A Good Return

It’s coming up at about eighteen months since i bought my house, and just over two years since i moved to North Wales. In that short time, I’ve managed a total of five foreign climbing trips, with at least two more planned this year, and yet three of them seem to be to the same place…

Yet there is something quite pleasing about returning to somewhere that feels homely. Even in the forest i am growing to know so well, i still find myself visiting the same old haunts. The day following my previous entry I continued my recuperation, including a lot of tape, and climbing on large holds, very rarely. I took our little international multi-lingual band of climbers, sadly without Frederik and Karin (many apologies for not remembering your names sooner!) to what i called a real “locals crag” within walking distance of our site. The small and undervalued Gorge aux Chats has some tremendous lines, and a stunning aspect, and has to be one of my favourite crags in the world. Sadly, my rest had to continue, and Mike suggested a half day to stem the pain in his fingertips.

However, even the half day couldn’t prevent the inevitable, and after cries of “is this crag in my guidebook” we decided to be controversial and head to a new venue for me: Cuisiniere. The first problems we saw took my breathe away; the aspect to the forest too good to be true and my Facebook status reading “possibly one of the best areas in Font, how have i never been here?!” The ungraded slab climbs we warmed up on were simple but elegant and i managed possibly the best 6b and best arete problem i have ever seen. Sadly this was one climb too many for poor Mike, and as he reached for the crux hold, which turned out to have a sharp edge, his skin finally gave in and he tore a huge flapper in his right hand middle finger. More tape meant he could continue, but our day continued on it’s downward trajectory, and the further problems we searched out didn’t quite meet the standards of those first few boulders, nor the expectations of mine for the forest, if we were able to find them at all… That said, i may have to return to find out the dyno of Halle Bopp.

That takes us to Saturday, and thankfully Mike’s project didn’t need much finger strength or substantial skin, and mine just needed me to pull really hard, so we returned once more to the popular Bas Curvier. Unfortunately, sheer force of will was not enough for either of us, and another foreign project was resigned to a mark in a guidebook. The next day, the car was packed early, the pads buried under a mound of camping equipment, and an earlier ferry beckoned for a relaxed journey home , a welcome change to a very familiar story. These projects will have to wait, more exotic places lie in wait, although a return is never far away from the realms of possibility. In the mean time, a change in philosophy is needed, and it is possible that my approach to training, or the lack there of, may require some revision.

Tomorrow is the final of the Beacon’s bouldering aggregate competition, after claiming joint fifth place in 140-odd climbers. I’m hoping that my Font trip will have made for good training, but if not, it is possible i may have to install a fingerboard, and start trawling the internet for schedules of pull ups. Canada lies ahead in June, with another foreign voyage in the Autumn. Watch this space!

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