - Buthiers Tennis - Résilience 7A+(7B)

Friday, December 1, 2017

December 01, 2017 - Seek shelter.

Just like in most places of the region, everything was covered under a thin layer of snow. Wet snow, because the temperature was just above 0°C and what was once snow had already started to melt.
I had planned to do some shopping in the Lidl supermarket of Saint-Pierre-Lès-Nemours and decided to stop in Larchant on my way.
Before taking the crashpad with me, I had a look around but found everything soaking wet of course.
Only the overhanging part of "La Barre Fixe" was dry, but its top holds were wet.
I doubted for a few seconds, but knowing that the last holds are quite good ones, I made up my mind and went back to the car to get the crashpad. At least I would be able to play around a little bit.

By the time I arrived at "La Barre Fixe" again, there was a mild drizzle mixed with half molten snow particles that were blown off the trees by the wind. But under that steep overhang it stayed dry, even though I could feel the cold humidity on my face.
I had to think of a video from Bram (Honorez) who did "La Barre Fixe (droite)" in mid-Summer, using a big tarp over the boulder as a shelter for the sun. I could have used it too this morning, but not for the sun.

I didn't let it bother me too much as I had already done "La Barre Fixe" on a crazy moment in 2008 when I had only started climbing in the seventh grade.
It took me about twenty minutes to find out the moving sequence that suited me most, but after that it didn't took long to reach the good jug. Static this time, I remember that in 2008 I did it more with a dyno.
I wasn't bothered by the wet holds on the top, but more worried about safely getting back down from the boulder in this wet and cold state.
Anyway, I climbed on and it turned out fine.

Fontainebleau - Éléphant - La Barre Fixe 7B+

Thursday, November 30, 2017

November 30, 2017 - Bad boy punished!

If I would make a video of all the times that I cruised through "Sale Gosse" but fell on the last move, it would probably fill up my computer's hard drive.
I had been trying it off and on over the last two years, each time comfortably making it up to the last move, the dyno. In last few sessions, my hand even reached over the slopey edge, but never managed to stick.
Believe me, I did try the static version with the slopey pinch right hand quite a few times too, but that method wasn't meant for me. I had to jump like most who have done it, or are trying to.

After what has been a very successful week up to now, I realised this morning that it might be a good time to return to the bad boy, the "Sale Gosse" as the French like to call it.
Like most other evenings this week, it had rained, but I was hoping that the conditions of the boulders would also be like most other days this week.
The ground was still really wet though, and this time I did have a look without the crashpad first to see if "Sale Gosse" would be dry, which it was.

Already from my first attempt, I easily climbed up to the dyno, jumped and slapped half of my hand over the slopey edge, but came off.
Nevertheless, the friction felt great and this first attempt was the best first attempt of any previous session I had on it before.
At that moment, I felt more confident than ever that the send would probably be today.
I didn't even feel the so called 'sending stress'. Most climbers will probably know what I mean with that.
Instead, I remained calm and focussed, gave it all I got with each try and most likely a slight bit more when the actual send came, accompanied by a scream of victory.
The bad boy is punished!

Fontainebleau - Roche au Sabots - Sale Gosse 7C

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

November 29, 2017 - Another classic.

It was still -1°C when I left for Cuvier at 9h in the morning. I had just finished scratching the ice of my windshield and it seemed to take forever for the condensed windows to clear up inside.
I left early, because I wanted to profit from the ice cold morning temperature to try "La Bérézina" (aka "L'Abbé Résina" in some topos).
It's one of the biggest classics of its grade for the area, but I had only spent some real time last Wednesday when the conditions started out good, but worsened quickly.
Even though it had rained last evening and the ground was still wet in most places, the skies had cleared up during the night, and when I came outside it was of those of days where you just feel it in the air that the boulders will be dry and in pristine conditions.
At that moment, I felt like the luckiest man on earth to still be in holiday.
I knew that I had to leave early though, because as soon as the sun would warm up the air, the icy frost would start melting and dripping from the trees, finding its way down on the boulders.

It felt freezing cold, but my fingers warmed up quickly on the slopers of "La Bérézina" that were stickier than I ever felt before.
The melting had begun however, and there was a constant ticking sound of drops falling from the big old oak tree onto the crashpad.
The boulder started dripping water, which was luckily guided by forces of nature, right in between the first two slopers.
Some slopers on the top were wet though, but after carefully marking where the dry spots were, I ended up finishing "La Bérézina" aka "L'Abbé Résina".

Fontainebleau - Cuvier - La Bérézina / L'Abbé Résina 7C

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

November 28, 2017 - Patience was a virtue.

It started raining heavily yesterday evening, and the last drops fell around 7h30 this morning.
Of course, everything was soaking wet, but around 10h the skies cleared up and allowed the sun to shine.
Despite that, our terrace out front (which is made of the same sandstone as the boulders in the forest) seemed be staying wet forever, and as I know by experience, the condition of that terrace is mostly a good indication of how dry the boulders are in some places.

I took a lot of time doing household and finally around 14h in the afternoon, the signs were starting to look in favour.
It's very unusual for me to leave that late, but this time I was extremely patient.
Still, after that long waiting, most of the streets were still wet and when I arrived on the parking of J.A. Martin, I even doubted to go have a look at the boulders without crashpad first.
It still looked wet, but knowing that the sector with "L'Étrave" dries really quick, I took the crashpad anyway to avoid having to come back for it.
In the worst case, the walk would have been only a bit heavier.

The only reason I wanted to try "L'Étrave (assis)", was because that I knew it's in of the quickest drying sectors in the forest, which increased my chances for climbing.
I expected at least the big undercling to be still wet, but I was very pleasantly surprised to see that the boulder was completely dry and felt in very good condition!

I had done the standing start only a few weeks ago, so as I still had that sequence in my head, I immediately started working the moves from the sit to the stand. Which took me only a couple of minutes by the way. The friction was great!
Already after a handful attempts, I fell off the last move and I decided to take a five minute break.

On the first try after my short break, I executed all the moves perfectly and used the friction to take my time for every move.
The sitstart doesn't add very much difficulty to the standstart, but the move to the undercling is much more powerful and requires a lot of body tension.
All in all, a superbe five star problem according to me!

Fontainebleau - J.A. Martin - L'Étrave (assis) 7C

On the way back to the car I kept on thinking that patience really did help this time. It was a virtue.
I also couldn't resist turning around and look back at the beautiful hill with the sector "L'Étrave".

Sector "L'Étrave" (J.A. Martin) on the top of the hill in the middle of the picture.

Monday, November 27, 2017

November 27, 2017 - Conditional luck.

I was away last weekend and I was disappointed to see that everything was wet when I arrived back home late yesterday evening.
With still one week of holiday left, I was hoping for good conditions.
This morning, it looked more or less dry and there was no fog, but a freezing cold mild wind, which was a good sign.
I got the feeling that I might be lucky today, and left to Buthiers Piscine with my mind set on "Dosage".

Upon arrival, I immediately noticed the dry state of the boulders and with a temperature of a mere 4°C, the conditions were close to perfect.
I only needed four attempts to get into the good position for the far move to the pocket that looked way too far. Still, I went for it, stretched out and grabbed it. Now I had to stay calm to finish it off.
I didn't know what to do at first, but remembered a pocket high up right.
It was barely, but I could reach it and climb on to the top.

Fontainebleau - Buthiers Piscine - Dosage 7C

Before meeting up with Stef (Jacobs) again in Franchard, I made a quite quick ascent of the nearby "Insistance", taking the advantage of the good friction on the bad slopers on the top of it.
Even with such good conditions, sometimes extra cleaning is required.

Fontainebleau - Buthiers Piscine - Insistance 7A(7A+)

I could see "Les Monos", in the Buthiers Tennis sector, from where the car was parked, and couldn't resist trying to repeat it for the video.
I needed quite some time for it, when I did it back in 2013, but now it went from my first attempt.

Fontainebleau - Buthiers Tennis - Les Monos 7A

Stef had told me on the phone that he wanted to try "Boule de Nerfs" in Franchard Isatis, which gave me the occasion to finally try "Alta" right next to it.

I arrived at "Alta" before Stef and didn't wait to give it some test tries already.
I used the beta that I remembered seeing on a video on and already after my first attempt, I felt that this could be something for me.
When Stef arrived about five minutes later, I wanted to show him the method I was trying and suddenly, beyond all expectations, topped it out after a total of a handful of tries.
The conditions were amazing!

Fontainebleau - Franchard Isatis - Alta 7C

While Stef was preparing to start in "Boule de Nerfs", I used the occasion to quickly repeat it for the video.
It went down on my second attempt, just like the first time when I did it in 2011.

Fontainebleau - Franchard Isatis - Boule de Nerfs 7A+(7A)

Stef came really close to sending "Boule de Nerfs" and even fell off at the last move, but he will have to come back for it as he had to drive back home to Belgium.
He didn't mind though as he did "L'Angle Ben's" the day before.