Saturday, 12 March 2011
Hindsight is always 20/20
As my lacerated (although recovering) fingertips press against the keyboard I begin to reflect upon a hard week of climbing had...
Saturday started off promising (we had a days rest on Friday, as we had checked into Boulancourt Campsite after climbing most of the previous week) as we pulled into l'Elephant car park. The tips were still glowing but there were "layers" of skin and so we assumed it should be okay to climb if we just taped them and took it easy. We figured that this would allow more skin to grow so we could possibly be at full strength (and full skin) for the amazing weather forecast for the rest of the week. After wrapping up the fingers we grabbed our bouldering pads and headed onto the beach of l'Elephant.
We started easy enough, taking in some lovely blue circuit problems before stepping it up to the black circuit. The problem was the tape was being shredded from the coarse sandstone and inevitably, the tips. We forged on (as you do) not thinking to much of it.
We ended up meeting up with our friends Felix and Keith who were in Font for the weekend for Keith's Stag Do (Congratulations Keith and all the best for the future!). It was great climbing and chatting with them. I repeated Le Lepreux Direct (7A) and left Greg and Felix to continue working out the sequence and headed to a highball problem Keith was trying (left of Black 12).
I asked what grade it went at just to manage my own expectations and he said the guide gave it 7B. He jokingly said I would probably get it first go and I promptly said I can't flash 7B's! He gave me the beta he was using and I set off. I got to the crux and decided to power past this move to what looked like a good sidepull. It was good and before I knew it I was floundering on the top out. Not wanting to fall 6m backwards was good incentive to make sure I did top out and finally I managed to grab a decent hold at the back and climb up and out of danger. PHEW!!! Greg came over and started to work this problem and when I left (to move onto another 7B) he was making good progress.
I made my way to Voie Du Flirt which looked like an easy highball 7B with a sketchy landing (how wrong was I to be about the difficulty!). I tried it a few times and realised, although the hand holds were good, there was very little in the way of footholds (as it was overhanging) and you couldn't really see where to place your feet. I began getting frustrated so I had the "brilliant" idea of campussing (see Climbing Jargon page for definition) to the big hold further up. I tried this and missed and subsequently landed on the boulder I thought I had protected with a pad. It took a fair bit of skin off my left upper thigh (ass) and I was in serious pain. It could have been alot worse!
Keith came over and started to spot me (see Climbing Jargon for definition) and after many attempts and different sequences I finally figured it out. On my last attempt of the day I did the problem and earned the half a beer that was waiting at the bottom for me...I was unbelievably tired but thankful that I got it done. Thanks Keith for your patience! I really appreciate it!
Greg came over and he said he managed to do the other 7B I did earlier without a spotter! RESPECT! This marks Greg's first 7B in Font and is excellent progress. BEASTING!
We then headed to La Musardiere campsite to have some beers with Keith, Felix and the crew.
The next day we woke up feeling wrecked and the fingertips were not looking good. It seemed we had over-exerted ourselves the previous day (something that we promised not to do!). I thought I could still get some climbing done and stupidly headed to La Gorge Au Chats. Greg wisely decided to call it a rest day and did exactly that.
My head was not in the right place and the result was me falling off a boulder and landing on a tree root (on my other ass-cheek!)...not good. I should have called it a day after this. I then decided to test fate further by attempting La Pure Dessus (7A+) which was an overhanging problem with another sketchy landing (another boulder conveniently located at the most intense part of the problem...if you messed up there was consequences!). I worked out all of the sequence but the top-out looked very menacing. I didn't want a repeat of yesterday and I knew this fall would be worse.
Luckily Greg arrived as I was about to have a go at the completing the problem and he spotted me to make sure I didn't break my neck. Knowing that I had some reinforcement I managed to fully concentrate on the climbing and after struggling through on small holds I was standing on top of the boulder. Big relief!
The rest of the day was spent sacrificing my fingertips to the bouldering gods of Font and boy were they pleased! I tried a 7B+ problem for a 1.5 hrs then a harder 7C problem (with a boulder designed to knock you out) for 1hr and then tried (what I thought was another 7C with a "better" landing) a 8A problem for 30mins...I was keeshed (South African slang for shattered) and despondently packed my bag and headed to the van.
Monday and Tuesday were rest days for us and we spent the time reading and did some grocery shopping.
On Wednesday we decided to definitely do some easy climbing and made sure of this. We climbed at 91.1 then headed to Cul De Chien. We were quite chuffed that we didn't try anything difficult...until I decided to take a look at a problem I had put down on my wishlist...Arabesque (7B+).
After arriving at the massive roof, that houses such classic problems, I had to give in to my primal urges and found myself putting my climbing shoes back on...my fingers and body were screaming "NO!!!", but I ignored them and started trying anyway.
After a few goes I was getting to the crux and eventually I failed one hand hold away from glory! I decided to leave it at that and we left the forrest with sun the going down and the stars beginning to take their place in the heavens.
The following day we got up for another hard days climbing. Greg headed to Roche Des Ouiseaux to work the moves on his project called Satan M'Habite (7B). I headed to Roche Des Souris to try Yogi (7B) and hopefully complete the 7B+ project I was close to completing at 95.2.
After completing Extraction Terrestre (7A) (with Bernhard from Germany) I then headed over to Yogi. I soon realised this problem was better suited to taller folk and without a spotter it wasn't worth attempting.
I then met two of Bernhard's friends (Mo and Marco??? Sorry if I've got your name wrong) and we decided to head to 95.2 to try Simbiose (7C). Mo was looking strong and had the potential to do the problem very quickly however his fingertips were thin and this prevented him from completing this classic. I on the other hand have a few more weeks so it could go! Haha!
I then abandoned them and headed to the 7B+ I was trying. The crucial toe hook would not hold and I found myself getting extremely annoyed. I decided to leave before getting to worked up.
I was heading back to the van when I saw Zee Germanz who encouraged me to climb one last 7A. How could I resist...I really didn't want to but they said it was easy so I put my climbing shoes back on...I almost got it first go but shoddy footwork foiled me. Luckily I got it second go.
I managed to get their e-mail addresses so when we head to Switzerland and Austria they may join us. Hopefully this will be the case as they were great people and very enthusiastic climbers.
Greg and I arrived at the van at exactly the same time...perfect timing! We traded war stories and he told me how he met Randy Puro and Beth Rodden (from the Dosage series of climbing videos)! How fortuitous! He also said he got shutdown on Satan M'Habite...and I echoed a similar tune. We both looked absolutely shattered. The climbing had taken it's toll and we needed a proper break...
On Friday we substituted climbing for reading, slacklining and practicing hand stands.
And that folks, is pretty much what we've been up to this week. It's been intense and we have learned some extremely valuable lessons.
1) When the fingertips and body are saying you need rest then YOU NEED REST!!!
2) You can't climb effectively with a broken body and DE-stroyed fingertips.
3) Rock has more "energy" than you...endless ENERGY.
4) Rock will quite happily sit there all day allowing you to climb it while you waste your energy. You will leave frustrated and disappointed whilst the rock sits there doing what it does best...looking solid.
Hindsight is always 20/20...now we have the benefit of hindsight maybe we can use this to ensure we don't allow such unnecessary destruction in the future.
He who is unable to learn from his mistakes is doomed to repeat...
On another note...Our friend, Martyn "Betamax" Eales, will be arriving on Monday, so we will have a 3rd member of Operation Beastmaker which will be good. Another victim to be sacrificed unto the climbing gods of Font!
Greg on an overhanging problem in L'Elephant: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrvCSqyT7Vw
Chris on L'Elephant: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PY-0gW0Em2I
P.s I've just updated the Climbing Jargon Page (on the right) which will give you definitions to all the words we use. You should find this very helpful indeed.