Thursday, June 29, 2017

June 29, 2017 - One last before we go.

I had to prepare for the trip to Biaritz tomorrow, but the weather in the morning looked quite good and despite that everything outside was wet, I set off for a last short climbing session.
With everything being still wet, I know it's a big risk to go to Franchard Sablons, but I took it and it turned out to be not as bad as one would expect.
"Jokary" for example, looked wet, but the undercling was dry and good hold on the left was good enough. The slab near the top was very humid, but I knew that I could skip all the holds in it and reach directly to the top.

I had tried "Jokary" already a few times when I was around, but somehow was never able to finish it.
Now, for some reason, it didn't feel difficult at all and went down on my second attempt.

Fontainebleau - Franchard Sablons - Jokari 7A+(7A)

At about 10m from "Jokary", I had a look at the overhang with "Le Journal du Hard" and was pleasantly surprised that the boulder was dry where it was needed.
I remember that I tried it once and couldn't even do the first move, but it was some time ago and I felt ready for it. The fact that I didn't have the time to look for other dry boulders around probably played a role too.

Anyway, already with my first try I felt that it was going much better and I started trying harder until I topped out ten minutes later.
Great problem!

Fontainebleau - Franchard Sablons - Le Journal du Hard 7A+

And now ... Surf's up!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

June 28, 2017 - Holiday starts!

I wasn't able to climb over the weekend, Monday was too hot and yesterday the weather had started to become very unstable and of course, today is the first day of my two weeks and a half holiday.
It had rained a lot yesterday evening and even though there was a nice breeze and quite some sun in the morning, the boulders in J.A. Martin were in far from ideal conditions. In other words, there was no friction at all.

On Friday day morning I'm leaving towards Biarritz with my oldest son to try some surfing for our very first time.
That left me with only today for climbing, as tomorrow I will be busy with preparing for the trip.
On top of that, I only had a mere two hours of possible climbing before the chance of rain was at 70%.

The boulder of "Dark Side" was dry, but I didn't even think of trying it in these conditions when the grip on the holds is very uncertain.
I was going to try "Gravity" to the right of it to get the feel again after almost a week of no climbing.

I must admit that it felt more like a 7A at the moment that I climbed it, but most likely this was due to the bad friction and I didn't feel at ease.

Fontainebleau - J.A. Martin - Gravity 6C+(7A)

With the boulders lower down the hill being in even worse conditions, I decided to stay near the top and started walking to the East until I reached "La Voie de Kim", which was luckily dry enough.
I quickly watched a video to be sure to not make any mistake about the start and finish, looked at the line, improvised my movement and flashed it with ease.

Not worth 7A in my opinion, but well worth the time. Very nice climb!

Fontainebleau - J.A. Martin - La Voie de Kim (assis) 7A(6C+)

Afterwards I still had some time to make some progress in "Contact" lower down the hill.
I was finally able to stick the first move, the dyno to a bad sloper, but failed to finish.

Just before 11h I arrived back at the car, just in time as the first of many showers had started.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

June 22, 2017 - Unlocked.

Today was the last day of the heat wave and with still 34°C in the evening it was still extremely hot.
Tomorrow it will be "only" 27°C, but I couldn't wait and decided to face the heat again anyway.

When I was thinking of cooler climber areas nearby, "Le Diktat du Hamac" came into my mind.
It's on the first boulder of Coquibus Longs Vaux when coming from the parking. I knew that the boulder would be mostly exposed to the sun at this time of the day, but not the small roof and the topout of "Le Diktat du Hamac". At least, as far as I could remember from trying it once a couple of years ago.
I did go back once, but as the holds under the roof dry slowly, I didn't have the chance to try it again.
I remembered from last time that the moves were quite hard and I wasn't able to do all of them.
When looking at Ivan's (Moreels) face in the video of his ascent, it looked like it was hard for him too. Especially the last moves.

As I expected, the boulder was lying mostly in the sun, but not the parts that had to be climbed.
It was hot, but there on top of the hill, was a breeze that made it all just bearable.
To my big surprise, the moves didn't feel as hard as I remembered and I could easily cruise my way up to the slopers near the top.
I knew that I only had to work out the last part now, but that didn't go as smooth. At least not when trying the method Ivan used.
I gave it a try with a left heelhook instead of doing something on the right and unlocked the sequence that fit me most.

All in all a very nice problem with some very nice moves and a crux at the end.
Kind of strange that it only has ten registered repeats for such a nice boulder so close to the parking.

Fontainebleau - Coquibus Longs Vaux - Le Diktat du Hamac 7A+

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

June 21, 2017 - Roasted chicken.

It has been extremely hot the last couple of days and we are suffering from a true heat wave in the country.
I tried not to climb in this heat, but even though the thermometer read 48°C in the sun when I stepped into car after work, I decided to have a short climbing session after diner anyway.

I parked at J.A. Martin around 19h30, it was still 39°C and I had to wanted to walk all the way over the hill to the North face of it to try "Dark Side".
I tried briefly with Igor (Depoorter) and Klaas (Willems) almost 5 years ago and I remembered that it was indeed a dark and shady corner.
Nobody topped it back then, but some time has gone by and given the heat it seemed like a good spot to refuge to.

I forgot about the forest fire from a couple of years ago and the trees were all gone, offering no shade at all.
On top of that, even though the boulder is located on the North face, the problem is exposed to the West and in the plain sun this time of the day.
The heat in the sun was unbearable and I didn't even unpack.

Instead, I walked back down halfway the hill to find "La Méthode Gé" on my path.
The rock felt warm because of catching the sun all day long, but now with the sun being lower it was partly in the shade.

I worked out the separate moves quite quickly, took a short break to stop sweating like crazy and sent the problem on my second attempt afterwards.
I was glad to have done it that fast because being surrounded by warmed up sandstone heat radiating boulders out of the wind, made me feel like a roasted chicken.

Fontainebleau - J.A. Martin - La Méthode Gé 7A+(7A)

When I arrived back at the car, it was 20h10 and still 36°C ... in the shade!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

June 18, 2017 - And it burns burns burns ...

It was way too hot for climbing but I couldn't resist and left early the relatively unknown area of Apremont Brûlis.
Manuel (Marquès) opened some new boulders in a new small sector and some looked nice enough for me to hike all the way up to there.

It was good that I called Jean-Pierre (Roudneff) during the hike for some more detailed directions, because without them I wouldn't have known that I had to go uphill any moment from where I was.
In the distance I could make out some clusters of boulders right under the crest of the hill.
I waded my way through a dense field of high ferns and arrived exhausted by the heat on the top of the hill where I luckily immediately found the roof of "Tout à Fait", one of the new boulders opened by Manuel.

The sun was burning and standing directly in it was unbearable already while it was only 10h in the morning.
The roof, however, was nicely in the shade and so was the mantle from the topout of "Tout à Fait" for the time being.
When I read the description, it said that it starts all the way left as for "Tête Basse" (video below), but the line on the picture showed different.
To be sure, I looked at the video of Manuel, who opened it, and he started where I ended up starting.
So what is correct? The description or the video of the opener doing the problem?
I chose the latter, which seemed the most obvious.

Fontainebleau - Apremont Brûlis - Tout à Fait 7A

Directly after, I flashed the very nice and logical but easy traverse "Tête Basse".
Unusual for problems opened by Manuel that they feel easy for the grade, like this one.

Fontainebleau - Apremont Brûlis - Tête Basse 7A

On a boulder at 20m from "Tout à Fait", he opened some more problems, out of which "Danser Forêt".
Opened as a 7A, but I would have believed it completely if the published grade would have been 7A+.
Hard mantle with a good, but marbled and slippery crimp that requires a lot of trust.
Very nice problem that looks much easier than it is.

Fontainebleau - Apremont Brûlis - Danser Forêt 7A

By now it was almost 11h30 and I still wanted to try "Saï (debout)" in the main sector before noon, so I hiked back in the direction of the car.
The boulder of "Saï" is the first one that you pass when walking to the main sector.
The sitstart looks crazy hard, but then again it is 7C+(8A), but luckily, the standstart is a doable 7B.

Completely my kind of thing, slopers and compression.
It didn't give me much trouble and I finished it on my third attempt.
Really nice problem this one!

Fontainebleau - Apremont Brûlis - Saï (debout) 7B

The afternoon heat was tackled with river swimming and garden water fun.
Now I'm off to the shower to rinse away the afterburn.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

June 17, 2017 - What's up with the falling?!

It was announced to be very hot today, so I left early to the very shady, slow drying area of Boissy Le Plaid.
The sector was kept secret for a long time, but about half a year ago, it was published together with some new problems. Some more were even opened about two weeks ago.
Apart from the newest ones, I had already seen all the problems on a wet day and it was "L'Éprouvantable" that received most of my interest for coming back on a day in or near Summer when there was enough time to dry.

It already started to get very warm by the time I started warming up trying some of the newest problems, but topping none.
With this heat I wanted to save my skin for my main goal, "L'Éprouvantable".
The problem was dry but the conditions felt miserable on my first attempts and I slipped unexpectedly from the last difficult move, fell elbow first half on the crashpad and half on some big stones (small boulders let's say).
It was a nasty fall, but again I was quite lucky. Besides a big scratch on my elbow I was intact.

The start with the both hands on the pedestal is somewhat silly, but as soon you are hanging in compression it's a first class problem until the end.
The last difficult move, where I slipped before is quite a tricky one.

Fontainebleau - Boissy Le Plaid - L'Éprouvantable 7A(7A+)

Just like all other problems that I have tried in the area, I found this also hard for the grade.
It can be also due to the slightly different texture of the sandstone in the area. 
As it stays wet for long, the holds all look like they could break easily, which kind of holds me back in the force I want to apply to them.
Nevertheless, I can truly recommend "L'Éprouvantable" and the area in general, especially on hot Summer days.

Friday, June 16, 2017

June 16, 2017 - Priapisme.

It has been opened in 2013 or even earlier, but for me it had always gone unnoticed.
I'm talking about the boulder of "Priapisme" in Apremont Buvette.
At 120m from the buvette and at only 40m from "La Route de Barbizon", it's clearly visible from the path and it made me wonder why I had never noticed it before. I guess I just had to look for it.
It's a small beautiful prow that stands somewhat lonely, but waiting for it to be climbed.

I could have flashed "Priapisme (debout)" if only I had gone to the top from the other side to check out where the best slopers were, but I didn't.
It made me think of Jan (Gorrebeeck), who always says to have a look on the top before trying.
I did it on my second attempt, even though the mantle on bad, warmed up slopers from the sun, did give me some trouble.

Fontainebleau - Apremont Buvette - Priapisme (debout) 7A(7A+)

I tried the sitstart a couple of times, found out where the crux is, but with this heat it felt impossible with even worse slopers than on the top.
I would like to come back and try it again in Winter time, but as it faces North, it will be hard to find it dry.
To be continued one day.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

June 15, 2017 - Go try it.

I'm not sure if it was because of the fall out of "Coin de Paradis" on Monday or because of the heat, but I didn't feel well yesterday and barely was able to eat.

Today was like nothing had happened, even though I still felt weak.
It was really hot today, but at last, when the sun lowered around 19h, the temperature got down to a mere 28°C. Still hot, but the lower sun offered more shade in the forest now.
I didn't feel like trying anything too hard, knowing that the heat was against my odds, so to stay busy I wandered around in Roche aux Sabots until my eye fell on "Danger Moyeu".

It has been opened only about a year ago or slightly longer, but given the popularity of the area, I was surprised to see that it still had only two registered repeats.
As soon as I started trying, I knew why.
It took me quite some time to figure out the beta and at least as long to be able to execute all the moves from the start.

The description "Sitstart in red n°10 and exit in red n°11." indeed doesn't sound very attractive as many might believe that it concerns a traverse, when it definitely isn't.
Instead, you are treated with some beautiful a-typical, physically hard moves!

Maybe with the video being online now it will receive some of the attention that it deserves.
Go try it. It's hard for the grade in my opinion, but totally worth the effort!

Fontainebleau - Roche aux Sabots - Danger Moyeu 7A+

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

June 13, 2017 - It's complicated.

Not sure if I climbed "Bloc Os" in Roche aux Sabots correctly here.
The description "In the middle of the face between red n°26 and Le Faux Bidoigt / Les Yeux. Start with the pocket right hand and exit to the left of the bidoigts." isn't really clear when you stand in front of it.
There are two obvious pockets, out of which one is a bidoigt. Now which one should I take? Is there another bidoigt somewhere that I have to stay left of? Are the pockets also the bidoigts, out of which one isn't?

The more I thought of it, the more I complicated the situation, so I climbed the most logical line I could think of according to the description.
It felt soft for the grade, but quite close maybe.

*** EDIT *** it turns out not to be "Bloc Os", but some variation on "Bloc Housse". The drawn lines on the picture on make it all clear now *** EDIT ***

Fontainebleau - Roche aux Sabots - NOT "Bloc Os"!

Monday, June 12, 2017

June 12, 2017 - Beginners fault.

It was hot today, but I hadn't climbed in the weekend, so after diner when the temperature cooled down, I headed to Rocher Guichot.
Besides the lonely unrepeated wall up all the way up on the hill, there's only one 7A left that I hadn't done yet in the small area.

It was "Coin de Paradis", a small roof with a crack and a big move in the end (at least for the method that I know now).
It's a not so common style of climb for the area and even though I first started trying it five years ago, when we first moved here, I had never found my way up.
Somehow I had never felt really comfortable in it and I always ended up stuck at the edge of the roof, not knowing what to do next. No matter what I tried, the holds were always too far away.
Until I saw a video of Cyrille (Duval) climbing it with a big dyno to a small jug in the upper edge of the roof.

Even with the beta in my head, it took me a while to feel enough at ease in the roof to try the jump.
Slowly I started to feel more comfortable and with every try I got closer to the final jug... and then I made a beginners fault.
I made it to the jug but with my fingers just barely over the edge of it I should have let go. Instead, I held on, started swinging, lost grip on the jug and fell backwards down to the ground.
Luckily it was on the crashpad, but it was a high fall for the body to take.

I didn't cry though, but picked myself up, tried again and topped it out.
It's not because of the fall, but this felt hard for the grade.
A great and special problem though!

Fontainebleau - Rocher Guichot - Coin de Paradis 7A

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

June 07, 2017 - The concert.

In October 2016, I allowed my oldest son, Anthony, to buy a ticket a ticket for the concert of Ariana Grande in Paris on the 7th of June 2017. Today.
The plan was that he would go with a friend and his parents so transport and everything was arranged.
Last week however, his friend had to cancel due to circumstances and the girl who was going to buy his ticket wasn't allowed anymore following the recent attacks in London.
This left Anthony the day before yesterday with a ticket but nobody to go with.
I knew that was looking forward to that concert for such a long time and I was able to take a holiday for today on very late notice.
Of course he was excited that he could go to the concert now but I don't know who will be more annoyed. Me being surrounded by screaming teenagers on a concert of Ariana Grande, or Anthony being there with his dad.

Anyway, I could have taken only half a day off, but I took the morning too so I could mentally prepare in the form of some climbing.
I did so in Roche aux Sabots, close to home.

I started with some very good attempts in "Sale Gosse". A few times I had my hand full on the top sloper, but wasn't able to stick it yet.
Getting close though.

To let my skin rest, I repeated "Smash", but this time without touching the tree.

Fontainebleau - Roche aux Sabots - Smash 7B

I then moved to "Autochtone", a 7A that I wasn't able to do yet, despite trying it a few times.
Getting into a stable position for the dyno is the hard part.
Once stable, it's only a small jump.
Don't know why it didn't give me any problems this time.

Fontainebleau - Roche aux Sabots - Autochtone 7A

The crowd was starting to arrive and I called it a day. I had to prepare to go to Paris anyway.

Monday, June 5, 2017

June 05, 2017 - Surf's up!

I have been only a few times in Apremont Bizons and had not yet seen the few spread out boulders that were opened in 2013.
One of these boulders is the one with "Le Surfeur d'Argent", a beautiful looking half hanging boulder at about 150m from blue n°12 according to the published mini topo.
The ferns were already over 2m high there and what started with carefully trying to slalom in between them to avoid touching them too much, became a not giving a fuck anymore straight forward march, trying to find the boulder, thinking that the amount of ticks I will probably cary with me is a problem for later.
It was hard to see through them and the boulder could be at any time at only 5m away, but I wouldn't even be able to see it anyway.

After a long search, I gave up and tried to find out what the shortest way to the main area would be.
I saw a small sector of low boulders and decided to have one last look in the descent behind them.
The boulder was right there! I could finally start climbing.

I started with working out "Silver Héraut", which turns out to have a very hard shoulder move to a far bidoigt left hand.
Even after fixing the bidoigt, you still need to move very subtle to not loose the balance.
A great line!

Fontainebleau - Apremont Bizons - Silver Héraut 7B

"Le Surfeur d'Argent" starts the same, but instead of going for the bidoigt on the left, you have to match both hands on the slopey rail and slap to a bad sloper far right.
It's hard on compression at the end of this version, but it fits more my style.
I didn't find this harder than "Silver Héraut", but this probably depends on your height.
Another great line and definitely worth the search.

Fontainebleau - Apremont Bizons - Le Surfeur d'Argent 7B+

I didn't discover any tick so far!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

June 04, 2017 - Not mainly about bad luck.

My colleague and good friend Harco (De Man) was here this weekend, for the third time being here mainly for climbing again.
He arrived Friday in the afternoon and his bad luck started with showers of rain, limiting the possibilities for some climbing.

We started at Éléphant where we were able to do the 6A "Les Bossettes du Lépreux". A good one mover to test your mantle skills.
After being chased away by the rain, we fled to the big roof of "Splatch" in Éléphant Ouest to keep on climbing at least something.
There, Harco showed his gym climbing skills by perfectly climbing the 7A+ "Équivogue" up to the lip of the roof where it was soaking wet.
I'm sure that if it would have been dry, he would have topped it!

Saturday, we were lucky to have dry weather in the morning and after having seen Harco's gym climbing skills, I took him to try "Vis-à-Vis" in Rocher des Souris. Another problem that is well appreciated by most gym climbers.
Also there he was able to climb the problem in two parts, but linking both with the crux will need another session.

After trying some more harder problems for Harco, he needed a break and we ended up at number 36 of the white circuit to do something easier.
On his first go, he missed a hold, jumped off and badly sprained his ankle when coming down on the crashpad.
When we arrived home, his ankle was heavily swollen and we both knew that his climbing was over for the weekend.
On top of that, he dropped his smartphone, upon which the screen became a disco light, making the device useless.

In the evening, while Harco stayed immobilised on my couch, I took Anthony (my oldest son) and a friend of him to the festival Retour aux Sources on the hippodrome of Le Grand Parquet in Fontainebleau.
We wanted to the see the finals of the Rock Tour bouldering competition and the concert of local reggae band "Fundé" afterwards, but upon arrival, we found out that the concert had been cancelled and the finals delayed until noon the day after due to the rain. Bummer!

This morning the weather looked great, but Harco, barely being able to walk, left back home.
Me, before going back to the Retour aux Sources festival to see a part of the finals, I stopped at Apremont Ouest to try "L'Arcadia (assis)" in the same small sector of "Albator".

"L'Arcadia" is a wall with only slopers and the standstart alone is good for 6C+(7A).
The sitstart adds a couple of hard and explosive moves to make it a 7B(7A+), even though for me it felt more like a 7A+.
I could have done it from second attempt if only I would have gone and have a look where the upper holds are.

Fontainebleau - Apremont Ouest - L'Arcadia (assis) 7B(7A+)

The finals were nice to watch, but after seeing the first two problems, I felt more like climbing myself instead of watching others doing it.
With the long weekend and the first day of dry weather, most areas were crowded, but I didn't feel like walking too far and stopped at Rocher de la Reine.
I wanted to repeat "Plumes au Vent (assis)" for the video. Back in 2009 it was one of my first twenty 7A's and I thought it would be a quick job.

I needed over half an hour and many many tries before I was able to find my method again.
It felt very hard in 2009 and it still did now.
For me this one is well worth 7A+, but then again, the start is quite my anti-style.
Still a nice problem though, a classic of the area!

Fontainebleau - Rocher de la Reine - Plumes au Vent (assis) 7A(7A+)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

June 01, 2017 - Expose yourself.

With still 29°C at 19h this evening, it was way too hot to try "Lamia-San", even though I wanted to, because I had liked to test my new shoes on it.
I did have a look at it though, when I walked by it to have another look at "Tao Pai Pai" on a big boulder 30m further.
"Tao Pai Pai" is also opened by Grégoire (Thibault), and just like when he opened "L'Architecte Trismégiste", there stands a meter high leftover of what once a tree. One on which you don't want to fall on or it might penetrate you from below and come out through your mouth again.
That's why I only had a look at it a few times, but never had the guts to start trying it.

This evening was different.
I definitely wanted to climb in the shade and didn't want to drive longer than five minutes, so it probably helped as a motivation to try "Tao Pai Pai" as it fulfilled my requirements.
At first I had no idea how to climb it and thought that the pockets had to be avoided, but as soon I started trying, I figured out that the difficulty was in the first moves.
It's an arete, but actually, you climb it like a prow with hard compression on very bad slopers.
Once you are able to reach the first pocket, you will be glad to get a hold of it.

A great line, very exposed, but once you get used to it, it's not that bad after all.
It will probably never become a popular boulder though.

Fontainebleau - La Ségognole - Tao Pai Pai 7B