Switzerland Day 11

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Since my last post we’ve spent several climbing days at the three main bouldering spots in Ticino: Cresciano, Chironico, and Brione. We were lucky enough to have a couple days cold enough to climb at Cresciano which is the lowest elevation of the three.

View from Cresciano

It’s a beautiful area with amazing granite. I climbed two 7c’s at Cresciano that are worth while, il Partner and Jungle Book. il Partner is a taller line with interesting movement up high.

il Partner 7c

Jungle Book isn’t as tall but all the moves are really fun and utilize cool holds on perfect granite. I wasn’t too inspired by any of the 8a or 8a+’s that I saw at Cresciano which I guess is lucky since it’s way too hot to climb there now.

I’ve spent one day climbing at Brione so far which is up near a really cool mountain village of the same name. It is probably the smallest area of the three but it makes up for size with quality. It’s a bit more out of the way than Chironico or Cresciano so you don’t hear the roar of the autoroute several hundred meters below you in the valley. The views from Brione are amazing.

Doug at Brione. Photo by Les

We climbed on nothing but classics our first day, starting with a perfect arete warm up (photo above and below).

Doug at Brione

Followed up with a classic highball slab called Black Mirror:

Black Mirror 6b+

We finished up the day on Molunk which is one of the best 7c’s I’ve ever done. I’m of the opinion that the Molunk boulder has some of the best granite in the world. The holds are smooth, friendly, and fun to climb on. We shot some video so hopefully we’ll be able to share that with you soon.

Molunk

I also worked on Vecchio Leone which is an amazing 8b put up by Bernd Zangerl which was featured in Memento and Dosage III. I did all the moves except for the last one which is the crux. I was close to sticking it so I’m amped to get back on it at some point. There are a few cool looking 8a’s at Brione that I’m keen to try such as Fake Pamplemousse and Frogger. However, the most intriguing of the bunch is Cellar Door which looks to have some cool moves and has a rather spicy finish due to three things: it’s tall, there are rocks in the landing, and most importantly it climbs over an old rock wall. If you blow the last couple of moves to the lip your legs are likely to land on the rock wall initiating your body into a backwards rotation sending you headfirst into the rocks below! Yup I’m psyched.

Chironico might be the best area of the bunch. It’s north of Belinzona by 30 km and it sits at around 700 meters. There are lots of rad lines to be done here and we’ve only seen half of the area. I had one session on Freak Brothers 8a+ which is an amazing line. I didn’t do the crux moves but I’m psyched to go back and put in some more effort. It has turned hot this week so we’re trying to climb mostly in the evenings after the sun dips below the mountains.

Freak Brothers 8a+ at Chironico

One cool aspect of spending a lot of time at a new area is that you have plenty of options for projects to spend your time on. It’s not as if there is only one or two hard problems to work on. There are dozens of them so you can choose the one that suits your style or the one that gets you psyched the most. In Ticino for example, there are loads of 8a’s, 8a+’s, and 8b’s. Many of them are uninspiring to me, such as Extreme Ironing, La Pelle, Dr Pinch, etc. They are either too short, too sharp, don’t top out, etc. Luckily there are amazing lines such as Freak Brothers and Vecchia Leone and many others that really inspire me to put in the time and effort to send!

Overall I’m really impressed with the bouldering in Switzerland. I like it more than Fontainebleau and I wish we had come a bit sooner for the cooler temps. The rock here is spectacular, the views are majestic, and there are lots and lots of hard boulder problems to choose from. Hopefully I can send a few before it gets even hotter!

Switzerland!

Posted by | Switzerland | 4 Comments

We finally gave up on the weather in font after 5 days of rain and no sun in the forecast. Here’s a shot of our last ‘good’ climbing day in font, notice the tarp we setup over the boulder and Justin escaping from the heavy rain!

Wet l'Angle Parfait

We headed off to Switzerland two days ago and managed to find clear blue skies just 10 minutes south of font.
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Out of the gite, back on the street.

Posted by | Fontainebleau | 6 Comments

Well, our time in the gite has passed and now we move onto camping. Unfortunately we’ve grown quite accustomed to our little cabin in La Genevraye, and needless to say it has spoiled us greatly. There are no more gites available due to Easter, and to complicate matters further it has been raining for the last few days and doesn’t show any signs of stopping. So now we sit in McDonalds, again, and long for good weather.

If it doesn’t clear up soon we’re going to jet set down to Switzerland, and in a hurry. We’ve heard that things are significantly more expensive there so we’ll be loading the car with as much food as we can pack in to keep our expenses to a minimum.

If you are into superstitions, please cross your fingers for us. We need a few more days of good weather to complete some projects. Hell, cross your toes for us, your legs, your arms, or anything else you can think of to cross. Send us your energy, prayers, thoughts, a France sized tarp, or a giant laser we can shoot into the sky to melt the clouds. When all you want to do is rock climb, it’s a bit grim sitting inside a McDonalds watching it piss rain outside.

On the up side, I had my very first Big Mac today…..

Next Stop

Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Looks like we’ve decided on Switzerland as our next destination. We’ll probably stick around font for a couple weeks depending on weather and projects. If anyone has any good info on bouldering in Switzerland please let us know because we don’t have a clue! We’ll have to figure out a camping spot or a gite before we take off.

After my two rest days we went back to cuvier where I warmed up and decided to rest since I wasn’t psyched on anything there. So basically three days of rest and then it was back to rocher greau yesterday to try Tigre et Dragon. We had a really quick warm up session before hoping on it. I got really close, matched at the lip a couple times but couldn’t pull off the last couple moves. It was 18 C, aka HOT and the slopey pinches were baking in the sun. I had five attempts before my tips were super thin and bright pink again! That was all the climbing I could do so I took the rest of the day off. Last night my tips woke me up because they were screaming so bad! It’s bad when your heart beat makes your tips throb. Anyways, I think I’ve got Tigre et Dragon figured out so if my skin heals today I might go back early tomorrow. Looks like we’ll have some single digit highs next week so that should provide some project sending temps!

A few words

Posted by | Fontainebleau | No Comments

After a month and a half one would think an area would get old. One would think that the mind would start to ponder the idea of moving to a new region to try new things and meet new people. This is not so. People say that time flies when you’re having fun. Never has this been more accurate than the last month I’ve spent here. In the blink of an eye I’m forced to begin thinking about moving to new places.

Our time here has been filled with amazing people, good times, and plenty of rock scaling. We’re living in a six person gite with 11 people. After climbing we stop at the store, buy food for the night, and hurry home to eat. The corks are pulled, the cans are cracked, and bottles are opened. We sit around the table and tell stories of the day, the past, and of our friends and family. I relate to others not just through climbing, but also through situations that other climbers tend to get themselves in. Everyone has their epic stories, their trump card, and it never gets old to hear them.

If you ever travel to the Bleau to climb be forewarned that weather is the issue. It is fairly hit or miss. The first part of the trip was loaded with snow, rain, and clouds. Then the heinous cold came. A week of perfect weather then commenced, enough time to go to a new area everyday and get projects all over the forest. Then came the heat. Not hot enough to not climb, but enough to make you long for the cold. It’s good though… If you like excuses, Font never ceases to supply them.

Alex and I have begun to think about what is next. We seem to have settled on going to Spain, and enjoying the company of our new found friends Doug and Andrea. We’ll find new language there, a new culture, and many new experiences.

This is my trip. A once and a lifetime excursion where I can lay it all out on the line, and see what happens. I can’t wait for the next four and a half months. I love waking up excited, spending all day excited, and going to bed ecstatic for the next day.

More photos to come.

Font Heat

Posted by | Fontainebleau | No Comments

It has been super cold for most of our trip but the heat came in a few days ago. Taking a look back at my goals and comparing them to what has happened so far in the trip will reveal that I’ve been unsuccessful in climbing anything at my limit. However, I have been successful in improving my climbing on less than steep sandstone. Which gives a glimpse into what climbing in font is all about. The easy problems are just as fun as the hard ones. Even lowball V0- or 5a can be a blast. The blue (easy) circuit at Isatis is fantastic. I think the reason is the sandstone. Moving on smooth sandstone holds is more fun than granite, in my opinion.

Andrea on La Baleine 7a+

Before I started this adventure, the longest climbing trip I had been on was two weeks. I thought that six weeks in font would be a lot of time and I would be able to project hard problems more than I have in the past. The problem is font is so massive that we seem to go to new areas everyday and climb on new problems. I haven’t spent more than two days on a problem since we got here. Clearly it is a good thing to have so many classic boulders just a short drive away but it means that three months here would be ideal in order to project a few harder lines that are on my list.

Alex on Multipass. Photo by Ander

The other issue with font is the skin factor. Yesterday we went to Petit Bois and Rocher Greau after taking a rest day the day before. After warming up I worked on Big Dragon which is a rad arete with a sharp crux hold. I tried it maybe 10 times and had to quit because my skin was shredding on both hands. I had enough skin left to try Tigre et Dragon (another classic 8a) three times before my tips were bright pink and ready to explode! Granted it was a balmy 70 degrees so that didn’t help at all! Now I’m on a two or three rest day period before getting back out to the boulders. It’s supposed to be in the 50’s and 60’s next week which isn’t ideal but I’m sure we’ll have some rad days and finally get some projects completed!

Photo by Les

Photo by Les

Top three on my list at the moment are le Surplomb de la Mee 8a, Tigre et Dragon 8a, and Big Dragon 8a. I’ve tried them all briefly and feel like they will go next time I get to them with skin and decent temps!

Doug fired up at the BBQ. Photo by Les.

It’s looking like we’ll hang out in font until the first or second week of April. Not sure what our next destination is. Probably either England, Spain, or Switzerland.

Eiffel Tower. Photo by Les

Font Day 30

Posted by | Fontainebleau | 3 Comments

Life is good. Ever since our first two weeks of poor weather it has been awesome. If anything, it has been too cold lately, with highs in the upper 30s/low 40s. Justin and I both did our first font 8a, Synapses, a few days ago. I followed that up with a fun day at Bas Cuvier, which is one of the most popular areas of font. It wasn’t too crowded for a change and I was able to quickly tick off a couple of old classics of the area, Hypothese 7c+ and La Balance 7c+.

Yesterday we went out to Buthiers to see what the area had to offer. I was pleasantly surprised with lots of tall, beautiful aretes. The area is stacked with quality problems including Lady Big Claque 7a, Controle A 7c, Masters Edge 7b, and many more! At the end of the day I finally found a project that I’m fully psyched on! It’s name is Partage, it’s a 20+ foot arete, it’s 8a+, and it’s one of the best looking lines I’ve ever seen. It looks way better than this photo can show you:

Skin seems to be more of an issue now than it had been earlier in the trip. I had two rest days before butthiers and I need another rest day because my tips are screaming! I made a list of problems I want to send and it’s full of 20 problems 7c+ and harder. I’ve got a lot of work to do!

We had a couple more arrivals from the states so now our 6 person gite is home to 10. Three of us are on the floor and two more are sleeping in the back of their car. Not ideal but it sure is cheap! We’re each spending about 5 euros a day for the gite.

It’s funny how four months in Europe sounds like a long time but we’ve just finished month one in no time at all! We were thinking 6 weeks in Font but the weather and climbing is so good that I can’t see leaving until April. I just hope I can tick a few problems from my list before then!

Attention Chef d'Oeuvre 7a

We finished a video for Black Diamond which should be on their journal shortly and we have a couple more vids in the pipeline.

el Poussah 7a

Andrea and her new friend

Team Fosters

Font Day 24

Posted by | Fontainebleau | 3 Comments

Rock climbing has restarted full bore after a spell of rain. We finally had a few days with a proper circuit warm-up on dry boulders! It was amazing! For the first two weeks we didn’t have a 24 hour period without some type of precipitation so it feels great to finally have multiple days with sunny skies!

Kevin on Misericorde 7c+

The climbing here is great, the rock is awesome and there are so many boulders it’s unreal. Warming up at Isatis is a blast. There are so many easy problems that you can get a good flow on the rock and try to maintain that fluid movement as you start working on harder climbs. When it’s cold and dry, the rock is very sticky but not nearly as grippy as the rock in the southeast, especially the feet. Pof has been used extensively here for quite some time which has done a number on the rock. Pof is a resin that climbers have used here to help their feet stick to the rock. From what I hear it works well in the short term, unfortunately the long term result is slippery black rock that is very hard for your rubber to stick to.

Leslie on Misericorde 7c+

Leslie on Poussif 7a+

Guillome on Poussif 7a+

Titouan playing with chalk

Larchant

A few words from Les:

Alex has switched into full crush mode… He’s too modest to tell you so I will. Every problem he gets on gets done with the quickness, unless it’s a 6a warmup at Isatis.

Like Alex said earlier, the weather has switched from relentless and crappy to beautiful and inspiring. Conditions could not be better. The rock glitters in the sun as if it is begging to be climb.

A restday in Paris was in tall order, so the crew buckled up and cruised up the A6 to the magical land of:

Guys in really short shorts

People sitting on stairs in a fashionable manner

Amazing Sites

AKA the Notre Dame

Justin enjoying a falafel

The infamous Almond Croissant (worth the trip to France)

Sundev staring curiously at security camera

We also visited the catacombs which was pretty mindblowing.

Catacombs

Catacombs

Until next post…

Au revior.

Font

Posted by | Fontainebleau | One Comment

Not much has changed since our last post, we’ve climbed a few boulders, fallen off a few boulders. No snow but we’ve been having a bit of rain. Haven’t had a completely dry day yet but we did have a couple of good climbing days. We’re getting some much needed rest today and we’ll be back out tomorrow or the next day. We’ve seen a lot of classic lines to keep us busy for awhile!

Our Home

The Gite

The Gite

Big Golden (haven't sent yet)

Big Golden

Justin sending T-Rex

Rock Climbing?

Posted by | Fontainebleau | One Comment

I think we’re on a rock climbing trip but I’m not quite sure yet. We’ve been out to the slowly drying boulders everyday. It rained a bit a couple days ago which was nice since it washed the remaining snow away. Yesterday we went out to Cul de Chien to work on Eclipse, a classic 7C. The weather was nice even though some of the boulders were still wet. It felt good to finally do something that took more than three tries. Up until now I’ve sent the easier climbs quickly and haven’t succeeded on anything that felt hard! Feels like the trip has finally started!

Carnage
Carnage

Eclipse
Eclipse

The gite (rental house) is now running at peak capacity with the addition of Andrea and Doug, aka the Awesome Aussies, as well as additions to Team America with Steve, Justin, and Ander all calling La Genevraye home. A few more are on the way so there may be some gite shuffling in the coming days. Speaking of nationalities, up until two days ago we hadn’t met any other Americans. We’ve met a lot of English fellows as well as many other Europeans. The boulders are interesting since English seems to be the international language of choice. You’re just as likely to run into someone from outside the country as you are a frenchman, so a friendly hello works well most of the time. It’s been great hanging out with folks from all over the world.

Andrea

Andrea

Today (Saturday) we woke up to see big white flakes looking for a happy home on the ground outside. As Doug said, “I haven’t seen snow like this in days!” Fortunately it has warmed up a bit (above freezing) so the snow didn’t last more than a few hours. Again we filled our rest day with a walk through a new area to scope boulders with a shiny coating of water. It seems checking the weather in Font is futile as it may or may not rain everyday. The best method is to wake up and if it looks dry, then go climbing and save rest days for the next time it rains.