Échec en France

I seem to do this quite a lot: go away with a goal in mind, believing quite whole-heartedly for it to be possible, although not easy. I arrive, exhausted due to my insistance to drive enormous distances, and relax for a while, never quite establishing the necessary mindset. Before i know it, I’ve fallen prey to lethargy, and my short term dream seemed to dissapear as quickly as those while i sleep. And so it was again on this trip.

This time, my idea was to go for 20 – 30 boulder problems of 7a or harder, in a week. This didn’t seem too unattainable really – I can work 7a in a session, maybe working a couple in a session. I can climb for a week every day without burning out. This would be my sixth trip to Fontainebleau so i know the rock, the style, the holds. And finally, i was taking two excited young boulderers. Besides, it wasn’t as bad as some of my previous challenges: 1000 boulder problems in three weeks between four of us, or a first ascent in an Italian Alpine Valley. Nevertheless, in hindsight, it seems a little ambitious; the final tally: zero.

In fact the hardest problems i managed to climb were a megre 6a: Little Shakespeare and Silver Lago at Bois Rond and a repeat of La Marie Rose at Bas Curvier, and while I did manage to get a lot of beta for a lot of projects, as a climbing trip, it proved somewhat unsuccessful. Morning sessions continue to elude me due to my relxed attitude to getting out of bed, and even after the first two wet days, the weather continued to dog our progress: 30+ degrees is not an ideal tempterature to be bouldering! Nevertheless we persevered.

Our first days climbing involved gaining as much height as possible in search of dry rock, and we found ourselves at 95.2; a popular crag with some stunning lines. We would find ourselves back here twice again that week, with Sam getting an impressive ascent of Retour aux Sources 7a on the last day (i’ll be back for that one). Our other two days of climbing were spent exploring a new sector for me, still in the Trois Pignons called Bois Rond. Having explored the forest quite extensively now, i have a feeling that this will become one of my favourite spots, to go alongside Gorge aux Chats and Roche aux Sabots.

Bas Curvier also saw a session early on in the week. While i left the lads to continue on the blue circuit that we had all started on, i set up camp under Carnage 7b+ to try my hand. The first move continued to thwart me, and while i will always refrain from the temptation of jumping on Helicopter 7a after Terry’s appaling accident in 2007, Abbatoir 7a did see some attempts, all fruitless though. The greatest chance of success came on Cortomaltese 6c, but again the weather dogged us with a small shower greasing the crucial slopers. However, i remain optimistic that were i to return for a trip when the friction is better and the moisture less, hopefully all (although possibly not Carnage) will go fairly quickly.

As i said above, as a climbing trip the week was a bit of a disaster, but as a holiday it was just what was necessary. Sometimes you need to take solace in the fact that information can be just as important to these activities as a series of ticks in a book. Trip seven, as long as it’s not too long into the future, is destined to be a triumph of success. Maybe i could crack 7c…


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