Thursday, August 31, 2017

August 31, 2017 - Testing, one, two.

Exactly two weeks ago today, I hurt my back really bad when doing the first move of "Misfits (direct)" in Roche au Four.
Even though I had done the first moves quite a few times already and even fell off the last move, it hadn't given me any real issues with my back until that time.
It hurt so bad that I had trouble walking back to the car and it took me at least ten minutes before I was able to sit down in it.

With the constant positive progress of the state of my back for some days in a row now, I couldn't resist and go back to try "Misfits (direct)" and put it to the test.
I knew it was risky, but I was confident that I wouldn't take it too far.

My first try was a careful one just to test how far I would be able to reach with my right hand.
It did still hurt too much, as did the far move to the bad sloper on the right near the top, but after testing some other methods, I found the one that hurt the least.
With each try, my back hurt less and less and when I topped out, I barely could feel a thing besides happiness thanks to standing there without pain.
Test passed if you ask me!

Fontainebleau - Roche au Four - Misfits (direct) 7A+(7B)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

August 29, 2017 - Hidden in plain sight.

I must have walked next to that boulder maybe hundred times, but never noticed it.
I never expected such a relatively big nice boulder to be hidden behind all the smaller ones in that small area where the red "25 Bosses" path runs through.

Beautiful sunset at the "Canicula" boulder.

It was only when I was actually searching for it with Pieter last Saturday that I noticed it and did "Canicula (assis)" on it.
The plan back then, was to climb "Kinépaulée" too, but I had to give up fast because it was too much in the direct sun and the heelhooks were still hurting my back too much.
I still went back that evening to try it in the shade, but I couldn't do any move of it. My back was killing me and I was simply out of juice.

This evening it was still 29°C in the shade at 20h, but knowing that the boulder was in the shade and not far to walk to, motivated me.
The fact that they are predicting rain tomorrow and that my back is much better, helped too of course.
The boulder still felt warm because of sitting in the sun all day, but I had a feeling that it could go.

I needed some time to work out the moves up to the last one, but still then it was definitely not a give away.
Maybe it was because of the heat, but this felt hard for the grade and closer to 7A+.
It doesn't look that hard when looking at it, but it's not to be underestimated.
Beautiful line for sure in a beautiful, quiet evening setting!

Fontainebleau - Rocher de la Cathédrale - Étreinte (assis) / Kinépaulée 7A

Sunday, August 27, 2017

August 27, 2017 - Four in a row.

Yesterday evening, my back hurt a lot because of all the climbing earlier that day.
Sometimes I even had such short flashes of stunning pain that I feared the worst.
My wife however, who is a skilled and certified masseuse, massaged the stuck muscles in my back loose again and this morning when I woke I felt like a different person.
My back almost felt like normal again and there was nothing left from the pain I had yesterday evening.

I met Pieter again early afternoon on the parking of Rocher de la Reine.
We both had soar skin and muscles from the day before, but we were motivated. Especially me, without noteworthy back pain.
A big thunderstorm with a lot of rain early in the morning at around 7h, had made everything wet and the burning sun was making the air humid in the forest, so we walked all the way uphill to climb on some boulders that are more out in open, where the humid in the air dissipates faster.
Our reasoning seemed to be correct, because four of the five problems we had in mind were dry.

Pieter wanted to warm up in some blue ones, and me, motivated as I was, immediately turned my attention to "Le Dragon du Komodo".
After working out the moves on the prow, I pressed record and sent "Le Dragon du Komodo" on my first attempt from the start.

Fontainebleau - Rocher de la Reine - Le Dragon du Komodo (droite) 7A+

This had boosted my motivation even more, and after consuming the necessary amount of water in this heat, I sat down in "Boby (assis)", but couldn't reach the starting hold when sitting on the mini pad alone, hence the crashpad.
It went down on my second attempt, even though I hadn't noticed the good holds on the top that was covered with pine needles.

Fontainebleau - Rocher de la Reine - Boby (assis) 7A+

While I was taking a short break, Pieter had rejoined me and had started trying some of the lines on this nice piece of rock.
Unfortunately, Pieter was having a real "off-weekend" and wasn't able to finish anything despite some good attempts.
I, on the other hand, still managed to squeeze out and finish "Le Dragon du Komodo", which I definitely found harder than it's exit on the right. I didn't expect to still top this one out today.

Fontainebleau - Rocher de la Reine - Le Dragon du Komodo 7A+

Pieter called it a day after some more good attempts in "Le Dragon du Komodo" and with the half hour we still had left I was hoping to make it "four in a row" and attempted "La Porte du Temps" right next to it.
Easy start, but a damn hard and especially scary mantle!

Fontainebleau - Rocher de la Reine - La Porte du Temps 7A

When we were walking back to the parking, I still didn't have any pain and felt truly relieved.
I still can't climb to my full potential yet, because some movements still hurt a bit, but there is huge improvement to say the least. 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

August 26, 2017 - Summer 2.0.

My weather app and the French radio had announced a hot weekend and they were right.
When Pieter joined me to Rocher de la Cathédrale early afternoon, it was almost 30°C and standing in the sun for longer than a few seconds was almost unbearable.

Thanks to the precise directions I received from Bart (Van Raaij), we didn't have to look for the isolated boulder with "Kinépaulée", aka "Étreinte (assis)", but walked straight to it.
The boulder is at only 15m from the red "25 Bosses" trail, and much frequented by hikers and walkers, but it's a really nice spot with a great looking boulder that has a few lines on it.

Pieter started warming up in "Canicula" while I was trying "Kinépaulée" next to it.
I had to give up after about five minutes though, the line was directly in the sun, and climbing such a problem on warm rock made it nearly impossible.
I decided to join Pieter in the shade with "Canicula (assis)".

It took a while before finding a good method, but even with this method, it still felt the most like a 7A.

Fontainebleau - Rocher de la Cathédrale - Canicula (assis) 6C(7A)

After having spent almost an hour on that spot with little shade, we fled further into the Rocher de la Cathédrale area and ended up in the shade, trying "Love les Tartes".
We couldn't find out how to start besides with a crouching start, but still it felt like we trying at least a hard 7B.
Pieter couldn't move good in it today and I gave it many good tries until I was properly pumped and out of energy.

From there we went deeper into the shade to try "Bafana Bafana" up on the neighbouring hill.
The line goes through the roof of an old bivouac shelter and is a nice cool spot on hot Summer days like today.
We gave it many good tries too and both even fell on the last move to the lip.
We will come back for this one!

Friday, August 25, 2017

August 25, 2017 - Please be gentle.

Still recovering, but yesterday I felt that the bit of climbing I did the day before, actually had done good to my back. I could move better without pain, but I decided to give it another rest yesterday, just to be sure.
Today, I really wanted to climb. I needed it to channel away the stress from the past week at work.

Without wanting to force anything, I went to try "Le Mandarin (droite)" in Roche aux Oiseaux.
I remember that when I repeated "Le Mandarin (sans convention)" a couple of weeks ago, the first move to the sloper on the right, really hurt my back a lot, and now I wanted to try it's easier version to see how that move would feel now.
I wasn't going to overdo it, I was going to be gentle.

On my first try already, I could feel that there was still some pain, but not the same kind of pain and much less.
The more I gently practiced the move, the better it felt, even though there felt something ever present.
The crux is the same as for "Le Mandarin (sans convention)", letting go of the left foot without swinging too far.
The other moves felt like usual, but unwillingly I'm being much more careful.
Gentle  is the key.

Fontainebleau - Roche aux Oiseaux - Le Mandarin (droite) 7A+

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

August 23, 2017 - L5.

I have been out for almost a week due to bad back pain that was haunting me already for a few weeks from time to time.
Lately it had gotten worse however, and on some days I wasn't able to sit or lay down for a while.
Something felt completely stuck and started giving a severe cramp in my lower back.

After having had another pain attack last Sunday, I went to an emergency osteopath who did some tests and noticed that my "L5" was stuck and didn't move.
At first I was really surprised, because I didn't even know that I had an "L5", I didn't know what it looked like, let alone knew how it got stuck.
On the other hand, I felt somehow relieved, because if he knew what was wrong, he could probably fix it too.
I don't know how he did it, but he got my "L5" moving again somehow.
Instantly I was able to move better, but still had to watch out with certain movements for a couple of days.

Today, even though some specific movements still didn't feel completely right yet, I did go to Gorge aux Châts.
I didn't want to try anything too hard today already, but still I walked straight to "La Selle Orientale", a relatively new 7A on the boulder with "Un Franc du Kilomètre".
Carefully I tried the moves separately to make sure not to do an unexpected wrong move and hurt my back too much in the process.
Some of the most logical moves were too painful at first, but after a while, without forcing anything, my back got used to them more and more.
I still couldn't climb how I would have really wanted to, it felt a little bit sore, but at least I was climbing again.
I'm (more or less) back! (pun intended)

Fontainebleau - Gorge aux Châts - La Selle Orientale 7A

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

August 15, 2017 - Two.

Two days in post and not much to mention.

Yesterday it was hot and I wanted to take a rest day to grow some skin back.
I was meeting a colleague from work at Canche aux Merciers in the morning and being early, I worked a bit in "Atome Crochu" and made a quick ascent of "Parabellum".

Fontainebleau - Canche aux Merciers - Parabellum 7A(6C+)

Late afternoon, my cousin, his wife and two kids arrived again, but this time they were spending the night on their way back home from Spain.
We had a nice BBQ and my cousin and I stayed up talking until (according to my standards) extremely late.
It was only half past midnight when I was in bed, but being very sensitive to going off my own rhythm, I felt tired all day today.

My cousin and family left at about eleven o'clock this morning and ten minutes later, when I was on my way to try "Taillé à Son Insu" on the boulder of "Le Cadeau" in Rocher du Télégraphe, it started raining.
I continued on for a while, but when the rain didn't stop and became harder, I had to return back home to wait it out.

By the time that I had cleaned the house an hour and a half later, it had dried up again and I took another chance and set off to Rocher du Télégraphe again.
This time I was more lucky and the skies even cleared up for a while.
The dyno of "Taillé à Son Insu" looks like miles away and somehow I never really wanted to try it until recently when I saw another video of it while browsing

I felt really tired and was exhausted from the walk that had felt as if it took ages.
Before setting up the camera, I first wanted to try a test jump to see if it would be possible or not.
To my big surprise, my fingers reached over the edge and I decided to give it some real attempts.
I cleaned off the top for the mantle after the dyno, set up the camera, started rolling and only needed two attempts to stick and hold the dyno and mantle up.

Even though it felt easy, it's one of the nicer dyno's in its kind.

Fontainebleau - Rocher du Télégraphe - Taillé à Son Insu 7B

I had barely finished cleaning up when I felt some drops again.
By the time I was driving again, it was raining cats and dogs, which it did for the rest of the afternoon.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

August 13, 2017 - Where? Oh there!

It was about 10h15 when I was walking in the Coquibus towards Montrouget Ouest.
After having had so many visitors at the same time, I needed some time completely alone, and with the long weekend for some neighbouring countries, the Coquibus is the place to be.

The forest was wet from the rain last night, but I had done my homework and had a lot of boulders on my mind that I wanted see, hopefully climb and ideally top out.
"Là-Bas", "Eldorado", "Colorado", "Coup de Pompe" and also "Yahtzee" and "Sinus-X (assis)" in the nearby Coquibus Arcades area, were all on the list.
More than enough for a late morning as I still had to some gardening in the afternoon.

The first problem that I passed on my way was "Là-Bas", a backwards dyno to a sharp medium hold that you can't see when doing the jump.
The jump on itself wasn't hard to do, but it took a while before I had the coordination just right and catch the hold good enough. It had to be precise.

Fontainebleau - Montrouget Ouest - Là-Bas 7B

The roof with "Eldorado" and "Colorado" was my next stop, but I couldn't try neither of them because the holds in the roof that barely sees the sun, were wet.
I didn't mind that much, because "Douceurs", on the boulder right next to it, was dry.
It wasn't on my list, but it could make up for the others that I couldn't try.
Slipped off the second hold on my flash attempt, but made it on my second.

Fontainebleau - Montrouget Ouest - Douceurs 7A(6C+)

"Coup de Pompe" was at only 20m from there and it was completely dry but felt sandy.
The first sloper on the left that you have to go to first is of the kind that you can't get clean. The kind that constantly feels sandy.
That didn't stop me, however, from flashing it. I'm quite sure though, that my long arms helped a lot in this problem.

Fontainebleau - Montrouget Ouest - Coup de Pompe 7B

So far for the problems on my list in Montrouget Ouest, so I walked to the nearby Coquibus Arcades area.
"Yahtzee" is somewhat isolated, hidden in a small valley, surrounded by dense vegetation.
I gave it a couple of tries, but the first big sloper was too humid and impossible to stick.
Anyway, I know where it is now.

Last on the list was "Sinus-X (assis)", in another isolated part of Coquibus Arcades.
I had done the standing start last year and had left the sitstart for a future visit. Like today.
Visually one of the nicest boulders in the forest and the standing start on itself is a four star problem.
With the sitstart it's a sloper feast from start to top, a beautiful problem!

Fontainebleau - Coquibus Arcades - Sinus-X (assis) 7B(7A+)

It was 12h45 when I was back at the car. Right on time to go home and work in the garden.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

August 12, 2017 - Lalaland.

A couple of days ago some new boulders, opened by David Evrard, had been published on, all located in a new sector in the Eastern part of Coquibus Grandes Vallées.
Of course, I was eager to go and have a look and when the last of all family members left early afternoon, I set off for what I expected to be a long hike trying to find the boulders.
The small published topo didn't give away that much to go by, and knowing those hills out there, the boulders would probably be hard to see from a distance. Hidden in between small valleys and dense vegetation.

The topo with the location of the new spread out boulders.

I did find all the boulders, even though for some, especially "Lalaland", I had to search for quite some time.
I tried "Culbuto" briefly, but the mantle felt too exposed without a spotter.
"Shikantaza" looked really nice, but I didn't try it, because there was a small bat tucked away sleeping in a small pocket right in the middle of the problem and I didn't want to disturb it too much.

When I finally found the boulder with "Lalaland" and "Yin Yang", I immediately excluded the latter for being way too exposed.
"Lalaland" doesn't offer a very good landing neither, and even though I doubted for a moment, I decided to go for it anyway.
The boulder looked to nice to just skip it without even trying.

According to David's grading standards, I expected it to be too hard for the grade, but this time, it felt rather on the soft side.
But then again, being exposed to a bad landing in a sketchy position, mostly gives that extra boost that makes you hang on for dear life.
All in all, a great problem on a very nice boulder in a beautiful setting!
Remember that, if you go there, to be discreet and keep it peaceful as there are some dwellings nearby.

Fontainebleau - Coquibus Grandes Vallées - Lalaland 7A+

Friday, August 11, 2017

August 11, 2017 - Quick update, quick repeat.

I have some family staying over at my house and at the moment we are with eleven people all together!
A very cosy bunch, a lot of fun, but less time to for some harder climbing.

This evening however, I went with m sister Zoë and her boyfriend Wouter to Roche aux Oiseaux and while they were reading a book, I was able to repeat "Le Mandarin (sans convention)".
Did it differently than when I did it the first time back in 2012, but hey, it's unconventional after all.
Nice classic of the area!

Fontainebleau - Roche aux Oiseaux - Le Mandarin (sans convention) 7B

Sunday, August 6, 2017

August 06, 2017 - Full force!

I had to be in Belgium on Saturday afternoon to pick my oldest son, Anthony. He had spent a few weeks at his mom during the vacation and was finally coming back home.
We were able to leave early, around 7h45 in the morning so we would home around noon, allowing us to still enjoy the rest of the day there.
During the long drive I had enough time to think about where or what to climb and doubted between options. "Le Sacre du Printemps" in Justice de Chambergeot or "Abri Bouse" in Rocher du Télégraphe.
It became the latter.

"Abri Bouse" is a small roof right next to the boulder with "Le Cadeau" in a remote sector of Rocher du Télégraphe". It's actually so remote that it's at a couple of hundred meters to the West of the main area. It might as well be called "Rocher du Télégraphe Ouest", it would be more obvious.
Anyway, "Abri Bouse" is all about compression with full force.
I had tried a few times already, could do all the moves separately, but lacked the power or force to link them all together.

My previous visit was already quite some time ago and I started my warmup with practicing the moves separately again.
Soon after, I could link some of them and decided to give it some real goes from the start.
Luckily I made it on my second attempt from the start today, because I don't think I would have been able to give it another go.
Especially because when I wanted to mantle out, I realised that I had never done the mantle before and had to improvise the topout, which is not an easy one.
I made it just barely, but I did it and felt happy about it.
One of my top favourite climbs of the forest! Simply beautiful and loved every move of it!

Fontainebleau - Rocher du Télégraphe - Abri Bouse 7B+

I still found "Turbo" at about 100m from there, touched it briefly, but I had to give in.
The long drive and the compression at full force had taken the best of me today.

Friday, August 4, 2017

August 04, 2017 - Quick boom!

On my way back home after my last business trip, I was thinking of going back to Bois du Rocher soon to try "Bastata", which I couldn't really try on my previous visit due to humid conditions.
It was a funny coincidence when I saw that the Duval twins had done it earlier this week and had posted a video of it on their Youtube channel.
Not that I needed the beta, because it's basically one huge move to a bad sloper. If you stick that one, you have to match it with the other hand and keep calm for the mantle above.

So, this afternoon, after work, I stopped at Bois de Rocher and headed to "Bastata".
It only took me four attempts, but then again it is completely my style.

Fontainebleau - Bois du Rocher - Bastata 7C

I still had quite some time left after having done "Bastata" so fast, so I moved the crashpad and the camera to the nearby boulder with "Azurite".
It starts the same as the 7A, "Bord de Fuite", but exits more to the left on slopers and without using the arete.

I could say that I had a good day, but here, according to me, the proposed grade of 7B+(7C) could be easily adjusted to 7B and still be soft for the grade.
Made it on my second attempt, but I had done the start already when I did "Bord de Fuite" about a year ago.
Nevertheless, a very nice piece of climbing with some cool moves!

Fontainebleau - Bois du Rocher - Azurite 7B+(7C)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

August 03, 2017 - Lost footage.

I had been away traveling for work since Tuesday, but arrived back home shortly after noon.
Besides making a coffee, I had no time for a break as I had to continue working from home the rest of the day.
With the long drive in the morning and with some colleagues being on well deserved vacations it had felt like a stressy day and I was exhausted in the evening.
Yet, after diner, I went to the nearby Roche aux Oiseaux for a relaxing climb. No hard climbing, just channelizing away the stress of the day.

"Pigeon Voyageur" can be found on the same boulder as the classic "Action Directe (assis)" and has a couple variations, the hardest one being "Pigeon Voyageur assis sous les Toits", which starts almost lying under the roof with a flat hold for the left hand and a bidoigt for the right.
Even though the standing start is graded 6A, I had never managed to do it. The far move near the end felt too morpho.

I knew that I could get from the lying start under the roof into the standing start without real problems, so I first focussed on trying the move to the shallow bidoigt pocket far right.
Somehow, even though just barely, I could make the move this time and hang on without swinging out.
As soon as I knew that move was possible, I tried it from the start and made it on my third attempt.

Fontainebleau - Roche aux Oiseaux - Pigeon Voyageur assis sous les Toits 7A

Not really having a project in mind for the remainder of my time, I moved to "Satan m'Habite (raccourci)".
When I was helping out Neil (Hart) with his Bleau climbing movie "Out of Sight", we were filming Jacky (Godoffe) doing "Satan m'Habite (raccourci)" feet first to the jug.
Neil also filmed me doing it the same way Jacky did, but that footage is probably lost by now.

So, as it's such a beautiful boulder and a nice problem, I repeated it for the video.
I didn't try it feet first without a spotter, but made it on my first attempt using the most common method.
Visually, I think it's one of the most beautiful boulders in the forest.

Fontainebleau - Roche aux Oiseaux - Satan m'Habite (raccourci) 7A