Thursday, December 31, 2015

December 31, 2015 - My 150th 7 ... of 2015.

We are still 2015 today, and a little bit beyond my expectation, I did my 150th 7th grade problem of 2015. I wasn't sure it would still happen because the body felt weak.

When I look at my ticklist on, I can see that it consists of 85 x 7A, 35 x 7A+, 19 x 7B, 7 x 7B+ and 4 x 7C.
It was a good year! But still, it could have been more if I wouldn't have had lost a couple of months due to surgery and hospitalisation.

I looked for something special for my 150th one.
Sometimes it can be special because of the style of climbing, the type of moves, just one movement, the shape of the boulder, ... but sometimes it can also be because of the name. It was the case with this one.
Being from Belgian origin, I thought that "Moules-Frites" would suit very well.
Not only has it a Belgian-like name, it turned out to be a beautiful isolated boulder between J.A. Martin and Rocher Cailleau. It features some really nice moves too and is certainly not a give-away!! And not that easy to find.

It took me 2 sessions to finish it, and even today, I had my doubts to be able to finish it. It's more physical than it looks.
It felt like a long time ago that I still had to put so much effort in a 7A, hence the joy when I got up there!

My best wishes to all of you in 2016 and beyond!!!

Fontainebleau - J.A. Martin - Moules-Frites 7A

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

December 29, 2015 - Reclimbing the Ninja.

This morning I was notified by someone that I didn't start "Le Toit du Ninja Blanc" correctly. I started too far right while I should have started both hands left.

Even though I still felt quite sick and was weakened by fever, I did go back to repeat it but with the correct start. I had to wait, however, for the rain to stop.
Luckily the boulder is out in the open, on top of the hill, in the sun and the wind, hence drying very quickly!

Personally I think that this extra move doesn't add a lot of difficulty and that the grade is more determined near the middle or near the end of the problem.
Getting all my weight on my right leg in balance was for me the crux.

Fontainebleau - J.A. Martin - Le Toit du Ninja Blanc 7A

Sunday, December 27, 2015

December 27, 2015 - Zen or The Light ?

When we arrived back home from Belgium, I went out to quickly climb just one thing.
I needed to get the car ride out of my head, and as I'm starting to feel a little bit sick, the fresh air would do me good.

The parking of Roche aux Sabots was completely full, but I found a spot and walked South.
Not far, because it was just Roche aux Sabots Sud. I wanted to finally try "Zen", but unfortunately it was wet.
I didn't want to go to Roche aux Sabots because that was crowded, so I went a little further uphill.
There you can find the boulder with "Il Muzzoné", it's an isolated boulder nearly on top of the hill. I remembered that it also had a nameless 7A on it that I could maybe try.
Two consecutive dyno's, a jumpstart and a dynamic move to the top. Perfect!
It didn't take long to finish it, but it was scary, all alone, with not a really good landing.

When I got back home, I noticed that the nameless 7A had gotten a name in the meantime. "Luminoso"!

Fontainebleau - Roche aux Sabots Sud - Luminoso 7A

Saturday, December 26, 2015

December 26, 2015 - Holdhunter.

When I finished climbing yesterday, I was actually pretty glad that I had to go to Belgium this morning. It meant that I would not be able to climb and would be finally obliged to rest.

When I left home, I especially took the route that goes via Melun, so I would have to pass by Rocher Canon. I just couldn't resist to the calls of the forest and as it was still early, chances were high that "Chasseur de Prises" would be unoccupied.
"Chasseur de Prises" is a classic 7A in the area, I had worked once in it a couple of years ago.
Only once, because it is such an all time classic that most of the time it is either wet or other people are already trying it.
As most of you know, I'm not the type who will join a group of climbers to wait for my turn. No, there is enough other rock around to waste time waiting.

The area was still deserted and I found the boulder completely dry and unoccupied.
It made me a little nervous because it meant that it had to happen now which gave me stress. Luckily this feeling faded while stretching, taking my time to look at the "holds" again  and imagining doing the moves.
I gave myself half an hour because I still had a long drive ahead of me.
It took me only 5 minutes to practice the start and the first moves. Then I setup the camera and went for it.
It went like a charm, the conditions were great! I was able to pull up on the bad slopers like it was nothing. I had time to look at where to put my feet.
I was really relieved to have done it that fast.

Fontainebleau - Rocher Canon - Chasseur de Prises 7A

I still had some time left so I looked for something that I could quickly try.
Not far, next to "Le Chaînon Manquant", there is also a small 7A that you hardly notice is there.
It's the sitstart of blue 3 and it looks ... easy ...
I opened the crashpad, installed the camera and set off, but slapped next to the big jug.
I would have flashed it if I wouldn't have missed the jug, so it became a second GO.
I truly have my doubts about the grade here, this went all a bit too easy, but anyway ...

Fontainebleau - Rocher Canon - Le Bombé (assis droite) 7A

Friday, December 25, 2015

December 25, 2015 - Scout Toujours.

Another day with plans to scout for some new projects.
First I went to Mare aux Joncs, where I was given a short lesson in humbleness by "Le Jeu de Paume". Given 7A(6C+) but for me this felt hard. I think it had something to do with today being my 9th day in a row of climbing. No rest days in between.
Also, the boulders, being on the north face of the hill, were not really dry enough.
Being in holiday is nice but I have to pay for it with energy, power and skin. Not that I mind, not at all.
Not much else really interesting to do there in Mare aux Joncs, but I will be back when it's more dry, and when I have some more energy in me left. It will make me look at the remaining boulders differently. There is surely something else worth to try!

From there I went to Apremont Envers. I wanted to scout around and have a look at the recently newly opened boulders there, but in the end, I didn't even get that far.
"El Paso (droite)" was something that I wanted to repeat for the video first, but the slopers of the topout were too damp to be used.
Then I saw something that drew my attention. "Scout Toujours" is only about 50m from "El Paso", so I checked it out.
It looked really nice, but the big boulder underneath it made me hestitate to try a bit. Luckily I did unfold the crashpad because it would turn out to be only thing that I would still top today.

The most logical method seemed to be too morpho, so I figured out something else. But it was physically hard for me. Not too hard, but just hard!
I knew I could do it after falling off the last move a couple of times, but it took me a huge amount of energy. My last bits of it.
I didn't want to let go, and I already made peace with the fact that after this I will probably have no energy left anymore to do something else.
When it was over, I was down and out!
My skin, my body and my mind were begging for a rest, so I packed up and went home for some family time. It is still Christmas.

Fontainebleau - Apremont Envers - Scout Toujours 7A

Thursday, December 24, 2015

December 24, 2015 - BBQ Anyone ?

I wanted to have a look today at Les Béorlots. I had never been there before, and I felt like wandering around, looking for new projects here and there.
I first stopped at the boulder with "Mickey Mouse". A nice looking boulder with some really nice problems on it. Gave most of them a quick try and added them to the project list so I could move on to other part of the area.
At the main area, I especially wanted to check out the wall with 3 problems opened by some of our well known Belgian friends.
"Dunk!" is something I really wanted to spend some time in. A big 7B+ dyno!
But first warming up and "Stretch" seemed like something good for that. A 6C(7A) short wall, where the crux is actually to stretch as much as you can. At the edge of being really morpho.
The hold that I was able to reach was a pretty good hold, but with a sharp edge to it. Just when I thought I had it, I came off, and cut a big piece of skin half off my finger, a "flapper" as we call it, a steak to put on the BBQ.
I remember that my first thought was that this will hurt under the shower.

It started raining about 5 minutes later, slightly and not long, but enough to make everything wet. I was actually quite pleased with that, so I was forced to stop climbing and I wouldn't miss out because of the "flapper". Anyway, nothing that some good ol' tape couldn't fix temporarily.

On my way back to the car, it started raining again and I went to see where "Katioushka" was, so I can walk right to it next time without having to look for it. It's a really nice, but isolated boulder.
In the meantime, it had stopped raining and I thought that the part of J.A. Martin, where the fire had been could be a good choice to find some dry rock up there on the hill, and out in the open now.
I was right. Just think of the saying "high and dry".
The small boulder with "Le Toit du Ninja Blanc" was mostly dry because of the wind. Maybe I would still be able to do something. I was running out of time because of Christmas preparations.
It's a small boulder but certainly not a give-away, I can tell you that!
Even though the temperature was a nice 13°C, my hands were freezing because of the cold wind up there, but I did manage to finish it. At least I still got that!

Merry Christmas, or Happy Easter! With this weather, one would start doubting!

Fontainebleau - J.A. Martin - Le Toit du Ninja Blanc 7A

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

December 23, 2015 - Not Any Other Day.

My main goal for today was to go finish off "Pierrot" in Marion des Roches.
On my way there, I stopped at Rocher des Princes to warm up in "Albatros Royal", a 6C+(7A) dyno.
Last time I stopped there, it was wet, even though the weather was nice. It's on the North-East face of the hill so apparently really slow drying.
Anyway, we had some good conditions lately and quite some wind, but to my surprise it didn't look as dry as expected. Certainly not wet, but humid the least.
A quick inspection on the top of the boulder showed that luckily the most dry place on the edge of the boulder was there where you have to jump to. But still not in good conditions.
I could grab the edge at my first attempt, but slid off due to tiny sand particles spread out over the hold. I went back to the top to clean it as good as I could, but these tiny sand particles are really hard to get rid of. They always keep on coming back somehow.
Now at least I could stick the hold, but just barely.
The mantle out proved to be a bit scary because besides that one hold, the rest of the top was pretty humid and also sandy.
In these conditions, it felt at least like a soft 7A for me. Maybe it's more a Summer problem.
But I was warm now.

Fontainebleau - Rocher des Princes - Albatros Royal 6C+(7A)

Next stop, at a 2 minute drive from there, was Marion des Roches.
About 10 days ago I made myself the promise that I would soon go back there to spend some time in "Pierrot" to finish it off.
I didn't need much time, because it only took me about 15 minutes to tick it off. That was faster than I had expected!
When I arrived at the problem, I first practiced the crux move. For me it's the one where you go to the jug. Surprisingly this went much easier now and I did the crux at first try.
The conditions were much better than last time, and for me it was a sign it would be done today. I still had the complete sequence in my head, so all I had to do now was to execute all the moves, one after the other and don't fall out. Sounds simple huh ?
I think it was my third or fourth try that I was on top. Even though, I missed the last hold at first and was afraid to still come out. Luckily I corrected quickly and came out clean.
If I would have fallen out there (it was past the crux), I'm sure they would have heard me swearing miles away!

Fontainebleau - Marion des Roches - Pierrot 7B

It all went so fast, so I now had to think of what to do next.
I was thinking of a project nearby that I could try, now that the conditions were in favour and me on a roll.
"Basta (assis)"!! Rocher d'Avon is not far away, and I still had the moves in my mind as I tried it not that long ago.
When I arrived there, I first repeated the "normal" crouching start again very quickly (2nd go). I wanted to make sure to have the dyno in my body again.
It still took me a lot of tries for the sitstart, because for some reason, either my toehook let go, or the move towards the crouching start didn't go.
When I finally got that working again, I was able to get to the point of the crouching start, but failed every time on the dyno.
I really had to force myself to take the time to get my hands in the same position like where they are at the crouching start.
Once I had it all together, I was ... there, but ethics were not, or didn't follow.
Anyway, it was done. Phew!!

Fontainebleau - Rocher d'Avon - Basta (assis) 7B+(7C)

On my way home I still stopped at Coquibus Grandes Vallées to try the problems in the big roof, "Perle de Crête 1" and "Grimpe Etait Toi".
I practiced the topout of "Perle de Crête 1". I got there, but it was with shaking knees. The last holds of the topout, right above the small boulder, are flat. Not slopers but flat. Certainly not the kind of hold that you grab and think "Yes, it's done". You still really got to keep your act together until you really stand with both feet on top.
I started the camera and began. The holds under the roof are all positive, but I could feel the power fading in my arms while holding on to them. I knew that I was not going to be able to finish this one with the small amount of strength that I still had in me, and the topout was still to come.

I quote myself from a couple of days ago:

"I didn't feel like taking any risks, even though any other day I probably would have gone for it."

I wisely made the decision that today was "not any other day" and went home.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

December 22, 2015 - Apocalypse Now.

Gorge à Véron is located in a beautiful part of the Coquibus, maybe even one of the most beautiful parts. Also only a couple of boulders there, out of which only one that (for me at least) deserves some real attention. The others are either too exposed or too high or not that nice to climb.

I had tried "Zig-Zag Napalm" 2 years ago but it was in the middle of Summer. It's a really nice problem on the top of the hill where there are no trees to give you the needed shade in the heat. The problem is faced towards the South, and when there is no wind, it can feel like an oven there in Summer. Far from good conditions.
Back then I was able to do all the moves and could do the problem in 2 parts, but was never able to link it all together.
This morning, the conditions were ideal. I immediately felt that the rock was sticky as hell, but when I gave it a first try, the pain in my right elbow was unbearable. I couldn't pull myself up.
I then remembered my wife's advice and did some of the stretching and warm up exercises she told me to do. The try after that it stil hurt but felt better.
I did some more stretching and right after that I was able to hold on to the far shoulder move and stupidly enough suddenly realised that I didn't setup the camera yet. Being distracted by that, my left foot slipped and I came out of the boulder.
It didn't matter because I knew it was gonna go down now.
I set up the camera, pressed record, sat down at the start and found myself on top of the boulder about 45 seconds later.
"I love the smell of napalm in the morning!"

Fontainebleau - Gorge à Véron - Zig-Zag Napalm 7A(7A+)

I still felt like climbing, but fatigue started to come over me. 
There is a small roof just behind "Zig-Zag Napalm", that features a 7A+ traverse "Le Souffle du Dragon" and a 7B "Coup de Foudre".
I tried both, but in "Coup de Foudre", the hardest part seems to be the first move, the one where you have to pull up and get your ass off the ground. Mine (ass) seemed glued to the ground.
For "Le Souffle du Dragon" it's the other way around. The traverse climbs nicely, but the hardest part is at the end, going for the topout. It took too much energy from me and I decided to move, so I could use the walk and short drive as a rest.

It was a short rest though, because I only drove 5 minutes to Coquibus Auvergne. It was either going there or Coquibus Grandes Vallées again.
I chose the first because I wanted to take advantage of the great conditions and still had left something behind there last Summer, "Little Crotale". A 7A+ of which the crux is the topout. A mantle on bad slopers. Last Summer I couln't hold on to those bad slopers.
"Little Crotale" is on the same boulder as the more commonly known "King Cobra" or "Little Cobra". It starts low left and has the same exit as "Little Cobra".
Even with the nearly perfect conditions of today, it was quite a big struggle to mantle up on those slopers, but finally I made it, totally worn out.

Fontainebleau - Coquibus Auvergne - Little Crotale 7A+

There is still a lot to do on this boulder but not today anymore. I gave it a try with "Little Cobra" as it has the same exit, but the start with the underclings under the roof didn't go anymore.
I still wanted to climb something though, so I checked the topo and thought that maybe "A Six c'est Assez" would be something. A 7A(6C+) straight up pillar. My body could probably still take that.

When you stand in front of it, it looks easy, but don't be fooled. It's harder than it looks, especially when you try a wrong method at first and have to adapt your flow.
I had a bit of a fight with this one, but it fits the grade. Soft 7A will do once you have figured it out.
We do it all for fun!!
"Disneyland! Fuck man, this is better than Disneyland!"

Fontainebleau - Coquibus Auvergne - A Six c'est Assez 7A(6C+)

Monday, December 21, 2015

December 21, 2015 - First day of Winter ?

It's supposed to be the first day of the Winter, yet it feels like the Spring is already there.
It was a beautiful day with mostly a blue sky, up to 13°C and a nice breeze up on the hills blowing all boulders dry from yesterday evening's rain.

There are only a handful of boulders up there on the hill of Coquibus Grandes Vallées, but they have quite some problems on them and it's certainly worth the visit. Especially when you like to have your peace and quiet.
One of the boulders there has a long very low roof with a 7A and a 7A+(7B) in it. Both share the same start and you have to start so deep under the roof that you feel like being on the edge of bouldering and doing speleology.
For both problems the start was the most difficult for me, even though it has jugs. My problem was that it hurts my hamstring when doing heelhooks with the left foot.
For the 7A, "En Dessous de Tout", it took me some time trying to find a method where I could put the least weight on my left heelhook, or trying to avoid it completely. Once I found a method, I went straight for the top.

Fontainebleau - Coquibus Grandes Vallées - En Dessous de Tout 7A

Now that I had found my sequence for the first moves in the roof, I looked at the holds and moves to do the exit for the 7A+(7B), "L'Etroit Mousse, plus Bas que Terre". Saying the name out loud alone, feels like a 7A+(7B) :-) ...
I practiced the link from "En Dessous de Tout" into "L'Etroit Mousse, ..." only once and that felt OK.
After 2 minutes rest I did the harder exit first go, even though I almost came out at the end.

Fontainebleau - Coquibus Grandes Vallées - L'Etroit Mousse, plus Bas que Terre 7A+(7B)

Not far from there is another beautiful, but much higher, roof with 2 7A's on it. "Perle de Crête 1" and "Grimpe Etait Toit". I went to have a look at it, and the roof is a beauty.
Fot these, I thanked, with the idea in the back of my head to come back for it with an extra crashpad and maybe a friend to spot. I didn't feel like taking any risks, even though any other day I probably would have gone for it.

My mind was set for something else. "Double Détente" in Mont Pivot. I had a video of it, or at least I THOUGHT I had a video of it.
Yesterday I got a message from a Belgian fellow climber who made the friendly remark that the video more likely showed "Red Heat". The problem at about 0,5m to the right of it. He included a link to a video that also showed "Double Détente", and I had a look at the description of "Red Heat" on
I immediately agreed with him and made the promise to go and do "Double Détente" correctly soon.
I kept my promise and did it today.

I must say that at the time, I couldn't find any video material from the "Double Détente", and looking at the few small pictures I could find, I really had the impression that what I did was correct and that maybe it was (very) easy for the grade. Dyno's are always difficult to grade.
Now, on the other hand, there is a nice picture sequence available on the site.
"Red Heat" is supposed to be 6A+, but what I did there was in no way 6A+. I would say 6C the least, but anyway.

Here is the video of "Red Heat" (at least wearing the hat fits with the name of the problem):

Fontainebleau - Mont Pivot - Red Heat 6B(6C)

And here is the "correct" version of "Double Détente":

Fontainebleau - Mont Pivot - Double Détente 7A+(7B)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

December 20, 2015 - Don't take the blue pill, but follow the blue path!

Rocher Saint-Germain will always one of my favourite areas, but the grading there is so tight! It's always a kind of "wake-up-call" when I go climbing there. Just like a couple of weeks ago.
Today however it all went a bit better and I could actually finish some stuff.

It started today with "Si t'es Petit, sois Technique". An isolated boulder at only 2 minutes walking distance from the parking of the "Belle Croix". It was more or less on the way to the main area, so I decided to warm up in that one.
I know, warming up in a 7B(7A+) is not such a good idea, but it's a dyno and it would get me warm. I did follow my wife's advice and against my habits, I stretched my arm. It can only be better for the elbow, which actually still hurts a bit.
I had seen pictures of the boulder and a video of the problem, so I knew what to look for, but when I found it, I stood in awe. I felt pretty much the same as when I saw the boulder with "Le Cadeau" in Rocher du Télégraphe for the first time. Visually they are beautiful boulders!!
At first inspection and feel, it seemed much harder than I saw on the video (as usual). The right arete is really round and you need the best conditions to stick that round sloper and set off for the jump.
After a couple of really bad tries, not even getting to the point where you start the jump, it crossed my mind to try again on my way back. Luckily I gave it another try and was able to jump for the first time. I knew now that it could happen any time now, so I stayed and tried some more.
Not even 10 minutes later, I stood on top. This is a beautiful boulder with a beautiful problem!!

Fontainebleau - Rocher Saint-Germain - Si t'es Petit, Sois Technique 7B(7A+)

The next problem I had on my list for today was "Mégalight", but that would be for later in the day.
My plan was to take the "Route de Luxembourg" path to the other end of the area and follow the blue path N°4 back up, passing tons of boulders and problems on my way so I could basically climb my way back to the parking.

I must still have been too euphoric after having done "Si t'es Petit, Sois Technique", because ... <DANG> Wake-up-call!! 
I tried a lot of problems on my way, but none topped. Some due to my elbow problems, because pinching can still really hurt, and some due to not being strong enough, or not having the technique, or maybe not being patient enough.
Anyway, I arrived at "Mégalight", and I knew that I was willing to spend some time in this if necessary. I felt a little bit disappointed a couple of weeks ago when I had to leave it unfinished. But I was determined to come back for it.
Now was the time. It took me not even half an hour.
Somehow, the trick for me was taking the left arete with the pink included instead of just 3 fingers.
By adding my pink finger, I was able to squeeze the hold more, go deeper down in my legs and jump further. I was psyched having finished it.
The 2 problems that I really wanted to do today were done!! 

Fontainebleau - Rocher Saint-Germain - Mégalight 7B

After having done that, all that I would still be able to do now would be extras, some bonuses.
"Minilithe" was one of them, and also the last for today.
"Minilithe" is not the nicest problem around, and it's certainly not something I would make a detour for, but being only 10m from where I was at that moment, it was a nice extra, a nice bonus.
Basically it's a one-move problem, but just hard enough to make it a soft 7A.

Fontainebleau - Rocher Saint-Germain - Minilithe 7A

I continued following the blue path, trying some problems on my way, but not topping anything anymore. 
When I arrived at the car again on the top of the hill, I felt that I had already lost a lot of energy. Too much maybe, but I still felt like climbing.
I parked at Rocher Canon, where I followed the blue path N°12 to Rocher Canon Ouest, but the boulders there were wet or too humid.

I drove to the other parking of Rocher Saint-Germain, but crossed the big road to follow the blue path N°4 in the other direction to Cassepot Roches Grises where I did quite some good tries in "Double Axel", but my skin stopped me after a while. I needed a rest, or maybe simply call it a day, but I didn't.
I took the car and went to Roche d'Hercule, where I followed the blue path N°1 to the top of the hill, but only just to find the roof of "Trop Beau Pour Toit" soaking wet. 
The blue path N°1 took me then a little further up to "Fenbren le Fou", but the top holds were too humid to give it a try. I didn't want to risk a slipper and make an uncontrolled fall from that height!

I decided to go home, but on my way, I couldn't resist and stopped at Rocher de la Reine where I sat in "Napoleon (assis)", but I was too exhausted to get my ass of the ground. It was done for today.

When you come to Fontainebleau, follow the blue paths, you will find some really nice boulders on your way!!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

December 19, 2015 - Pot de Terre.

It was already 16h30 when I parked at Rocher Canon, I had already driven over 800 km, going to Belgium and back.
All I had "eaten" so far, were a cup of coffee in the morning and an alcohol free beer in Belgium while taking a short break.
The head was tired from driving but I just couldn't resist going for a short climb, even if it was only 15 minutes. My body needed to get out of the car and into the fresh air of the forest. It was screaming for some movement.
With only a very short period of light left, I chose Rocher Canon to find something close to the parking.
I never had tried "Pot de Terre" before, and the description "slopers, dyno" sounded promising to quickly make the muscles loose again.
The starting position however required a weird body movement to make the dynamic move to the good hold. It took me some tries to get into the correct flow of movement, but the first time I had the good hold, it was over.

I still sat in the sitstart, which is 7A+, but the lower holds were too humid to be able to pull on them enough.
At first sight, the sitstart looks like a hard 7A+, and even though I'm not too keen on the area, I will go back there one day to give a good try, but it has no priority.

Fontainebleau - Rocher Canon - Pot de Terre 6C+(7A)

Friday, December 18, 2015

December 18, 2015 - A New Playground.

Every time I visit an area for the first time, I am like a kid in a new playground. Running from here to there, wanting to give everything a try.
Today was my first time in Marion des Roches and it was no different. I more or less saw the whole area, and touched nearly all the boulders around.
Some were topped, but most of them have become another project for my next visit, when I will be in a different mood, spending more time on the problems that are really worth it.
Like "Pierrot" for example, THE classic problem of the area. I had heard about it, and seen some videos about it, but in real life it's even better.
I worked out all the moves, can do the problem in 2 times, and I'm pretty confident that if I would have spent more time on it, probably would have sent it.
My "kid-mood" took the upper hand however, and I let it be for a next visit, and scouted around some more.

Before trying "Pierrot", I warmed up in "Le Canular", a dyno of course (jumpstart), originally opened as 6C(7B) as it's always difficult to grade a dyno, especially jumpstarts.
6C ... no! 7B ... no way!! 7A seemed reasonable for me, and when I got back home, I saw on that it does indeed have that grade now.
It was a scary one to get on top, with the green, humid, slippery moss! I fell off the outclimb once, even doubted to try again.
Five minutes later I was honestly happy to be able to tick this off and never try again. My heart was almost pounding out of my chest.

Fontainebleau - Marion des Roches - Le Canular 7A

From there I walked on to the end of the area, so I would at least know if going to the end on a next visit would be worth it.
The last boulder, "Bi-Steack" is surely worth it, but it started drizzling and I couldn't really try it. Same goes for "Franck", that has the same start, but exits directly in the slab on the left.

I tried a couple of jumps in "Big Mak" which is a very nice dyno, but unfortunately, the starting hold was wet and the weird starting position hurt my elbow too much to be really able to jump. Still not healed I'm afraid!

On the way back, I made a quick stop at "Feel du Logis" because that looked still dry enough.
The method I used probably is not a correct method, and it looks like I topped out too much to the left.
Let's say I opened a small variation to it, that I will call "Feel du Logis (gauche)", and using the method I used (by convention) it will be 7A worthy.
I will send the video to Jean-Pierre but I'm not sure it will be added to the site as the big flake under the roof apparently used to be loose. 
It is glued by someone though and I didn't notice it being loose. But anyway, I feel obliged to say to watch out when climbing it.
I will go back to Marion des Roches soon!!

Fontainebleau - Marion des Roches - Feel du Logis (gauche) 7A

Thursday, December 17, 2015

December 17, 2015 - December Spring

It was a beautiful day today. If you wouldn't have known, one would have thought it was a regular day in the middle of Spring. Yet, we are the 17th of December, 4 days before the start of the Winter. Go figure!

I worked on my Work-Life-Balance today, so left work about half an hour early to quickly climb some rock.
Due to an elbow injury and bad weather I wasn't able to climb the last couple of days, but thanks to my lovely wife, who treated my injury, it was already much better. Pinching right hand still hurts though, but it's almost gone. Thanks a lot again for that darling!!

I was hopeful while driving and had my mind set on trying several new things in Gorge aux Châts. Seeing the amount of cars parked there however, wasn't a good sign. Especially on a regular Thursday evening.
It usually means that the forest is humid and that people are looking for some higher, open ground where boulders normally dry more quickly.
I wrote "normally", because seeing the first boulders on the way announced what I had feared for ... Condensation!! A lot of it too!
Most boulders were wet and you could see the sparkling water drops in the evening sunshine.
I made a quick walk around the area and when my eyes crossed those of the other climbers around, they all showed the same feeling of desperation. Not much to be climbed here.

I went to the other side of the blue path, the part where "Le Ressort Titan" and "Cop 21" are.
Having done all the problems on "Le Ressort Titan" I went straight to the boulder of "Cop 21" to check out the right (7C) variation of it.
The direct version was dry enough, but the right variation was too humid to try.
"Machine Head" nearby was wet too, so that left me with "Chahutor" to check out.

The holds in the overhang of "Chahutor" were dry enough to be climbed, except for the starting hold for the right hand, which was still humid.
The green mossy topout on slopers however, was completely moist. No way that I would get up there that way.
My mind was set for climbing a bit so I figured out that another exit more to the left was also possible. Also on green, mossy slopers, but the ones I needed the most, were not as humid as the other ones. So I went for it.

When I came home afterwards, I noticed that I actually did "Chat eu Juste". Opened as a 6C+, but in these conditions it felt like a hard 7A for me.
It seems that there is another exit far left on the top of the boulder, "Chatterré", 7A(6C+). Quite expo with those big stones underneath you. Maybe some other time.

Fontainebleau - Gorge aux Châts - Chat eu Juste 6C+(7A)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

December 09, 2015 - 3 pairs of eyes, 3 different voices, 3 tries.

Pieter called me on Monday to tell me about a nice roof in Gorge aux Châts that he had been working in with Siem and Koen. They met the guy who opened it and he showed it to them.
It has a direct exit that is 7B and an exit to the right which is 7C. A long roof with positive holds he said, really nice!
He got my curiousity, and even though it wasn't possible to climb due to bad weather, I went over simply to have a look at what he was talking about.
What I found was indeed a beautiful roof, with a low start in a pit, just recently opened by Tony F. At first sight and feel I didn't immediately find the positive holds he mentioned, but I was in a hurry, on my way to work and it was still quite dark. It had drawn my attention though, and I was determined to go try it as soon as the weather and occasion would allow me.

Today I sent a message to Tony, asking him where the exact start was so I could mentally prepare.
I got a message from Igor that they (Igor, Koen and Siem) were going to Gorge aux Châts late afternoon and evening, so I knew there would be some climbing done. Siem had bought a cool floodlight on batteries not long ago, so we would have light in the dark.

By the time I arrived, the boulder, that isn't and will not be published on, was "crowded".
Igor, Koen and Siem were there already and just before me also arrived the opener, Tony F., with a friend (whose name I didn't get or forgot, sorry for that).
Siem was already working the problem, Tony's friend put on his climbing shoes, and then also Igor gave it a try. Koen was taking pictures and I stood and watched while talking to Tony.
First Tony's friend, then Igor immediately after, and also Siem finished the problem, the direct exit, the 7B version.
Tony and his friend left the scene and I also put on my shoes, feeling a little bit pressured to finish it too, with still 3 pairs of eyes staring on me. But, on the other hand, also 3 voices encouraging me, and I must admit, I think it helped.
I hestitated to take out the camera and when I fell off the problem at the last move due to bad foot placement, I knew that the chance was high that I would top the next try.
I took 5 minutes rest, installed the camera, pressed record and finished the problem that go, pressured by 3 pairs of eyes and encouraged by 3 different voices, my third try in total.
Like Igor said: "Send train"!

Fontainebleau - Gorge aux Châts - Cop21 7B

Monday, December 7, 2015

December 07, 2015 - Basta!

A beautiful sunrise on the way to work and the knowledge that the weather was announced beautiful with a clear sunny sky, made me take some hours off work to enjoy this beauty and of course add some climbs.
I wanted to warm up in "Mekkera" in Rocher d'Avon Ouest. It looked really nice on videos I had seen from it, and being a 7A(6C+) dyno, it seemed like a good warm up.
I got warm allright! Jumping maybe 30 times, nearly every time grabbing the topholds, but falling off the huge sidewards swing. The ledge on the top cut through my skin more and more and I had no choice but to give up. The blood was coming through the tape I had put on for some protection.
I will go back for that one when I have grown back some skin.
My hands said basta, and that made me think of "Basta", a really nice, well known 7A+ problem in the main sector of Rocher d'Avon.
The first time I did it was in mid August 2009, a really hot summer day, and I was able to do it 4 times in a row, so I knew that I would still be able to repeat at least that for the video.
I think it took me about 3 tries to build up the required distance that had to be jumped, and once you get it right on the sloper, you have to make a big mistake to still fall out of it.
After that, my skin, hands and body really said basta, and I went to the car to go home. The thermometer in the car read 16°C in the shade!!

Fontainebleau - Rocher d'Avon - Basta 7A+

On the way home, I still had to drive past the whole Franchard area and naturally I couldn't resist. The forest just kept calling me in like mermaids lure nearby ships towards the cliffs.
On my way to Hautes Plaines, I ran into Igor and saw him make an almost successful ascent of "Sur-Prises (assis)". Strong "little" fella, he'll have it soon.
For me, "Le Surplomb de la Coquille (direct)" was a little bit too far fetched after today's climbing and all the days before. I did however want to finish in beauty so looked for a small 7A that I hadn't tried before.
My eye fell on "Le Solitaire", a 7A that can be found on an isolated boulder, just outside the main Hautes Plaines area.
Luckily it didn't take me too many tries to finish it, I was done, out of energy, ... basta!

Fontainebleau - Franchard Hautes Plaines - Le Solitaire 7A

Sunday, December 6, 2015

December 06, 2015 - Beautiful climb.

Tim and I started the climbing session this morning in Saint-Germain.
Lots of tries, no topouts.
We warmed up in "Mégalatte", but both had to give up on it. Partly because we couldn't find the correct method and partly because we were being drawn to try "Megalight", next to it.
Nice arete, with a sloper pinch left hand out of which you have to dyno far to the right.
Tim had some problems sticking the pinch long enough to be able to change the feet. For me it didn't give that much problems, but I couldn't jump far enough onto the sloper far right. It's a strange position out of which you have to jump. Next time, we thought, and moved on.
The next one was "Ejection Précoce", a 7A+ dyno that has given me problems in the past, and today too, I couldn't finish it.
It was time for Tim to go home, and arriving on the parking, I was just in time to welcome Pieter who had made the drive from Belgium this morning to have some days off work to climb and be in the forest.
I asked Pieter to go to the Cassepot area, and he agreed, having not climbed there before too, and it was only a 5 minute drive from here.

Cassepot has actually 3 sub-areas, Cassepot Roches Grises, Cassepot Roches Oranges and Cassepot Roches Roses.
We started off in Roches Grises with "Crampe in the Ghetto", graded 6C(7A) seemed like a good warm up.
It went down a bit too easy for the both of us and we agreed that even for 6C it was too soft.
We did some tries in the sitstart which is 7A(7A+), but the first move was a bit too agressive for a second climb for Pieter to give it too much tries.

Fontainebleau - Cassepot Roches Grises - Crampe in the Ghetto 6C(7A)

Our Belgian friend, Jan de Smit, cleaned up and opened some boulders recently nearby in the area. The sector is being known as the "Star Wars sector" because most of them have a name that's linked to the Star Wars movies.
"Return of the Jedi" is one of them, one of the nicest in my humble opinion.
Pieter didn't try it for long, because it was his first day and didn't want to overdo with climbing.
I needed quite some tries and adapted the method a lot. In the end we were doubting if the method was completely correct, but for me the method I used did feel like a small 7A.
All slopers, but the good thing about a new boulder is that the surface still has a rougher stickier feel.

Fontainebleau - Cassepot Roches Grises - Return of the Jedi 7A

Having done that and not immediately having another idea in mind ("Double Axel" was still taken), I proposed to Pieter to make the walk to the Cassepot Roches Roses area.
There is not much to do there, but there is a 6C+, called "Bleau", that only has "beautiful climb" as description in the topo.
I had seen some pictures of it long ago and "Bleau" being the only problem in the guidebook described as "beautiful climb", drew my curiosity.
After telling that to Pieter, he was curious enough too, so we started the walk towards it.
When we found it we both had the same feeling of disappointment. Was that it?
It was a damp, with a small layer of green moss little overhang. If we didn't have had made that long walk there, we both wouldn't have tried it.
We tried it anyway, because we were there now and we didn't feel like coming back here just for that, so better to get this one off the list.
It wasn't for granted and the problem got nicer as we tried it. It does have some nice moves in it, but to only give it "beautiful climb" as description, was still exaggerated. 
I was able to do it, but unfortunately Pieter will have to come back for it. If he wants to of course, honestly I don't think so.
I think that the most beautiful thing about this problem is ... its name.

Fontainebleau - Cassepot Roches Roses - Bleau 6C+

I still had some time left after that so on the way back we still wanted to do some tries in "Merci Didier", a 7B on a really nice boulder in Cassepot Roches Grises.
That felt so damn hard, I couldn't believe it was 7B. A quick analysis of the topo learned us that we were actually trying "Cent Pofs et Sans Reproche", a 7C(7C+) right next to it.
By the time we had figured that out, I had lost all my energy and had to go home anyway.
Pieter followed soon after that to join us at my place for diner. Thanks Sandra for the great food!!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

December 05, 2015 - The whores of Louis XIV.

The story goes that at the time, the lovers (actually whores) of Louis XIV had their premises or hideouts there in the  area that is now called "Rocher des Demoiselles", but formerly, at the time, it was called "Rocher des Putains" (putains = whores) because of the before mentioned reason.
If I remember correctly, they had changed the name to get rid of the vulgar character of it. Therefore they named it "Rocher des Demoiselles". You have to admit that it immediately sounds more attractive.
Luckily not too attractive, because it's a pretty big area with a lot of really nice problems, but for some reason it's never crowded there. I spent half a day there, and if it wouldn't have been for Tim who knew I was there and joined me, I would have been alone the whole time.

I warmed up in "Crapovsky", a dyno (of course) that it is not too difficult, but has this fear factor to it because of the tree and the small boulder immediately behind you. They would hurt when you fall on them.
I had done this before in 2011, but it serves as a good warm up and I didn't have it on video yet so ...

Fontainebleau - Rocher des Demoiselles - Crapovsky 7A

About 20m from it, you can find "Haute Précision", a 7A that looks nice from far, but isn't really something you want to fall out when you're alone, so I gave up after 1 try.

I continued on to go have a look at "Jet d'Eau (droite)". 
I once walked past it, and friendly declined trying it because it's pretty high and an all-points-off dyno with still a courageous mantle after it.
I opened the crashpad anyway now and gave it a go. I felt a bit anxious, but I was confident.
Three tries later it was bagged. That went faster than expected.

Fontainebleau - Rocher des Demoiselles - Jet d'Eau droite 7A

In the meantime, I got a message from Tim who came over from Belgium.
He had just done "Begnots Story" in Boissy-aux-Cailles and was on his way to join me.
We were going to meet at "Chaman", that I wanted to try already for some time now.
Had some good attempts, but the holds were getting more and more humid after each try. Tim, who had found me in the meantime concluded too, that maybe this is a summer problem.
I told him to try "Jet d'Eau (droite)". Good idea, it seemed, because he also found himself on top after 4 or 5 tries. Way to go!

Off for some "real" climbing again.
"L'Olive (direct)" is a technical straight up wall, and is something that we both had worked in before, so logically we set off to try to finish it.
Again we found ourselves time after time stuck at the same point again. It's all about body placement, and probably a small trick that will suddenly make it a go. 
I was fed up with it and we did some goes in "Popeye", about 1m to the right of "L'Olive", but with it's compression, a totally different style.
I was glad that I could mark this as done and called it a day for today.
Tim did some more tries in "L'Olive" and again adapted his method, but got really close on it this time. The energy was starting to fade however and we still wanted some juice left for tomorrow.
Next time he will probably have it!

Fontainebleau - Rocher des Demoiselles - Popeye 7A

Friday, December 4, 2015

December 04, 2015 - No time to waste!

I like Fridays, because it's the day before the weekend and because we finish an hour earlier at work, thus giving me a little bit more time to go climbing.
I had planned to go to Franchard Hautes Plaines. When taking the shortcut by crossing the Isatis area, it's only a 2 minute walk. 

I wanted to give "" a try, but I was a little bit too ambitious as the difficulty appears to be in the first moves. Not such a good one to warm up in so I quickly decided to pack up and move on. No time to waste!

When you continue deeper into the forest for about a minute, you arrive at "Deux Faux Plis en Plats Réel". Visually one of the nicest boulders in the forest, but oh so hard.
I couldn't resist to sit down in it and try. Those who know the problem will know that also this first move is also pretty damn hard. I couldn't do it, even though I once was able to do the first 2 moves. This wasn't going to work, so I again made the decision to try something else, but what? I wanted to top something out so ... No time to waste!

After checking the topo for what was nearest by, I moved the crashpad about 20 meters to put it under "Pulpfriction". My flash attempt later, I stood on top of the boulder and I couldn't believe that what I had done was a 7B. That went way too easy.
Looking it up on learned me that I actually flashed "Pulpfriction (gauche)", which has a more correct 7A(6C+) grade.
The flash came right on time because after those two previous desperate boulders, the morale had gotten at a pretty low point.
I tried a couple of times the original version, but (and I don't admit such a thing fast) this is really too morpho for me. My arms have to be at least 2cm longer to be able to reach the better hold in the slab above, and I couldn't find an alternative way to reach it, knowing that you are not allowed to use the holds of the left face. Next ... No time to waste!

Fontainebleau - Franchard Hautes Plaines - Pulpfriction (gauche) 7A(6C+)

Now that the morale had a boost again, I was hungry for more.
Following the normal path back to the parking, takes you along the boulder with "Lapin ou Canard". Having done that already in 2010, I would normally go for the video repeat, but I had never tried the left variation, "Ah, Plus Facile!". It gets a '+' on top of the 7A of "Lapin ou Canard".
The roof part of "Ah, Plus Facile!" (what's in a name?) went easy, but I had to think a little about how to move towards the left. I used a right heelhook out of which I made a big knee-drop to be able to reach with my right hand out of the roof. A superbe move!!
Once I got the hang of that, it was quickly canned in. Check!
That went faster than expected so maybe I could still climb something else? 
No time to waste!

Fontainebleau - Franchard Hautes Plaines - Ah, Plus Facile! 7A+

Going further down the path towards the parking, there is no way around "Le Mur Lombard". One of the classics of the area. A beautiful straight wall consisting out of basically one move.
Getting up and using the thumb to keep the balance before being able to take the crimp sounds like a stupid boring thing, except when you're a climber.
I had done this before in 2010 too, but here I did decide to go for the video repeat. It was starting to get dusk, so there would be no time left to look for something new where I would still have to figure out the method.
It went down quick.
Now I really had to go back to the car and go home, but still had to pass in Milly to buy some tape for the fingers, so ... No time to waste!

Fontainebleau - Franchard Hautes Plaines - Le Mur Lombard 7A(7A+)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

December 03, 2015 - Lights out, spot on.

I was running out of nearby, quickly accessible projects, so I opened up the topo yesterday evening to look for new ones.
Criteria were that it had to be on the road between work and home and close to the parking, so no time would be lost driving or walking.
I decided to have another look at Gorge aux Châts as I pass it on the way to work and it is barely a minute walk from the parking.
After a quick view, my eyes fell on "Présomption d'Innocence", one of the first boulders in the area, so closest to the parking. I tried it once shortly on an evening in plain summer, and quickly gave up on it because it was too hot to stick the slopers of the problem. After that, I completely forgot about it, until yesterday.
I admit that I thoroughly studied the beta on the few video's I could find about it so I wouldn't loose too much time figuring it out by myself. Time is not by your side when the days are so short. A pity, because discovering and working out the beta by myself is what I enjoy most about bouldering! The urge to climb and top out however, took over.

I made a short stop this morning on my way to work to have a look at it, and ended up quickly making 2 attempts, but -1°C at 8am when it's barely light, made it too painful for the fingers and my skin. But it was sticky and I knew that I would be able to do it quickly. Not feeling the tips of the fingers, thus not knowing if I had the tiny crimp in the slab right hand correctly, made it impossible to  try more. I didn't have the time to rest and let my skin warm up in between attempts anyway.

After work it was already getting darker, and even though I could still see enough, I used the torch for the first time. I was actually more curious what the effect of the light would be for the camera.
A huge undercling under the roof, a well placed kneebar, a reachy move to the right and a tiny crimp take you to the sketchy mantle into the slab, where you have to slap to the bigger sloper high up, thinking that is over then. Not being able to see your feet anymore makes it difficult and a bit scary to stand up.
It's not really over then, but if you keep your calm you are as good as done.

Fontainebleau - Gorge aux Châts - Présomption d'Innocence 7A+

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

December 02, 2015 - Anti-Style.

The first time I saw "Migration Lente" I wasn't impressed. It didn't look inviting to be climbed but I sat in it anyway. Only briefly because these "arete" climbs are not really my style. It requires a lot of balance and thus also technique.
I didn't get much further than up to the second move before "opening the door" or "waving the flag" too much, forcing me out of the movement, making me feel like it's just not my style and almost logically concluding to leave it for what it is.
When I went for my ascent of "Le Flop", which is right next to it, I didn't even bother giving it a second look anymore.
Untill now, when I actually wanted to try something that is my "anti-style" so I could work on my weaknesses and hopefully get better at them.
Topping it out doesn't necessarily mean that I got better though.
I especially gave it some more thoughts and found the best way for me to climb it. Strange thing is that I was almost surprised to see on other videos that the method is the same. Duh ... !!

"Migration Lente (assis)" is one of those recently opened boulders in the part of Roche aux Oiseaux where "Le Flop" and "Le Hérisson" are, closer towards La Ségognole.
Some friends sometimes go there to spend the night in a guesthouse. They will know what to do when they can't sleep, because this is definitely worth the effort!!

Fontainebleau - Roche aux Oiseaux - Migration Lente (assis) 7A

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

December 01, 2015 - No room for error.

It was on the day of my birthday in 2012 when I first did "Brazil".
I needed one session that lasted maybe half an hour, and still conditions weren't great back then. It would have helped more if it would have been colder a bit, but it was like it was and it will give no milk.

I thought it would be a good idea, a quick win, to do "Brazil" again for the video, for the "archives".
A good idea it was, but I couldn't have been more wrong about the "quick win"!
In the end it still took me 4 sessions of about 15-20 minutes each (the daylight wouldn't give me more time).
15-20 minutes is just enough to get your skin and body properly warmed up, conditioned for the real tries.
To make it even worse, during every session, I changed and adapted my method with more or less every attempt, thinking that this one would probably be the best. Bad thing, because my body co-ordination wasn't able to thoroughly remember the separate moves, having to learn and adapt over and over again.

I'm not going to argue about the grade, will not even dispute it, because it was all due to myself.
In the end, after having finished it again, it didn't feel hard at all, there was simply no room for error.
And yes, Ivan after that failed attempt on the video, I could hear you saying: "Kalm blijven!!" :-)
At least I remembered the ethics (I think) when finally topping out.

All in all, I had fun with it and it was a good stress relief.

Fontainebleau - Roche aux Oiseaux - Brazil 7A