Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Fontainebleau 2011 Part Deux

Skint as I am at the moment, I'm never the less glad I treated myself to 6 days in lovely Fontainbleau this past week. We stayed in the F1 and while it has to be noted that there were none available when we tried to book, staying in a Gite is the only way to do it.

The f1 was functional and clean but in the middle of what can only be described as a shitty business park and it's a shitty hotel!

The other problem is that dropping €30 ish /day on food/eating out is not cool and though we had some great meals and a good laugh, I'll say it again...


So to climbing! We had only one rainy day and as luck would have it, the rain fell on our rest day. The other days were a mixture of too hot and just on the warm side of good conditions. Richie drove and did a stand out job of keeping his cool as we got very lost on the first day or so trying to find the different areas, finally conceding that none of us could figure out the gps, so we bought a map!

Didn't get lost again... much.

In a crazy turn of events as we drove home on the first evening in our BRAND NEW car with 5km on the clock, driving along a straight road, lined with beautiful forest and a few little houses dotted along the way, two horses ran out from nowhere...

With no time to react, Richie put the brakes on as we collided with one of the horses which in turn, knocked the other horse out of harms way... unfortunately the plight of the first horse we had hit saw it's leg get caught beneath the car as it rolled up the bonnet onto the windscreen before rolling back off the car again, leaving everyone in the vehicle in silence as the animal struggled in it's attempts to get back to it's feet...

When the horse finally managed to stand up the damage to it's back leg left us all in no doubt about what had to be done. The upset owners apologised for leaving the gate open, but I think we were all a bit sad to see the vet arriving to put the horse down.

Shaken, we all went to dinner, calmed down and had a nice evening, but the driving troubles didn't end there - on the way home we were randomly pulled over by a squad car and after checking Richie's driving license they simply wished us a good night and we drove away...

Richie said...'I don't want to drive anymore...'

I didn't blame him.

So now really... on to discussing climbing!

The first day was a bit drizzly when we got to Font, we dropped our stuff and headed to Bas Cuvier. Everything was wet... except 'La Marie Rose'. Enough guff... today was the day. It's not a problem that wows me, or something that was on my ticklist, but it's steeped in Font Bouldering history and I was sick of the grief I was getting for not having sent it yet. We all marched up it with little bother. Richie worked out a tall person's sequence that was just perfect for me.

Me topping out on La Marie Rose 6a

It's done. We moved on from Bas Cuvier.

On my trip in January we had gone to 'Trois Pignons West' and had climbed in '95.2' and 'Roche aux Sabots'. This time we hit 'Cul de Chien' and it's a fab spot. We had a half day there on our first day and had great fun on easy problems, finishing up on a super hard roof called - Le Toit du Cul de Chien which was a striking line but had some fairly gnarly pockets and at the risk of ripping my fingers apart I walked away!!

Ian on the roof problem in Cul de Chien
Great first day though -

The following day we headed to Apremont and had an EPIC FAIL trying to find the boulders... had no idea where to go, even though I've been there twice before, I just couldn't remember and despite maps and vast wandering, we finally called it quits and went to Isatis which had been wet earlier in the day but by the time we arrived it was dry.

Eamon up a tree in Apremont

Again we played on lots of problems before finally heading up towards one of my projects for the trip - Abdolobotomy (7a)

Me on La Statique 6a+

Richie flashing 'La Statique' 6a+

Eamon on Abdolobotomy, Session 1.

We worked the stand start, but with a stupid sequence and none of us could top it out... headed home that evening and me being the big nerd that I am, I took out my ipod and loaded up the sequence for the problem on youtube. We huddled around the tiny screen and watched the various techniques - I was psyched to get back to it again with the beta clear in my head!

Saturday came and we pulled up the blinds to reveal glorious sunshine and clear blue skies.


Conditions may have been woeful for bouldering, but you'll excuse me if I enjoyed lazing in the sun for a day. We did try to climb and I started very well sending about 10 or 15 odd problems, but I was greasing off things later on and the more the sun rose up in the sky, so my frustration grew. Finally I gave in to simply sunbathing... which isn't really something I can complain too much about. :)
Topping out my final problem before the day got too hot

Attempting to climb in the blistering heat... unsuccessfully!

Sunday saw the return of the dreaded drizzle, but we had all agreed to take a rest day. Matt and the rest of the gang from the Arch had arrived and while Eamon drove the guys heading home to the airport, myself and Richie headed to Bas Cuvier to meet up with the newbies on their first day.

Matt took us up to an area I've never been before called Cuvier Rempart just a short walk up from Bas Cuvier. I saw him send a problem I instantly fell in love with. I was raging I didn't have my boots with me. The line was beautiful.

Deroxmainie is a slightly overhanging crimpy, throwy, side pully stunner. I couldn't wait to get back. It's a problem that requires technique, strong fingers and calm. Truly a special line. I had to walk away from it that day though, but it was on my mind!!

Trying to remember what we did on Monday, - but it's all a blur up until we hit Abdolobotomy for a second session, which I'm sure was Tuesday... as they say, time flies when you're having fun... we must have been having a blast!

I think Monday may have been the day that we finished up with a session on Beatlejuice (7a+) - I have the opening sequence NAILED DOWN. Matt got too close to sending it, but the final throw eluded him and he walked away.

Matt getting close to sending Beatlejuice 7a+

Richie on Beatlejuice 7a+ (Cuisiniere Sud)

Ah yes... it's coming back to me now... we decided to head to Abdolobotomy again on Monday evening after Beatlejuice. Eager for adventure we decided to cut across the forest as opposed to walking back to the carpark and back up through Isatis...

We got well and truly lost. LOST. We wandered around and around and got more and more lost. We arrived on a slab that was perched on top of the forest with a most astounding view... none of us took a photo. (DAMN!) An hour or so later, with the sun dipping low we arrived at a path and thank goodness for Matt's guidebook... we were only 5 minutes from the carpark.

Phew! Lesson learned - go the way I know!

Tuesday... Abdolobotomy... Beta... Music on... SESSION!

Matt sent it in 2 attempts. Eamon and I struggled but the sequence unlocked itself for me over the course of about an hour. The opening throw was a throw too far for me though, and now as always we arrive at the controversy!!

There's an opening crimp that one throws from to hit a lip. the problem traverses right from that lip. I could reach that lip from sitting on the ground. I've looked up the problem description... there's no mention of the crimp... I enjoyed the sequence of movement so much and moved through it with ease and dare I say it style in parts... though the top out was an unmerciful lock off which was not so elegant!

I'm taking the tick.

Footage is on it's way!

Beautiful problem. That was one of the (if not the) absolute high points of the trip for me. Eamon sent it just after me and the three of us walked away from that boulder having had a really good time. It was pure fun for the hour or so we were there.

Richie topping out La Coquille 6c

The second high point came after we arrived at 'La Coquille' later that day. Matt and Eamon sent stand start easily and Matt sent the sitter after a good few attempts. He was really on form all trip. He headed off to bring Tony to the train and after he left these Swedish girls rocked up and asked me about the sit start. I showed them the opening holds and with no other beta this girl onsighted the sitter. Just inspiring to watch. I've never seen stronger female climbers than this crew.

Swedish Girl onsighting the sitter to La Coquille 7a

I noticed the guys had become a little coy and asked Eamon what the craic was... He said he was reluctant to try any silly sequences in front of such talented gals... I said to him that that's pretty much how I feel all the time in front of guys... though I'm pretty much over looking silly in front of great male climbers, cause it's always a given I will for the first while of any problem!!

Me on La Coquille (never topped it out)

Matt about to top out on the sit start to La Coquille

I have to say it was nice to see the tables turned with the boys being out climbed by the girls. After that I'm psyched to get back training. The strongest of the girls told me she has to train really hard to do so well. Good to hear that, because so often with very talented athletes it comes so naturally that they have little or no idea how they get to where they are.

This girl was under no illusion about the hours she puts in.

Wednesday arrived and it was all or nothing on our last day! I had a job to do, I was psyched out of my brain to send Deroxmainie. We warmed up in Bas Cuvier, all of us drained and with sore bodies. We met this random guy from New Zealand who sent 'Helicopter' (7a) on his second go. He made it look so easy I had to try. I danced my way up to the throw but needed a fresher mind to go for it. The problem is named because if you fall off the throw at the end, you're likely to cartwheel off, spinning like the blades of a Helicopter.

Definitely excited to get back to that one.

Matt at full stretch in Bas Cuvier

On to the project. Matt was eager to send the direct version of Deroxmainie and so headed up to Rempart with myself, Eamon Richie and our new found New Zealand friend Seph. I think Seph took only 1 or 2 attempts to send the 6c version of the line that starts left. He quickly followed that by a send of the direct version (7a). Matt took a few more attempts with his own bespoke sequence having been out reached by the Kiwi. He was chuffed to send it!

Eamon sent Deroxmainie quickly and I was left thinking that it might be out of my reach. We had the camera set up and rolling but after a good few attempts it seemed unlikely that I'd get it together. I'd held the compression move between to side pull crimps but couldn't get my feet sorted. I knew if I caught the side pull and placed my feet it would be game over.

The camera was turned off and we called last go's. Eamon was at hand to call out my sequence to me... I'm like a goldfish when it comes to remembering... I caught the sidepull, placed my feet, threw for the further side pull out right and caught it... YES! I was able to chill from there. I threw for the slopey lip and caught the pocket at the back.

Up and over I went. The beautiful line was mine. Deroxmainie.... tick!

Photos and videos to follow!

I didn't climb for the last hour before we went home and on the journey to the airport Eamon asked me why. I said I was out of energy and he commented that in his opinion, once I have my 'tick of the day' complete, job done, I don't want to come down from that 'high' by potentially failing on something else...

I believe he might be right, because I didn't really climb after we all sent Abdolobotomy the previous day...

Certainly something to think about.

What a trip though... it's the first time I feel like I've climbed hard in Font.

It's the first time I feel like I've reached my goals there.

Proper photos and videos to follow!!