Sunday, January 29, 2017

January 29, 2016 - It felt soft.

The weekend was humid and the temperature felt soft compared to the last weeks. I didn't even have to wear a jacket.
This of course came with a lot of condensation and thus soaking wet boulders.
I set off anyway today and went to a new sector, Cuvier Sorcières, that has been published recently and features quite a lot of new problems.
It combines a few very small sectors above and next to Cuvier Est to which the sector with "Proueptologue" logically has been added.
Unfortunately all the new problems were either soaking wet or too humid to try.
The only dry enough problem I found, was "Petit Tas Petit", a 7B+ on the same boulder and just right of "Proueptologue".

"Petit Tas Petit" is a very atypical problem on very bad slopers that needed a good swipe of a towel to get them dry enough.
As the temperature felt so soft, I didn't mind waiting for the sun that barely broke through the clouds now and then, drying the slopers some more.

"Petit Tas Petit" is atypical in such a way that I actually had to use my elbow to be able to reach the slopers. There just was no other way to get to them.
As soon as I had figured that move, it didn't take me long to top out the problem, breaking a piece of the rock due to bad foot placement when stepping up.
Luckily, the piece that broke is not used for climbing the problem, but still ... mea culpa!

Very nice problem that is definitely worth the detour, but all in all, it felt soft for the grade.

Fontainebleau - Cuvier Sorcières - Petit Tas Petit 7B+

As everything else in the nearby areas was wet, I drove to Rocher Saint-Germain, only to find "Si t'es Petit, Sois Technique" wet.
I wanted to try the sitstart, but as it wasn't possible, I drove on to Rocher de la Salamandre Est that normally dries quite quickly, hoping that "Chaos Data" would be dry.

Just as I feared, the key holds under the roof of "Chaos Data" were wet and slippery to the point that I didn't even think of trying the moves again and checked if there was still something else on the boulder that I could try and didn't require the wet holds.

Strangely enough, I noticed that "Extinguo" wasn't ticked off even though I was quite sure that I had done that already.
It turned out that the version I did had been renamed to "Extinguo (droite)" and "Extinguo" itself had become a different version, excluding one hold on the lip of the roof.
Strange, but at least I still had something left to do and it was dry.

It became a quick ascent that also felt soft for the grade even though it appears that I didn't start low enough in the roof, skipping one move that doesn't add anything to the grade.

Fontainebleau - Rocher de la Salamandre Est - Extinguo 7A

Here's the video from what is now "Extinguo (droite)" from a year ago, with the correct start.

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

Personally, I don't think that there should exist two versions.
Both have the same grade, one uses an extra hold and both felt soft for the grade.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

January 26, 2016 - Keep 'em coming!

Despite that the conditions must have been amazing this week, I didn't climb since Monday until today. Too much work had refrained me from it, but today, thanks to the days getting longer again, I was able to spend about 45 minutes climbing after work.

I parked at a deserted Cuvier to profit from the good conditions and try "Out of the Blue" which requires good conditions, because those bad slopers depend on the friction.
It has been opened last Summer by our Belgian friends Jan (De Smit), Igor (Depoorter) and Tim Brijs.
I was amazed that such a beautiful line in the middle of Cuvier could remain untouched for so long. Then again, it is quite well hidden between some boulders and behind some bushes.

The first time I tried "Out of the Blue" was somewhere in November when the conditions in Cuvier Rempart were excellent, but unfortunately the topout of "Out of the Blue" was mossy and wet and I fell off the mantle while looking for something dry to hold on to.
I knew that I could do it, but not with a wet topout and me being too exhausted already after my many attempts.
Now the topout was dry, but it still took me the full 45 minutes before I was able to stick the top slopers and mantle out.

Great find by Jan, Igor and Tim! Keep 'em coming!
Some other day I will go back to the problem to try the sitstart, also opened by them and given 7C.

Fontainebleau - Cuvier - Out of the Blue 7B+

Sunday, January 22, 2017

January 22, 2017 - Greasy fingers.

I don't know how come, but all day long it felt like fingers were greasy. Each time my fingertips came in contact with some rock, they looked and felt greasy.
Maybe it were the tiny frost particles on the rock that melted upon contact with my skin? Maybe my fingers were greasy because of loosing some skin the last couple of days?
I any case, it was annoying. The friction wasn't wasn't as I hoped.

My choice for Rocher des Demoiselles wasn't the best one because it was mostly shady and the few sunbeams that were able to pierce through the trees, weren't enough to warm the air up.
It didn't really matter, I didn't have any expectations for today and wandered around looking for something that I felt was worth trying today.

The first stop was at "Sainte-Nitouche (assis)".
A beautiful problem, to me at least, that turned out to be quite hard.
The moves were all ok to do, but my greasy fingers were making the slopers hard to trust.
It became my main project of the day as I liked it so much and had the drive to finish it.
A little bit more than half an hour later it was done.

Fontainebleau - Rocher des Demoiselles - Sainte-Nitouche (assis) 7A+(7A)

Further up the hill there is the small roof of "Karate Kid", and has some really nice moves.
I worked out all the moves and the moment I went for a full attempt, I made a bad fall trying to swing my feet over the other edge of the roof.
It gave me a light headache and I decided to move on.

Taking a bad fall in "Karate Kid".

I walked back down the hill a bit further so I could pass by "L'Espoir Naufragé" and maybe try it on my way back.
It definitely got my interest at first sight of it.
I watched a video for some beta to save some time and a handful of tries later, I made it to the top.
Nice problem! Physical.

Fontainebleau - Rocher des Demoiselles - L'Espoir Naufragé 7A+

I still wanted to make one more stop before leaving, and that was at "Crampe Man".
Even for 6C I would consider it as soft, because I flashed this easily and besides the first move, it felt like a walk in the park.

Fontainebleau - Rocher des Demoiselles - Crampe Man 6C+

I couldn't figure out the sitstart of "Crampe Man (assis)" immediately and as I didn't want to loose time to try one last problem that I had on my mind, I packed up and moved all my stuff to the boulder  next to it.
I had never really tried "Chorizo" before, but today I wanted to spend some time on it.

"Chorizo" is quite my anti-style, a straight up wall where balance and subtle moving is what is required to climb it.
It took me many tries to be able to reach the crimp high left, keep my balance and move my feet.
Once I was able to do that, I was able to reach for the edge, start with the mantle, got spooked as there were no holds anymore and slid off. It was a scary fall.

The attempt right after it, I was able to climb it to the top, but it felt hard!
The mantle on the top was really scary and had a point-of-no-return. The point from where, once you've passed it, you will probably get hurt when you fall.
Very nice problem though!

Fontainebleau - Rocher des Demoiselles - Chorizo 7A(6C+)

It was time to leave now. Sausages, spicy or not, give me greasy fingers.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

January 21, 2017 - Short story.

I had to wait until 13h for the cold to become bearable for climbing and went straight to "Vandale".
My body felt soar because of the constant fight against the cold and the first move from "Vandale" didn't go any better than yesterday.

For the fun of it, I made a video of a crouching start version and I'm guessing it will be around 7B.
Comments are welcome. 😄

Fontainebleau - Rocher Cailleau - Vandale (accroupi) 7B

I had to keep moving to get warm again and decided to look for some of the isolated boulders of Rocher Cailleau.

I found the boulder of "Le Phalloïde", but it was too high and exposed to try anything on it on my own.
Then I wanted to look for the small cave roof of "Tirelipimpon" all the way up on the neighbouring hill.
It was a long and steep walk but got treated with some nice plays of sunlight between the trees.

Beautiful play of light at Rocher Cailleau.

I must have looked for at least an hour when I had to give up the search. It's one of those boulders where you stand on top of it without knowing it.
On the way back I bumped into Jean-Hervé (Baudot) who gave me some hints for finding it, but I didn't want to walk all the way up the hill again. Besides, JHB told me that it's an ideal Summer problem.
There was still some time left before the freeze would fall though and I still wanted to climb something small.

According to the description on, "Frontale et Parapluie", on the boulder just below "Vandale", has a 'dynamic start' which reads to me as in jumpstart.
Doing it with a jumpstart felt in no way as a 7A+. At most 6C+.
As I had it on video, I wanted to share it anyway.

Fontainebleau - Rocher Cailleau - Frontale et Parapluie (départ sauté) 6C+

There is however a more logical start with both feet on the wall, left hand on a vertical hold and the right on an obvious undercling. Jump from that static position and you have got your 7A+ but slightly on the soft side.
It's a very fun dyno to do and I definitely recommend trying it when being around in the area anyway.

Fontainebleau - Rocher Cailleau - Frontale et Parapluie 7A+

Sun was going down. Too cold. Bye.

Friday, January 20, 2017

January 20, 2017 - Strolling around.

Today felt like I was more fighting against the cold than anything else.
This morning when left to Fontainebleau city again, it was only -9°C and while driving through the forest, it even dropped down to -11°C.
It was shivering cold and it was hard to imagine that before I moved to Bleau, I used to sleep in a tent with such freezing temperatures when I came over for the weekend.
-11°C is too cold for climbing so I had to wait for the temperature to rise a bit.
I must be getting old ...

It was around noon when I parked at Franchard Isatis and it was still five degrees below zero.
Still extremely cold, so I decide to stroll around a bit in the area and see what I will climb.
To make it even worse, I ended up in the sector on the even colder North face of the hill in the sector of "L'Insoutenable Légèreté de l'Être", where I stopped at "Screaming Tree", one of the many problems opened by Ivan (Moreels) and Steven (Demets) in that sector.

Even though it didn't take me very long and only a few tries, it did feel quite hard for the grade. Especially the topout that I did while leaving all ethics behind.
Either way, I made it and that's what counts.

Fontainebleau - Franchard Isatis - Screaming Tree 7A

Still strolling around, I eventually found myself in front of "La Fissure Évasée", a problem that will probably be enjoyed by the better crack climber.
It didn't give me any problems, but I must admit that I was a bit lucky that one of my fingers got jammed quite well high up in the crack, making it possible to finish the problem.

Fontainebleau - Franchard Isatis - La Fissure Évasée 7A(7A+)

It was harder and harder to fight against the cold and stay warm, so I went home to warm up and drink a coffee.
After being warmed up again, I went to Rocher Cailleau to try "Vandale" or "Alien", two 7C's that I got reminded of by watching the latest video from fellow climber and video maker, Christophe Cayssiols. Unfortunately he fell off the last move on both and they remained projects.

There was another car parked next to road in Paris-Forêt, but it was a small one, so I didn't expect any crowd.
Only one other climber at the "Vandale" boulder, and it turned out to be Christophe himself. Talk about coincidence.
We met once on a humid day in Gorge aux Châts, both looking for anything dry. We went home empty handed but had a good talk.
It was nice to see him again and after he gave me some beta we tried both problems together.

For me it was the first time trying both problems (apart from trying to get my ass off the ground in "Vandale"), but Christophe gave me some good tips and I could do "Vandale" from a crouching start without doing the first move.
I can get my ass off the ground, but I still need to work on that first move.
I worked out the moves of "Alien" but now need some more continuity.
Two more projects on the list, but they are very high on it.
Christophe got really close again sending both, but will need to come back. He'll do them very soon.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

January 19, 2017 - Mister Freeze.

It was only -7°C when I left to Fontainebleau city this morning. I had an appointment at 10 am for having my laptop repaired.
By the time I arrived the appointment got postponed until tomorrow same time, so I found myself earlier than planned on the parking of Cassepot. It was 10h30 and still a freezing -4°C.
At least there was no icy wind like yesterday in Villecerf, so the layers of clothes were doing the job.

It was still too cold to immediately my main goal, "Triple Axel", so I walked up the hill to Cassepot Roches Oranges.

A lizard guarding the boulders of Cassepot Roches Oranges.

The walk was a good warmup and "Spirit of Cadeau" was lying mostly in the sun so it seemed like a good first problem to try.

Nice problem, but soft for the grade. Flashed it quite easily.

Fontainebleau - Cassepot Roches Oranges - Spirit of Cadeau 7A

Flashing "Spirit of Cadeau" gave me confidence and I decided to go back down to Cassepot Roches Grises and try "Triple Axel".
I had done the standstart "Double Axel" not even a year ago and I still remembered the moves very well.

The problem was in excellent conditions and I knew that I would be able to do it as soon as I worked out the moves from the sitstart up to the stand.
Not even fifteen minutes later (breaks to warm up the hands and toes included) it was done and then done again just for the fun of it.

The sitstart adds some moves, but I didn't find them hard enough to add a full grade compared to the standstart. Top class problem though!

Fontainebleau - Cassepot Roches Grises - Triple Axel 7B+

On the same boulder, to the right of "Triple Axel", seemed to be also another 7A+ that I never noticed before, "Banzaï (bas)". A low start of "Banzaï", graded 6C+ but given 7A by 83,3% of the registered repeaters.

It looked much easier than it turned out to be. I really had to fight for this one and it actually took me longer than "Triple Axel".

Fontainebleau - Cassepot Roches Grises - Banzaï (bas) 7A+

"Banzaï (bas)" had taken a lot of my energy so I needed a short break but had to keep moving to not become Mr. Freeze.
I didn't have a real plan, but crossing the road and to walk through Rocher Saint-Germain and decide on the spot what problem I feel like trying.
One of them was "Rosetta".

Even though the topout was really scary because of all the moss on the top and the right side of the boulder, I did it on my second attempt and found that it could in no way be a 7B(7B+) but at most 7A.
After checking, it turned out to be with a sitstart.
I didn't feel like doing that scary topout above a small boulder again and decided to continue my walk.

Fontainebleau - Rocher Saint-Germain - Rosetta (debout) 7A

I wasn't far from "Éjection Précoce" anymore and decided to try that problem again to finish off the day. Fighting against the cold and trying to keep warm takes a lot of energy and I started to get tired.

"Éjection Précoce" is a dyno in which I spent maybe five short sessions already, mostly alone, once with friends, but I never saw anyone doing it in real life.
Today, my first try felt better than all of the tries that I ever did in that problem and I decided to setup the camera.
I have no idea how, but today it felt easy. I only had to find my deadpoint on the sloper after the dyno and it was done.
It's a quite technical dyno with as good as no footholds.

Fontainebleau - Rocher Saint-Germain - Éjection Précoce 7A+

The cold and physical efforts had gotten the better of me now and I went back to the car, using the Route de Luxembourg, a straight flat path up to the parking.

The Route de Luxembourg in Rocher Saint-Germain.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

January 18, 2017 - Alone.

When the boulder of Villecerf got published, it immediately drew my attention.
It was the closest boulder from where I work and it looked beautiful.
I drove there after work some day last Spring, and I was simply amazed! In the middle of fields stands out a huge boulder called "La Roche du Saut". No other boulders to seen anywhere, just fields and the village of Villecerf. All alone.

There are many climbing hooks fixed in the boulder and a sign saying that the boulder has been authorised and maintained by the FFME, Fédération Française de la Montagne et de l'Escalade.
It only has two published boulder problems on it.
A 7A+ called "L'Amériche", on the right arete, of which I don't understand how it goes.
And a 7B called "Alone" with now only 4 registered repeaters.
La Roche du Saut will never get the attention it really deserves. It is too far away from the main forest for only one boulder, but it's definitely worth the detour.

When I tried "Alone" on my first visit, I couldn't figure out the mouvement to get the undercling on the left.
I knew what to do, but I just couldn't execute the move and keep my balance, so I ended up leaving empty handed but added it to my must-try-again list.

When Maarten was here in the first week of January, we passed by Villecerf on our way back from the Decathlon in Varennes.
The top was wet, but the wall was dry enough to work on the move to the undercling and stick it.
To my surprise it didn't take many tries to suddenly find the key and make the move nearly every time.
I was also able to make the dynamic to the top many times, but it was wet and I kept on sliding off.
If the top would have been dry, I knew that I would have done it that day.

Today I went right after work.
It has been a clear and sunny sky every day since Monday and the air was dry.
It was only -1°C though, and the icy wind made it feel even colder.

From my first try I could do the move to the undercling left hand, kept my balance and positioned my left foot, slighly turned my right foot, prepared to push up for the move to the top and slid off with my right foot.
I knew it was going to happen today, if only I could withstand the cold. My fingers and toes were freezing after each attempt and I had to change many times from climbing shoes to sneakers and walk and jump around to keep the blood pumping around.
My right foot slid off many times because I couldn't feel my toes anymore, so it was hard to tell if I was applying pressure correctly.

It felt like an hour, but barely 20 minutes later I stood on the top. Relieved that I could get out of the wind and warm up in the car on my way home.

Fontainebleau - Villecerf - Alone 7B

Besides the cold, the conditions are perfect and I have two days off now.
Let's see what it will bring as long as I can fight the freezing cold.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

January 15, 2017 - Love at first sight.

Everything was wet this morning, but the sky was clear and I wanted to quickly climb something before the return of the rain.
Gorge à Veron, next door, a short walk, only a handful of boulders, but in the open so quick drying.
It seemed like a fair choice.

I still remember the first time I went to Gorge à Véron, and it was love at first sight.
It's truly a unique part of the forest in the Coquibus area.
That's what Régis and Alexis Allayaud maybe thought too when they opened and named one of the two 7B's in this small area, "Coup de Foudre". The French saying for "Love at first sight".

The boulders were mostly too wet, but the roof with "Coup de Foudre" was dry and the slopers were only a bit humid here and there. Only completely on top it was completely wet, but that wouldn't really be a problem.

I tried it once about two years ago when I did "Zig-Zag Napalm", but even though the line is obvious, I couldn't see the moves in it, went away and kind of forgot about it.
It was Pete (Collins) who reminded me of it a couple of weeks ago and he showed me a video of him climbing the problem.
I didn't really use a lot of his beta as I completely forgot what he did, but I was confident and worked out the moves quite fast.
It was a matter of linking it all together now, but the sharp crimp on the edge of the roof had cut a chunk of skin out of my finger.
I was close and I didn't want to give up, knowing that this will most certainly be the only problem I will be able to climb today. Clouds were setting in again and it was predicted to rain.

If this problem would have been located in a popular area, it would be an instant classic for sure!
Truly a masterclass problem in my eyes. Love at first sight!

Fontainebleau - Gorge à Véron - Coup de Foudre 7B

Saturday, January 14, 2017

January 14, 2017 - Finally!

I had barely climbed the last two weeks.
The first week of January, Maarten (Robays) stayed over, but the days were misty, grey and the conditions were always humid.
I was able to try some moves on several projects, but it was never more than just trying the moves on the only holds that were dry.
Topping out was never possible due to everything being wet.
Despite that, we spent each day, the whole day, in the forest, walking around, exploring and looking for dry boulders and being treated by nice Winter views sometimes.

This week had some dry moments with probably good conditions, but by the time I finished working it had rained again.
Until today, when I woke up with a blue sky and the rain was only announced to start just after noon.
I left early to profit as much as possible.

Apremont, catching the sun from the start of the day, seemed like a good idea and so it turned out to be.
Most boulders were still wet, but those who caught the sun early were drying fast.
"Particule Fine" already caught some sun and was dry, apart from the top but that I didn't see yet.
It was a perfect warmup.

Fontainebleau - Apremont - Particule Fine 6C(7A)

I tried "La Conque" on the left arete quite a few times, but I just couldn't find my balance to match both hands on the bad sloper.

I didn't plan anything before I left, so I had to improvise and made the very risky choice to walk over to Apremont Envers on the other side of the hill, the shady side.
Most was wet, but to my surprise, "Paul's Boutique" was not and I unpacked.
It seems that there are multiple versions, both given 7A+. Neither of them gave me any trouble and both went down really fast.

I started off with "Paul's Boutique (version originale)", a dyno.
Even though the position out of which you have to dyno feels really strange, I did it on my third attempt.
Felt soft for the grade.

Fontainebleau - Apremont Envers - Paul's Boutique (version originale) 7A+

After that came "Paul's Boutique" where it turned out that getting my second foot off the ground was the hardest.
I stopped my first attempt because the camera wasn't recording, but finished it right after.
Also easy for the grade if you ask me.

Fontainebleau - Apremont Envers - Paul's Boutique 7A+

After strolling around a bit, not finding any dry boulder of interest anymore, I decided to quickly go to Rocher Saint-Germain. It was becoming more and more clouded by now and it could start raining soon.
The drive is not far and I walked fast, thinking about what I could try depending on how dry it would be.
There were several options and "Mégalight (assis)" was the first one that I crossed. It was dry.

I had done the standing start a while ago and started trying the sitstart that same day.
It doesn't add much to the difficulty but I was too tired and knew that it would go down soon when I would be more fresh.

A week without climbing. How more fresh can you be?
The difficult dyno and the wet topout couldn't stop me and I topped out very unethically.

Fontainebleau - Rocher Saint-Germain - Mégalight (assis) 7B+

It was right on time, because five minutes later the rain came back. 
What started with some tiny drops had become a small mix of snow and rain storm by the time I arrived at the car.
I was wet and it was cold, but I didn't care. I had climbed again. Finally!!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

January 01, 2017 - It starts again.

Happy new year to all!!!

In 2016, according to my scorecard, I have done:

- 201 x 7A
- 99 x 7A+
- 50 x 7B
- 17 x 7B+
- 4 x 7C

Not bad, if I may say so myself !!

Maarten (Robays) celebrated new years eve at our place and will stay over for a week.
We didn't make it late last night and this morning we were up on time, rising and shining to go to the forest.
Climbing is not that important for Maarten, but he's always happy to be in the forest and enjoy the surroundings.

On our way to Rocher du Général, it was only -3°C and a dense freezing fog had made the whole forest white. It was beautiful and the air tasted healthy.
The ground was frozen and it was nice to hear and feel the crispy leaves crack with every step.
Despite the dense fog, it was too cold to be wet and the conditions seemed perfect.

I had only two goals. "Un Ouvreur Peut en Cacher un Autre" and "Boule et Bill".
Two friction dependent problems and today was perfect to try them.
Even though I had already been to "Un Ouvreur Peut en Cacher un Autre" twice, with everything being white and looking the same, we walked around in circles a few times before we found the boulder again.

Pete (Collins) had given me some new beta, but in the end I didn't use it. The perfect conditions made the rock sticky and coming out of the roof went easier than the times when I tried it in Summer.
It only took me three tries to send it and it all went smooth.
It's a beautiful problem!

Fontainebleau - Rocher du Général - Un Ouvreur Peut en Cacher un Autre 7A(7A+)

Maarten didn't feel like climbing, but gladly joined me to try "Boule et Bill" now.
The topout on only slopers requires a good friction and other than last time when I tried it it was sticky.
It didn't take long before I had worked out the moves and I started believing that today it will be ticked off.

I admit, the topout is far from stylish, but I didn't care. I made it. The second 7th grade problem of 2017 was done.

Fontainebleau - Rocher du Général - Boule et Bill 7A+

My main goals for today were done, and we decided to head to Boissy-aux-Cailles for a nice walk in a magnificent part of the forest.
We got treated with some nice views and ended up at the area Boissy Le Goulot.
I took the chance and Maarten agreed to have a look for the roof of "Into the Wild". A 7B+(7B) roof in a remote part of the area that I hadn't found before despite having looked for it twice.
Thanks to Maarten's kind help I finally had the chance to see the problem in real life and went back to the car to get the crashpad.

It's a really hard fingery problem and even though I thought at first that it was going to be too hard, I was able to work out my own sequence and execute all the moves separately, but wasn't strong enough to link them all together.
At least I know where it is now. It truly is into the wild and you can literally stand on the top of the boulder without knowing it.

Tomorrow there is a chance of rain and snow, so doing (a part of) the "25 bosses" is on the schedule.

One of the beautiful panorama views in Boissy-aux-Cailles.