Friday, January 29, 2016

January 29, 2016 - Keeping the balance.

After working in the evening at home again this week, it was time to set the balance, so I asked to leave a bit earlier today.
Luckily it was approved, because the weekend is announced to be rainy and next week I will have a very busy workweek. Time to do some climbing then.

I went to Rocher de la Salamandre Est again, knowing it dries quickly on the south side of the hill.
The temperature was nice, and the wind made the boulders perfectly dry and kept them nicely cool. It was perfect for friction!
My warmup was going to be "Tignous", a 7A on the second boulder when arriving up the hill, just before entering the main area. Right next to the aquaduct, it treats you with a really nice view over it!
"Tignous" looks really easy, which it is for the first part, but I really had to struggle hard to get over the mantle into the slab. A hard struggle, but at least I was warm and the view was nice!

Fontainebleau - Rocher de la Salamandre Est - Tignous 7A

A little bit further up the hill, on the crest, deeper in the forest, is a nice overhang with exit on slopers with several problems (mostly variations) on it. 
The most logical problem is "La Biosarde". Something I briefly tried on my first visit there, but I didn't want to spend too much time on it back then. There was still too much to see.
Now, however, I took some time to work out all the separate moves. 
When I knew all the moves more or less by heart, I setup the camera and surprisingly was able to do it first go. Sometimes it pays off to spend some time to practice.
I really enjoyed trying the moves and climbing the problem. I'll go back to try the several other variations. Great moves!

Fontainebleau - Rocher de la Salamandre Est - La Biosarde 7A+(7B)

With this done, I wanted to have a look at the north side of the hill where the boulders were almost dry, but still too humid to be climbed. Summer sector probably.
I was treated however with seeing 5 big deers who ran past me at about 50m. I felt blessed finally seeing some wildlife again!

On my way back to the car, I came past "Belle Pince", a small prow, that has one side mostly wet, but now it was dry so I took my chance. 
Opened as 6C(7A), and I think 6C will be more correct, but I gave it 6C+ for the matter of doubt.
It didn't steal it's name this small boulder. It does have a beautiful looking pinch that fits perfectly in your hand, made to be squeezed!

This evening I will work again a little bit, to keep the balance.

Fontainebleau - Rocher de la Salamandre Est - Belle Pince 6C(7A)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

January 27, 2016 - Beyond all expectations!

Today it's exactly one year ago that I had a surgery which saved my life.
It was quite a big operation and it's a bit beyond all expectation that I'm standing where I am today.

The weather forecast announced a lot of rain for today, so I didn't expect to climb.
I had a really stressed out first half of the week, and when driving home from work, I was happily surprised to see that it stil didn't rain. The temperature was a nice 12°C but it was clouded so I knew it was going to be dark sooner than usual.
In my mind I was going through several different climbing areas that I pass on my way, thinking about projects that still had to be done.
It had to be on my way home and close to the parking, thus giving me the most time available for only climbing. I was in a desperate need to climb suddenly.

There were quite some possibilities, but for some reason, beyond my expectation, I chose "De-Ci De-Là" in Roche d'Hercule. It met all criteria. It was only a 2km detour from my way, halfway to home, and the boulder is at about 50m from the parking.
There was one problem though ... I had given up on it almost 2 years ago.

The first time I tried it must have been in 2010 somewhere and I had quite a lot of short sessions on it spread over the years.
Each session I had to learn and get used to the sequence again, and each time I found myself being stuck at the same point in the end. The point where you go left hand to the high sloper left, that's where I always fell, session after session after session.
About 2 years ago, I was fed up with it, and actually decided to let go of it, to never try it again.
Since then I walked past it a couple of times, looking at it, being stubborn and not trying, bowing to my master.

I don't know exactly why today I decided to try it again anyway, as deep in me, I kind of knew that it was going to be in vain. I was going to be stuck at the same point again anyway, I thought, but I didn't bother. I just wanted to climb, and trying without topping out is climbing too.
At my first try this evening, I had an eerie feeling. The sequence felt good, and the boulder was sticky!
The eerie feeling made me feel nervous, I felt that something was different today, but I didn't want to set my hopes too high. I failed so many times, so why wouldn't I now?
But then, all of a sudden, beyond all expectations, I had my left hand on the sloper and held it there. It felt great and anxiously I slapped my right hand up on the right sloper. It stuck to it too, and now, nervous as hell, I had to stay calm. It wasn't done yet and I could still fall off any moment. Slapped my left hand again on a higher top sloper. It was better but I didn't have the final move yet and I didn't want to think of the victory yet. I could see the slopey tophold now. I never touched it before, nor did I know how good it was. I was a bit scared when I let my right hand go and swept it to the hold. Slap and hold ... I had it.
I sat on top of the boulder and couldn't believe it. I grasped the good feeling I had and was afraid I would wake up any moment. I had to let it sink in.

It certainly wasn't the most difficult problem I ever climbed.
I woke up this morning, and in the evening, beyond all expectations, I was standing on top of my longest project ever.
I still had difficulty to believe it when driving home, and kept on saying to myself: "Once upon a time, there was a project ..."

Fontainebleau - Roche d'Hercule - De-Ci De-Là 7B+

Monday, January 25, 2016

January 25, 2016 - Walk like an Egyptian.

I had to take half a day off work today, because our big boiler that takes care of the heating and hot water broke down, and a technician was coming in the afternoon.
This sucks, but I tried to make a positive out of a negative and took the advantage of going climbing too.
It was warm today, up to 15°C in the afternoon!
I should have thought of it before, but the wet weather from a couple of days before and the warmth now, gave a lot of condensation. When I arrived at Franchard, I quickly realized that I went there for nothing. All boulders were soaking wet, covered with condensation drops. It looked like rock covered with small pearls.

I had to be quick to find another option and drove to J.A. Martin to try "Sur le Fil (retour-aller)" again as I knew pretty much that it would be dry, free from condensation.
At least with the warmer weather, my hands wouldn't freeze, and it was still cold enough for the slopers to stick.

I was relieved to find it as dry as a constipated cat's ass and was determined to finish it today.
Immediately I was able to go one way but always fell off the slab on my way back due to the lack of chalk on my hands.
For me, one crux is on the slopers in the slab, in both directions. The other crux is the continuity. I'm not a length climber, but those 30 (nice) moves almost make it a sportclimbing route, just without a rope. That's why this felt more like a 7B for me, or very hard 7A+.
Luckily there are a couple of quick rests in between, so all I still had to do was to come up with a way to chalk up my hands on the way.
Once I came up with the idea to place my chalk bag on the left corner, I made it.
After coming back down, I was walking like an Egyptian again. (See the video until the end if you want to know what that looks like.)
Don't worry, it's over now, I took a quick rest and can walk normal again now.

Fontainebleau - J.A. Martin - Sur le Fil (retour-aller) 7A+(7B)

Indeed, the song that was in my head last time was "Walk Like an Egyptian".

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

January 19, 2016 - About a song.

I have another song in my mind, but I will not say which one. I'm pretty sure that when you have finished reading, you will have found out.

The workload at work is piling up again and knowing that tomorrow and Thursday I will be 450 km away for work, obliged me to go for a short climbing session to end the day.
Nothing beats the peace and quiet of the forest on a regular evening of the week to be able to completely disconnect and gather some renewed energy.
I always come home being a different person then, feeling relaxed.

It started off this evening with some attempts in "Sur le Fil (retour-aller)" but the cold made me give up quite quickly. It traverses first about 7m to the left, then comes back the same 7m and goes up.
Doing all these moves and keeping my bare hands on such cold rock for that long made them so cold, that by the time I had to start coming back, I couldn't feel my fingers anymore.
The slopers require crisp conditions, but for me it may be a little warmer.

So I moved up the hill to try "La Théorie des Plats" another traverse, but shorter, on (as you guess by the name of it) slopers (des plats).
An easy sitstart, about 3,5m traverse to the left with an exit just past the arete. Sounds easy, looks easy and was in the end not difficult, but thanks to the conditions.
It felt like 6C+(6C) today, but I can very well imagine it being (soft) 7A in less good conditions.

Fontainebleau - J.A. Martin - La Théorie des Plats 7A(6C+)

A little further up the hill, near "Le Toit du Ninja Blanc", are some more recently opened problems. One of them is "Le Bout du Bambou". A 7A traverse with the crux at the topout.
It sitstarts left, traverses about 4m to the right and then it tops out with a physical (morpho for some) move upwards.
Twice I fell out at the very last move and I had to give up because it took too much energy from me. It was getting dark anyway.
I tried to walk normal when going back to the car, because all this traversing left and right almost made me move like an Egyptian.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

January 17, 2016 - Kumbaya.

Still freezing temperatures, so I decided to go to Vallée Chaude, hoping that it would be warmer there. It's only at 5 minutes driving from home so ... it was the same.

Vallée Chaude is a beautiful, undisturbed, little valley where princesses walk around with pink umbrellas, singing songs and cheering, tsjirping birds sit on their shoulders, rabbits hop around and play in the grass and deers eat out of your hands while being caressed on their heads. In the evenings the animals gather around a big campfire, chatting, playing the flute and guitar and singing "Kumbaya".
Of course this only happens in fairy tales, but you can believe me about the beautiful, undisturbed, little valley part. Until I came along ...

It is a small area with a couple of boulders spread around, but certainly worth the visit!
My main goal for today was "Unplugged", a 7B in a low roof.
I was hoping that it would be dry enough for the topout, and if not, that at least the water would be frozen so it would be easy to wipe off the ice.
It was all quite damp when I arrived, but to my surprise, all the holds that I needed were dry.

When trying out some moves however, my first feeling was that it was going to be too hard, at least one of the moves, the dynamic move to the crimp, seemed nearly impossible. It's hard to see on the video, but when hanging underneath the roof and looking at the crimp where you have to make the swing to, it is really far.
I took some time to work out the moves separately and after being able to do the dynamic move with the topout, I setup the camera and went for a complete try.
I made the swing, took the crimp, went for the exit and fell off due to bad foot placement. You really have to keep your act together from the start until the top. It's not over once you pass the crux.
I was really glad when I made it on my next attempt!

Fontainebleau - Vallée Chaude - Unplugged 7B

There are some more 7's on the same boulder and I could have stayed longer, but I wanted to have a reason to come back to this beautiful valley.
Besides, I was still going to meet Stef in Cuvier and wanted to try "Le Grand Requin Blanc" in Bois Rond Auberge on my way.
I tried it a couple of times in summer, but the bad slopers on it required some colder temperatures. So no excuses now.

The slopers were indeed much better to stick today and I was able to do the far move to the right a couple of times for the first time. I was able to do all the moves now and climb the problem in 2 parts but couldn't link it all together from the start. This one will go down soon I thought and continued to Cuvier.

I met Stef, Paul, Philip, Adriaan, Tom, Sarah, Joris, Wolff, and some others whose names escape me now and even though it was nice to see them all again, I wasn't prepared to see so many people at once, and slowly wandered off to the other side of the road to Apremont Envers. I wanted to give "The Eggman" a try.
I did it pretty fast and thought that it was really easy for 7A(7A+). It was only when I came back home that I saw that it actually starts with a sitstart at the crack left. That explains it all.
Anyway, I have the video of the standstart and will ask Jean-Pierre to create an extra page on for the standstart, because, all in all it was fun to do the stand. "The Eggman (debout)" will probably be about 6C+.

Fontainebleau - Apremont Envers - The Eggman (debout) 6C+

By that time, I was slowly getting through my energy reserves, and after trying "Bali Balan" a couple of times, I decided to call it a day and left.
I started driving on the parking and in the last moment I parked again because I thought that maybe I could still do "Le Toit du Gollum" in Cuvier Ouest. It's something that I never finished before because I usually just try it quickly while having my mind on all the other problems to do out there.
At least now my mind was only fixed on "Le Toit du Gollum" so maybe I would finally send it today.
It helped, because I needed only one try this time. According to me, the grade of this problem really depends on the conditions and I think being taller would help too. I was glad to still be able to finish it. 

It was a fairly good day. I will end it this evening sitting at the fireplace with the guitar in my hands, pretending I can play it and sing "Kumbaya".

Fontainebleau - Cuvier Ouest - Le Toit du Gollum 6C(7A)

Saturday, January 16, 2016

January 16, 2016 - Flies in the middle of Winter.

You can say that Winter has finally arrived.
Temperatures were well below 0°C during the night and it lasted until late in the morning. When it's dry enough, this can provide excellent conditions.
The problem is that it is not that dry these last days. One needs to look for the dry boulders, and luckily we don't have to look far.

There have been some new openings lately in J.A. Martin, out of which one of them is "Lénine j'Arrête". An eliminate variation of "Le Toit du Ninja Blanc".
It dries extremely quick out there up on the hill and in the open, so this was my first choice for today.
It sitstarts left and exits directly with a mantle on slopers, not allowed to use the right arete.
With excellent conditions it will be about 6C+, but replace excellent with "good" or "average" and it easily becomes 7A. Today it's Winter time and dry up there, so it was more like a 6C+.

Fontainebleau - J.A. Martin - Lénine j'Arrête 6C+(7A)

After that I gave "L'Etrave" some tries, where I met Jean-Pierre Roudneff and a friend of him.
They were also there to check out some of the new boulders. 
It seems that "Lénine j'Arrête" might be morpho for the smaller among us.
I wished Jean-Pierre and his friend good luck and proceeded to Beauvais Nainville where I had agreed to team up with Pieter, Alberto and Francis. They arrived yesterday evening and were only there for the day.

After warming up, I repeated "L'Anthracite" again and Pieter followed soon after me.
We both also did some tries in the sitstart of "L'Anthracite". I saw Pieter coming out of it at one move from the topout and I had to give up because the holds became too greasy.
Those who climb with Pieter probably can confirm that he does have greasy fingers. Damn your fingers Pieter :-))

Now that I wasn't alone in the area, we decided to try "La Mouche", a not so difficult 7A, but really expo! Not something you want to try alone by yourself, especially when you know that there is a pretty morpho move in it, where (in my case) you have to go to with a dynamic move.
I was glad to bag that one in, and so was Pieter when he did it soon after me.
I felt the adrenaline rush through my veins for minutes after the ascent!

Fontainebleau - Beauvais Nainville - La Mouche 7A

It was then near 17h, the sun was going down and the guys still had a long drive ahead of them.
I was home 20 minutes later ...

Friday, January 8, 2016

January 08, 2016 - A bottle of red wine.

No, I didn't drink. I am not allowed to drink alcohol anymore, and honestly, I'm cool with that!
I am allowed however to climb problems with alcohol-like names, such as "Le Vin Rouge" (The Red Wine) in Franchard Isatis.

I had done it before in March 2011, early in the morning when everyone in "Camping Isatis" was still asleep, and I thought that it would be a quick win to repeat it for the video.
Conditions were bad anyway, and for "Le Vin Rouge" you only need 2 holds, the starting holds and the top.
I was a little wrong about the quick part though. I will just say that if every attempt that I did today would have been equal to a sip of red wine, I probably would have drank the whole bottle and gone home drunk.

Luckily it were just jumps!

Fontainebleau - Franchard Isatis - Le Vin Rouge 7A+

Thursday, January 7, 2016

January 07, 2016 - A longer wire.

This evening after work I went back to J.A. Martin to do the 7A version of "Sur le Fil".
It starts more to the left on the corner, just left of 6 Orange.

Starting there and traversing first through the slab doesn't add much difficulty.
The most difficult part remains the dynamic move to the jug. Doing that move however after having done that longer part is what adds some to the grade.

Still soft 7A as far as I'm concerned.

Fontainebleau - J.A. Martin - Sur le Fil (prolongé) 7A

I then took 5 minutes time to try the "retour-aller" version but that's a totally different story. It's supposed to be 7A+, but I couldn't move a meter.

It's amazing actually, how an exact same line can become a totally different problem when going in the opposite direction.

Normally I would never go back for a "retour-aller" traverse, but this one got my attention.
To be continued ... some day ...

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

January 06, 2015 - On a wire.

After 2 and a half days of rain and no climbing, I was starting to get fed up with "resting".
When the rain stopped this afternoon, I started thinking about what would be close to the parking and already dry enough to climb.
The days are slowly starting to get longer and I knew that I would have about 15 minutes of enough daylight left after work.
There are lots of boulders close to lots of parkings, but thinking of one that would be dry enough about 2 hours after 2 and a half days of rain immediately limits the options.

My thoughts took me to J.A. Martin, where I would surely find "Sur le Fil" dry. It's not the most interesting boulder (short traverse), but I knew it has some nice slopers and a cool swing on it.
I had done it before in 2012 and knew it would be done quickly. Just enough time for a quick video repeat.

Apparently, what I didn't know before, this has 2 possible starts. The sitstart (as on the video) is the 6C version (I totally agree with the grade) while the 7A version starts standing, but more to the left at the angle of 6 Orange. That means you would have to traverse the slab and do a first dynamic move to reach the jug just above the 6C sitstart. Cool that I didn't know that before, so now I have a reason to go back again and do the 7A version too.

Fontainebleau - J.A. Martin - Sur le Fil 6C(7A)

Sunday, January 3, 2016

January 03, 2016 - And then the rain came back.

Last day of my holiday today, fun is over, but it was nice while it lasted.
The last 2 weeks I was able to climb every day, even this morning in between rain showers with a constant light drizzle, so I can't complain at all.
My body however is complaining and begging for some rest. My left knee hurts, my right elbow, my back, and my fingers are shouting out their need for some new skin.
Therefore I'm not complaining that on my last day of holiday the rain came back, first with a light drizzle, at the moment heavily, and it will last for some days.
It will be good for the boulders too! The forest has seen a lot of visitors during the Christmas holidays and the holds of most popular boulders are covered with chalk. All this can be washed off again now thanks to the rain, making place for some mildly renewed friction.

This morning I went to out for about an hour, in between and during the drizzle showers to look for some dry rock.
The higher grounds of Rocher de la Reine didn't offer any dry boulders, so I went down to Bois Rond, hoping that the drizzle wasn't able to penetrate through the trees too much yet.
Even though it doesn't feel like it, it is Winter, so the leafless trees didn't shelter the lower ground, so also there, all wet.
I then looked for something with as less holds as possible. Fewer holds equals fewer wet holds to use.

"La Quille" is on a boulder with a small roof and it has a direct dyno version starting more to the right onto it. I had seen it once in a video and it looked nice so I looked for it.
It can be found easily in between the boulder with "Lucky Luke" and the one with "Spider Bloc". A barely 2m high boulder with the top covered in those typical Font style wave-like features. Nice!
On they say that the direct dyno version from where I start is approximately 7A/7B (has been changed now). I think it's more like a soft 7A at most and I will not be far from it.
I had to dry off the top where you jump to, and even still being humid, I made the jump from the first go but fell off the mantle. The mantle is the most difficult about the problem, especially on a wet boulder. I am sorry for the unethical exit, but those who know my style know that ethics can sometimes be far away when determination to get on top sets in.

Fontainebleau - Bois Rond - La Quille (droite direct) 7A

Saturday, January 2, 2016

January 02, 2015 - Another playground has opened.

Yesterday evening, Jean-Pierre published the freshly released topo from Rocher de la Salamandre Est.
The area has been known for a long time, but only recently much more developed. Before the release of the topo, to my knowledge, there was only one clean boulder featuring 3 problems in the 7th grade.
Now there are 32 problems starting at 7A. That's already worth the visit!

I printed out the topo this morning and looked at some pictures to give me an idea what to look for.
It had rained yesterday evening and during the night, and everything was wet in the morning.
There was a lot of wind however, and the sun was out, so I left anyway.
The boulders in Rocher de la Salamandre Est can be found on 2 faces and on the crest of the hill. The north face was still wet but the boulders on the south face were nicely exposed to the sun and the wind and they were perfectly dry.
As usual, on a first visit of an area, I scouted around looking where everything was and trying a bit of everything to gather some projects for next time and to exclude what wasn't worth it. I can tell you that on the south face, nearly everything is worth it and it is a beautiful setting too! You can really tell the difference when an area isn't that frequently visited yet!
I can really recommend the area for those who like to avoid the big crowds and prefer the peace and quiet a forest can offer.
The topo is well drawn and I didn't encounter any mistake. Just keep in mind that it only shows the recently developed problems.

I have a couple of projects more on the list but did top 2 7A's out of which one flashed.

Fontainebleau - Rocher de la Salamandre Est - Extinguo (droite) 7A

Fontainebleau - Rocher de la Salamandre Est - Nutrisco 7A (flash)

Friday, January 1, 2016

January 01, 2016 - An Unsticky Start.

It was still early in the morning when I arrived at Cuvier Rempart.
When I woke up, a dense fog was covering the fields and over the forest. Usually it means humid conditions or even wet boulders.
Most was indeed very humid to wet, except for in Cuvier Rempart. There, the boulders were almost all dry, and even though it was still only about 6°C, it wasn't sticky at all!
I didn't mind that much as I don't go to Cuvier Rempart often, especially not the far part close to Petit Rempart.
I was all alone out there, and decided to taste a little bit of everything that looked interesting.
At the end of the day, it turned out I tasted a lot, but devoured only one thing, "La Chouette". It was the first boulder I tried today and the only one I actually topped too. I was tired from the evening before where I more or less kept myself awake to see midnight and step into the year 2016.

"La Chouette" is certainly not a difficult 7A, more to the soft side, but I can imagine the taller climbers having more difficulties getting the right foot high on as good as nothing and pulling themselves up on also as good as nothing.
Once I figured out how to do the topout, I did it first go. It all came down to finding the right method that suited me. I say "suited me" because this method will surely not work for all. Some flexibility needed there.
I will go back soon, when conditions are better. I got me quite some new projects there.

Fontainebleau - Cuvier Rempart - La Chouette 7A