A Write Off

Considering i returned home from Font quite a while ago, you might be surprised to see a distinct lack of blog posts. Normal procedure is to post retrospective posts as soon as i hit wifi again and while i did write two posts out in France, i had such a miserable trip that i’ve just taken the easy option of just doing one overview post now i’m back.

Miserable? This was a write off, for me at least. The prelude to actually going was far more difficult and stressful than any previous trip, trying to bring everything together for several different groups – a lot of which just wanted to sort themselves out. To be honest, i think that was my mistake and i should’ve butted out and let people do their own thing. Nevertheless, even by the time i left, i was pretty exhausted with the whole thing.

The customary big drive down pushed me a bit further, considering my normal hour-or-so sleep on the ferry was punctuated by absurdly loud and obnoxious students, being loud and obnoxious. I did manage another hour in the back of the Land Rover at the port but this wasn’t great sleep either.

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So, we arrived, unpacked, got some supplies and headed for Gorge aux Chats – the standard crag for that time when you don’t want to be in the car any more. It soon became apparent that all my projects there are more than a little tricky and within long, i was just too tired to do anything else. A couple of hours of sleep beckoned, followed by getting up the next day to collect Simon from the station in Font. It was midnight before i finally got my head down proper.

The next morning, i felt rough. Nevertheless, we headed out to Franchard Cuisiniere and got on the rock. Gege doigts d’acier 7a fell with surprising ease, La Mouche 7b+ having to wait for another day. The others had a good day, from what i could gather, ticking off various bits and pieces, but by the time we got home, i was feeling worse. Headache, nausea, a slight fever coming through, i seemed to be collecting more symptoms than problems.

Tobias gurning away
Tobias gurning away

Day three was the obligatory trip to Bas Cuvier but after arriving and retching in bushes, i grabbed a pad, curled up in my three layers and a down jacket and went to sleep at Place Marin. While Charlotte laid seige to Marie Rose and others placed their pads under Carnage, Cortomaltese and other such wonders, i tried in vain to try and recover. It didn’t work, and i felt just as bad by the time i gave up and went to see how everyone had got on as i had when i lay down in the first place. While i did tick off Charcuterie 7a, it was about the only thing i got up and to be honest, probably shouldn’t have.

Simon giving his all on Charcuterie 7a
Simon giving his all on Charcuterie 7a

Wednesday was a wash out, to be fair, but i was quite glad; the virus being at it’s peak. While Simon, Ben and Charlotte took Tess out for a nice long walk through the forest, i stayed behind, in bed or on the sofa, not getting out of my sleeping bag and only moving around by poking my legs out through the bottom. Trying desperately to get more liquids into my body, i cursed my luck and cried for home and the comfort of my own bed. The illness would’ve been enough to keep me off work (something which has only happened once in the last six years) and i felt utterly disheartened.

Thankfully, that was as bad as it got and Thursday we headed out with Fredrik and his brother Tobias to Drei Zinnen. A good choice, as it dries quickly, it yielded some nice tasty climbs for us all to project, and a half-decent circuit to appease Ben. Myself, Fredrik and Simon all managed a nice 7a that we thought was Sustine ou Austine but on reflection once home, thought it to be Sale Coup (assis). To be honest, i’m still not sure but was glad to be feeling better, if only to be able to get out of the chalet!

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In fact, i felt so much better, i suggested we grab the torches and head out to Isatis for a late session of nice easy problems. Ben, Simon and myself ran around slowly (having taken far too much crap to move quick) and blasted out a handful of 5s and 6s before being chased away by darkness.

The next day was once again at Isatis, with the the larger group once again of John, Owain, Ryan and their friends Dave and Mr Rich. A couple of 5s and 6s fell as warm ups before i found myself under Divine Decadence 7b. It would’ve gone too, if only i’d figured out the toe hook beta for the first move, as i completed it from one move in. The way forward was only revealed again once we got home and looked online. Sadly, we were also chased away by rain and wasted the rest of the day away.

Obscure foot beta turned out to be fruitless
Obscure foot beta turned out to be fruitless

That turned out to be the last of the bad weather for the week, and another quick drying crag was needed. Thankfully, we hadn’t been to 95.2 or Cul de Chien so we all headed off there. Sadly for Simon, i had Miss KGB 7a+ on the radar and we got utterly obsessed with falling off the middle and struggling to find the beta. Still not running at 100%, we sieged it only for it to hold it. Le Mur de la Fosse aux Ours 7a was also a project i was keen to get on but Miss KGB sapped too much of my already-low energy supplies and we didn’t even throw the pads down. A retro flash of Le P’tit Toit 6b+ would have to suffice, and did a good job once you included the photos of me hanging from Simon’s legs on the nose…

Aid bouldering - a new discipline
Aid bouldering – a new discipline

After investigating a little roof-block found by Ben on his walk, we headed over to Cul de Chien, for Simon and Ben to both have a blast at Le Toit de Cul de Chien 7a. Simon sent quickly, Ben sacked it off in favour of circuits and i, as usual, neglected to bother. I was exhausted by this point and have never been grabbed by the line, despite it’s obvious beauty. Instead, we went to scope out l’autre toit, although i was sure i was too wiped out to try anything on such an imposing block.

So while Ben continued on his quest of flashes, Simon and myself wandered over to 91.1 and found a stonking prow line that was too inviting to ignore. We fetched pads, shoes and chalk and continued to hurl ourselves upwards until once again, darkness chased us away. It was a big shame it didn’t yield but was such a stunning prow line is worth another visit.

The Prow at 91.1
The Prow at 91.1

Our failure through exhaustion rounded off the trip, as we awoke the next morning to a damp floor. It mattered not as Saturday was never to be a climbing day, our chalet needing to be emptied and cleaned and Simon to be dropped off at the station again. It was a bit of a challenge fitting all four of us and ALL of the kit in the Land Rover but we coped, and headed into Font. A quick trip to the supermarket for some supplies and the photo i was desperate for of the Landy by a signpost for Font (for which the train station worked perfectly). Goodbye’s were said, hugs were had and departures made.

Writing this post, i realise the trip wasn’t a complete disaster after all. Perhaps that is because i can’t really remember how atrocious i felt at the time but if that is the case, it’s probably a good thing. Granted there were other issues, mainly involving getting the group together to climb as one, and a rather harsh argument but with time they will undoubtedly fade too and for the better – i learned long ago to try and remember the good bits and forget the bad. I’d gone with the goal of 30-40 problems with a dozen 7s and returned with 13 in total and a meagre 3 but such is life. The return home has been far more successful.

The Land Rover, having made it all the way there without complaint
The Land Rover, having made it all the way there without complaint
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