Sunday, February 26, 2017

February 26, 2017 - I "Kendo" that.

I still felt quite tired, had difficulties waking up completely this morning and had trouble finding a suitable problem to go try.
My initial thought was to try "Mach 4" in Marlanval and I stuck with that in the end.
That was until I was standing in front of the boulder, only to find it wet.

I had to improvise a change of plan and came up with the idea of spending some time in "Pinchy Way" on the same boulder of "La Cuvette" that I did yesterday in Rocher des Mariniers.
Yesterday I had checked out some of the moves, but found it to difficult and I didn't want to spend too much time on it.
I felt relaxed and I didn't mind going back to that cosy isolated spot in the forest. Even if "Pinchy Way" wouldn't work out, at least I would have spent a nice moment in complete solitude.

The convention of "Pinchy Way", is to do the problem without using the big hold of "La Cuvette", which is not a real hold, but more like a flat sloper.
Anyway, "Pinchy Way (sans convention)" (just a name I gave for the video) is easier with the big hold, but still harder than "La Cuvette" and in my opinion good enough for 7A+.
Time will tell if the non eliminate version will be published on or not.

Fontainebleau - Rocher des Mariniers - Pinchy Way (sans convention) 7A+

After having done that version, I needed a fair amount of time to work out all the separate moves of the original "Pinchy Way", and especially to figure them out.
I really took my time, took short breaks and memorised every movement. There was no room for error. It all felt really hard, even with such good conditions concerning friction.

When each move felt confident, I took another short break, played some Candy Crush and cleaned the holds before I go for a real attempt.
For a moment my confidence started to fade when I wasn't able to do the first anymore a few times, but then as soon I stuck it, I executed every move perfectly and climbed to the top.

I gave this five stars on For me this is a true gem.
Hard but beautiful moves!

Fontainebleau - Rocher des Mariniers - Pinchy Way 7B(7B+)

It had been a while that I felt this excited about having done a masterpiece like "Pinchy Way". The day already felt like success.
It was only 14h by then but I called it a day because I had promised our old neighbour to help her out in her garden a bit.
While driving however, I still felt this urge, this need, to climb and after some thought gave in and decided to stop at Mont Pivot to try "Kendo" a few times.
Despite feeling tired, I also felt strong today and I was still driven by adrenalin leftovers from doing "Pinchy Way". I was motivated.
The only thing that I didn't look forward to, was the very steep and sometimes sketchy path up the hill of Mont Pivot.

I had spent a couple of short sessions in "Kendo" together with Bram (Honorez) over a year ago and it became kind of our mutual project.
We both tried various methods, out of which the dyno method is the most common, but weren't able to finish it off yet.

After a long and heavy uphill hike, I found "Kendo" in the worst condition that I had ever seen.
The crimp in the overhang was dark and greasy and it didn't feel dry at all.
In other circumstances I would have turned around and look for something else, but besides "Pancras", that was already occupied, there is nothing else in the near surroundings, so I stayed anyway and see how it would go.

The crimp turned out to be not too bad if only I dried it as good as I could before each attempt.
I first focussed on the dyno, knowing that I hadn't been able to stick it before, but at least it's a fun thing to try over and over if needed.
But then suddenly, after a lot of changing footholds and technique, I jumped and made a big swing while I held onto the finger jug.
Now I knew that I could do it, as long as the crimp would stay dry long enough for me to grab it, fix it and pull really hard on while jumping to a very far blind hold.

No more than two tries later, I stuck the jump again after doing the sitstart and steadily climbed all way to the end. It felt great! Very unexpected.

Fontainebleau - Mont Pivot - Kendo 7C

On my way back down from Mont Pivot, I had to think of Jo (Montchaussée), from who I know that he likes to come to the boulder with the "Recherche en Platernité" series.
Five traverses from 7A up to 7C all opened by him.
The boulder is located near the bottom of the slope, right next to the red path.
When I approached the boulder, I could hear a voice and immediately knew it was Jo himself, the impersonation of eternal youth.

He and his wife Françoise had just returned from a climbing and bouldering trip in the United States and felt tired from it.
After seeing the pictures that he showed me, I could imagine why, but I couldn't imagine him being tired when I saw him crawling through one of the traverses like a spider.

Jo on one of the "Recherche de Platernité" traverses in Mont Pivot.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

February 25, 2017 - The 600th.

It was a beautiful day today.
The sun was out, there was a blue sky and the air was dry.
It was exactly as forecasted and seen the amount of cars with foreign license plates, there were a lot of climbers who were aware of it. Slowly the big crowd season is starting again.

My body felt tired from yesterday and I wanted to avoid the crowds, so I went to Rocher de la Reine Nord and try whatever I would feel like while wandering around.
My first stop was at the "Diable Rouge" sector between the main area and Rocher de la Petite Reine.
As I kind of expected already, most was wet, but the small roof and the topout of "Allô la Terre" were dry enough.

It would have been special to have a flash send as my 600th video, but that's what I thought after I flashed it without too much trouble.
As it was on my warmup attempt though, I had lost more energy in it than I wanted to and I couldn't repeat it completely anymore. My arms were too pumped after such a heavy warmup.

I did want to have it on video as my 600th one, and decided that if it would have to be special in any way, that would be  a collated one.
The video actually shows "Allô la Terre" in two collated parts. I tried to make it look fancy, but that didn't quite work out.

Fontainebleau - Rocher de la Reine Nord - Allô la Terre 7A+

Feeling not really comfortable with what the outcome of the 600th video would become, I needed a walk to let it go a bit and continued on towards Rocher de la Petite Reine.
It was about 4 years ago when I was there for the first and only time and I couldn't climb because I was recovering from a fractured collar bone, but I remembered that there were some nice problems to go back for one day.
What I forgot however, was how exposed and bad the landings mostly were.

What I did dare to try was "Fortiori", a small 7A dyno into a mantle that I seriously underestimated.
Turned out to be harder than I expected.

Fontainebleau - Rocher de la Petite Reine - Fortiori 7A

Being on the shady North side of the hill for quite a while by now, made me long for some sun and I decided to cross the sunny open spot and walk to Rocher des Mariniers.
A small isolated sector with two boulders 100m apart and only four problems.
Three of those problems are in the seventh grade and can be all be found on the same boulder. The one at barely 100m from the parking of "Les Fusillés".

I had tried "La Cuvette" a couple of times already, but I could never stick the first move long enough to move on.
Now, from my first attempt, I stuck the first move easily, was able to move on and prepare for the next dynamic move, but I jumped off.
I didn't want to make the same mistake as earlier today and preserved my energy for a video send.

Two tries later I stood on top of the boulder, wondering why I was never able to do that first hard move before.
All in all, a short but quite nice problem.

Fontainebleau - Rocher des Mariniers - La Cuvette 7A

It was still a long walk back to my car on the other parking, but it I enjoyed the sun and it gave me time to think about if I would use a collated video or not.
In the end, as you will have noticed, my 600th video is a collated one. It's special.

Friday, February 24, 2017

February 24, 2017 - Honoured be thy name again.

I had a day off work today because my dad was supposed to come over for the weekend and arrive by train today, but due to "shitty" circumstances, it had to be postponed.
Luckily, the weather was nice and after some babysitting in the morning, I went to Cuvier Ouest with one goal in mind, "Multipass".

Before I installed the camera, I gave it some tries to see if I still remembered the sequence up to the last move, the one that I was never able to do before.
Just like all the other times I have tried "Multipass", I got stuck at the last move again.
That was, until I changed my method by using the mini crimp on the arete with my nails finally finished the problem ... But the camera wasn't recording.
No matter what I tried, I just couldn't find the motivation again to let those sharp crimps cut deep into my upper skin.

The clouds were getting dark from time to time, so I moved 10m further to "Comme un Petit Animal".
Last time I was in Cuvier Ouest, I worked out a sequence together with Simon (De Meester) but the conditions weren't good enough to give it some real attempts.
Now they were though and I wanted to take advantage of them now because I had felt some tiny drops in the meantime.

I still remembered the moves, but executing them until the end required a lot of energy, and I was in a rush, because it had started to rain lightly by now.
This felt hard.

Fontainebleau - Cuvier Ouest - Comme un Petit Animal 7B(7B+)

By the time I had packed up, it was raining that hard that I had to find shelter.
It lasted only a couple of minutes, but it was long enough to make everything wet.
With the wind and the dry air though, I was confident that it would dry soon.

While I gave it the time to dry, I decided to have another look for the somewhere nearby 7B+ "L'Intouvable".
I searched for quite a while, but in the end I honoured it's name again. I couldn't find it, so I headed to the quick drying "Makhno" boulder in Cuvier Nord. I still wanted to do "Ludus" on it.
Last week when I did "Phoenix", the crimps of "Ludus" where too humid to even try, but now, despite the rain shower, it was already dry and the crimps felt sticky when I checked them.

I tried the start of "Ludus" over a year ago, but I was tired and I could barely get my feet off the ground, let alone do the move to the crimps.
Somehow, this time, I started with my right foot against the wall, which immediately felt more comfortable.
It went down on my second attempt.
Besides the first move, it felt very soft for the grade.

Fontainebleau - Cuvier Nord - Ludus 7B+(7B)

Even though it I made it on my second attempt, I did have to put quite some strength into topping out "Ludus".
I took a short break and warmed up a bit in the sun that come out in the meantime.
As soon as I had recovered some energy, it was time to try the variation "Ludus (sans convention)", which I did on my first attempt.
I'm not 100% sure if what I did was entirely correct, but then again, there's no convention.

Fontainebleau - Cuvier Nord - Ludus (sans convention) 7B

It's really a pity that I wasn't able to get "Multipass" on film, because in that case I would have published my 600th YouTube video today.
It will hopefully be tomorrow.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

February 19, 2017 - Alberto the hooligan.

We were quite a big gang yesterday.
In the morning, Pieter wrote me that he and Alberto were on their way and we agreed to meet at J.A. Martin. Stef (Jacobs) still had "Sur le Fil (rallongé)" as a long term project.
Pieter, Alberto, Stef with his girlfriend and her kid, two friends from Stef, Bram (Honorez) and his girlfriend Ruuth. We all ended up climbing on the boulder with "Sur le Fil".

I repeated "Sur le Fil (rallongé)" quite quickly and set off with Bram to Roche aux Oiseaux.
He wanted to try "Le Hérisson" again and even though I didn't have much time left, I decided to join him. "Le Hérisson" is after all a beautiful problem and I didn't mind trying to repeat it.
I showed Bram how it was done by repeating after a handful of tries, but he fell off the last move.

This morning there was a dense fog again and climbing wasn't possible.
Pieter was the first one who texted me around noon, saying he and Alberto were headed for Rocher Saint-Germain and I decided to join them there.

I warmed up in the famous and beautiful slab "Mise au Poing" which I was finally able to repeat for the video.
It was back in 2009 that I did this magnificent 5m high slab, and even though I tried to repeat a couple of times for the video, I was never able to do it again until today, and it only took me three tries this time.

Fontainebleau - Rocher Saint-Germain Est - Mise au Poing 7A(6C)

Pieter gave "Mise au Poing" a lot of tries, got the hang of it, but didn't have enough mental strength to carry on to the top.
Alberto, on the contrary, did, and found his method to make it all the way up.
It was exciting and a real pleasure and joy to see him do the last tricky moves.
In the meantime, Bram called to say they went to Cuvier Sorcières, and mentioned that he just finished off "Le Hérisson".
Well done my friends!

The cars were parked at the Carrefour de Belle Croix on the top of the hill but we too the blue path so we could still try some nice problems that we passed on our way.
I was still able to harvest two quite nice problems.

The first one was "Brève Éjection", a variation of the dyno "Éjection Précoce" that I did a couple of weeks ago.
I didn't try that variation then, so as we passed it anyway, gave it some tries while Alberto was behaving like a hooligan.

It was difficult to aim for the right spot to dyno to, but thanks to Pieter's directions, it suddenly was easy.
Still a nice dyno though.

Fontainebleau - Rocher Saint-Germain - Brève Éjection 7A

The last one was "Pickpocket".
If I remember correctly, it was opened as a 7A but despite many tries, I was never able to get to the top.
It came as a big surprise to see that it got downgraded to 6C+(6C) by now.
I ended up doing two versions but only have one on video.

The first version I started with both hand on the horizontal crimp, used a right heel hook and mantled up from there. That felt like 6B at most.
The version as can be seen on the video is according to me the most logic version, but still felt like a hard 7A to me.

Fontainebleau - Rocher Saint-Germain - Pickpocket 6C+(6C)

It was a beautiful day today with excellent weather, but just like any other day, it had to come to an end.

Friday, February 17, 2017

February 17, 2017 - Long time no see.

There was a dense mist when I driving to work this morning.
I had planned the afternoon off work, but I wasn't very worried. It was predicted to clear up early in the afternoon and there are enough places or certain boulders that dry quickly.
One of those surprisingly quick drying boulders is the "Makhno" boulder and I wanted to try "Phoenix" on it.

When I passed through Bas Cuvier on my way to Cuvier Nord, I bumped into Chris Schulte.
We met a couple of times about three years ago when I was assisting Neil (Hart) with his film "Out of Sight".
What I always liked about Chris is that, being a world top class boulderer, always has this honest humbleness in him.
It was a long time no see, had a nice chat and agreed to meet up again during his and Rachel's one month stay.
Another long time no see was Jean-Claude (Valluet) who joined the conversation.
It was a funny back and forth of English and French, but we all seemed to understand.

I continued my way to Cuvier Nord and despite most boulders being still wet in Bas Cuvier, the "Makhno" boulder was dry enough.
There are many (maybe too many) lines on this boulder and one of them is "Phoenix".
Even though there was a certain doubt on the state of the friction, I managed to send it on my third attempt.
It felt a little bit too easy for the grade, more like 7A+ at most, but my arm was long enough to reach the first crimp without intermediate.

Fontainebleau - Cuvier Nord - Phoenix 7B(7B+)

Chris told me that "Manolo" looked dry so I headed to Cuvier Rempart.
"Manolo" was indeed completely dry, but I couldn't find the good friction and I had forgotten about the method I used last time when I was able to do all the separate moves.
I didn't feel like spending too much time on one problem, tried "Où Are You?" next to "Manolo" a couple of times, but the top was too humid for even thinking about mantling up that height.

The sky was completely cleared up by now and the sun felt warm and comfortable.
More climbers started to arrive so I looked for a solitary spot, which I found at "Immodium".
It was dry, I still wanted to do the sitstart, I was alone, the sun was and the sky looked blue.
It was only 11°C, but out there in the sun, covered from the wind by the surrounding boulders, it felt hot. It felt perfect.

To my surprise I was able to repeat the standing start on my first attempt. I became confident for the sit.
I knew the moves already and a handful of tries later I could tick "Immodium (assis)" off.

Fontainebleau - Cuvier Rempart - Immodium (assis) 7B

On my way back to the car, I wrote a text message to Ivan (Moreels) to wish him a happy day after birthday from Cuvier.
From the answer I received, I could make up that deep within he still wants to come back some day.
Hey, Ivan, long time to no see mate.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

February 15, 2017 - Back and forth.

It are busy days at work and with my three flatscreens, I'm constantly switching from one to the others.
Maybe that's why I somehow came up with trying "Zigzag" in Justice de Chambergeot on my way home? I don't know.
What I do know is that "Zigzag" had always been a mystery to me.

I had already done the 6C, "Turbulence", in November 2012, when "Zigzag" wasn't opened yet.
When it got published, the description was so vague that it seemed just the same as "Turbulence". There must have been a difference somewhere, but it wasn't clear where.
I was happy to see that finally a video of it has been published on, clearing it all up.
Basically, it's an extension of "Turbulence", starting more to the right.

It was a beautiful today, with temperatures up to 17°C and it smelled like Spring.
But my body felt stiff and didn't move as smoothly as I wanted to, which made the moves under the roof more physical than expected and my arms already felt pumped after my first try.
Or maybe it was simply hard. It was then that I remembered that I found "Turbulence" also quite hard.
A must try when you're in the area, but a spotter would not be a luxury.

Fontainebleau - Justice de Chambergeot - Zigzag 7A

Saturday, February 11, 2017

February 11, 2017 - It's all relative.

It was a cold and grey, but dry day.
I was all alone in Apremont Portes du Désert and I enjoyed it.
There were two problems in specific that I hadn't tried before and definitely wanted to try today.

The first one on my path, and my warmup, was "Extra Balle".
I could quickly do the jumpstart, keep my balance and campus the jug, reach the high sloper left hand, but couldn't (or didn't dare to) let go of my right hand to match the left on the high sloper.
I prefer a spotter for that one, so packed up and walked on to "La Colonne Plinienne", the other problem on my list for today.

On the video I saw from "La Colonne Plinienne", it looked like it would suit my style.
However the far move from the sloppy ledge to the high sloper was too huge for me.
I had to use a sharp two finger tiny crimp pocket left hand to be able to reach it.
Indeed quite my style and it didn't take me many tries to send this beautiful problem.

Fontainebleau - Apremont Portes du Désert - La Colonne Plinienne 7B

After eleven days of forced no-climbing, I could feel the short sessions from yesterday and the day before in my body. It was a very long time ago, but I actually had quite soar muscles.
So, not really having a further plan, I decided to look at the boulders in another smaller sector of the area.

I located some boulders for future reference and ended up flashing the relatively nice 7A prow "E=MC2" (I don't know how to type a C-square with my keyboard).
Relatively soft for the grade or relatively my style.
A first relatively reachy move, slap around the prow, slap again into the relatively good crack and end with a relatively dynamic move to the top.
Some nice straight forward bouldering.

Fontainebleau - Apremont Portes du Désert - E=MC2 7A

On my way back I briefly tried "Furtif Haut", but only got away with a flash of "Elementary (gauche)". Or maybe not.

There seems to be some confusion on how to start, and the description can be interpreted in many ways.
I looked for a way that would be near the proposed grade, but can't give it more than easy 6C+ at most.
But well, Bleau and grades, it's all relative.

Fontainebleau - Apremont Portes du Désert - Elementary (gauche) 7A

Friday, February 10, 2017

February 10, 2017 - Striptease!

I took a few hours off work today but didn't have high hopes for climbing because at work, in Montereau, it snowed lightly and turned into a light drizzle by the time I was off.
The forest, that starts at barely 15 km from there, turned out to be dry, no sign of snow or any drizzle.

Somehow I had to think of "Monaco" and decided to stop at Rocher des Princes.
The ground was wet, but the boulder was perfectly dry and in unexpectedly very good condition.
I tried "Monaco" once briefly, but was never able to do the first far move and gave up quite quickly.
Now it still took me a short while to figure out the first move, but once I found my method, I could do it every time and the rest of them followed soon.
Beautiful problem!

Fontainebleau - Rocher des Princes - Monaco 7B

After a short stop at the post office of Fontainebleau, I ended up in Apremont Butte aux Dames to check out the newly opened 7B+, "Débardage".

It felt strange walking through the area.
Some organisation that I can't recall right now, has decided to restore the whole landscape from the Butte aux Dames until the Butte aux Peintres into the state it more or less was during the time that famous painters were inspired by it.
It apparently involves stripping that part of the forest from almost all of the pine trees scattered around, turning the boulders from 'covered by the trees' into 'naked in the open'.
It's a really awkward sight but at least the boulders will dry quickly now, which wasn't the case before in Apremont Butte aux Dames.

"Debardage" is somewhat hidden in a corner and too humid to give it some real tries.
Close by, "Les Baloches" was dry and I decided to give it some go's.
I spent some time in it on a hot Spring day in 2016, but couldn't stick the sloppy crack because of bleeding finger tips due loosing too much skin.
Now it only took me a handful of tries and felt like a hard 7A or soft 7A+ at most.
Certainly not the nicest problem in the area.

Fontainebleau - Apremont Butte aux Dames - Les Baloches 7B

Thursday, February 9, 2017

February 09, 2017 - In plain sight.

It had been eleven days that I wasn't able to climb due to bad weather.
Climbing felt like ages ago, so when I got home from a work trip to Germany, I was happily surprised with nice dry weather.
It was already late in the afternoon, and after a six and half hour drive, I needed a break and decided to spend the last hour of sunlight in the nearby Gorge aux Châts.

To use the most of my available time, I stayed at the bottom of the hill and started with a short warmup in "L'Ami Sanglier (assis)", a 6C which is often confused with the 7A, "L'Ami Sanglier (du fond)", that starts far right under the roof, at the start of "Le Pare-Dessus".
Anyway, I had tried "L'Ami Sanglier (assis)" already a couple of times, but never found my way coming out of the roof.

I have no idea what I did differently now, but it all went like a charm.
Some very nice moves in a very underestimated 6C. For me this felt hard for the grade.

Fontainebleau - Gorge aux Châts - L'Ami Sanglier (assis) 6C

I had a look at the traverse under the roof that links up and makes the 7A, but the moves that I could imagine didn't seem very nice and I really didn't feel like twisting and turning under that roof just for chasing a grade.

Next problem that came into my mind was "Le Mur du Feu" at barely 20m from there.
It lies right next to one of the paths, in plain sight, but yet, with only one registered repeater (Ivan Moreels in 2007), tends to be invisible, forgotten or not deemed worthy enough to try.
I must admit that I already had a brief look at it a couple of times, but I never saw a way to start and didn't give much attention anymore.
This time I decided to spend some time in it.

The description says that you have to start with crimps and go for a high crimp left hand.
After finally figuring out how to start and move towards the high crimp, it started to become a nice challenge, and even though the high crimp was razor sharp, I enjoyed trying it more and more.
I didn't even want to let it go anymore but there wasn't much time left.

Too bad that "Le Mur du Feu" doesn't get the attention it deserves, even though I do think that it will get more repeaters soon now that a video of it is published.
This one also felt quite hard for the grade, but I really recommend it.
A little gem hidden in plain sight.

Fontainebleau - Gorge aux Châts - Le Mur du Feu 7A