Friday, December 30, 2016

December 30, 2016 - Back to business.

Being alone again, it felt like 'back to business' this morning.
I left early because I had to drive to Belgium to pick up my son Anthony, but first I drove to Rocher de Bouligny to try "Le Plat Pays".
On Monday I had a look at it, but everything was soaking wet and I didn't get further than just looking at it.
This morning it though, was freezing -4°C, there was dense fog, but it it didn't make everything wet. It was too cold.

The boulder with "Gecko" looked dry when I passed it on my way to "Le Plat Pays". It looked promising.
"Le Plat Pays" seemed to be in pristine conditions and despite the freezing cold, I was eager to put on my climbing shoes and start trying.
The dyno is small, weird to do, but it didn't take long before I was able to do it.
The mantle on those bad slopers was harder than I had imagined with these conditions and even though I could do it fairly easy when trying it from the ground, it was a hard struggle to do the complete problem in one go.
A true gem, this one!

Fontainebleau - Rocher de Bouligny - Le Plat Pays 7B+(7B)

On my way back to the car, I wanted to stop at "Le Presse-Purée" which was also soaking wet when I passed by last Monday.

I did it easily and only realised why when I saw a video of it later, that I started with a too high hold right hand.
The correct start is with the right hand on a much lower hold, adding an extra move to it.

Fontainebleau - Rocher de Bouligny - Le Presse-Purée 7A+ (wrong start)

Right next to it, the beautiful wall with "Obstiné" was dry and in perfect conditions too.
The sitstart, "Obstiné (assis)", had originally been graded 7A, but got rightfully downgraded to 6C+.
Even for 6C+ it felt soft, because I flashed it with ease.

Fontainebleau - Rocher de Bouligny - Obstiné (assis) 6C+

I briefly watched Jan Hojer and Juliane Wurm working in "Gecko (assis)" and walked on to the car. They seemed to be 'in business' too.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

December 29, 2016 - Collegiality.

My colleague and friend, Harco (De Man) stayed over for two days. No work, just climbing.
He arrived yesterday around noon and after a coffee we went to La Ségognole to warm up and make Harco get used to the rock again.
After cruising up every orange problem he tried, it was time for some blues in Cul de Chien.

Stef (Jacobs) and Matthias were climbing in Roche aux Sabots and they gladly joined us to climb in the sun. It was cold.
We ended up spending the rest of the day there, doing mostly red ones.
I was surprised how much confidence Harco had on the sandstone and watched him top out some quite difficult reds. He has it in him and it's great to see him do it with so much motivation.

This morning we arrived early in Cuvier and by 10h we both had done "La Marie-Rose".
Hats off for Harco who did it on his fifth attempt ever, being only his first real time climbing.
The first time was a quick hour after work when he was here for a company project.
The second time was a short afternoon when he was visiting with his girlfriend.
Now was the first time he was here only for climbing.

We moved to "Cortomaltèse" that I repeated on my second attempt again and in which Harco was able to make some good moves. It's one of his projects for next time.
By that time Stef and Matthias had arrived too, and we decided to go to Cuvier Est where we wanted to try the classic "Duroxmanie".
I have been trying this a couple of times now and never found it in really good conditions.
Today the conditions seemed perfect, because while Stef and Matthias were still warming up, I climbed "Duroxmanie" on my first attempt of the day.
It felt great climbing such a beautiful and classic line!

Fontainebleau - Cuvier Est - Duroxmanie 6C

Harco made some really nice attempts, knows what he has to do, but still lacks some technique and he was already getting tired after yesterday's climbing and doing "La Marie-Rose" a second time for taking pictures.
Stef made a lot of progress and is getting very close to a send, but the many tries had started to wear him off.

Back to "La Marie-Rose".
Matthias still wanted to try it, and I convinced Harco to try and repeat it for the video.
They both weren't able to finish it anymore, but got close. The tiredness had gotten the better of them.

In the meantime, Stef and I had started working in "Super Bouze", the conditions were good.
I had done it already in 2011 but completely forgot about how I did it so it was puzzle for bot of us.
It didn't take a very long time before I figured it out again and profited from the good conditions to repeat it.

Fontainebleau - Cuvier - Super Bouze 7A+

Harco still climbed the not so easy bleu 43, "Le Bidule" to the right of "La Marie-Rose".
He's got some mantle skils!

We still had some fun trying to repeat "Big Crotte" but we were all tired and Harco and I decided to call it a day. He still had a five hour drive ahead of him and I really pushed him to the limit.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

December 27, 2016 - Got wood ?

Yesterday was an extremely wet day.
I drove from here to there, walked around a lot, touched wet holds but didn't get to climb anything.
Last night however, the skies cleared up and the day started with sunshine and a clear blue sky.
The streets were mostly dry so must be dry rock around somewhere already.

I drove to Rocher Saint-Germain Est, knowing that the area catches sun from the morning on, even in Winter.
There are a few new 7th grade problems opened recently and besides "Magic Three (debout)", I didn't try any of them yet.

"Magic Three" has been opened by the Belgians, Jan de Smit and Wolff Braeckman, and is one of the nicest if you like compression on slopers.
I tried the standing start a couple days after it was published in mid Summer, but I couldn't do anything on those slopers in the heat. Hats off for Jan and Wolff opening it in such conditions.

This morning it was only about 5°C and it made all the difference. I made it on my second attempt, but not without a struggle.

Fontainebleau - Rocher Saint-Germain Est - Magic Three (debout) 7A

The sitstart looks very nice, but I didn't want to spend too much energy yet. I still have 10 days of holiday and today I wanted to take it easy.

There was another new 7A nearby, "Le Casse Tête", a conventional sitstart of what is now 6 red.
I once did a sitstart on the right, but that was at most 6C.
Sitstart with a small crimp left hand and the undercling for the right, changes the whole story.
It looked really easy at first, but it took time to find my correct method. Not to be underestimated.

Fontainebleau - Rocher Saint-Germain Est - Le Casse-Tête 7A

I had some trouble to find "L'Arête des Comiques", only to find it no good enough conditions to give it some real tries, so I packed up to join Jean-Pierre (Roudneff) in Apremont.
He was trying and testing some by then still unpublished traverses opened by Tony (Fouchereau).

I watched him climb the very long 7A(6C+) traverse "Les Thunderbirds". I could only do it with a rest halfway. I just don't have the continuity.
Jean-Pierre had to go and he left me behind with soar muscles from trying "Les Thunderbirds".

Late afternoon someone is delivering 5 cubic metres (stères) of firewood and I had to be home for it. I still had about an hour of time though.
"Happy Boulder" got we down in the 6B+ slab again. I just can't seem to figure how to move up in that slab!

Not long ago, I thought I did "Ablation du Téton", but it appeared that I did an exit further right, which is conveniently called "Ablation du Téton (droite)". I remember that it felt harder than 7A and I was curious if the original dynamic exit would be as hard.

For me, the original version I did today, was easier than the right exit. Probably because I still remembered the first moves very well.
Two very distinctive lines. Gotta try both versions while at it.

Fontainebleau - Apremont - Ablation du Téton 7A

Not even 5 minutes after I came home, the woodman arrived, left again with my money, and I could start hauling and stapling 5 stères of firewood.
I will feel that tomorrow!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

December 25, 2016 - What goes up must go down.

Merry Christmas to all who cares!!

Only two small climbs today, most of the time was spent looking for dry boulders and especially walking uphill.
I started at Gros Sablons Nord where it dries quickly and walked straight to "Nymphe des Bois" on the top of the hill, opened by Bart (Van Raaij) not long ago.
It's on the arete to the left "L'Enfer des Zombies", a 7C(7C+) which is definitely on my want-to-try-list. But not today.
The boulder was mostly wet, but the holds of "Nymphe des Bois" looked quite okay.

In the conditions like today it felt like a soft 7A+, but when it's completely dry it will be more like soft 7A.

Fontainebleau - Gros Sablons Nord - Nymphe des Bois 7A+(7A)

My next stop was at Gros Sablons, which meant walking steep downhill followed by another steep uphill.
All that to find the whole sector too wet to try anything.
I had a long walk around looking for something dry, but it was no use.
Again downhill to try my chances on the neighbouring hill of 95.2, but there it was just the same. Wet.

As a last resort, I decided to have a look at "Petit Brigand" on the top of the hill of Roche au Four.
It's an even steeper and longer hill, but it was right next to the parking. A small detour, but the steep uphill exhausted me by the time I arrived at the top.
All that for just one problem, but at least it was dry and I got treated with a beautiful view over Les Trois Pignons.

Panorama from the top of Roche au Four.

On there's only a vague picture and description, so I followed the most logical that would fit he grade.
Maybe I did something wrong, because it felt soft for a problem opened by Olivier Lebreton and David Evrard.
Nice problem. Worth the detour? I would say no, unless everything else is wet.

Fontainebleau - Roche au Four - Petit Brigand 7A

I took a long break before going back down the steep downhill towards the car.
What goes up must go down.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

December 21, 2016 - Ibuprofen.

I had a day off today, but unfortunately I woke up coughing and having a fever. With Sandra and Noah at home having the flu, it had to be my turn now.
I had a cup of coffee, skipped breakfast, took some Ibuprofen to get the fever down and headed off for Canche aux Merciers and some other nearby climbing areas.

Most boulders in Canche aux Merciers were still too humid to be climbed, but I did find the crack of "La Grande Marche" dry. The top jug was damp but good enough.
The Ibuprofen still had to start working, I felt weak, had cold fingers but still I was able to do it relatively fast.
It's a really nice problem, but soft for the grade in my opinion.

Fontainebleau - Canche aux Merciers - La Grande Marche 7A+

With everything else of interest being unclimbable, I packed up and crossed the street towards Drei Zinnen.
There, everything was dry and in quite good conditions. Even "Ordalie" was dry enough, but first I wanted to finish off "Pantoum".

The key crimp was dry and didn't feel slippery unlike a couple of weeks ago when I worked out all the moves together with Pieter.
Having the moves still in my head, the body followed quickly and when I stood on the boulder, it all felt not that hard. It went like a flow.

Fontainebleau - Drei Zinnen - Pantoum 7B

As I mentioned earlier, even "Ordalie" was dry enough to finally try it.
Already a couple of times I stood looking at the problem with the holds being too wet to try.
The top jugs felt damp but they were good jugs so I didn't worry about that.

I already had seen some videos of it, so I knew the beta.
It didn't feel as hard as I expected, I did it on my second attempt.

Fontainebleau - Drei Zinnen - Ordalie 7A

The fever was as good as gone by now, thanks to the Ibuprofen, but I had short breath and needed a break.
I used the break to walk back to car and drive to Bois Rond Auberge down the road.
The boulder with "Incassable" would certainly be dry.
I wanted to try "Incassable" (French word for "unbreakable") to show that the fever and the flu can't get me down, they can't break me.
Ironically it turned out to be too hard, so I started trying "St Anger" next to it to finish off for today.

Apologies for the bad camera placement, but there were not many possibilities and I thought I had everything on it.
The sideways dyno to a good jug is not that difficult, but holding on to the swing afterwards felt really hard!
Too bad it's not in view, but I had to dyno from the left foot while my right one was already hooked behind a vertical ledge to be able to stop the swing.
This one felt hard for the grade.

Fontainebleau - Bois Rond Auberge - St Anger 7A+

I was exhausted now and wanted to go home to rest, the fever was coming up again.
But first, I stopped at the pharmacy for some more Ibuprofen.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

December 18, 2016 - Wet.

Pieter sent me a message early this morning, saying that he and and Francis were just on their way to the forest.
We met up around noon on the parking of Le Vaudoué.
It was grey and foggy and everything was wet so we set our hopes on Rocher Fin, one of the quickest drying areas of Bleau.

The long walk turned out to be in vain, because the boulders were just soaking wet.
The more in the open, the wetter the boulders were. The fog was falling down and it just kept on coming.
A couple of small groups of climbers were trying to climb on anything that looked dry, and it wasn't much.
We had a small walk around the area, but headed on to Le 111, a small remote area not far from there.
There also, everything wet except for the start of "Rêve (gauche)", a high arete that requires a lot of power to stop you from "waving the flag".
It was fun working out the beautiful moves but a real pity that we couldn't climb it to the top, just because it was too wet up there.

We noticed that the boulders that were covered by the trees were sometimes almost dry. The branches were covering them from the falling fog.
The decision was quickly made to stop at Rocher du Potala on our long way back to the parking, hoping to find at least something dry there.

We were lucky to find the holds of "Samarkand" dry. Only the high sloper left had to be dried with a towel, which turned out to be good enough.
The small jug on the right was soaking wet, but the hold was good enough to use.

I tried "Samarkand" years ago and was waiting to find it in good conditions ever since.
Ironically, it looked like to be in one of the worst conditions ever, but I was able to finally finish it.
Pieter got really close, but had to give up in the end. He has no excuse.

Fontainebleau - Rocher du Potala - Samarkand 7A+(7A)

Saturday, December 17, 2016

December 17, 2016 - What was the season again ?

Jean-Pierre (Roudneff) wrote me yesterday evening that he had very good conditions in Apremont on Thursday.
They predicted it to be a grey and cloudy day, but the sun broke through the morning fog and soon the sky was blue and it started to warm up.
I took Jean-Pierre's word for it and headed to Apremont for a day of easy climbing.
My body felt weak at first, but the sun gave me energy. It felt warm.

The forest was wet, but the boulders out in the open in the chaos of Apremont were all dry.
I walked straight to the small sector of "Onde de Choc" where there is always something left to do, "Fosse Ailleurs" for example.
It's a little bit the "biscuit" version of "La Fosse", one that still remains on my to-do list.
Still didn't feel easy though, but it was the first problem of the day and my skin still needed to warm up.

Fontainebleau - Apremont - Fosse Ailleurs 7A

It's a nice spot there, so I stayed for a while, played around and did a combination of "Tango Triste (assis)" and "Rêve de Pierre".
I named it "Rêve de Tango" and the grade will be about 7A as I found it slightly harder than "Tango Triste (assis)".
Sitstart and climb as for "Tango Triste (assis)", take the crack of "Rêve de Pierre" on the right and exit on slopers above.
It was fun to do and it has a nice shouldermove.

Fontainebleau - Apremont - Rêve de Tango 7A

One on my wanted list for today was "Fil à Tordre", which I tried several sessions already, but never was able to do the last dynamic move to the top.
It didn't feel much different when I started trying. The last move feels possible, but it's just such a difficult one to make coming from the position you're in.
My persistence payed off and finally I can add this nice problem to my done list.

Fontainebleau - Apremont - Fil à Tordre 7A+

It was really warm by now so I walked to "Happy Boulder" where it was cooler, but unfortunately also less dry.
I made my way into the slab of it, but didn't dare and wasn't able to finish it.
Time to find the sun again.

Not far from there, the sun was shining directly on "Faux Contact" which was in perfect condition.
I never tried, but I saw a video of it in the morning so I knew what to do and was able to flash it.
Such cool campus moves, exceptional for Bleau. Really nice problem!

Fontainebleau - Apremont - Faux Contact 7A+(7B)

I didn't have any plan anymore, so I decided to climb something on my way back to the car, packed up and started walking.
I must have been about 100m away when I noticed in the topo that there was another 7A on the boulder of "Faux Contact" and I chose to walk back as I knew that this was dry. It was going to be my last climb for the day so I didn't take any risks.

I'm not completely sure that my method was correct but this felt really hard for the grade.
My body was cooled down and I felt tired so that that most probably played a role, but still.
It's a bit annoying having to climb over the small boulder, but in the end it was a really nice problem that I enjoyed to climb.
Tough one!

Fontainebleau - Apremont - Ablation du Téton 7A

It felt really warm today in the sun and between the boulders, and it was hard to believe that in only four days the Winter starts. Or does it ?

Friday, December 16, 2016

December 16, 2016 - The healing forest.

Monday morning at 4h30, I left to Hamburg (Germany) for work and I returned yesterday late in the evening. I was exhausted, felt miserable and had bad belly cramps. Most probably a belly flue that started the day before.
A good night sleep in my own bed would do me good and I had taken the next day off.

There was a blue sky this morning but I had troubles getting out of bed. I still felt miserable and had heavy cramps.
I took my time trying to eat something light and stopped at the pharmacy on my way to Canche aux Merciers.
The smell of the forest, the oxygen, the sun on my face and my crashpad on my back. It made me feel better instantly but I felt weak and walked slowly.

It didn't come as a surprise to find the boulders wet.
The big difference in air temperature between last night and now combined with cold rock made the dawn condense and keep everything wet.
There were some southernly faced problems that were in the sun and I was lucky to find a nameless 7A(7A+) dry.

It's one that I tried several times long ago, but never got far.
Finding the method didn't take me long this time but as I felt weak, I had to go deep and lost a lot of energy.

Fontainebleau - Canche aux Merciers - Nameless 7A(7A+)

As I couldn't find anything else of my interest dry, I decided to drive to 95.2 and try my chances there. I still had some problems to back to in that area.

"Le Yaniro" was wet, but "Pince-Toi" was dryer than last time I tried it.
It's a hard 7A+ that I already tried quite a few times but the method I saw in videos just didn't seem to work for me.
Today it was no different but I was able to do it using a different method with both hands on the arete as the convention, but with a fa toehook on the right.
It still felt hard, but it worked for me.

Fontainebleau - 95.2 - Pince-Toi 7A+

I then moved to "Captain Hook" which was dry but the slopers started to get dark and humid after a few tries already.
I figured out the whole sequence though and will come back for it when the conditions are better.

On my way back to the car I stopped at the "Rudeboy" boulder where I knew that "Zyno" would be dry as it's facing South.
By the time I got there, I felt exhausted.
The cramps were gone and I didn't feel miserable anymore, but my body had weakened.

I took a small break and wasn't sure if I would still have enough explosive power to make the dyno.
Some deep oxygen rich breaths helped and soon after I gave it a first try. I got nowhere, but I felt confident that after a few tries it would get better and better.
It still took me a while with small breaks every two or three tries, but then suddenly I had it. It felt great, I felt great. Tired, but great!

Fontainebleau - 95.2 - Zyno 7A+(7B)

Still now, hours later, I'm tired but the cramps haven't returned and I don't feel miserable anymore.

It truly is a healing forest.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

December 07, 2016 - Bye bye.

Next week I have to fly to Hamburg a few days for work, so I took a day off today, hoping I could do a lot of climbing.
My mind was set on trying "L'Oeil de la Sybille", a 7C+ on the big roof of "Eclipse" in Cul de Chien.

While I was walking through the forest, just before noon, it quickly became obvious that it was wet.
We didn't have any rain for a while now, but the air humidity was about 100% and the mist during the night had given the rock a dark wet look.
I kept on hoping though, that what I wanted to try would be dry out there in the sun.

The part of the topout of the boulder that was catching sun was dry, but all te holds in the roof underneath were either wet or very damp.
The topout in the shade, there where "L'Oeil de la Sybille" finishes was wet too.

The only completely dry problem on the boulder was "La Noirâtre", which was fully exposed to the sun, so I started trying the crouching start of it instead.
The first move is a hard one, but as soon as I was able to stick, I climbed it to the top.
Not the nicest problem around, but at least it was dry and I was able to finish something.

Fontainebleau - Cul de Chien - La Noirâtre (accroupi) 7A+(7B)

I did still try the separate moves of "L'Oeil de la Sybille", can do all of them, linked some together, but I didn't bother trying the whole thing, because by the time I arrived at the dyno, my hands were all wet.
I'll come back for it one day.

My effort going to 95.2 turned out for nothing, because there also, it was wet.
Bye bye perfect conditions from last week.
At least I finally met Grégoire Thibault, who also tried his chances in 95.2, but in vain.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

December 03, 2016 - Who did it ?

It was already a while ago that I saw Pieter, so I was glad that he wrote me that he was coming to the forest for the weekend.
It was expected that the bigger areas would be crowded, so we agreed to go to the relatively unknown Apremont Sanglier.
We both never went there before and it would be nice to discover another part of the forest.

The boulders are a bit spread out in a small valley with a small chaotic sector in the middle of it.
We were a bit disappointed that most boulders low in the valley were wet and those in the sun were showing a lot of signs of condensation.
Luckily, the boulder with "Soundgarden" was dry enough. Also condensed here and there, but not in the spots that were needed to climb some problems on it.

We warmed up in "Jeu d'Ombres (droite)" that sitstarts in a pit, uses jugs to climb through the roof and finishes on bad slopers and a hard mantle (if you don't place the feet right).
It felt really easy for the grade as it was the first climb of the day and I was able to flash it.
The jugs in the first part served as a good short warmup.

Pieter climbed it in two parts but wasn't able to link them together. He didn't climb for a month, got some extra kilos and just got back from Japan.
He needed some more time to warmup and get back into it.

Fontainebleau - Apremont Sanglier - Jeu d'Ombres (droite) 7A

When I was browsing on through the problems of Apremont Sanglier, I had made a list in my head of problems that I wanted to try or at least see if they were wet.
One of them was "Soundgarden", on the same boulder.
This was also dry enough, even though the sloper for the right hand high up felt damp and uncertain.

When looking at it, it doesn't look that nice, but we both changed our mind while trying it. The moves were nicer to do than expected.
After working out the moves I did it quite quickly.
Pieter had to go deep, almost slipped off on the last easy part, but managed his way to the top too.
He was motivated!

Fontainebleau - Apremont Sanglier - Soundgarden 7A+

We then strolled around in the valley, looking at other problems, but they were condensed or sometimes simply wet.
"La Catapulte", the boulder with for instance "The Enterprise", "Mon Précieux" and "Day of Tentacle" all looked really nice, but were forced to be left untried. At least we have something to come back to.

Last on the list, and my favourite, was "Spidercochon".
I had seen a video of David Evrard opening it a long time ago and from that moment on I knew that I had to to try that one day.
It has some very unique moves on it and I was curious to see how it would be like to do them.
After watching the video you will know what I mean.

We found the boulder easily, right next to the path and were happily surprised that it was dry.
At first, after our first try, it seemed impossible to do, but try after try we got closer to finding the right sequence.
It took a long time, but I ended up doing it after all, unexpectedly.

Pieter was able to find his way into the hole, but got stuck balancing over into the undercling.

Really glad with this one!
Never climbed anything like it before.

Fontainebleau - Apremont Sanglier - Spidercochon 7B

While Pieter gave some more tries, I tried the right exit, "Spidercochon (droite)" which goes at 7C.
I was able to reach the last hold a few times, but couldn't hold on.
The sun had gone behind the valley in the meantime and it had started to be really cold.
We decided to call it a day.

Pieter gladly accepted my offer to stay over for diner and sleep in a warm bed instead of his car.
We had a fun evening playing Cluedo.

On Sunday we left around 10am and went another quiet area, Coquibus Auvergne.
Here on the South face of the hill, the boulders were dry and in relatively good condtitions.
We first went to the back of the area, to the roof with for instance "Little Crotale" that I did about a year ago.

Pieter got very close to doing it, but lacked the remaining strength in the end to mantle out.
After I finally figured out how to start in "Little Cobra", I pressed record and sent it straight away.
Really powerful first moves, even getting the second foot off the ground is hard.

Fontainebleau - Coquibus Auvergne - Little Cobra 7A+

On the way back we stopped at "À Six c'est Assez" that I was able to repeat on my second try.
Pieter cruises through the problem until the last dynamic move to the top.
He tried a lot, got very close, but threw his towel in the ring.

We moved to Drei Zinnen where we wanted to try "Pantoum".
It didn't catch much sun today and the key crimp felt greasy.
I did manage to do it in two overlapping parts and I'm quite sure that I would be able to do it, but I needed better conditions for the slopey crimps.

The low sun made us go to the boulders on the South crest of the hill where she was still shining and we ended up at "Floréal" that looked to be in very good conditions and nicely in the sun.
It's a very nice problem and I was almost disappointed that I flashed it with ease.
I wouldn't have minded trying it some more.

It seemed to be to too morpho for Pieter, but I think he was getting tired.
If he would have been fresh, I'm sure that he would have done it easily too.

It was getting close to evening and Pieter still had a long drive ahead, so we headed back to the parking, said our goodbyes and went our own ways.
My body felt tired from fighting against the cold and I was glad to come home and put on the fire.

Fontainebleau - Drei Zinnen - Floréal 7A

Thursday, December 1, 2016

December 01, 2016 - Layers.

It was still freezing on the parking of Isatis when I met up with Jean-Pierre (Roudneff) at 11h30, but it didn't feel too cold as long as I wore my layers.
My coat, two sweaters, two T-shirts, two pants and long sock up to the knees. They did the trick.

Yesterday evening I arranged with JP to go try the recently opened "Je te Veux" on the same boulder as "Le Mur des Lamentations", the round arete right next to "Gnossienne".
It's quite high and actually had been opened by Philippe (Le Denmat) a while ago, but he did it with a rope and repeated it without just two weeks ago.
A second layer of crashpads and at least one spotter add to the motivation to try it.

JP knows a lot of people and soon we became a group of five and surrounded "Je te Veux" with two layers of pads.
It felt safe and was the first to try.
Unfortunately I forgot the beta, found myself stuck on the huge sloper and had to jump off.
Julien (dont know his last name) flashed it, improvising his own beta to the top.
I followed immediately after and did it on my second attempt, using the original beta.
The encouragement helped. The footholds are tiny and the top is one big bad sloper. A beautiful line!
JP needed some more tries and felt unsure at the top, but our cheering and encouragement helped him up too.
The conditions were again perfect!

Fontainebleau - Franchard Isatis - Je te Veux 7A

Another problem that JP had proposed was the crimpsy wall "La Grande Allonge" on the backside of the boulder.
Something that I never noticed before.
We all needed max two attempts. 

Fontainebleau - Franchard Isatis - La Grande Allonge 7A

We then went our separate ways and I joined Koen (de Schepper) at "El Poussah".
It's a classic problem, but I only got to trying it once last Summer. The holds didn't feel certain enough back then and I never dared to do the move towards the first sloper.

Now, with the good conditions and knowing that Koen was there spotting, I did the whole thing on my first attempt.
A very nice problem and now I understand why it's so popular. I might go back one day to try the extended version.

Fontainebleau - Franchard Isatis - El Poussah 7A

It felt good coming back home in the warmth and take off some layers.
My body needs a short rest now but tomorrow I have to go back to work so that won't be a problem.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November 30, 2016 - What a bonus!

It was only -7°C when I brought my youngest son, Noah, to school. Too cold for climbing so I had to wait, but it didn't matter because I had to go to the doctor with my oldest son, Anthony, at 10h30 anyway.
After bringing him to school afterwards in La Chapelle la Reine, I drove on to Larchant.

Last time, when I did "Baloo" in Maunoury, I had a good look at "Bagheera" next to it.
The slopers were humid though and I remember thinking that I would wait for good conditions and that I wanted to take my time for it.
I made it my main goal for my 3 day holiday.

When I arrived at the boulder, it was still freezing but as long as there was some sun, it was very enjoyable.
I started checking and brushing the holds, had another look at a beta video and warmed up with my first attempt.
It turned out that the crux move seemed to be at the start, holding a sloper pinch and then making a far move to the right.
I tried just that move a couple of times and as soon as I did it, I started my second attempt, made it easily past the crux, my hand stuck on the high left sloper, felt that I could easily pull on it, realised that the camera wasn't rolling, and jumped off.
I installed the camera, took a minute break and went for my third attempt which was the good one.

It was just perfect, my hands were stuck like glue on those slopers.
Really glad with this one!

Fontainebleau - Maunoury - Bagheera 7C

My main goal was done much faster than I expected, everything that followed would be a bonus.
And what a bonus it has become!

I strolled around a bit in the sector behind "Instinct" and it was more by accident that found myself standing in front of "Oasis" amidst the chaos of boulders. It's a beautiful line!
Last time that I stood before it, I didn't dare to give it a try, but now that the conditions were perfect, I took my chance.

Before I installed the camera, I wanted to check how the first sloper felt, and I did and stuck the first move from the first try.
I installed the camera again, and here also sent "Oasis" right away on my second attempt. I could have flashed it if I would have set up the camera first.
It didn't matter. What does matter is that it is a really nice climb, with the conditions again in favor.

Fontainebleau - Maunoury - Oasis 7B+(7B)

I then went looking for "El Rodeno", which didn't look really nice and on top of that was a bit expo, so I walked down the hill to try "L'Oeil de Boîte dans l'Epaule (droite)". Now that's a whole mouth full when speaking that out, but what's in a name?

Long ago I did the direct version quite quickly and I was curious how the right exit variation could make the grade go up from 7A(6C+) to 7B.
It didn't take long before I was relieved from my curiosity.
I tried different ways, but it turned out that the only way I was able to go the right was by doing a morpho crossover move with my left arm crossing over my right to the (from that position) extremely far two finger pocket that was humid inside.
Many times I had to try this move before I was able to do it, each time doing it from the sitstart, because I didn't know when the successful attempt would be and that I would be able to do it again.

From all the problems I did today, this one wasn't the hardest, but the most difficult.
Hard for the grade in my opinion.

Fontainebleau - Maunoury - L'Oeil de Boîte dans l'Epaule (droite) 7B

It was time to find something easier to finish the day. I noticed that I did loose some energy in the last problem.
With these conditions, it was time to finally try "Cuicuishovsky" and "Cuicuishkaniev", both on the same boulder as "Soupçon" and as some might have guessed already, opened by Marc (Lehner).

Both problems are with very bad sandy slopers that require perfect friction, which there was.
My only concerns was to find it too wet again, as I had never found it dry enough to try on my previous visits, but apart from the lowest starting jug, they were dry.

This time I immediately installed the camera. Luckily, because I flashed them both.
It was a true sloperfest!

Fontainebleau - Maunoury - Cuicuishovsky 7A(6C+)

Keep on slapping!

Fontainebleau - Maunoury - Cuicuishkaniev 7A+(7A)

The days when the conditions are perfect, are scarce and the chances that they come together with the right motivation, the available time, feeling strong and being alone in the forest, are very low.
Today they all came together.

Maybe I should play the lottery? Now that would be a bonus!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

November 29, 2016 - Ça colle!

It's cold. There's a blue sky, a light breeze sometimes and the air humidity is only 65%.
The ideal ingredients to create perfect conditions, so I took a couple of days off to profit from them.
After all, it's Autumn and things can change quickly, but it's forecasted to stay like this for the rest of the week.

It was about 10am when I parked at Gorges du Houx and still -1°C, but the sun was coming over the hill and slowly warming up the air.
In the Summer of 2015 I came here especially for the ultra classic "Gargantoit".
Ever since the first time I saw a picture of it, I knew I wanted to try that beautiful line.
I knew I could do it, but the move to match the right hand at the left on the sloper felt too scary with the heat. Now at least the cold would give me more confidence for sticking the slopers.

I enjoyed the 15 minute walk. The ground was crisp and the path was easy to follow without those 2m high ferns, another advantage of the season.
When I arrived, I needed some time to warm up and I stood and stared at the problem for a couple of minutes.
I imagined myself doing the move, and I felt scared, but I transformed the fear into focus and tried my first problem of the day. I was hanging in "Gargantoit".

On my first try I was able to do the move, but as it came unexpected, I didn't feel ready to do the next far move, the one to the left arete.
My second attempt was slightly more relaxed but I didn't dare to give it all yet. I needed to feel the left arete first.
By my third try I felt really confident and sent "Gargantoit". Great, beautiful problem!

Fontainebleau - Gorges du Houx - Gargantoit 7A+(7A)

Next up was "L'Arête" at barely 50m further down the blue path.
On my previous visit in Summer I gave it some tries but it was too hard.
I tried some moves separately and soon I felt confident that I would send it this time.
Not long after that, it was done.
I really liked trying and doing the moves, it's a beautiful underestimated problem.

Fontainebleau - Gorges du Houx - L'Arête 7A+

Now that I was at it, a couple of boulders to the left of "L'Arête", I once tried "Ligne de Mire" for a long time and had to leave it behind undone.
It's a straight up wall with good holds and the first moves are a walk in the park, but the move towards the first top sloper is a really tough one.
It requires balance, good footwork and body positioning, speed and power.

You can count the number of tries I needed to finish it today on one hand, but it sure wasn't easy.
Nice problem and certainly not a giveaway. 

Fontainebleau - Gorges du Houx - Ligne de Mire 7A

In the meantime it had warmed up a bit. It didn't go over 6°C today, but as long as I wore my layers, it was comfortable. The cold clean air was filled with oxygen and gave me plenty of energy.

I decided to go to Rocher du Télégraphe, but not without trying "Le Bi Haut" in Gorges du Houx Oiseau de Proie on my way to the car.
Last time I was there, the pockets in the roof were wet, but today they were good enough for some tries.
I could do all the moves separately quite fast, but you have to jump to a hold that you cannot see. A hard one to coordinate and I kind of had to be lucky to get on the right spot.
The move after that one was for me the crux. Letting my right hand go from under the roof into a two finger pocket and immediately catching my swing, was a move that I couldn't do every time. You need a good aim while moving.
Eventually, I got lucky and was able to make the whole sequence in a row.

A very cool problem in a low roof. Pure fun!

Fontainebleau - Gorges du Houx Oiseau de Proie - Le Bi Haut 7B

I had chosen to move to Rocher du Télégraphe because I remembered "Morse", one of the recent problems that I couldn't do because of the jump to a bad sloper. I couldn't stick it and needed good conditions. Just like today.

Out of curiosity, I immediately tried the jump to feel how big the difference would be. It was huge, I stuck the sloper right away. Ça colle!
When I then realised after some tries, that I jumped to the worst sloper, I knew that I would send it quickly when aiming for the better one.
With these conditions, it felt soft for the grade.

Fontainebleau - Rocher du Télégraphe - Morse 7B

I didn't want to be home too late but I still wanted to climb a little something, so I checked for something interesting nearby and my eye fell on "La Petite Sauvage" at barely 50m.
It's a slow drying boulder and recommended for in the Summer period, but it besides parts of the top of the boulder, it was dry enough.

It took me a while before I found my method to start, but once I got the holds after the dynamic move, the rest followed right away.
Very hard start, certainly not the nicest problem of the area, but good enough to tick off.

Fontainebleau - Rocher du Télégraphe - La Petite Sauvage 7B

I went home relieved, looking forward to tomorrow because "ça colle"!

Friday, November 25, 2016

November 25, 2016 - Hey, that's Bleau.

Tony (Fouchereau) is unstoppable! Yet again has he opened some problems in Franchard Hautes Plaines.
One of them is "Bossanovabrasil". After a seeing a picture on, I wanted to see the boulder in real life.

It was a grey and humid day today, but it didn't rain and I stopped early at work to try my chances anyway.
Most of the boulders however, even though they looked wet, were dry but did feel damp.
As I wasn't sure that "Bossanovabrasil" was going to be dry, so I first went to the "Lapin ou Canard" boulder. There was still a 7B variation, "Tom et Géry", that I only recently noticed on and I wanted to give it a try.

The boulder was also dry, but not in good conditions, the slopers could be held on to, but they felt uncertain, as if you could slip off any time.
Despite that, I was able to climb the problem on my second attempt.
Nice climb but soft for the grade.

Fontainebleau - Franchard Hautes Plaines - Tom et Géry 7B

I knew I had to pass by "Le Surplomb de la Coquinette" on my way to "Bossanovabrasil" and I was glad to see that it also was dry enough to climb.
It's also opened by Tony earlier this year and can be found on the backside of the boulder of "Le Surplomb de la Coquille".

Out of the 3 problems I did today, this has the lowest grade, but still it took me the most time to find the correct method. But hey, that's Bleau.

Fontainebleau - Franchard Hautes Plaines - Le Surplomb de la Coquinette 7A(7A+)

With the bit of time I still had left, I now set off to find "Bossanovabrasil", which I found easily by following the online description.
It looked bigger than I expected and I wasn't sure at all if I would be able to do it. But hey, it's Bleau and anything can happen.

I did it with the tips of my fingers.
Far stretched out move to the right, when coming out of a very sketchy body position.

Proposed as a 7B(7C). I will keep it in the middle.

Fontainebleau - Franchard Hautes Plaines - Bossanovabrasil 7B(7C)

Thursday, November 24, 2016

November 24, 2016 - The game.

It was a long travel back home this morning and I needed a break before starting to work from home again.
Last Summer, also when coming back from travel, I stopped at Vallée Chaude to try "Ecarte un Maxx", which I flashed with ease and rightfully has been downgraded to 6C+(7A) by now.
During the drive I remembered that I started trying two variations of that problem but wasn't able to finish them back then. After all, it was 36°C and I was in Vallée Chaude!

One variation has been opened by Bart (Van Raaij) in the meantime, the direct dyno "Ecarte un Maxx (direct)" with a proposed grade of 7B(7A+).
Still today, I'm still lacking about 20 cm and technique to get the top.

The other variation is more like a game and probably many climbers will not like it because it's too conventional and partly eliminate, but I had a lot of fun trying and eventually doing it.
Maybe it will be published on, or maybe not.

You have to start hanging with both pockets, feet hanging in the air.
Make a hard swing to the right and use a toehook behind the right arete. The arete is not allowed with the hands.
Then finally try to reach directly to the top.
Again, it was a fun game to play, as you will see in the video. Definitely worth trying if you should be there anyway.

Fontainebleau - Vallée Chaude - Le Jeu d'Ecarte 7A+(7A)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

November 22, 2016 - No camping.

I was working from home this morning and had to travel for work in the afternoon, but first I took a small lunch break. It came in the form of a short stop at Gorge aux Châts.

Last Sunday I bumped into Peter 'Pete' Collins and he told me was around until Wednesday.
He said that he definitely wanted to try "Spanish Caravan" in Gorge aux Châts during his trip, so somehow I expected to find him there.
It didn't come as a surprise to see his van parked at the area.
When I found him in the main area, he said that he just was able to finally finish "Spanish Caravan".
It was great news. I was happy for him and it only strengthened my desire to try the problem myself.

Last time I saw Pete was when I did "La Caravane" and it was he who told me about "Spanish Caravan".
A quite logical line to the left that I had never really noticed before. I didn't really try it then, but I was psyched to come back for it.
Now that Pete did it, he could give me some very helpful beta. The moves are beautiful but very powerful, especially in the first part of the problem.

At first, the first move to the small crimp seemed almost impossible for me, but after a while I found a method that worked.
Now that I could do that move, I could do all of them separately. It was simply a matter of linking it all together now.

I got close but when I told Pete that I was going to give it one more try, I sent it.
It felt great standing on the top, totally unexpected.

If it wouldn't have been for Pete, I maybe would have never even noticed the problem and thus never climbed it.
Thanks to Pete also for the beta and the encouragement. I'm not sure if I would have been able to climb it today without it.

Fontainebleau - Gorge aux Châts - Spanish Caravan 7B+

Now I'm traveling for work until Thursday, and no, I'm not sleeping in a caravan.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

November 19, 2016 - Conditions: The Return of the Good.

After days, almost weeks, of nagging about humid conditions, today was finally the return of the good. Even very close to perfect!

It was still early, there were only 2 other cars on the parking of Cuvier and I was only climber in the area.
I went straight to Rempart to try "Noir Désir (gauche)". The previous times I tried it, the conditions were not good enough and the slopers felt greasy, but now the conditions felt perfect.
The slopers still felt sketchy but I sticky enough for me to be able to hang on long enough.
It always felt so hard, but now it didn't take me long. Beautiful problem!

Fontainebleau - Cuvier Rempart - Noir Désir (gauche) 7B

At only about 30m from there I wanted to try "La Boule à Pierrot", another friction dependent problem.
The few other times that I sat in it, it always felt too hard, but yet again, now it was sticky.
After a while, I did check the beta on and as soon as I was able to execute all the moves, it went quite smooth.

Fontainebleau - Cuvier Rempart - La Boule à Pierrot 7B

I will never forget the weekend in 2011 that I first did "Immodium".
It was the day that Ivan (Moreels) climbed "Fourmis Rouges" and Steven (Demets) "Immodium (assis)".
It took me many tries that day before I was able to stick the jug, but still fell off the easy topout because of my nerves. I can still hear Ivan saying to keep calm until the end.
I wasn't able to to it again that day, but the day after, I was and topped out correctly.

Today I wanted to repeat it for the video and made it on my second attempt.

Fontainebleau - Cuvier Rempart - Immodium 7A

I got close to doing "Immodium (assis)", but my body needed a short break.
The break came in the form of walking to a relatively unknown sector of Cuvier Sorcières. The sector with "Le Proueptologue".
It's more like a micro area on its own, completely isolated.

Beautiful Autumn colors on the way to "Le Proueptologue".

I got to know the sector thanks to Neil (Hart) when we were filming Simon 'Kook' Newstead for Neil's film "Out of Sight".
It was amazing to see 'Kook' climbing "Le Proueptologue" (8A) several times for the camera, each time another angle.
I didn't get further than getting my feet off the ground in the standstart.

I could feel that I am stronger now, because apart from finding the correct foot position at the start, it didn't give me much trouble. The conditions were in favor.
Great compression problem and completely out of sight!

Fontainebleau - Cuvier Sorcières - Le Proueptologue (debout) 7B

Friday, November 18, 2016

November 18, 2016 - Catching up.

The weather was announced to be finally good today, so I took a couple of hours off work to enjoy the forest and hopefully catch up with some climbing.
They published again a lot of new 7's the last couple of days, out of which 2 of them in Gros Sablons Nord.
The 'Nord' in the name doesn't sound good after days of rain, but the small area is actually spread out on the South ridge of the neighbouring hill to the North of Gros Sablons. Still following ?
It still rained a lot last night, but the sun, the strong wind and the quite dry air dried up most of the boulders facing South.
I had to walk around a bit to find the new problems but it didn't take that long.
The boulder was dry and in seemingly good conditions, so I could start.

The warmup in "Y But Profane" was short. After trying the far move, I made it on my second attempt.
Felt very soft for the grade, but I did have a long rest after all.

Fontainebleau - Gros Sablons Nord - Y But Profane 7A

The other one , "Le Butapapa", is a variation on "Y But Profane".
The start is more to the right, traverses slightly to the left into "Y But Profane" and exits the same.

I really enjoyed trying this. It has great moves on really bad slopers.
Not 7B and also not very hard for 7A+, but oh so nice!

Fontainebleau - Gros Sablons Nord - Le Butapapa 7A+(7B)

On my way back I decided to stop in 95.2 for the time I had left.
Coming from the other side than usual, my first stop was at "Le Bloc à Bertrand", a wall with very friction dependent slopers. I was hoping that the friction would be the same as "Le Butapapa".

I had tried "Le Bloc à Bertrand" a couple of short sessions years ago and either forgot about it, or found the problem occupied by others when I didn't. Now the area was deserted and the boulder was dry.
I remember that on my previous sessions, I had difficulties holding on to the first sloper and could barely move my feet before letting go.
Now from first attempt on, I could easily move my feet and even prepare for the next far move left hand.
Sooner than I expected, I topped out. Truly glad with this one, a beauty.

Fontainebleau - 95.2 - Le Bloc à Bertrand 7A+

The problem just right of it, is a dyno of which I couldn't remember ever having tried it before.
It turned out to be not that hard for me, because I made it on my second attempt.
Cool dynamic first move. I wonder why I had never noticed this before.

Fontainebleau - 95.2 - Le Jeté Michaud / Jump 7A+

Another problem that I had never noticed before, but stumbled upon recently when I was browsing, is "Tim Tim".
It's easy to find near the top of the hill in the middle of the main area, and a nice looking compression problem.
It turned out to be quite easy to climb too.
My heel slipped on my first attempt, but didn't on my second and I finished it off.

Fontainebleau - 95.2 - Tim Tim 7A(6C+)

Not too bad for a short afternoon, I had some catching up to do.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

November 17, 2016 - Take what you can get.

It's been six days since my last post.
This usually means that those were dominated by rain, and now is no exception.
The Autumn is doing what Autumn does and it's doing it good. Rain, rain, rain, but also a beautiful colourful forest!

Today was finally a dry day and we even got to see some sun.
I took advantage of it and stopped at Cuvier on the way home from work, a quick climb would do me good after some really stressed out days without being able to vent through climbing.

Apart from a handful of cars, the parking was deserted. It wasn't a very good sign.
Bruno (Lazzerini), who was just leaving, confirmed what I feared. Condensation had kept almost everything soaking wet.
I didn't have time to go somewhere else, so I walked around and look for something just dry enough to climb, to take what I could get.

At least, for once, the infamous "Bleau Job Square" was totally empty and the only dry enough problems were "Charcuterie", "L'Araignée" and "Cortomaltèse".
I did "Charcuterie" already in 2009, but never tried "L'Araignée" that start to the right of it and exits in "Charcuterie".
The whole boulder was wet on the top and the holds were humid, but I had to take what I could get, so I decided to try it.
The feet were slippery and the holds felt uncertain, but soon I made it to the top. It felt great to climb again!

Fontainebleau - Cuvier - L'Araignée 7A

There was still about 15 minutes of daylight left, and even though I have done "Cortomaltèse" so many times already, I moved over to it so I could finally have it on camera.
After all, it is an über-classic-must-have-done problem, so it draws a lot of climbers, making it difficult to position the camera.
As the place was deserted, I took my chance. I had to take what I could get.

I missed the better sloper on my first try, but had it on my second and topped out.

Fontainebleau - Cuvier - Cortomaltèse 6C+(6C)

By the time I arrived back at the car, it had started to get dark and on the parking there already were some "lonely men" scattered, looking at each other and probably waiting for who would make the first move.
They were also there to take what they could get. Or should I say "to take WHO they could get" ?

I started the car, hoping that the radio wasn't playing "It's raining men".

Friday, November 11, 2016

November 11, 2016 - Démoniaque.

It had rained the whole week, but today was finally announced to be dry.
The rain fell until deep in the night, but there was some wind and even though everything was still wet in the morning, I was pretty confident to find some dry boulders high up in Cuvier Ouest.
On the parking I ran into Simon (De Meester) who decided to join me.
Upon arrival up the hill, I was slightly disappointed to see that most boulders were still too wet to be called climbable, so I showed Simon around.

We all have our demons, and so has Cuvier Ouest, but it's a nice one.
The steep overhang with "Démoniaque" and "Les Cavaliers de l'Apocalypse" was dry enough to be climbed.
Simon warmed up in "Les Cavaliers de l'Apocalypse" while I started immediately with "Démoniaque".

"Démoniaque" starts with the right hand in a crimpy crack on which you have to completely carry almost your whole body while trying to reach the edge with the left hand.
It's a scary move at first, but once you get used to it, it quickly becomes a routine move.
Then, however, you have to try to hold an inevitable swing which turned out to be the crux move.

It took a while before we both more or less at the same time noticed that if you take the crack two centimeters higher, it is actually easier to pull on to and that you can use the index finger to stop the swing.
The new beta turned out to be the key for the whole problem, because we both made it to the top on our first try afterward.
Really nice problem of which I'm glad I wasn't alone to try it.

Fontainebleau - Cuvier Ouest - Démoniaque 7A+

Sunday, November 6, 2016

November 06, 2016 - Do the padwalk.

Most of my time in the forest today was spent looking for dry boulders.
The sun was out most of the time, but nearly everything stayed wet.
I admit, my decision to go to Franchard Sablons Ouest and Franchard Basses Plaines was stupid, but I enjoyed the walk and found some interesting problems for a future visit.
I was able to imagine doing the moves in the problems, but couldn't try any of them because everything was wet.

One small problem seemed climbable though. The one behind "Rainbow Rocket".
Apart from the starting hold, the arete was wet, but I figured I could go straight to the top sloper, that unfortunately was humid.
I didn't know then that the topout was actually more wet than I thought.

Fontainebleau - Franchard Sablons Ouest - Les Pantins Sociaux 7A

I realised that the conditions weren't going to get better here today, so I was forced to look for dryer grounds.
It's always a risk going to 95.2 on a Sunday, but that's what it was going to be.

On my way back I strolled around in Franchard Hautes Plaines where "Light Woman (gauche)" felt dry enough for a try.
Maybe it were the conditions, but this felt hard enough for 7A to me.

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

I ended up at the roof of "Lapin ou Canard", hoping I could try the 7B variation, "Tom et Géry".
Unfortunately it started raining before I could give it a try, so I left.

It was only a local shower, because the 95.2 area was quite dry ... and crowded of course.
Most of the problems I wanted to try or repeat were either wet or being tried already.
To my pleasant surprise I found the boulder with "L'Ange Naïf" dry and completely for myself. That was until an Irish couple arrived.
I doubted to leave but we ended up climbing the boulder together and they turned a really friendly couple. We will probably meet again one day.

It was only a short while, because I watched Ricky (the male part of the Irish couple) nearly catching the top on his flash attempt of "L'Ange Naïf". He did it on his second.
I went for "L'Ange Naïf (droite)" which went down fast too. I think it was on my third try.
Beautiful moves!!

Fontainebleau - 95.2 - L'Ange Naïf (droite) 7A+

Not much climbing today, but a lot of walking the crashpad.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

November 05, 2016 - Stretch.

It rained a lot from yesterday afternoon until deep in the night, and the forecast was showing a grey sky the whole morning after which it should clear up a bit, but the air humidity was expected to be 100% all day.

A new 7A dyno called "Vostok 1" in Les Mammouths had been published today and because it was wet and I never went to that area behind Nemours, I drove there once it had cleared up.
The closer I got to Nemours however, the greyer the sky became again. Luckily I could see in the distance that it was clearing up too, it just needed a while longer.

After a long walk (I started walking in the wrong direction at first), I found the boulder and as I expected, the starting hold was dry and the top was luckily only humid. It appeared to be a slightly slopey flat hold, unable to trap the water onto it.
It does have a small sharp edge to it that soon started cutting through the skin of my hand, depending on where I was able to grab.

It's certainly not the easiest dyno for the grade. The distance is not that far, but you have to grab the top with palm of your hand outward and then take a very big swing.

Very nice all points off dyno! Jump, stretch, hold and swing ...
I'm not sure if I would have been able to do it faster when dry.

Fontainebleau - Les Mammouths - Vostok 1 7A

By now it had really cleared up, but due to the air humidity, the forest stayed wet.
Against all odds, I drove to Franchard to check if "Jambe de Bois" in Franchard Hautes Plaines would be not too wet, so maybe I could dry the holds and give it some tries.
As I expected, it was too wet.

Before I went back home, I decided to make a last stop at Roche au Four, hoping that the 60° overhang with "Nuit Debout" would have stayed dry.
Besides some spots with condensation drops, the holds in the overhang were dry enough to try the moves of "Nuit Debout (direct)".
I have done the left variation not very long ago, but found the direct version too morpho.
It was my third short session in it, and changing the position of my feet a couple of times, I finally was able to do and stick the first move. At that moment I knew that it was possible. Hard, but possible.

To be able to stick the first move, I had to block everything on my left arm, using a left heelhook to pull myself towards the rock, completely stretch my right arm to take a small sharp two finger crimp. Then I moved my left heelhook higher, pulled a hard as I could and took another small sharp two-and-a-half finger crimp left hand. I wasn't able to peek enough over the edge to see the hold where I had to jump, so I wanted to change the left heel to my toes but I knew that if I did that, that I wouldn't be able to hang on to those crimps and decided to jump blindly. I set off, grabbed the hold in the wrong place and fell off in the swing.
A couple of tries later, same story, only this time I was able to hold the swing and climb on to the top.

It was opened by Tony (Fouchereau) as a 7B, and for me it could have stayed this way.
Being completely stretched out during and after the first move makes it really hard!

The start of the video is a bit unfortunate. I couldn't film from the other side, because the sun was shining directly into it.
Anyway, now that I can do the first move, I can go back soon to try "Nuit Debout (direct gauche)", opened by Bart (Van Raaij) not long ago, but the left side of the boulder was still wet.

Fontainebleau - Roche au Four - Nuit Debout (direct) 7A+(7B)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

November 02, 2016 - Autumn snow.

With the change to Winter time, the time I have left for climbing after work is very limited.
One of the first boulders of the Gorge aux Châts area is the one with "Neige d'Automne", a boulder at only 2 minutes walking distance from the car.
It was ideal to profit from the last 20 minutes of light, the sun was going down fast.

For long, the description on and in most topos, was completely wrong about "Neige d'Automne", so once I climbed it completely wrong too, thinking it felt very soft for the grade.
Everything has been cleared out now, and already a couple of short sessions were spent by me trying to repeat it correctly. It turned out to be a hard and very friction dependent problem.
On each session I never got further than getting my feet off the ground and trying to grab the better sidepull. I never even got to hold it.

I don't like saying it, but it was thanks to a big tickmark that was left behind by other climbers, that I suddenly noticed a possibility to change my method.
Almost immediately I was able to grab the sidepull and hold onto it. I didn't expect that so kind of improvised my way to the top and came out at about the last move.
It still took me a few tries, but finally I was able to tick this one off too.
Of course, I brushed off the tickmarks afterwards.

No, it didn't snow, but "Neige d'Automne" is French for "Autumn Snow".

Fontainebleau - Gorge aux Châts - Neige d'Automne 7A

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

November 01, 2016 - No more secrets.

There was a dense fog this morning, and everything looked humid when Steven (Demets) and I were on our way to Mont Simonet, hoping to find dry boulders there.
My mindset was "I'll see what we climb and maybe climb what we see". There was no pressure.

Our first stop was at the boulder of "Le Triathlète".
I had tried it on my last visit, but somehow had difficulties to reach and hold the vertical crimp far left.
Today it gave me no problems and after a handful of tries it was done and left me wondering how I was able to stick the high sloper left hand.

Fontainebleau - Mont Simonet - Le Triathlète 7A+

Minutes after, Steven tested and succeeded in testing his mantle skills by topping out the 6A "La Fissure Diago". He still has them, with shaky legs though.

We then moved to the "Duke Nukem" boulder down the hill where I still managed to flash the 6C+(6C) "Fais Gaffe où tu Mets tes Pieds".

I proposed Steven to walk on towards Mont Blanc about 500m down the path, which he gladly agreed to.
After showing him around, his attention was fixed on the 6C dyno "Arnaud Airlines".
It turned out to be more difficult as we expected, but we both sent it 20 minutes later.
We took our time to look at some more boulders and in the end decided to pass through Mont Simonet again on our way back to the car.

It was only when Steven asked me which problem on the boulder to the right of "Pitt Boule" was, that I noticed that the sitstart is a 7A(7A+) called "L'Homo ça Pince".
I wondered why I never tried this on any of my previous visits, because it did look really nice.
Some other climbers were trying it, so we decided to go for "La Colonne". A very nice looking 6C(6C+) that I was able to do on my second attempt and of which Steven did the standing start, but didn't have the power anymore for the sit.
The many tries and climbs he did over the last 2 days were taking its toll after 3 years of no climbing.

In the meantime, the couple that was trying "L'Homo ça Pince", was taking a break and was wandering around.
They had left their pads so Steven encouraged me to take my chance and put on my shoes and give it a go.
Before I was able to try, the couple returned but had no problem with me using their pads.
I asked for some beta, which I was given, and flashed the problem without using any of the beta given. I did it my instinctive way and it turned out fine.

Fontainebleau - Mont Simonet - L'Homo ça Pince 7A(7A+)

It was fun to climb with Steven again after so long.
It looked like he enjoyed it to be back in the forest and doing what he has done good for so long, bouldering on the soft sandstone of Fontainebleau.
I'm pretty sure that it will not take another 3 years again before he comes back.

At home, I noticed that a new area called "Oncy sur Ecole Nord" was published today.
It turned out to be the 'secret' area that my wife, Sandra, had discovered early 2014, located in a small part of the forest across the fields behind my house.
Me and some friends had brushed quite some boulders there and I did the first ascent of "Noah's Ark", named after my youngest son Noah, and graded it 7A+.

Weeks later, Stéphane Denys wrote me that it was actually a rediscovery and a reopening of the problem and the area.
It turned out that the area had already been brushed by mostly David Evrard and Philippe Dumez years before.
They had even made a small topo of it, but as the area is located on private grounds and is hunting grounds in due season, it was never published on
So the lack of climbers knowing about the area, gave nature it's course and covered the boulders again with a thick layer of vegetation throughout the years.
Until today.

That's why I'm now including the video of my ascent of the problem that for me will always be known as "Noah's Ark" in the secret area, but from now on commonly will be referred to as "Empressement" in Oncy sur Ecole Nord.
The video dates from April 18th, 2014.
It's the most beautiful problem of the area, a very high slopey arete that takes some guts to top it out all the way.

It is a must do and no longer a secret.

Fontainebleau - Oncy sur Ecole Nord - Empressement 7A(7A+)

Monday, October 31, 2016

October 31, 2016 - Who's next ?

Steven (Demets) is back in the forest!
After a very long time of no climbing Steven finally decided to come to the forest to enjoy the Autumn colours and some good old bouldering on Bleau's soft sandstone.
Just like me, he prefers the calmer areas, so I decided to show him around in Rocher de la Salamandre Est.

We started with "Diesel (gauche)" that I finally was able to finish after again changing my method.
Steven's length was a bit of a disadvantage for this one, and probably also the fact that he didn't climb for a couple of years.

Fontainebleau - Rocher de la Salamandre Est - Diesel (gauche) 7A

We moved the pads to the other side of the boulder so Steven could try "Armani" which was opened as 7B, was adjusted to 7A+ and which I flashed on my last visit.
He started off promising, but lacked the last bit of power needed to make the hardest move.
I repeated it again on my first try. Even 7A+ is too high graded for this problem according to me.

Next up was something easier, "Da Vinci Code", a nice 6B+ next to "Tomahawk".
Romain, someone I sometimes run into in the forest, was trying "Tomahawk" and despite knowing that I was never able to barely get my ass off the ground, I decided to briefly join him.
To my surprise, I was able to lift myself up and make the first move to the pinch.
Then I even found another method by using a toehook far right to go for next hold.

I knew it was possible, pressed record and sent "Tomahawk" straight away.
Beautiful moves, but oh so hard first one!

Fontainebleau - Rocher de la Salamandre Est - Tomahawk 7A(7A+)

Immediately after "Tomahawk", I flashed "Da Vinci Code" and watched Steven top it out too. Nice effort!

Before moving to the "Biosarde" boulder, we stopped at the very nice 6C(7A), "Belle Pince" which I was able to repeat much easier than my first time.
Steven gave it some good tries but had to give in.

I offered Steven to stay over at my house so he could sleep in a real bed in a real room, which he probably needed, because he went to bed early.

It was nice to climb with Steven again after such a long time and I hope he will continue to come back to the forest.
He lost some power compared to a couple of years ago, but he still has it in him!
Who's next ? Ivan ?