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+)