Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Our legs were feeling fresh(er) and our skin was thick – time to return to the battle field. The walk in had certainly not got any easier during our two day vacation but slow and steady wins the race and we arrived at the crag at a respectable hour, not too much out of breath. Cascade is usually the first port of call as the morning sun is yet to turn the corner and the shade is a welcome relief. Well not today; the air temp was so cold that people were belaying in gloves and down jackets and numb fingers were all around. We quickly fled for warmer climbates.

I was pretty keen to get back on Bah Bah and was feeling quietly confident. I felt like the individual sections were reasonably straight forward and that the starting 3 bolts would not tire me for the crux and remaining tricky section. The first few hours were spent belaying Emily as she knocked off her ticklist, and as she began to tire, I decided it was time for a look-see.

After spending a while refining my sequence and linking the upper sections a few times I ate lunch and went back to belaying Em until I felt ready for a redpoint. The sun had moved on and I was cold from my rest. I guessed the first try on the route would end prematurely due to numb fingers, which it did, after just entering the crux. Not to worry, this was to be expected, next go will be much better...

Once my fingers were warm again and my forearms felt good I set off again. What followed can only be described as a shambles; a shocking display of climbing ability, or more precisely lack of! My feet were slipping, I missed holds on my first slap attempts only to scrabble around and get them on my next go. Safe to say I fell at the start of the crux and to make matters worse, realised Arnaud Petit had been watching. Arnaud kindly offered beta on the route, which I think will be useful. I say “think” because I couldn’t actually try it out. My body felt like lead and I could no longer even make the individual moves. Dirt me...

I don’t really understand how ones performance can change so dramatically in such a short period. Is it physical, mental, spiritual, I don’t know but guess it’s a mix of them all? We began the long walk home which allowed lots of time to think about those very things. We have one day left at Ceuse, my skin hurts and I feel tired. However, my bag is still stashed at the top of the hill, I have not given up hope, bring out the garlic!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

My friend Neil of Maisonbleau fame is currently holidaying near the Verdon, so on our first rest day, Em and I decided to drive to meet him for some fun in the sun. Neil had seen pics online of some DWS in the verdon which he was going to check out by “pedalo” and as we hopped on board, the thought about wet skin and rough rock not mixing failed to cross my mind.

The rest day turned out not to be so restful. The almost virgin limestone was pretty sharp and rough and by the end of the day my skin was not looking good. It was great fun however, and something I would definitely recommend. We climbed around 5 routes on two different buttresses in the first 400m of river but if you peddled further, who knows what you might find?

The water is warm and deep, just watch out for clueless tourists peddling right underneath you! For anyone interested, the beta is simple. Drive to the north east point of the lake at the base of the Verdon. A obvious road bridge will cross the water at the mouth of the gorge, park here, hire a boat and go exploring.

A further rest day was needed after our DWS adventure and the time was passed in the Gorges de la Méouge swimming hole (near Laragne Monteglin). This natural beauty consists of sandy beaches, shallow swimming pools and waterfalls and is a perfect place to pretend your a kid again. Once the relapse is over, the adult in you couldn’t pick a more pleasant spot for reading a book in the afternoon sun.

Monday, 13 July 2009

We had a lazy start today, arriving at the cliff at 4pm, just as a huge thunderstorm developed. The gentle breeze turned into a gale, and Em and I were quickly chilled to the bone. Earlier, in the 30 degree campsite, I had shrugged off Emily’s advice to take a sweater, a choice I was now regretting. I really wanted to try Bah Bah Black Sheep, and so sheepishly asked Em if I could climb in her hoodie in exchange for my waterproof shell.

What a sight! Me swinging around getting blown all over the place wearing a skin tight girls hoodie, and Emily lovingly shivering away below on belay duty in multiple multicoloured shells. I went bolt to bolt as quick as I could and happily found the moves not to bad, linking the route in a few sections.

The route is a strange affair, with very varied climbing and an unusual crux. There are two points I think may prove difficult on a redpoint; the jump after the crux moves, and a dynamic lock at the end of all the hard climbing. We only have a few days left in Ceuse before moving north to Chamonix so I’m not getting my hopes up too much, just enjoying climbing in a new area.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

I opened my last post talking about slackness but I feel my blog activity of late has redefined the word. As you may already know, throughout April and May I was part of The North Face Summit Series Road trip and since time was incredibly short, I didn’t feel a pressing need to complete my personal blog, especially since we were already writing a daily account for the trip. Unfortunatley, this habit carried over once I returned home, days turned into weeks, weeks to months, and here we are, a long long way down the line with very little said.

The truth is you haven’t really missed much. I have been trying to maintain/improve upon the stamina I found during the roadtrip, which has mainly involved tedious circuits down the wall. But gains feel minimal and slow coming, and motivation is often hard to come by. Giving up and going bouldering or trad shuffling is certainly a tempting alternative but if I can break through this wall I hope the grass will be a lot greener on the other side.

To celebrate Emily finishing Bar school, we are currently on our first climbing trip together in two years. Six days in and we are camping at Ceuse which is wonderful. Believe it or not, this is my first time at the crag and it is certainly living up to expectations, both the routes and the walk in.

Long walks are most definitely not my thing, and on the first day I was really feeling the pain; especially after leaving the car keys in my sack at the top of the hill and having to do the entire thing twice!