Thursday, 10 February 2011

Week 1 - Injuries and dodgy dogging antics in Bas Cuvier, France

The" Beastmobile" 

Greg sock washing 

  Chris melody making

Bon jour everyone!

This will be our first Operation Beastmaker update since we've been on the road.

We left Greg's parents house, in the late afternoon, Friday 3 Feb 2011. This was due to the car not starting! Good times! We managed to get a jump start from Greg's parents friendly neighbour and after allowing the battery to charge the car was running fine again. We are not sure what caused this (could be a dodgy internal light that may have been on...we're not sure until it happens again). We then had a problem with our camera tripod which decided to malfunction...unbelievable! We drilled a hole through the dodgy fitting and secured a bolt through the shaft so it would be more secure. Jobs a goodun...we were just waiting for the 3rd problem however the didn't materialise.

We arrived at Bas Cuvier, Fontainebleau, late in the evening and decided to park right beside the boulders for some early action. After stocking up on supplies (and sneakily checking our e-mails in the local electric store: Frenchman, "Do you want to buy that Apple Mac?" us, "No, we're just looking.") we headed for our first climb.

We decided to get on the Red Circuit which is apparently of medium difficulty...yeah right! We both got flawed on problem 3. Luckily a local Bleausard came to the rescue and showed us the way. 20mins later we both made the ascent.

Roll on problem 4. We both jumped on this and after pulling on the holds for the first time Greg walked away wincing. Clearly something was not right and it soon became aparent that he had strained his left middle finger. Sadly that was end of play for Greg but I continued on to the next problem but the falling sun soon dictated that I should stop also.

Sunday was a new day and would hopefully offer fresh hands for Greg and better weather for both of us. To our annoyance this was not the case, Greg's finger was still "tweeking" and the sky was the worst shade of grey. We both resigned to the van and whiled away as much time by reading, going for walks and checking out the soaked problems that we hoped we would be standing on top of in the future.

Monday saw the second injury. Whilst Greg spent some of the morning finding a suitable, secluded part of the forest to take his first "bush crap" and christen the latrine shovel I continued where I left off the previous afternoon and worked my way through red 6 to red 12.

Here was where a scene of grotesque bloodshed unfolded. By this point Greg had found his way back into the main area after his excursion and was able to provide much needed spotting for the high ball (my definition of highball would be a boulder problem which is taller than 6m). The incident took place on my first attempt. I intially made some decent progress however my poor technique let me down as I began to flounder near the top. I got my left hand onto the round top (not much to purchase on sadly) and decided to take a chance and throw wildly with my right hand, to what would hopefully be a good hold.

Unfortunately this was not the case and half a second later I was falling. My feet landed on the boulder pad and Greg slowed my descent slightly however I still fell off to the side and managed to drive my right knee into my face. I bit my tongue quite hard and immediately the taste of blood filled my mouth. After spitting out as much blood as I could I decided maybe it would be a good idea to have a look at the top out. There was a good hold for the left hand but not much for the right. Doubt began to creep in and I thought maybe I should just call it as I only had one wasn't worth the injury. When I got to the bottom the thought of giving in was too much, I didn't want to deal with the shame of not trying at least one more time. So I set off again and messed the sequence up and jumped down safely. I tried one last time and after using my feet a little more I managed to climb to safety, albeit in terrtible style. I just felt relieved to be safe and to have pushed the fear into the back of my psyche.

Yesterday we headed to Apremont where we just tried to climb as much as possible for conditioning purposes. Greg climbed 2 problems and decided to call it. His finger is still troubling him, which is not good. I continued on and flirted with some more highball problems which ended up bringing me to a good looking problem which is graded Font 7a+ (For info on grades see Climbing Jargon page). It was quite high but had a very dodgy landing. After several attempts I found myself in unfamiliar territory and once again had to put the fear aside and commit. This time all went well and I found myself on good holds and managed to complete the problem. Greg said if I had fallen from the last hold there wouldn't have been much he could have lucky that wasn't the case. We have this on film so we can share this at some point.

Our diet has certainly not been anything special over the past week. It has been a far cry from the restaurant standard food (well almost) served up by Greg's mum. Dinner has consisted of whatever tinned delights were bought at the local Carrefour and whatever was brought with us. To give you an idea, last nights meal was a tin of dauphinouise potatoes perfectly balanced with a tin of Branston's Beef Raviolli... Bon appetit!

This brings us to the final topic...dodgy dogging antics, in the evening in the Bas Cuvier parking lot!
For those who are unaware, Bas Cuvier, is one of the most famous bouldering destinations (world class) in the world and is set in a beautiful forrest however it is blighted by being a red light district (forrest), so to speak. Walking amongst the boulders you will stumble across used condoms or wrappers which is evidence of the previous nights is a sad reality that visitors have to come to terms with. There are no bins around so they cannot be discarded and I don't believe they are ever picked up, usually buried by leaves or carried away underneath someones shoe.

Now, due to Greg and I sleeping in the Bas Cuvier car park for the last several days we can attest (and detest) to this behaviour which was initially quite humorous but has become less so. It is quite a strange feeling to be washing your dishes and have people "wandering" about in pitch black (there are no street lights) darkness around you. They can see us but we can't see them, quite an animalistic feel really. We have our head torches on so our eyes aren't adjusted to the dark so when we hear a noise we're immediately checking to see if someone is approaching. The worst thing is, there seems to be more of a "male" presence about, which makes it a little more unnerving!

The other night, whilst we were busy reading, a car decided to reverse and park next to us even though they had at least a hundred places to choose from. A gentleman sat next to Greg and just stared at him for about 5mins before driving off. Greg was a little perturbed. Better him than me! The following evening Greg got out the van to take a piss and had someone flash his lights at him, from the other side of the car park, not good ! Greg was quite happy to ignore this unwanted attention!

I suppose we could change our surroundings but the inconvenience! I suppose we have to think of our safety at the end of the day.

I need to buy that baseball bat I spotted at the decathlon.

Anyway, I hope everyone is well.

Till next time...!!!



  1. Hey guys!
    Thanks for the bouldering session this Friday at L'Anglomaniaque at Roche aux Sabots. I changed my mind, ignored the patches of missing skin on my hand and came back the next morning. I lost some more skin on my ankle due to the heel slipping off on the mantle but I ended up pulling off the sequence on the second try.

    Anyway, if you happen to be in Switzerland in March, April or May do let us know. Just add me on Facebook:

    Hope the weather stays nice in Font!


  2. Are you guys insane? Why Bas Cuvier for camping? It's next to the road for a start! Try the Sabot car park (running water) or Isatis. You can also get free wifi at McDonalds.

    Good luck with the climbing and I hope you don't get bummed to death!