Monday, March 28, 2016

March 28, 2016 - About injuries and some skin.

When Harco was here, we briefly talked about injuries and I said that besides my elbows and ankles, it was all not too bad for me.
But today I was forced to think about that short topic.
Forced, because I think I got a small rupture in my muscles near my right shoulderblade and it hurts with nearly every move.
It happened last Thursday evening, when I was trying "Game One" in Apremont Butte aux Dames.
I could feel it on the big compression moves on really bad slopers. The problem about feeling it, is that it's mostly already too late.
It didn't get much of my attention, but I did feel it vaguely while climbing on other problems since then.

Today I was thinking about that conversation, because actually, the more I think of it, I'm injured most of the time, but never give it much attention, let alone do something about it.
Basically, when I'm injured, I continue climbing, but I tend to avoid doing problems or moves that will make it worse.
Like the time my left knee was injured after doing too many heelhooks with the left foot, I tried to avoid problems that required a left heelhook.
Or as with my injured right elbow, which is still not completely healed by the way, I tried to avoid taking pinches with the right hand because it just hurt too much.
When my fingertips bleed, I might skip climbing for one day, but as long as the weather permits, I will just climb on with taped fingertips.

But then, there are times when zero is the number of fucks I give about the pain or injury and let the stubbornness take over, thinking that the injury is something to worry about later. Like today.
I know it's not good. That I should listen to my body and skip climbing for a day, or even longer, but this is what happens when climbing serves as a drug.
When I'm climbing, my body releases endorphines and satisfies my mind.
I don't smoke nor drink alcohol and I don't do drugs. That is when you don't consider climbing a drug.

It was raining cats and dogs this morning, but I went to Apremont Fond des Gorges to locate and check out some boulders.
I had only passed by the area before, but never  stopped to see the boulders.
I especially wanted to see "Saigon" and luckily I had taken the GPS because somebody had posted the coordinates on This served me well, because I don't think I would have found it easily without them. Now I walked straight to it.
By the time I got there, the sun had come out in between showers and of course it was still wet, but it didn't matter, as I hadn't planned to climb anyway. For those interested, coordinates are N 48°25.982' E 002°38.067'.

On my way back I checked out the other boulders in the main area and found the boulder with "Chicken Skin" completely dry and in pristine conditions.
Even though I didn't plan on climbing, like most of the time I did carry the crashpad and all my stuff with me so I unpacked.
After a couple of tries however, I had to quickly move everything to shelter because it had started raining again.
It was a small dilemma to wait for the shower to pass and hope the boulder will dry quickly again or to leave.
I waited it out, it only rained for about 5 minutes, but hard enough to make the boulders soaking wet.
I could see an open spot in the sky coming my way and there was a lot of wind, so my hopes were high.
I used the time to wander around checking out some other boulders and helped the drying a little bit with my towel.
The sun came out again and together with the wind they did their job. The boulder was dry again after 10 minutes and I could try again, but I had to hurry. The open spot in the sky wasn't as big as I expected and what came after were even darker clouds than before.

I did it fast and even faster I packed again as it could start raining again any moment now.
At about 100m from the car it was pouring rain and I was soaking wet when I got in.
It didn't matter, I had my small dose of climbing.
By the time I got home, the sun was shining again and the streets were dry.
I could have gone climbing again but the muscles in my right shoulder hurt really bad and I wisely decided not to. Even shifting gears of the car hurts. We'll see what tomorrow will bring ...

Fontainebleau - Apremont Fond des Gorges - Chicken Skin 7A

Saturday, March 26, 2016

March 26, 2016 - Cracking skulls.

Easter weekend, always busy.
As they announced bad weather for the upcoming days, I decided to leave early and visit shortly the small deserted area of Apremont Brûlis.
Having looked at some pictures of some boulders, I had one goal in mind, "Le Skull". A 7A+, but opened by David Evrard and Stéphan Denys, so I expected it to be hard.

When I was walking towards the boulder, following the accurate description from, I noticed that a lot of smaller boulders I passed on my way, were still very humid, and some even wet.
Luckily the boulder with "Le Skull" was dry, or at least dry enough to climb. The moss on the topout was little bit humid and slippery, but it wasn't going to stop me from trying the problem.

I started trying at 9h20 am already.
It took me a while and after a quick peek at a video of the problem to find the good beta, and once I worked out all the moves separately, it went like a charm.
It was still hard but not hard enough to stop me from doing the problem a second time immediately after.

"Le Skull" is an isolated boulder in a remote part of the area, but it felt totally worth the walk to it.

Fontainebleau - Apremont Brûlis - Le Skull 7A+

From there I went to another remote part of the area to find "L'Etalon Sauvage" ... wet.
At least I know where it is and I will come back for it.
I continued on to the main area that has a small group of boulders and had a short look around.
The boulders looked ok, but I didn't have a "WOW" feeling.
Anyway, I will go back there this Summer when it's another crowded weekend, and I need my peace.

By that time, my colleague and friend Harco was coming over and we went to the main area of Apremont which was surprisingly not overcrowded yet.
Harco didn't crack any skulls yet, but he did really well for his first time out on the real boulders. Give him some time to adapt to the rock and he will climb hard.
It was nice to see the motivation in him.

When he left in the afternoon, I still drove to Bas Cuvier for the Black Diamond "Chasin' the Rubbish" event and did my part.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

March 24, 2016 - Get ready for the big crowds.

It has started, the majority of cars on the parkings here and there are from foreigners.
Just like every year, the Eastern weekend will be overcrowded with climbers from all over Europe, even the world.
It always announces the start of the "tourist season".

As usual, it's also the weekend where Black Diamond organises the yearly "Chasin' The Rubbish" event.
For 4 days in a row, each day, a Black Diamond van and crew will be present on the parking of a popular area, handing out trash bags, asking everyone to take their rubbish with them and clean up any rubbish they can find. It results every year in tons and tons of rubbish being collected in just those 4 days.
Planning is as follows ...

- Friday, Franchard Isatis
- Saturday, Bas Cuvier
- Sunday, Roche aux Sabots
- Monday, Elephant

And even though we all should be familiar with the rules, ethics, guidelines, or whatever you want to call it, they are ...

- No fires
- Stay on trails
- No wild camping
- Bury human waste
- Brush off tickmarks
- Clean your climbing shoes
- Take your rubbish with you

It are simple basic principles, but every day out there in the forest, one can see that for some it is not that obvious or they are forgotten.
It's nice of Black Diamond to organise such events, but on the other hand it's a shame that they even have to organise them. In an ideal world it wouldn't be necessary.

The long weekend however is sadly enough announced to be one with a lot of rain.
Up to now, it looks like only Saturday will be dry. Good for my colleague Harco, who will visit the forest and only planned to climb on that day.

Knowing about the weather forecast, I stopped a bit earlier at work today, so I could have a small dose of climbing. It is after all, a real but healthy addiction!!

"Découverte Elément Terre" in Apremont Butte aux Dames has a weird crouching start, and you're not allowed to use both pedestals.
Not very nice, as it's hard to try to avoid them. Anyway, this one goes in my category "been there, done that".

Fontainebleau - Apremont Butte aux Dames - Découverte Elément Terre 7A+

After that I quickly went up on the other hill. The one of Apremont Buvette.
Even though I had walked there a lot, now it was the first time for climbing. It's the kind of area that you'ld better avoid in the weekends because it can be crowded with hikers, strollers and their kids.

I chose "Polêmikôs" mainly because, according to the description, it would be a boulder easy enough to locate.
Indeed, I more or less walked straight to it. I can imagine on the other hand, that in a few weeks, when the vegetation starts growing again, it will be much less easy to find.
I was a bit surprised by how nice the roof looked, but I was even more surprised with the beauty of the problem.
I enjoyed every move in it!

Fontainebleau - Apremont Buvette - Polêmikôs 7A

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

March 22, 2016 - Spring is in the air.

I wanted to give my fingers more time to grow some more skin but it's the second day of Spring and it shows.
It's really hard to drive home from work, pass all these climbing areas and not stop for a short climb.

I couldn't resist, checked the skin on my fingertips, nodded to myself, confirming that it will do.
I stopped at Apremont Butte aux Dames.
I really like the area, with all the new problems being right next to the parking.
With the skin having grown back just barely enough, I was able to resist from going straight to "Game One" of which I knew it would be a bad idea with these slopers, so I set my mind on something with more positive holds.

One of my last visits I tried the traverse of "Les Ailes du Plaisir". I nearly flashed it then, but fell out of the last move.
I normally don't like those traverses where the crux is in the last move, but this one has some really nice moves. Definitely worth the effort!
Today also, I fell on the last move of my first try.
It made me realise that maybe it would a good idea to try the last moves first and do the complete problem once I get acquainted with them.
Normally it starts about 1,5 meter more  to the left, just around the corner.
About the last moves ... well, I got there, but I lost the ethics somewhere on the way.

Fontainebleau - Apremont Butte aux Dames - Les Ailes du Plaisir (raccourci) 7A(7A+)

About 20m from "Les Ailes du Plaisir", you can find "Un Jeu d'Enfant", opened by our friend Tony Fouchereau and for once he allows the sitstart from a crashpad for the little among us.
Tony is a big guy, and I consider myself little compared to him. 
Even sitting on the crashpad, I really had trouble reaching both starting holds.
It's a hard first move. 
Arms spread open wide, being completely stretched out, squeezing them into compression, letting the feet go from the ground and going for the heelhook on the right. Had to hold my breath there!
Once you get the heelhook right, it's not over yet, but the hardest part is.

If the start would have been less morpho, I would have said that 7A is soft for the grade, but now it felt like spot on.

Fontainebleau - Apremont Butte aux Dames - Un Jeu d'Enfant 7A

Friday, March 18, 2016

March 18, 2016 - Singing in the shower.

I had hoped that the skin on my fingers would have recovered more after 2 days of no climbing.
I guess it didn't.

My main goal for this afternoon was going to be "Game One", a 7B+ on pure Fontainebleau slopers in Apremont Butte aux Dames, but it was taken by a group of Dutch guys.
It looked like they were going to be stuck for quite a while, so I didn't bother waiting.
I did stay in the area though and went straight for "Les Baloches", a 7B a little further up the slope.

It didn't take long, maybe 10 minutes of trying when the first drops of blood started coming through the skin of my fingers, forcing me to tape 3 fingertips of my right hand.
I gave up after another couple of tries and thought about doing something easier and maybe more appealing for the skin. I wrote 'maybe'.

On the backside of the boulder of "L'Etoile Noire" you can find a 7A with a 7A+ variation that I wanted to try.
"Ventricule Gauche" is the 7A and "Ventricule Droite" is the 7A+ variation.
I was thinking that maybe there was a mistake, because the left version looked harder than the right one.
Anyway, I started trying the one with the left exit, "Ventricule Gauche".

Was it the warmth and therefore the conditions that are not as good anymore? Maybe it was the tape on my fingers and the lack of skin? Was I tired? Or was it just simply plain hard?
I'm sure that it would have been easier to stick the slopers without the tape, but still, this was hard!
It felt way harder than 7A to me, even closer to the 7B range.

It was a long time ago that I needed so much time to finish off a 7A. More than half an hour of non stop trying. I know, it will certainly not be the last neither that will take so much time!

When it was finally done, the blood was already showing through the tape too. No way that I could still try the other variation with the right exit.
I lost a lot of skin on this one. Not only my fingers, but also the skin on my arms and even my torso was showing the signs of scraped off skin.
It all doesn't hurt that much on that moment, but I can tell you that this evening, I was singing in the shower.

Fontainebleau - Apremont Butte aux Dames - Ventricule Gauche 7A

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

March 15, 2016 - Two days and a layer of tape.

Pieter was in the forest this weekend and we climbed together on Sunday.
My body was tired and the skin on my fingertips was as good as gone, but I showed Pieter around in Apremont Butte aux Dames.
He was, just like me on my first time in that area, pleasantly surprised with it.
We climbed a bit of the black circuit and I showed him some harder problems. He actually got really close to sending "Game One" (7B+) on his second try.
The slopers ate a lot from my skin again and I couldn't stick the far second move anymore.
I did, however, still repeat "Le Pilier de sa Dame" and its left variation.
Pieter did the original but just couldn't make the left version.

He had to leave back home around 16h, so to finish off the day, we had a look at one of the classics of the area, "L'Etoile Noire".
The boulder 'floats' on a couple of other boulders, creating a roof with quite some problems and variations on it.
The easiest one is the standstart of "L'Etoile Noire", with an exit on the prow (7A) and an exit left of the prow, in the straight face of the boulder (7A+).
We jokingly called the boulder the 'Death Star', and it turned out to be death for the skin on my fingertips.

After a couple of tries, the skin on my fingertips had given up and small drops of blood started coming out.
I was pretty close to doing the problem, even still fell out on the last move. It was hard to give up.
Even with bloody fingers I still continued, as I knew it could happen any minute, but I had no choice but to give up in the end.
Thanks to the adrenalin my fingers didn't hurt, but because of the blood drops, it was becoming too difficult to stick the slopey holds.
A bummer, but I knew I would be back soon.

Yesterday, Monday, a new workweek, even though I could have gone back quickly after work, I refrained from climbing. The skin was still a bit too sensitive.
But today, knowing that I have to be away for work the next couple of days, I couldn't resist and made the small detour via Apremont when driving home from work.

Here's what happened two days and a layer of tape after Sunday ...

Fontainebleau - Apremont Butte aux Dames - L'Etoile Noire 7A(7A+)

The first time I got there, my foot touched the boulder on the right, so with the energy still in me and the urge to continue climbing, I did it again without 'dabbing'.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

March 12, 2016 - What's for Désert ?

I parked late in the morning at the tavern on the main parking of Apremont, took my crashpad and my bag and started walking.

A couple of days ago, they have made a decision to rename a part of the Apremont Désert area. The sector with "Le Gong" is now logically called Apremont Mare aux Biches. My mind was set on going to Apremont Mare aux Biches and try "Déserteur" and right next to it, "Tempête du Désert".
It's a long walk up to there, but I didn't mind.
The weather was announced good and I expected a lot of people in the forest. I wanted to avoid the crowds, so it seemed a good choice. Besides, I had never been there before so it would be nice to see it finally.

I think I must have missed a turn somewhere, because I found myself somewhere else than I expected so I had to look around a bit and arrived at the area from the other side than I had in mind.
Anyway, I got there and I was alone. Perfect!
At first glance, "Déserteur" looked like something I would do quickly. At second glance too, because I did it on my second go. That went easy.

Fontainebleau - Apremont Mare aux Biches - Déserteur 7A

A couple of meters to the right of "Déserteur" there is a really nice backwards dyno.

"Tempête du Désert" was the second problem that was on my list for today.
When I looked at it, I knew that this was totally my style. A nearly horizontal backwards dyno.
The sitstart is a bit stupid to it, because it is just too easy to add any difficulty to the problem. But as it was opened with a sitstart, you have to do it with a sitstart.

The difficulty here is getting into the position to do the jump.
I took a tiny crimp low under the roof, let my body hang backwards and leaned into two small underclings with my thumbs.
At first it feels awkward and scary to try to move dynamically from that position, but after a few tries I got the hang of it. I was ready to try from the start.
It seemed I prepared myself good, because the problem went down on my second go from the sitstart.

Fontainebleau - Apremont Mare aux Biches - Tempête du Désert 7B+(7B)

With my main goals done already, much faster than I had hoped, it was time for some desert.
I needed a short rest and those who read my blog regularly probably remember that I mostly take my rests while walking to another sector or area.
Having done quite the walk already, I decided to continue on to Apremont Désert.

I must have taken a wrong turn again somewhere, because I suddenly arrived at the other big parking of Apremont Chaos. That's the whole other side than where I started and where my car was parked.
I looked at the small map in the back of the topo, but couldn't figure out how to take the direct way to Apremont Désert, so I started walking again, determined to stay on the same path until I would arrive somewhere I would be able to orientate.
Experience has learned me that once you start taking turns, you most likely end up walking in circles, so straight on I went.
I don't know how long I exactly walked, but it seemed pretty long until I finally arrived at the Route de Clair Bois.
I knew that Apremont Désert was alongside this path somewhere, but I didn't know which way. Common sense and looking at the sun told me I had to take a left. A while later I found the crossing with the Route du Chouette and I knew I had to go right direction the boulders from there.
Unfortunately also direction some noise.

Apremont Désert was known as a small spread out area with a couple of hard boulders, but since 2014 a lot more has been opened and the area has gained a lot in popularity since.
Some groups of climbers had gathered around a variety of boulders, and I felt lucky to find "Rubik's Cube" away from the crowds.
At least, that was until I had done a few tries in it.
A group of climbers started climbing in some yellow problems on the same boulder and were loudly encouraging each other.
I don't really blame them for being loud, but I found it a little bit showing little respect for their fellow climbers.
I know I can shout and swear too a lot when I'm failing, but I only do that when I'm alone or  alone with friends. Once other people are around, if they are climbers, hikers, bikers or whatever, I keep my peace and certainly don't want to disturb theirs.
It would have been a different story if I would have been the one who chose to climb near them, being noisy. Than it would have been my choice to deal with the noise.
The forest is for all of us to use and stroll about, so I hurried up with my tries and wanted it done as soon as possible so I could leave again and be in peace.
About ten minutes I still had to endure the noise, but then I had it. Phew, I was finally going to pack up and leave.

Fontainebleau - Apremont Désert - Rubik's Cube 7A+(7B)

From there I walked back direction the car, stopping at several areas on my way, actually making detours to pass some more.
These are the areas I still stopped for short climbs, some tries here and there ... Apremont Envers, Apremont Vallon de la Solitude, Apremont Vallon de Sully and Apremont Butte aux Dames.

I was exhausted when I arrived back at the car.
My step counter app showed 19613 steps for a total of 14,71 km.
Not bad at all, I say!

When I arrived home, I took desert in the form of taking my oldest son for a bike ride of almost 10 km.
I think I will sleep good!

Friday, March 11, 2016

March 11, 2016 - Gone fishing.

There are Fridays when we finish work at 16h and there are Fridays when we finish work at 16h and everything fits.
The weather was perfect and it simply smelled like perfect conditions! Spring was in the air!

Bois Rond Auberge was my first choice for on the way home. We finish at 16h on Friday so I had some more time to spend.
My main project in the area is the instant classic "Le Grand Requin Blanc", the Great White Shark.
When you look at the boulder from the side, you don't need much imagination to see the Great White jumping out of the water with its mouth opened wide, ready to put its teeth in whatever or whoever crosses its path.
Visually just beautiful.
I had been trying it off and on since last Summer, and had been waiting for the good conditions that it requires.
The last couple of short sessions, I was able to do all the moves separately and do the complete problem in 2 parts, but each time when I tried from the start, I lacked on remaining power to do the big dynamic move to the right.
Just like with "Onde de Choc", I always tried the problem at the end or near to the end of a climbing day. So just like "Onde de Choc" I needed to try it when being still fresh.
When I was driving from work towards the area, I had this typical feeling that today was going to be the day. I had a stressed out week and needed to let it all go now.

I arrived at about 16h30 at the boulder and saw that the light was perfect. The slopers were in the sun, but still cold enough to stick. I saw it as a sign and set off my first try. I did the dynamic move, stuck the far right flat hold but still came off in the end.
It was a good first try though and I had to calm myself down because I was getting nervous.
I repeated all the separate moves and took a short 2 minute rest before I tried it from the start again.
When I arrived on the slopers to prepare for the jump, I immediately felt that I arrived much  lighter and fresher. I swung and while moving sideways, I let my feet go so they wouldn't stop my movement. I stuck the flat hold on the right and started compressing both arms to not let go of the left sloper.
I hung with both feet above the ground and tried to stay calm to position my feet and body for the next move.
My right hand slipped off too early when I pulled up to make the last move to the top and while being in the movement, there was a fraction of a second that I thought I was not going to make it, but I slapped far enough and was a little lucky that I didn't come off anymore.
A long term project off the list.
Beautiful problem with superbe moves!

Fontainebleau - Bois Rond Auberge - Le Grand Requin Blanc 7B

I had caught myself a big fish there and still had an ocean of time so I kept on fishing.

"Le Requin Lutin", the Fighting Shark, is a variation on the same boulder. It starts the same but instead of making the big move to the right, you have to take a sharp crimp, mantle up into the wall and exit above at the side of the shark's head.
I had tried it just once during one of my previous sessions on the shark, but the crimp was too sharp for the little skin I still had left. Now my skin was still fresh and thick.
I looked at the problem, imagined doing the mantle and sat down for the start.
I arrived at the crimp with full force, curled my skin deeply over the small sharp edge and started pulling. Was it the adrenalin, or the thick skin ? I don't know, but I didn't feel a thing and stood on top the of the boulder again seconds later.
I looked at my fingers and saw a rather deep cut in my skin but it was only the outer part.
First go of today and my second go overall on this one.
Another big one on the hook.

Fontainebleau - Bois Rond Auberge - Le Requin Lutin 7A+

Right next to this nice "shark boulder" is another "shark boulder" with a couple of problems on it.
When looking at it like on the video, one can see another shark's head coming out of the water, going for its prey.
The 7A+ that starts on the left arete, I had already and have it on video, but the easier one on the right I still had to do, "Les Dents de la Mer", The Teeth of the Sea.
The one time I tried it, it had started snowing, wet melting snow, and when I stood near the top, the slopers were so slippery that I didn't dare to pull on.
I was scared to slip and fall with my back on the tree just behind me so I jumped off in a controlled way.
Today, perfect conditions, easy going and I added another shark in the net.

Fontainebleau - Bois Rond Auberge - Les Dents de la Mer 6C

I felt like I was on a sending spree and didn't feel like stopping yet.
I was thinking of another small project that I could try on the way further home.
At Rocher Cailleau, on the "Vandale" boulder, there is also a difficult 7A+(7A) that has been also a long term project.
All the people I heard who tried or did it say that it is a hard one. I share their opinion, and even though I found the trick, it's still hard.
I will not say what it is, it's difficult to see it on the video. I just don't want to spoil the fun for those who still have to do it. 
I will tell those who request to know.
According to me, finding out the trick is the hardest part, but also the most fun part of the problem.

Fontainebleau - Rocher Cailleau - C'est à Sept B 7A+(7A)

I came home at the same time as on another working day where we finish at 17h and drove straight home.
A short session, but it was a good catch!!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

March 10, 2016 - Get in, get it done, get out.

I didn't have much time after work, but I needed my moment of disconnection.
A short stop at, of course, Gorge aux Châts would do I thought. Maybe I could quickly do "Variaspal".

When I arrived in the main area on the hilltop, my presumption was correct that it was going to be too crowded for me.
There were about 5 or 6 cars parked below and looking at the amount of people, these cars must have been quite full. Full or not, for me 2 is a crowd, so I went back down.

I didn't feel like hiking up the other hill of Gorge aux Châts Sud, so I went straight to the boulder of "Biodiversité". In the middle of it's traverse, is a straight up problem called "Un Morceau de Bio".
It starts with a sitstart, you have to put a high heelhook left and mantle up into the short slab on tiny crimps.

It's a lonely, isolated boulder at the bottom of the slope, on the north face of the hill of Gorge aux Châts Sud.
I had passed by it a couple of times out of curiosity but with the boulder being on the north face and covered by trees, it dries quite slow and I never had the chance to try.
This time it looked humid, and the moss around was wet, but the part where the problem is, was more or less dry. Dry enough to give it a try.

With the high heelhook left, I feared a little bit for my left knee, but it felt ok and I pushed through.
I got it quickly.
Opened as a 7A(7A+), but mantles are not really my style and as it went pretty quick, I give it no more than 7A. Even soft for the grade ... or I must be getting better at mantles.

All in all, the parking, the walking up and down the hill and doing the problem, took me 14 minutes.
I got in, got it done, and got out.

Fontainebleau - Gorge aux Châts Sud - Un Morceau de Bio 7A(7A+)

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

March 08, 2016 - Machine Head.

First of all, dad, if you're reading this, HAPPY BIRTHDAY "old" man!!!

Work has been non-stop again and I desperately needed to let off some steam.
There's almost no better way to do that than going for a quick climb on the way home.

It's almost cliché, but Gorge aux Châts is always a good choice for a short afterwork climb when time is limited.

One of the oldest problems in Gorge aux Châts Sud is "Machine Head".
With only 4 registered repetitions it's a rarely repeated problem. However, I think that this will change soon because that part of the area is gaining in popularity thanks to the recently published problems.

I first saw "Machine Head" a couple of years ago and I remember that it looked ugly back then.
It was more mossy and the high vegetation around it made that it was slow drying. So I skipped it.
But then I started trying more other problems in that sector, and here and there I did some tries in "Machine Head" too.
The more I tried it, the more I started to like it.
It's the kind of problem that I have to try a lot to get used to the moves and execute them without thinking and losing time and thus power.

Each move separately is not that difficult, but it's the repositioning of the body in between moves (or is that a move too?) that makes it so hard.
When I was finally standing near the top, it still wasn't done, there was still a nasty, dried out mossy topout to come and I was really running out of power.
Every second I fought and struggled to keep my grip on the holds. Chances were big that if I fell, I would have to give up due to loss of strength.
Seconds, that felt like minutes, later, the fat lady sang and I was standing on the top. "Machine Head" was done!

Fontainebleau - Gorge aux Châts Sud - Machine Head 7B

Sunday, March 6, 2016

March 06, 2016 - Dealing with fear.

It had rained during the night and even though the weather was really nice when I woke up, the ground was still quite wet, so this time I obliged myself to be patient.

I was happily surprised that my oldest son, Anthony, decided himself that he wanted to join me to the forest for climbing.
Being almost 13 and in his puberty, I forced him to get out of bed at noon and told him that I wanted him to go outside with this nice weather.
His decision to join me almost sounded like music in my ears.
I was set on trying "À Gil" today, and having him there to spot, even if it's just in the head, felt comfortable.

"À Gil" is an impressive boulder at the start (depending from where you're coming) of Apremont Butte aux Dames. Impressive, but oh so nice and asking to be climbed.
I had seen a couple of videos of it, each with different beta, but all showed that the crux was the mantle on the nose. Right at the top and at considerable height.

My first tries were miserable.
My fingers were hurting from the climbing of the days before and a cold sharp breeze was making my skin sort of crack.
I wasn't sure anymore if I wanted to do this and assisted Anthony in climbing some orange and blue problems.
It was exactly what I needed. It made my body and skin wake up in a calm fashion instead of immediately with agressive holds and moves.
I felt ready and we moved the crashpads to "À Gil" again.

Stepping into the problem is nothing, taking the first hold right hand is easy, but as soon as you start hanging into the hold to reach far left, it starts to hurt the fingers.
The hold far left is nothing more than a small hole. I can imagine that some people can put two fingers in, but I was forced to use it as a mono.
Once you got the far left hold good enough, you have two possibilities.
Either you use the right hold for your foot to push up onto, or you jump to reach on top of the 'nose'.
For me the second option seemed like the most natural way to move.

The first time I looked up to look where to jump to, I was scared as hell. The fear took over and I didn't dare to go for it completely.
I had no idea what I was jumping to, I knew it were slopers, but was there maybe a small edge, were they going to stick?
I didn't know. I had to jump into the unknown.

After a couple of tries, I got used to the fear, even though my heart was pounding in my throat.
I was able to stick the slopers after the jump, but then came the crux. The mantle up with no holds at all.
You get in this position where you have to decide to jump off, or continue on with the fear of making a bad fall.
Such kind of mantles put you in a situation where a sudden slip can result in an uncontrolled fall.
It took a while and some tries before I overcame the fear and dared to push through. I rode my way up.
Knowing that Anthony was standing below me, helped, even though he wouldn't have been able to do a lot.
We were both glad I made it.

Fontainebleau - Apremont Butte aux Dames - À Gil 7A+

Saturday, March 5, 2016

March 05, 2016 - Saddam is dead.

Not much dry boulders around today, especially for those who are impatient, like me.
The weather did get better later in the day, but conditions were never really good. Too much rain in a short time and not enough wind.
Add to that the small, short rain showers here and there and everything simply stays wet or humid.

I left this morning at 9 am to La Foret de la Commanderie, more widely known as the Elephant areas.
A couple of days ago they published some problems from forgotten areas behind Elephant, Elephant Nord and Mont Simonet.
One of them, Mont Blanc, I knew already. I had visited it together with Neil (Hart) last year in Spring, so nothing really new, except that the problems we saw then now have a name and a confirmed grade.
However, I should put some question marks after 'confirmed'.

The other area, Bois d'Hyver was new to me, and the roof I wanted to try there, "Lame Fatale" was a little bit too exposed for its height to climb on my own.
A three meter high roof with a big boulder underneath it is not something I will try on my own every day, especially not in these humid conditions.
Anyway, I know where it all is now, so I can find it easily back again another time.
Got already a couple of kilometers of walking on the counter by now.

Off to the supermarket near Nemours, where I noticed on the parking that I forgot my wallet.
Back home to get my wallet and off to the supermarket in Avon so I could pass by the climbing shop in Fontainebleau. I noticed that I need new climbing shoes ... again.
I took the road via Barbizon so I could stop first in Apremont Butte aux Dames.

Apremont Butte aux Dames is a small area, doesn't dry that quickly, but it's right next to the parking and pretty calm.
Of course most boulders were wet, but I did find a nice pillar near the top of the hill that was dry enough and asking for it to be climbed.
Two ways to climb the pillar.
"Le Pilier de sa Dame" does justice to its grade.

Fontainebleau - Apremont Butte aux Dames - Le Pilier de sa Dame 6C+(6C)

The other version, "Le Pilier de sa Dame (gauche)" is not a very nice variation and I probably wouldn't have spent a lot of time in it were it not that it was the most dry boulder around.
I don't like it to have to avoid touching an object that lies in the line of the problem.
Another issue was that this was pretty morpho too.
Before I started recording, I did have to try the morpho move quite a lot before I was able to use only the fingertips of both hands and being completely stretched out to be able to reach the next hold.
The topout then was on slopers that were in really bad conditions due to humidity.
All of this a good recipe to make it an ugly climb to the top. Mostly because of the climber.

Fontainebleau - Apremont Butte aux Dames - Le Pilier de sa Dame (gauche) 6C+(7A)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

March 03, 2016 - Shockwave.

A shockwave today. At work and in climbing.
At work because of professional reasons and in climbing because I finally did "Onde de Choc", which actually means "shockwave" in French.

Last time I was in Apremont, I wrote that I would probably do this pretty quick when I'm fresh.
Other times I always tried "Onde de Choc" at the end of a climbing session. This time it was the first thing I tried.

When I saw the weather forecast for today, I knew I had to take a couple of hours off work, because it was the first day since long that the weather was announced good.
When I left work, it looked grey and dull, and some drops even fell when I was driving towards Apremont. Luckily not enough to make it wet.
The wind and the cold provided for really good conditions and I went straight for "Onde de Choc". Determined to do it today, I had set it as my main goal.

My warmup was my first try in it, I got close to the top and fell off. Then I did it second go.
I knew it was going to happen today, but I didn't expect it to be so fast.
In such good conditions like today, and with the couple of days of forced rest, it felt really easy for the grade.
Glad I can finally tick this one off.

Fontainebleau - Apremont - Onde de Choc 7B

Having done this so fast, I didn't feel like leaving yet (I just arrived) so I wanted to have some quick video repeats.
"Rêve de Pierre" went down first go.
I thought I had it recorded but for some reason it didn't and I only noticed this at home. Damn! Bummer!

Immediately after that, and right next to it I also repeated "Tango Triste (assis)" for the video.
It's supposed to be easier than "Rêve de Pierre", and it is, but I did have to give it some tries to find the first sequence again.
Once my both hands were on the crack, it was done.

Fontainebleau - Apremont - Tango Triste (assis) 6C+(7A)

From then on I didn't really know what to do so I took out the topo and tried some problems on the way back.
"Fil à Tordre" was one of them. I tried it once long ago and I watched Jan (de Smit) climb it, but I couldn't remember the moves he did.
I guess I will have to look up a video to get the beta for it.

For a moment I was thinking to repeat "Medaille en Chocolat" for the video, but I didn't feel motivated enough to repeat it when I saw the "mirror" of the first part of it and feared for my toes.

A little further, on my way, I found "Clin d'Oeil" free. Ideal to quickly repeat for the video.
When I did it my first time in 2011, it was humid on the top, and I struggled with the slopers.
Today in these conditions it went like a charm and did it also second go.

Fontainebleau - Apremont - Clin d'Oeil 7A(6C+)

It started to get late now and it was about time to go home.

Last time I was in Apremont, I tried "Patate d'Enfer" in Apremont Butte aux Dames. It became a project because I was too tired to finish it.
Now I still felt fresh, and Apremont Butte aux Dames being right next to the car, I couldn't resist and went for a quick try.
It turned out to be the problem in which I invested the most time today. More than 15 minutes non-stop.

"Patate d'Enfer" only has about 3 or 4 moves, but it's the first 2 that make up the grade.
The first move is what I sometimes call 'the definition of morpho'.
I'm not sure if the problem would be possible for people smaller than me.
Last time I couldn't do the first move. Now after some tries it was ok, but then the second move turned out to be not the easiest neither.
I didn't give up however and stood on top some tries later.
A soft to hard 7A depending on your length.

Fontainebleau - Apremont Butte aux Dames - Patate d'Enfer 7A