Friday, January 8, 2016

Episode 24: Targasonne

Friend: An ex-colleague is going to Targasonne around the end of August, you wanna go?
Me: Do we need a car?
Friend: Nope!
Me: Count me in!

Day 0: Fast forward to August 25… The trip went without a hitch. Train (Paris → Perpignan) + bus (Perpignan → Targasonne). The one-euro bus left us 400m from the camping site. My first impression of the scenery: damn! After settling in, we found some time to visit the sectors adjacent to the camping and checked the moisture and, above all, the texture of the rock.
I would describe the granite as quite pebbly. Definitely nothing like the fine sand found in Font'. Here, we had small, rough crystals that were harsh on the skin and slippery at the same time, a frustrating combination. The colour of the boulders, however, was uplifting, a definite change from all the grey boulders in Font.
The typical form and colour of a Targasonne boulder.
Note: it has been four months since our trip to Targasonne and I do not remember the order in which we visited each sector. Therefore, I will present each sector separately.

On our first day, we explored the sector near to the camping site, Chapeau. I had low expectations to begin with but tried to be optimistic. As soon as we finished breakfast, we started climbing. I took the topo guide in my hands and started sending everything in front of me. I needed to get a good feel of the rock. It took me the entire day to get used to the crimps and the footholds. Everything kept slipping.
After a few easy boulders, we moved to the main project of the day: L'Ecume des lourds (7A+). We spent a lot of time on this problem but we did not go far. A few days later, we went back and I fell on the last move.
L'Ecume des lourds (7A+), Chapeau sector.
I also tried out a nameless 7A+ traverse, did all the moves quite easily but was not inspired to go back to send it.

The Arche sector is a minor area with only 50 problems, two thirds of which in the 3A-5A range. After a few 5's, we concentrated on the main projects.
The first one was a nameless 6-meter wall (6C+). Pure magic... I gave it a try and fell towards the end. Given the light colour of the rock, the ruthless sun hitting it and the precarity of the holds --- good foot holds but minuscule nail-size crimps --- I was not able to find the right beta and flash it. I sent it on my second or third attempt. The first part was quite easy but the second part... rather a 7A+ in my opinion. And had it been a part of a sports climbing route, it would very possibly have been at least 7b+/c.

Rêve-errance (7A+) was more of my style: a sitstart, a difficult arm lock and then a ledge to crimp. It took me less than four tries. Great boulder. After sending it, I spent another three hours helping and encouraging one of my climbing partners who came sooooo close but did not top. :-(

L'aliéné (7A+) is all about biceps... I was able to do all the moves but fell on the final one four times. The last hold was very far and each time I was too exhausted to pull that hard. Not sending it bumped me out a bit but I wanted to visit other sectors and projects.
Eric the Magician, proud for having found a way to protect the slopers of L'aliéné (7A+).

Baleine is a compact sector with more than fifteen problems in the 7th degree. We only spent a few hours there but that did not keep us from trying some beautiful projects.
La Baleine (7A) is really cool. The first move is a dyno: you get a right shoulder, left heel hook and dyno to a left-hand crimp. Everyone could do it but me. True, the hold was rather far but I should be able to do it. I just suck at dynos.; they make me feel uncomfortable. I kept trying the first move and could reach much further in static mode (weird, isn't it?). The second part is a beautiful mantle that I flashed without a problem.
La Baleine (7A).
Pince mince was all about pinches. We did both the standing (6B+) and the sitstart (6C) versions, although I think it should be rather 6B and 6C respectively. This problem was also the exit of a physical traverse called Err Vector (7A+). I tried the middle section a few times to find the moves, then linked on my second try.


Hey yop (5C) was easy but five meters is not a laughing matter. We sent it just for the rush.
Eric in Hey yop (5C).

Taz was one of my two favourite sectors. Packed with hard projects for every taste.
Buda build (7A+), that painful, crimpy nightmare, surprisingly took me a mere four tries. During the first two tries, I thought the pain was unbearable but I never step away from a crimp. The third attempt was almost successful. And then... check!
Cabale (7A), Le conte de la neige noire (7A+) and Body in decay (7A+) were definitely my style: crimps and arm/shoulder locking. I should have flashed them but at least I sent them in less than five minutes each.

L'aquarium envolé (7A+) is considered a classic and is even depicted on the cover of the topo guide. To send this mantle, you reach for and pull on a tiny "hole" with your left middle finger while pushing with your right triceps. Once your hips are high enough, you match you right foot with your right hand, which is really high. I did not think I could do it so I did not set the camera. That was my biggest regret.
Kebab traum is a roof/overhang boulder with many versions. I flashed the 6C version and worked on the sitstart (7B). During my first session, I could not get one single move. I had not yet learnt how to crimp the granite. I went back and was able to send all moves but linking was not in the stars. I needed to dyno to a sharp crimp but I did not want to get my skin torn; I had another day of climbing before the end of the trip. I also flashed a left version which is not clearly described in the topo but it should be a 7A+.


Dieux païens is my other favourite sector. I spent three sessions up there and had a blast.
Androgames (6B+) is much harder than it looks. We thought we would flash it but it took us three or four tries. The underclings were large but the foot holds were unreliable and the mantle was quite unconfortable and high from the ground.


Agathe the poison (7B+) is a nice little roof but due to the topo's lack of clarity, I think I did not follow the imaginary line. My beta would be around 7A+/B. Right next to it was the best project I tried in Targasonne. It stands nameless and according to the topo, it is a 7B+ but the writer must have made a mistake. I spent more than 2 hours during two sessions and was able to link the second half. The first three moves were as hardcore as it gets. There is a tiny horizontal crack in which even my fingers could not fit and flat footholds. On every single hand move I made, my feet would go away so I had to control the momentum and find another position. There was only one move I could not send entirely; I needed another two hours maybe, a day's rest and another sesson to link. A damn super project. I would give it at least a 7C+/8A. I had never tried moves that hard, even in 8A projects in Font'.

Pleasure dome is also a must-do boulder with a standing (6B+) and a sitstart (7A+) version. The second part is a bit high so I was cautious. The sitstart was quite homogeneous; most of the moves were tricky and of equal complexity.


Day 8: After six straight days of climbing and perfect weather, I got to find out what climbing in high altitude is all about. The rain started early and went on and on for the entire day.
Fortunately, the moment I got back from the grocery shop, I stumbled upon a friend from Paris and his friend so the rest of the day went away pleasantly. I left Paris, traveled 900 km and ran into a friend. A small world after all...
After consulting the weather cast for the whole week, we decided to cut our trip short. I found a cheap train ticket and armed myself with patience. I always lose my motivation when I see rain so I knew I was not going to climb anymore until our departure.

Day 9: The sun was up but everything around the camping site was soaked. I got convinced, nonetheless, to give it a try and went back to L'aquarium envolé to film it. From the first attempt, I felt the rock was too wet but tried not to lose faith. On my third try, I slipped. My fourth try was the worst: my left foot slipped so abruptly that my jaw hit the rock hard. My beard saved me from getting a very nasty scar. I immediately packed my things and left disgusted and frustrated.
The beauty of nonstop rain.

Day 10: Time to leave. The bus would arrive at 1 pm so we could pace ourselves. Unfortunately, the rain would not stop for us to start packing. We had to move everything to the bar/kitchen and then pack. Everything we owned was getting wet and muddy. The rain stopped for a few minutes and I was able to pick up my tent.

The two-hour trip was beautiful because of all the clouds and mist.
Everything went as planned and I got home around midnight.


I am definitely going back there to work on some projects. I did not have the chance to visit half of the sectors due to time restraints and the topo's lack of clarity. I really want to work on my roof project (the 7C+/8A one). All in all, a great experience. I had never climbed on sharp granite holds so I learned a lot. The camping site was great, moving around was easy and the mantles were unbeatable. The one thing I did not appreciate was the lack of climbers. Apart from us, there were hardly any climbers.
I am currently finishing up three longer videos. For the time being, here is the youtube playlist of the short videos already edited. Feel free to come back and check the extra footage in a day or two!

Update: Since I wrote this post, I edited some of my footage. This is the first video I came up with.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Episode 23: Competitions and my first Grand Slam

In order to prepare my candidacy for a spot in the climbing instructor's program next year, I need to participate in at least three official competitions. I thus registered to two bouldering and one lead comps taking place on three consecutive Saturdays. Being lousy at dynos and reachy moves, I never saw myself doing bouldering comps so I just went there to have fun.


Saturday, October 31: I woke up at 4 am and could not go back to sleep. I arrived early for my 6:58 train and whenever I am very early, it is a good omen. In my head, it is the equivalent of being extra focused; unfortunately, I am almost always slightly late for things... The ride went without a glitch, I arrived at the Saint-Étienne gym around 10:20 am. The qualifying round would last from 9 am to 3 pm (6 hours for 42 problems... yummie!) so I only had 4.5 hours left. Warm up was a bit slow with long queuing for each problem. After an hour and about a dozen easy problems, I was ready to give it my all.
I moved to the roof/cave section (around 6B/C). I saw a lot --- and I mean a lot --- of people falling even on the first moves and noone sending it. The crimps and small-ish pinches never scare me so I flashed it without struggling. As soon as I topped out, I noticed a lot of people looking at me. I was told I was the first one to top it.
I flashed about 25 problems within 2 hours. Balancing, crimps, dynos, round pinches... something for every taste. There were only four problems that gave me some trouble.
The first one was tricky: a technical dyno. There was a huge cube hanging from the ceiling. Two pinches (a good one and a tiny one) to be held in compression and a round foot hold behind the angle for a toe hook. You then had to dyno to a decent flat hold. It was all about coordination. It took me 7-8 tries to understand the move and get it right. Really cool one.
Source: http://www.escapilade.fr/spip.php?article237
The green pinches... that one really hurt. I had never seen these beautiful holds before: they looked like flat Pringles with sharp vertical, parallel ridges everywhere (see the figure below for something similar). Pinching those ridges hurt a lot. At least 7A+. I saw many people trying out and walking away after a move ot two, never to be seen again... All moves were hard but the crux was excitingly tough. After 7-8 attempts and a near success (I could not hold onto the final pinch), I decided to move on; my fingers were on fire. I went back an hour later and after another 7-8 tries, I sent it. I think only two of us in the senior category sent it.
Nasty pinches...
Next to the roof, there was an adjustable overhang. And by adjustable, I mean hanging from ropes. And that's where the problem lied. For the last move, you had to dyno to a weird slop-y crimp but the moment you arrived at the hold, your body would shake the wall and you would let go of the hold. I gave it at least 15 tries but kept falling. That was the only project of the day that I tried and failed. An extra 30 minutes would have been enough.
The last project was the one that took the most attempts: around 30! The mere number of tries speaks volumes about my stamina :-) An easy first move, you got a right shoulder crimp, left heel hook, you got a big, slippery, round pinch with left hand and then you dynoed to the vertical part of a huge volume with right hand. The only (and right) way to stop the momentum was to stick the right foot onto another volume on the right. I could not stick the dyno because: a. I suck at dynos, and b. I could not hold onto that round pinch. After 10 tries, I moved to another boulder. I came back later and looked for another beta. This time, I was able to get the pinch, then match with right hand by inserting my middle finger in the hole and dyno really far, to the top of the volume, 30 cms higher than the vertical part everyone would jump to. After trying this beta a few times, my finger started hurting so I decided to go back to the original beta. After 6-7 tries and only one minute before the end of the comp'... badaboum!!!
Having sent only 32 problems out of 42, I did not think I had any chance to be in the finals. All the others competitors had sent the dynos so they must have sent more problems overall. And then the guy with whom I had been climbing said "the two ultra-hard problems you sent, there must have been very few that did" and informed me that each problem was worth 1000 points divided by the number of repetitors. Wow, that's my favourite kind of math! I still did not think I had a chance and did not even check the results. A bit later, one of the organisers came up to me saying "Are you Cha...ra...lam...pos? We have been waiting for you in isolation". What the hell?!? Apparently, I came second at the qualifiers. That was a very pleasant surprise.
Isolation before the finals... The organisers were considerate enough to screw a few holds for us to keep our fingers warm. That is how you are supposed to organise a competition and respect the competitors. Seven of us, juniors and seniors. I did not know how many in each category.
The finals were rather disappointing. The first problem was too reachy; only the tallest guy sent it. The second one was really hard and we only had 3.5 minutes so noone got past the second move. Unfortunately, I had to leave in order to catch my train before trying the third problem. It looked quite beautiful: a rather easy dyno followed by crimps :-)
To this day, they have not released the results. All in all, I appreciated the way the organisers conceived the event and had a lot of fun. People were very cool, encouraging, communicative, exchanging betas and trying to be pleasant.

Saturday, November 7. Sports climbing on the menu. Six routes for the qualifiers, one for the finals. The pace was quite fast: one route every 15-20 minutes. I was being cautious in the first two routes, trying not to get too cocky. After that, everything went smoothly. I flashed all six routes, as did another three climbers. The hardest route was around 6b+/c but given my lack of experience in overhangs (even minor ones), I thought I would be having some trouble; that was not the case.

We climbed all six routes in flash mode. That is, before the qualifiers, the route setters climbed all twelve routes (male + female) in front of us. I had never seen that. Their beta was obviously not the best for me but given the overall difficulty, I was able to manage.

After sending our last routes, we had to wait for all others to finish, then for the results, isolation ensued... From the moment we finished the qualifiers until we climbed in the finals, three hours had gone by. That was a definite weakness from an organisational point of view.
The final route was a 5% overhang around 7b according to the setter. We were given five minutes to observe. I immediately got a bit worried about the first part. Around the 10th move, we were supposed to get over a huge round volume by dynoeing and using heel hooks. I was climbing next to last. I was very calm but knew I would not top the route. Three moves before the chain, there was a right-to-left traverse where you had to dyno to a big volume. A mistake meant falling down four meters - and very, very possibly - on the huge volume of the first part.
I got through the first moves, reached the volume, tried a heel hook but the move was too reachy. I took almost 20 seconds trying out different static betas but nothing was easy enough. I finally dynoed and found out that the target hold was quite nice. So my left hand was quite high and I needed to get my right heel hook. That move was quite hard as well. Five climbers could not get their right heel hook high enough because their left foot was too low, under the volume. I used a smearing beta to get both my feet high and then got the heel hook. I did the first left-to-right traverse on slippery crimps while struggling a bit because of the overhang. After this part, I felt a bit pumped but kept going. An undercling with the left hand, I crossed to the volume with right hand and then I was supposed to do the dyno. I looked down and thought it was not worth the risk. "Hop hop hop", I screamed to the belayer and let go.

I thought I was not going to be on the podium but as soon as I touched the floor, someone told me I came first. The last climber fell about six moves earlier. I know it was only a local event but winning still felt good. The only aspect that irked me a bit was that we did not get anything for winning. A bag of chalk would suffice. Instead, we were given an award, a wooden thing that was nice and would look great on a mantle or a prize shelf but I am not into stuff like that. The results can be found here.


Saturday, November 14: a five-hour trip to Montauban. This time, many thing went wrong so my results were  mediocre at best.
I arrived quite early and thought I would stay and watch the junior category. From the first moment, though, I found the atmosphere very unwelcoming. The climbers, even the audience, looked very arrogant and impolite. I could not even walk through the corridors, people would not budge. I went for a walk to clear my head.
When my category was up, I tried to warm up in the 6A's. You had to wait 10 minutes for the easier stuff. And since I need a long warmup, each problem took me four or five tries therefore round 8 minutes. After an hour, I had only send six or seven problems. We only had two and a half hours for forty routes so not the ideal scenario for me. There were too many people so I kept looking for an empty slot. During the second hour, I sent another ten problems but could not flash most of them. It was only in the last 15 minutes that I sent three hard ones.
The real problem was my strategy. I knew there were too many people but, as always, I tried to rely on the shere volume of problems instead of attacking the ones that gave the most points (I used the same strategy on December 13 but was "lucky" enough that time). I tried the hardest one (noone had sent it) for about 10 minutes, I was all alone so did not have to wait but got frustrated and left. It was worth 1000 points and had I insisted, I would have ranked in the top 5-6. This was very, very dumb on my behalf but this is how we learn, by making dumb mistakes.
The results can be found here. I only sent 20 out of 40 problems and was ranked 17th our of 39. It is not that bad but still...


Saturday, November 21: another Saturday dedicated to lead climbing. Roc 14, an FSGT club, was organising Prise d'Or, an annual event that is gaining notoriety. The concept was quite fun: a board game with three-person teams, each with a piece on the board. We were given tasks (climb on this or that wall, answer questions, ..) in order to earn points and advance on the board. Early on, we got a huge lead until we fell on a "labirynth and went 19 steps back. We were now in 7th place. We pulled ourselves up and started climbing extremely fast. Within 15-20 minutes, we were in the lead again. A minute before the end of the contest, we finished our three routes, three steps forward, we had three steps left to end the game, we got a question, answered it and... the organiser said "it's worth 3 points!!!". The prize for the first team (us): a 20-euro gift certificate!
The event was very pleasant and, although the organizers seemed a little bit lost from time to time, it was definitely worth my time. I admit I did not try any hard routes since difficuty did not matter, only speed. Since I am hoping to test my luck (and hard work) at real competitions next year, I need to learn how to climb strategically.
My team bracelet.

Saturday, November 28: The US Ivry club was organising a super event with lead climbing AND bouldering at the Orme au Chat Gymnasium. I got there in time, saw the gym and the routes/problems and started salivating. 12 boulders, 33 routes and a super 40m-traverse, all in three hours. I found a belayer and started climbing like a maniac. We had two attepts for each route and three for the bouldering problems.
© http://escalade.usivry.org/
After six or seven routes, we moved to the boulders. I flashed all twelve problems except for one because of a dumb mistake. I coached a few other climbers even though that meant less time for climbing but climbing is a social sport, after all. The problems were really, really cool, even the easier ones.
Back to the routes. I flashed 20 routes in total. Three hours were definitely not enough. Instead of giving us some extra time, the organisers had decided to allocate some twenty minutes for the traverse, for which all climbing had to cease. I think they made the right choice. I missed the traverse by practically nothing. I gave it four tries and each time, I would go a bit further. I fell after sending the last hard move. I had only four moves left (out of 70-80).
The overall quality of the problems and the routes was top notch. One route in particular, a slab, left me with a lasting impression. All moves were extremely haphasard but getting the quickdraws was even harder. I would say at least a 7c. I struggled all the way up but magically, I made it to the top. The moment I touched the final hold, I realised it was impossible to get the rope through the chain; I could not hold that tiny right-hand pinch, even less so since I only had a right-foot hold that did not help with the balance. I did not even give it a second go. Later that evening, I was told that the (female) setter only worked on that route top-rope. Since then, I have visited various gyms and have discovered that many amateur setters opt for this method, without even trying to redpoint afterwards.
© http://escalade.usivry.org/
I finished first with a wide margin (although no margin is ever wide enough). The results are here. All people on the podium were given a 20-euro gift certificate. I will buy some liquid chalk for me and my climbing partners with that money.
All in all, a great experience. I am going back to the gymnasium this Saturday to send the rest of the routes :-) And I found the entire team so approachable that I accepted their invitation to go back and set some routes and boulders in the near future.


Sunday, December 13. My club, ESC15, was organising a lead climbing contest. I had only climbed there once so I wanted to test everything.
©Julie Elena Pottier
58 routes in total and five hours to climb. After helping with the preparations (music, computers, registration), I started climbing to signal the beginning of the contest. There were two strategies in my mind: a. to climb frantically and send as many 5's and 6's I could, leaving the hard stuff for the end, or b. to do my warm-up, then do the hard stuff and leave the easy routes for the second half of the contest. Both strategies present risks: climbing for 3-4 straight hours will leave you with no energy for the hard (>=7a) routes, but then again, if you do the hard stuff in the beginning, you risk having a really bad warm-up and not being able to do anything afterwards. Plus, there was going to be a lot of people so I would have to wait in line for the biggest part of the contest. I thus decided to get rid of all the easy routes first.
It took me about four hours to finish almost all the easy (4c-6c) routes. I then tried a 6b, a 6c and a 7a but I was too pumped. I was gutted. I finished my session with three 6b's and thought I had lost. I rushed to calculate the results with my freshly created script (I used Praat to write a really cool script that outputs numerous listings, per sex, climbing gym, etc). Surprisingly, I had won with a slightly considerable margin.
©Julie Elena Pottier
Another 15 euros worth of gift card. I can now have my Sportiva Solutions repaired!

I will soon have the video of a few ascents that a friend shot. I can't wait.

This last win signaled a three-out-of-three spree at the FSGT "circuit" so I am calling it a Grand Slam! My goal is to win every single one of them this year. I think there are another four left until June. Next contest: February 7.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Episode 22: That's what I am talking about!

So after four or five weeks of abstinence from Font', I went back all psyched up.

16-05: First destination: Éléphant. The project of the day was La Barre Fixe (7B+), a classic. It took us a few tries to send the standing version (a blue one!) and then started working on the sitstart. I quickly found a nice beta (I dynoed to a left shoulder sidepull very far) but could not find the appropriate footwork. So there's only half a move to find for the next time. All in all, a great problem.
Envie d'Ange (7A) is a rather high problem. The crux consists in locking the left arm with a rather decent crimp and go for a jug. Given the overhang, the move is somewhat scary. It took me three tries. There is a crimpy 7C on the left but the others wanted to move on. It seemed within my style.


The Gruyère boulder is a big classic: eight meters high with huge jugs. We sent the right-to-left traverse, La Traversée du Gruyère (7A), which demands for beautiful crossing and arm locking.





30-05: Roche aux Sabots. I had been there once back in January and had only tried out Graviton (7A) and L'Oblique (7A), which, according to The Weekly TickList #10, are two of the three most climbed problems with 651 and 502 ascents respectively.
Graviton... don't you just love mantles? Unfortunately, some people don't understand how cameras work so you can't see the first part of the problem (yes, I am talking about you, Momo...).



L'Oblique is a roof with a dyno at the end. The dyno is morpho inasmuch as I would have to let go of my left hand during the dyno, which is out of the question. I was given another beta so I got a three-finger pinch which I then used as an undercling (the switch is not that easy).



We finished the day in the Roche aux Sabots Sud sector. There is a boulder presenting various problems, sometimes not very distinguishable. I did a sitstart on the right which was supposed to be a 7A but after sending it within 2-3 minutes, I thought it was too easy. Later that day I found out it was actually Rien Zen (6B+).



Zen (7a) is a nice roof as well with a beautiful top-out.





06-06: The beginning of a beautiful weekend. We visited Apremont Ouest for one problem: Crazy Horse (7B). I had tried this one two years earlier and had almost sent it within an hour. We then had to move to the following project so I had never gotten the chance to link it since. This time, I got all the moves (except for the first one) instantly so I knew I was in good shape. After 4-5 attempts on the start, I realised that I was not pushing my body enough; I was at around 30% of my power. I find myself doing that very often and I have yet to understand the reason behind this laziness. Sadly, when I sent it, I made a mistake during the top out and it turned out ugly.



After that, I tried the longer version, Crazy Horse rallongé (7b+). Two years ago, we could not even do the sitstart. It seems ridiculously easy since you only need to move on the ledge 40-50 centimeters to the left but the start is tricky. The convention is that you need to start with your feet under the roof which means going at it no-foot is not allowed. And the moment you try to make a move, the swing makes you fall. After a few tries, I found a beta and was able to link up until the first move of the 7B version.
Before leaving, I was given 15 minutes to try Sitting Bull (7C). Even with a very bad beta, I was almost able to get all the moves. What is weird, however, is the fact that everyone is trying the 7B version (top out on the right). I am very curious to try the 7C version next time.


07-06: Gorge aux Châts. I started with Opéra Tchétchène raccourci (7A). We had doubts over the eliminants. I tried a version which felt like a 7A but after a friend skipped the crux and dynoed to the jug, I knew this was not the correct version. Got to do it again :-(
Un Franc du Kilomètre (7A) is a long rtl traverse. The first two meters are quite ugly to be honest, the second part is all jugs and the top out is a bit tricky. All three of us fell on the last or second-to-last move. What a disappointment.
Le Pare Dessus (7A+) looks easy: during the first 5-6 moves, you have huge jugs and then you have got a hard top out. We flashed the first part but did not understand the top out. We kept reaching for a high crimp which you are not supposed to take and we could not move after that.
Chien Assis (6C+/ 7A) was rather easy for me. A two-meter traverse to the right, you get an decent right-hand undercling, you lock your arm and give it a go. I love locking, it feels so powerful.



I also checked out La Tour d'Ivoire (7C), the sitstart version of Maudite Arête (6B). I gave the crux three of four tries and got very close. Another project to finish.
And of course, when you visit Gorge aux Châts, you do not have the right to leave without testing Rubis sur l'Ongle (7B+), one of the most well-known problems of the forest. We tried it for about 15 minutes (I should have insisted more but I wanted to do a few 7A's...). I got through the first half very easily and almost got the crux. After that, it is quite easy. I am going back soon for these two projects.


20-06: Back to the Apremont area with three friends. I had planned a heavy program so I was hoping the others would keep up with my rhythm.
First project: Mandela (7A). As I was saying in the previous post, we had made a mistake with the beta and had done a new problem one or two meters to the right. This time, it took me four tries to get the correct beta with the undercling. That move destroys your wrist but it is so fun that you keep trying.



I then tried the sitstart version. With this obvious beta, I could do the first move and get the right shoulder diagonal crimp but being stretched to the max, I could not move afterwards. I then tried to dyno to another crimp. I got the move once but then could not find the footholds I had used. Probably a 7B.
Update: while writing this post, I contacted bleau.info to suggest our two "false ascents" of Mandela as new problems: Madila and Madila assis. The idea for the name is simple: I combined Madiba and Mandela, the names of the two neighbouring problems :-) After exchanging with the administrator, I found out that the standing version was already considered as a variant of Mandela but the sitstart should be a new problem.
So here's the standing version...

and the sitstart version...


And then... trumpets screaming and pumping... Féérite (7C). It is the reverse problem of Électrochoc par le bas - (7C+) about which I wrote last time. In the former, you get out of the roof whilst in the latter, you get the heel hook first then reach for a left-hand crimp very far. I was having doubts over which project I should try but Féérite won. And then... the big surprise! After having watched a friend trying for 2 hours and not getting the move, I had considered the crux extreme. This time, I summoned some courage and got the hard sequence within five minutes and without even pushing. I was honestly surprised. I linked on my second try :-)





12-07: My first visit at Petit Bois. The texture of the rock was quite greasy so I was not expecting much. And that's exactly what I got.
I started with Les Vacances à Bombay (6C+/7a), a basic mantle problem. The top out holds are very far and you cannot even see them so it took me quite a few tries. After a while, my friend climbed on a rock and showed me the part of the sloper for which I was supposed to aim. After that, it was a matter of time.



Big Jim (6C/+) is a very famous problem. Five meters high and the crux is at the top. I gave it around seven tries but the last move was risky and scared me a bit. I missed the hold by two centimeters but did not want to try again. Every time I would fall, it would feel like a year was passing by. I have fallen from a high boulder but this one felt weird.



La Baleine (7A/+) is also high and a big classic. I gave it around ten tries to find the right beta but we used the wrong foot (right instead of left) and could not do the dyno. And the height did not help.




25-07: Apremont once again! After trying Sitting Bull and failing because of the post-rain glueiness, we moved to Égoïste (7A) and Égoïste assis (7A+). After a few tries, we fond the perfect beta and sent it.



After an extra two attemps, I sent the sitstart version as well.





01-08: Trois Pignons! We spent the first half of the day at J.A. Martin. The sector is very scattered and the topo did not help a lot so we could not find anything interesting. We ended up working on La Voie de Kim assis (7A).



We moved to a more interesting sector, Roche aux Sabots. Le Jeu du Toit (7A) is a seducing little roof/prow that sucks you in. All three sent it rather fast. The best beta in the video is the one used by Guy. I came up with the beta myself but could not apply it since I did not have the reach. That pissed me off because I found it very cool. Oh well, at least someone used it and now we can all enjoy it :-)





02-08: We started at 95.2. After failing at Coince et Danse (7A), I decided to retry Le Smarty in order to film it.



In the afternoon, we went to Rocher des Souris. I thought the guys would enjoy Extraction Terrestre (7A+) and I had been wanting to go back and film it. It only took us three tries tops I think.





16-08: My first time at the Coquibus area. Coquibus Auvergne is famous for two boulders, each offering various distinct problems.
We spent our warm-up on Boîte à Lettres (6A+) and Tétutéton (6B) and failed at both. The key hold of the former was too moist and the latter was morpho. I gor very close but could not link. Maybe it was a matter of motivation since they were not my main goals. I visited that boulder mostly to check out Libertaire (8A) and Révolution (8A). They seemed within my reach.
And off to the Crotale and Cobra problems! I started with Little Crotale (7A+) and Little Cobra (7A+) which I flashed since the crux (the top out) was very easy for me (long live heel hooks!).





The other two problems were somewhat hard because the top out is morpho. I knew the final move would cause me some grief so I worked on it directly. I got it right after seven attempts and then sent Little King Combi (7A+) and Crotale (7B/A+) on my first attempt.





I then tried King Cobra (7B+) and sent the crux within 2 minutes but my partner needed to leave so I did not have the opportunity to link. I also gave King Crotale (7C) a try; I think it will fall next time.

18-08: A long but very, very exciting and pleasant day. After warm-up, we joined some friends that came from Pau so there were six of us in the group; can one ask for more?
After a loooong warm-up, we visited Bleau's Art (7b). I had tried it last year with the same partner but could not get the top out. By the time we got to the boulder, the sun started hitting the key sloper. We instantly got frustrated and pessimistic. I started with the second part and after two attempts at trying to get the right heel hook right, I locked it on the hold, got the slper with my right hand and topped out very easily. I was very surprised. I linked after about five tries.



After that, I repeated Festin de Pierre (7A) and finally sent Roxane, one of the most difficult 6B's I have ever seen. It took me five tries. Unfortunately, I was too stupid and pessimistic so I did not film it. now I have to go back and tear my skin on that nasty first crimp all over again...
We finished the day on Duroxmanie (6C), a classic I sent two years ago. For two years, I had considered it to be very hard so never tried it again. This mental blocage kept me from flashing it. A second try and a fear-free mind was all it took.



I then tried the sitstart version (7B/+). I got the first moves instantly and worked my way through the crux. I almost got it so next time, I will try it during my warm-up.



19-08: My first visit at Les Béorlots marked my reunion with my Antrebloc climbing buddies. As always, the rhythm was fast and we kept hitting one problem after another.
After failing at two problems during warm up (both were morpho yet feasible but I got irritated very quickly and did not want to spoil my session), I moved to the main meal, the Yalla boulder, which offers two problems in the 6th degree and four in the 7th degree.
We decided to work on the left-to-right traverses. The first one, Yalla retour raccourci (7B+), tops out in a 6C called Cavaporcis. I sent the latter on my first try.



I then moved to Cavaporcis droite (6C+), the top out of Yalla retour (7B+/7C). This problem is a bit tricky and I spent around twenty minutes trying to find the perfect beta. I needed something economical or else linking the traverse would have been a problem.



As soon as both top outs fell, we started working on the traverses. The crux is not that difficult and we knew it was within our reach. After 15-20 minutes, I found a great beta and then sent Yalla retour raccourci on my first attempt.



Same thing happened with Yalla retour!



74% de Cacao (6C+/7A) was quite easy but since I was trying it on my own, I had to work on the moves one by one. After four tries, I tried to link and made it. Falling would have hurt a lot.



After getting an extra two pads and a spotter, I tried Purée de Noisettes (7B+). After a few tries, I almost got all the moves. Every single move was reachy and I had to stretch my arm to the max but strangely, it did not feel unnatural (which always happens to me with similar problems). An overall very enjoyable problem.



21-08: I had been wanting to go back to Marion des Roches for two years to send two specific problems.
Pierrot (7B) is a great roof with a reachy move that I could not figure out or avoid last time. So now I knew that I had to find a new beta. I started warming up and coming up with ideas. Being alone, I had to work one move at a time and move the pad because of the tree roots and the rocks on the ground. After about an hour, I came up with a genious beta but that meant I would have to risk falling on a root. I tried it once and while trying to hold the momentum, I slipped and fell on a root. The fall was quite painful and lasted for a few minutes. After that, I dissipated and I was able to climb but it insisted for another two days during which I was having difficulties walking. So I had to change my beta. It took me another hour or so to link the project. As you can see in the video, my choreography is a bit odd.



The second item on my menu: Bi-Steack (7A). I had the moves from last time. I started with the last part and got it within 10 minutes. And then I started working on the dyno. I got it within five-six tries and thought the project would fall. After an hour of dyno-ing and missing the jug and getting my fingers slashed by the sharp edges of the rock, I got VERY pissed and started yelling. Since noone was around, I let everything out. But it did not work so I tried to calm down. Lately, whenever I get angry with myself or a project, I move away and try something else. So I tried the 7B version, Franck (7B). I started with the crux and linked up to the end on my first try! After another three tries, I linked the entire thing.



I went back to Bi-Steack but during a failed dyno, my fingers got damaged (there were only a few nanometers of skin left) and I decided to stop climbing. Plus, I had to save some skin for the next day.



22-08: Back to Les Béorlots for the Yalla (right-to-left) traverses. We spent about thirty minutes looking for a good beta for the crux. One single move was left: the top out. You get a bad sloper (or tiny crimp) with your left hand, you jam your right heel and toes in a ledge and start pulling and pushing to get a very, very bad crimp and then reach for another crimp with the same (right) hand. After working at it for more than an hour and failing at it, we gave it a rest and took a break.
That break was Fat Cat (7B). Two friends had tried it three days earlier and it had seemed very reachy, possibly impossible. But whenever the word "impossible" is thrown around, I get curious. Within minutes, I found the right beta for the crux so the only move left was the dyno at the end. Most (if not all) people will dyno to a pinch with the left hand then go for a jug with the same hand. For me that was impossible so I thought I could keep the pinch and then get my right foot up and go for the jug with my right hand. For this beta you need seriously strong shoulders. The problem was that the pinch was painful; it would sink into my skin. I thought getting it with my left shoulder (therefore only the right side of the pinch) would be better but the rocks on the ground and behind me scared me a lot but I decided to trust my shoulder and my spotter. It finally fell and it only took me 30 minutes tops.



We went back to work on the top out of Yalla but nothing...
After 10 minutes of walking, we arrived at the Kaiju (8A) boulder. We started with the two 7A's. Unfortunately, the first one involves a big dyno so I deleted it from my memory immediately. The second one, Cherno Alpha (7A/+), is a right-to-left traverse with big jugs and two huge moves. The top out took me more than thirty tries. You get a huge ledge and then go for a distant hold. I tried a heel hook, a Yaniro, a no-foot beta but nothing. Then I used a toe hook which I placed next to my hands and got it. The second crux... ouch! You get a painful three-finger pocket and reach for a good hold. I got the move only once in twenty tries and I tried to link twice but failed. I need to work on my dynamic moves at the gym.
We finished the session with Égérie sans Vergogne (7B/+). It took us twenty minutes to get to the boulder; the sector is huge and scattered. My friend was tired so I tried it alone. It seemed very difficult and yet too seductive to pass on. I got all the moves within fifteen minutes but could not link since the hlds in the cracks were wet. I need to get back for this one.

These last months, I started setting problems and routes at the Karma gym. You can find the videos on this playlist. I also set my first two routes! In addition, I visited Targasonne for some bouldering. I am currently doing the montage and hope to come up with a decent video.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Episode 21: Winter training, mental fatigue and a new approach to climbing

It has been six months since my last post but I finally decided to finalise this one. This delay was largely due to the fact that I had to switch software for the video editing. I could no longer do it manually with a classical piece of software (I had been using VideoPad Video Editor). I need speed and efficiency in my life so I decided to learn how to use Avisynth. You write a simple script in a simple programming language which you encode/decode/compress with Avidemux, Virtualdub or another tool. I highly recommend this way of editing; it is ten times faster. And even though manual editing is fairly straightforward for a one-minute video, I am going to start on longer projects in the following months so Avisynth was more than necessary.
Although I rarely keep the promises I make to myself, I did keep Font'ing (trademark pending) during the entire winter. I do not think I took a break from Font' for more than three weeks. And even though I did not send a single 7A for three months, at least I visited easy circuits to maintain my feeling of the rock.
First things first: in my last post, I talked about my send of Plein Ciel assis (7A). Here's the video.


And here's Scout Toujours (7A).

And of course, my send of Zermatt Express (6C/7A) shot and edited by Marin Menant (thanks again, mate!).


For my last 2014 session, I visited Rocher de Bouligny to check out two classics: Gecko and Les Beaux Quartiers. The sector is very calm but some problems are lichenous; plus, no circuits are available so finding certain boulders was tricky. And given the tree density and the recent rain, half of the problems were wet. The best omens for a great day...
After observing the two aforementioned problems, I did not feel inspired and I moved on. Being alone and with a single pad, I refrained from certain expo boulders so I wasn't left with a lot of choices.
Hypotension assis (6C/+) is a nice overhang with good holds and a somewhat scary exit if you are alone but I enjoyed the moves.


Damoclès (7A) is a cool ltr (left-to-right) endurance traverse. All moves looked easy but linking was not. I spent an hour working on each move, trying to find the smoothest beta possible but did not send it.
After walking around the entire sector and observing every single ≥7A problem, I arrived at Des Boules au Nez (7A). That was one problem I very much enjoyed. A nice sitstart, a wide, undercling-y pinch that twists your left wrist by an extra 30 degrees... what's not to like? It took me an hour to get all the moves properly/statically and then, for the first time ever, I decided to take a break before linking; my wrist was on fire. After walking around for 20 minutes, I went back and linked it twice in a row (to film from two angles).


05/03: After a few winter sessions during which I could not send anything harder than 6A, I visited Vallon de la Solitude with a friend. The sector did not inspire me much. We only found 3-4 worthy projects.
Deltaroc (7A) is a definite must. It might seem easy but falling from it can be messy. A large rock to the right, a tree to the left and a slop-y ground with big roots in the middle. My friend fell twice in different positions and the second time, he got a hematoma by landing with his right hand on a root. It took me about 8 tries even though I could have flashed it indoors. I was being cautious so whenever I did not feel comfortable with a move, I would release. Plus, I could not find a good beta.




07/03: Four friends and visited Apremont Fond des Gorges, my first time there.
elec
Warm up with Électrochoc (7A). It took me about five tries because I was trying to send it properly and get my heel hook very high instead of keep moving without footholds. I appreciated the top out, though.



After that, Strate Eau Sphère (7B+/7C), a ltr traverse/roof. I saw two friends having slight problems with the crux (right heel hook, a crimp for the left arm and then you reach for a right-hand jug; all of my strong points). I sent the move on my first try. After giving the final mantle two tries, I linked on my second try. A very nice feeling overall. Definitely not a 7C, rather a hard 7B or a very soft 7B+.



The rest of the day, I kept battling against two 7As, Chicken Skin assis and Chicken Noris assis. Same sitstart but for Chicken Skin assis, you exit in the prow whereas for Chicken Noris assis, you traverse to the right. For Chicken Skin assis, the crux is very simple if you are tall enough. I was able to reach the hold with my left hand but being entirely stretched, I could not move. I tried and tried but nothing. My friend held my back so I could test my reach but, again, nothing.


08/03: We started with Le Piano à Queue assis (7A+) at Apremont Vallon de Sully. This is a classic but the description is unclear. It is indicated that the left crack is forbidden but we found it far too easy for a 7A+. A friend told me that for the 7A+ version, you do the mantle by doing a muscle up (using your triceps and without feet). Next time I am there, I will try it that beta. I will not upload the video for the time being. I think what we sent is a 6C.
I then went back to Chicken Skin assis and Chicken Noris assis. After trying the same beta again and again, I decided to take a risk and try a very, very high left heel hook. I sent the move on the first try statically.



Before retrying Chicken Noris assis, I went back to Électrochoc to explore Électrochoc par le bas (7C+), a lower variant. I tried the three hard moves and linked them in only five minutes. Instead of getting out of a roof, you go inside by first sending your left heel hook really deep and then matching with your left hand. Very physical but within my kingdom. But, the fool that I am, instead of trying to link the whole thing, I went back to Chicken Noris assis. I was obsessed. It took me about 30 minutes. I enjoyed both "Chickens" a lot.



We finished the day with Mandela (7A) and Mandela assis (7A+). We sent both versions very easily but there was something bugging me the whole time. For my first attempts, I tried a different beta and almost got the standing start by using a small diagonal undercling. My friends insisted on an easier beta (right heel hook) so I followed their advice. When I returned home that night, I checked on bleau.info and I was right on my beta. The sitstart, on the other hand, was largely "undergraded". I found the move to be very hard, probably because of my height. I was able to reach for the crimp but then I could not move. I think I can do it, I will go back next week.
After checking on bleau.info, I saw that our versions (~6C and ~7A+) had not been entered into the database. I consider our versions to be well distinguished from the neighbouring problems, especially the sitstart. I will send the info and see what happens.


12/03: I tried to warm up in Électrochoc par le bas but was feeling very heavy and lacked the motivation so I left for Cuvier Rempart. After exploring the entire sector (dozens upon dozens of difficult problems), I was in the mood for slabs.
I started with Avec l'Arête (5C). Nice little problem. I then worked on its arete-less variant, Sans l'Arête. It took me about an hour because I could not reach the hold with the most obvious beta so I found a new beta (right hand/foot matching). I fell once on the last move because I could not find a single hold to stop the barn door and lacked the reach to get the final hold directly. On the next attempt, I found a tiny (and I mean tiny) bump for the right hand and sent it.





I finished the day in La Dalle directe. The tip of my fingers was pinkish but I kept trying. For the hard move, you dyno to a small, flat, slippery crimp while trying to control the barn door. You need that door to hold the diagonal crimp. If you dyno straight ahead, you slip. After twenty or thirty tries, I gave up. Losing counting of the attempts, that's when I know I've been trying a lot...

14/03: Back to Cuvier Rempart with friends. I started my warm up alone in the black circuit, a definite must given its difficulty and exposure. Almost all problems are high and guarantee a nasty fall. It has been opened in the 50s, I think, by alpinists who knew no fear. I tried eight or nine problems and got freaked out. After sending a few and failing miserably at the others, I moved to black no9, a nice slab which I had refused to try a few months earlier. I moved up the rock confidently but when I reached for a small crack, I touched some mud and moss. I tried to clean it only to discover I was getting the footholds dirtier. And as you can imagine, I started slipping on the newly dirty holds and after a few seconds, I fell. Even though it is not obvious in the following video, my butt landed only a few centimeters from the rock.


Laser (6C+/7A) is the kind of slabs I like. The crimps are decent and painless and the secret is in the body position. We all sent it instantly.


Manolo (7C) is an elegant roof/mantle problem. Its difficulty lies in heel hooks and slopers. I gave it a few tries but the sloper was too hot so I moved to my project for the day: Verdict (8A). My friend kept pushing me "this is the perfect problem for you, go check it out". It lies less that 30m from Manolo so I went to check it out. Sloppy crimps that don't hurt (except for the last one) and very, very powerful arm locking. I started salivating and got anxious. Unfortunately, as soon as I touched the rock, it started sweating. Given the high temperatures of that day and notwithstanding the fact that my fingers are naturally quite dry, I could only try each hold only twice. Each time, I was not very far from succeeding and I was not even pushing my body so I will have to wait for the right weather conditions for this one. I really loved it. For the last move, however, the top out of the 6C standing version, you need to hold a horrific vertical crimp that can send you screaming. I will have to deactivate my pain receptors next time.
Point d'Interrogation (7A+) is a strange problem. At first sight, it seems like a piece of cake. After your first fall, you start cratching your head.. "how the hell am I supposed to reach for that crimp?" We tried one beta after another... In Cuvier Rempart, the non-major boulders are lichenous and Point is certainly not a classic. Lichen made the miniscule crimps even less usable. After many tries, I found a beta that worked. As you can see, I sent the crux in a slightly dynamic manner; I could not do it statically. I have mixed feelings about this problem.




21/03: Isatis. My projects there keep piling up as usual. I sent the last blue ones I needed for my big comp video (I am still missing one blue, I think) before my friends started arriving.
First project: Beurre Marga (6B+). This one is a classic and I wanted it under my belt. The holds were very slippery but after many tries (20+?), I sent the crux, I reached for the final jug, I got it with my right hand and... I fell. Lack of concentration or over-confidence, I imagine.
I stumbled upon a friend who was trying L'Envie des Bêtes assis (7A), one of my must-do projects. After a few tries, I got all the moves. I tried to send it but my heel hook kept slipping off of a good flake. It pissed me off. A gave it another two good tries but I was too angry with myself to concentrate.
I had been avoiding L'Angle Ben's for two years, mostly because I knew the crux was reachy. This time I tried it but unfortunately, as soon as I reached for the good hold on the arete, my left foot would slip because my body was stretched to its limits. I think there is a possibility but I am not strong enough to try the alternative.
La Memel (7A+/B) is another classic. I never had the chance to try it. All four of us sent it within four or five tries. Apparently, there is a doubt on whether the sloper/crimp on the right (before you reach for the left-hand undercling) is an eliminant.

Here's my linking:

and here's a mini-montage of all four of us:

Footrix le Retour (7A) is a pleasant little prow. The obvious beta was too reachy so after a few tries, I found a better one that fitted me. I got the crux and almost linked it. The sitstart (7B+) is certainly feasible.

06/04: Apremont Envers. What a disappointing and joyous day at the same time! I was going to start with the red circuit but stumbled upon a guy working on Tijuana so I joined him. I kept falling on every single move. I was disgusted. Finally, my climbing buddy arrived and we moved to the red circuit. I spent half the day doing easy stuff, helping friends with their projects and not pushing myself. After all that, I took the guys to my project: Religion verticale direct assis. After 10 months, four one-hour sessions and a lot of humidity, I thought this was going to be the day. The key holds were dry! I first tried the standing start (7A) to be sure I was in shape. Sent it on my first try!
Let me remind you the whole sitstart debacle. According to 7+8 and bleau.info, the real sistart is two meters to the right of the main crack. When I visited this problem back in May, I had the idea of doing a direct sitstart. The description of the existing sitstart seemed incomprehensible. Anyways, after a few tries, I felt I was not very far but I was getting moody/frustrated because of the second move. In the meanwhile, my buddies tried the 7A and wanted to try something else. I took them to Poséidon (7A) and explained the two possible betas. But Religion Verticale was eating me up, I knew I had it... so I went back. After 3 or 4 tries, I finally linked it!
Note: Later that day, I sent an email to a bleau.info administrator about my first ascent. He went to check it out the next day and wrote back that the previous sitstart must be the same as mine. Although I am almost sure this is not the case (I asked on the forum last year), I did not insist. Maybe someone will watch my video (I will be editing in a few days) and give us some additional info about the first ascent.
I then went back to Poséidon and sent the sitstart on my second try.

Sunday 12/04: Apremont Envers again. We started with some red ones to warm up. Plus, this is one circuit that I really want to film. After 3 or 4, I tried the 44bis. What a trainwreck... When climbing this type of circuits, I am always under the impression that back in the days, climbing in Font was somewhat of a pissing contest. When you see the dangers of a potential fall, you cannot but think that. 44bis has a scary top out. My second try was the worse. I fell on the very last move (the boulder was lichenous so I could not hold on anything). My spotters saved my butt. As a friend noticed, the last thing you hear me say in the video is "Belle adrenaline" (nice adrenaline rush).


First project of the day: Masta boulda. The virgin rock felt perfect, you can feel the stickiness of the grain. We were not aware of the conventions so we didn't know which were the starting holds. We decided on a version and sent it. I then tried a lower sitstart, with two hands on an undercling. At least a 7B. I did the first move but couldn't sent the next one. And that first move being very painful, I only tried it three or four times.


Paul's boutique is a weird problem. bleau.info proposes a very strange convention:
Standing start with both hands in a little oblique crack and exit directly by convention
and the 7+8 topoguide says:
start with two hands on undercling
The first description being irrational, I tried the second one (the only one that looked like a 7A+). I sent it very quickly. I then tried the sitstart version (7C). I almost got it. I think I need another session on that. Since the rest of the moves are easy for me, it will fall soon. Plus, it's not exposed to the sun.



At the end of the day, I went back to Tijuana to try the move that was missing. The second try was perfect. Dumb as I am, I didn't think about sending the whole project on the spot and said to myself "I'll come back tomorrow, all fresh and motivated". This dummy never learns...


Monday 13/04: The forecast being very positive, I decided to go back to Tijuana. After a few red ones and stumbling upon Sean McColl and Jeremy Bonder working on L'Apparemment, I was ready. The rock, however, was not. Two straight days of heat made the boulder sweat like crazy. I got all the moves right but was pushing too much; I knew the linking would be a struggle. After an hour, I decided to switched to some boulders with a northern exposure. I knew exactly where I had to go.
I had tried Festin de Pierre (7A) two years ago but needed an extra centimeter or two to reach for the key hold (right heel hook then cross with right hand on a good crimp). I had gone back to that boulder a few times but the crimp was always humid. First try, I got my right heel hook perfectly, got my left foot higher and went for the crimp. Everything was fluid, I got my left foot to the left to control the barn door and, being distracted or rather too arrogant, I fell. I finally got it on my fourth try. I tried the sitstart (7B+) but the moves are very reachy; I tried to come up with a beta but did not insist. I think it can be done.


La Nuit de l'Éclipse (7A+) starts two meters to the left of Festin. People had told me about the nastiness of the holds. Nasty, sharp crimps indeed... I tried a low start but after a few tries and a lot of pain, I started with my left hand directly with a crimp. I sent it on my second try. Painful but beautiful.


A fellow Bleausard, Marc, had suggested the 25 black (La Psyssure, 6B). It seems very easy but the top out is messy. You see chalk everywhere so you're expecting jugs but I don't think there are any. By then, my nails on my middle fingers were moving too much (I knew that was bound to happen). After falling twice on the third move, I found a hold for the left hand and changed my beta. I reached the top out and kept looking for good holds. Damn it! I knew a very nasty fall was to come about but kept calm. Fabien (the guy I met there) saw me struggling and came running to spot me (that's what real Bleausards do :-)). As you can see in the video, I don't look pretty sending this. My nails were already in bad shape and then I had to push and pull for the top out. As soon as I climbed down, I noticed that my nails were bleeding. It was the end of the day and two days of rest from climbing :-(



After many falls on Welcome to Tijuana and numerous three-or-four-hour round trips to Font', I reached a point of mental fatigue. I just could not imagine myself going back there; I needed a break. So I did Mudday Paris (a great experience), a lot of indoors sports climbing (I sent every single project I tried) and bouldering (same thing, I feel like everything is possible; I have gained a lot of strength these past few months). No Font for a month. What I really needed was to change my attitude towards climbing. Even though I had the confidence and strength that I lacked last year, I kept stressing out about sending problems. I was too impatient. So I calmed down and let it go. I know I can send all the projects I have tried, no need to worry, the right time will come.In a few days, I will be publishing a new post covering my sends from April to June. I will also be presenting the first compilation of an entire circuit (blue of Isatis). I have yet to choose among the following options:
  • one video per circuit in normal speed (around one hour in total?)
  • one video per circuit in higher speed (30 minutes?)
  • one video per problem (too many files?)
  • one video per 10 problems