Thursday evening we finally left McDonalds to do some grocery shopping before making our way to our friends’ gite to hang out and drink a beer. We finally headed off to our snow covered tents sometime after midnight. Unfortunately we didn’t make it.
Driving conditions were absolutely terrible. Snow was coming down hard and sideways. We only had to drive a few kilometers to our campsite but we hit a section of road with a foot of snow which quickly halted our forward progress. We tried to dig ourselves out but the whole car was stuck in the snow. We were stuck in our little hatchback all night in 20 degree temps. We managed to sleep a couple hours but that was about it. Three cars stopped early in the morning to help but even with two people pushing the car, we couldn’t get it out. When daylight finally came we dug a lot more snow out from the tires and pushed the car back and forth to get it on the field and drive around the snow filled road.
We finally reached camp at 9AM. We were in a daze and didn’t quite know what to do. Ironically after spending all night in the car failing to sleep, we both passed out in the front of the car for a few hours at the campsite. After the nap we decided that our campsite wasn’t worth driving to anymore. Not only were there creepy folk living in RVs but it was far far away from any rock climbing. We made our delirious way into Fontainebleau to the gite office (across from the chateau) to reserve some shelter. The only gite available was a 6 person gite for 300 euros per week. Turns out it is the same gite that a friend had reserved starting the 20th whom we were planning to stay with for a few weeks. Luck found it’s way to us afterall, despite what I’m told is the worst February weather Font has seen in years.
At the moment we are living it up in a three bedroom gite, enjoying the hot showers, and warm beds. After day three in Font it feels like we’ve been here for three weeks. Everything is a blur and we haven’t even pulled onto any rock yet. Here’s hoping for clear skies and above freezing temperatures.
We departed Tuesday at 6PM. Flight included a few bad movies but no sleep for either of us. We landed in Paris, picked up the car and the snow began to fall. We headed into the city to pick up a few climbing supplies. It was a lot of fun learning the french way of driving which involves making your own lanes and never stopping. The pedestrians don’t make it easy on you as they are always leaning out onto the road appearing as if they are about to start walking across at any moment.
It stopped snowing as we left Paris and headed down the road to Fontainebleau. The ground was wet when we arrived so we drove into town to see what it had to offer. Fontainebleau is much bigger than I expected with tall buildings and many locals wandering the streets at all hours. We stopped to eat our second ham sandwich of the trip which was both cheap and delicious. When we exited the restaurant it was snowing. By the time we arrived at the car it was a full on blizzard with heavy winds. What should have been a 25 minute jaunt home through the forest turned into an hour and a half adventure helping a dozen other people push their cars up an icy road. Did I mention home for our first night in Fontainebleau was a tent?
That is what we woke up to on Day 2 (it hasn’t stopped snowing as of 6PM). Luckily we had stayed up for 24 hours during our travel so I was mighty tired which kept me in my tent for a solid 13 hours. If you know Leslie, then you’ll know he was up well before 10AM since he is always psyched, even when there is three inches of snow on the ground! Today we made it into town for lunch and to scope out the internet scene. We found an internet cafe that was 2 euros per hour.. We decided to go look at some boulders even though it was 25 degrees and still snowing. We hiked around Bas Cuvier and marveled at the snow covered sandstone. On our way out we ran into some british climbers who, believe it or not, Leslie met three weeks ago in Hueco! They had come out to clean the snow off the top of boulders in hopes that we’ll have something to climb tomorrow or the next day. They gave us some clutch beta which sent us up the road to a McDonalds where we are currently sitting, enjoying free wifi. With a windchill of 15 degrees outside, we may never leave the warmth, free wifi, and easy access to food (not exactly a fresh baguet but who’s complaining?).
For more photos check out Leslie’s blog.
Since the Les Warnock posse may be quite diminutive compared to that of Mr. Savage, let me introduce myself:
That’s me. Les Warnock. You’ll be reading much more from me (not to mention scoping my glorious bod), and hopefully seeing some pretty cool videos from Alex and I over the next 6 months.
A little about me:
I’m from the dirty south. This is how I do:
I know you probably already know, but let me recap our plans for the next 212 days. We’ll be flying into the city of love next week (Tuesday to be exact), and driving straight to the magical land of slopey sandstone… Fontainebleau. We will then proceed to slap, crimp, grope, and slope our way to the top of many boulder routes (or problems for you common folk). Then, when we are good and ready, we will leave and go to areas such as: Ticino , Brione, Mallorca, Rodellar, Ceuse, and maybe even find our way onto some grit in the land of bad teeth.
So stay tuned, because if you’ve ever climbed with Alex you already know he dispatches pretty much everything he gets his hands on during weekend trips alone.
I’m going to sign out now; the sweat from my hands might just destroy my keyboard if I type any longer.
Oh yeah, and nice to meet you.
Since I last posted I quit my job, flew home, and sent my belongings on their way to ATL, Georgia. I’m home for a week hanging out with family and friends before I depart for Europe on Tuesday. Yesterday I headed out to Horse Pens with some good friends. Matt and John went all out toting a crane, several cameras, lenses, tripods, etc out to the boulderfield. We had the whole place to ourselves and the weather was perfect! I enjoyed a stellar day of climbing and we got a lot of cool footage of classic three star lines. The good news is that I felt no pain from my finger so the month of rest paid off! I’m more psyched than ever for font and the rest of the trip!!
I’ll post the Horse Pens video whenever they finish creating it so stayed tuned!
To tide you over, here is one of Matt’s videos featuring three from Little Rock City.
Starting in February and continuing for at least twelve months, I will only be a climber. I won’t have a job, girlfriend, wife, kids, or any other real responsibility. One of the many reasons I am excited about this is that it will provide a lot of time to focus on my climbing and progressing into a better, more well rounded climber. Areas of improvement for me are: pinches, slab, and vertical. I’m not terrible at these by any means but I haven’t mastered these styles either. On the trip I want to improve in every style of climbing including slab, vertical, steep, compression, pinches, slopers, crimps etc. By that I mean I don’t just want to get stronger and crush the steep stuff, I want to also be a smoother climber on technical climbs, especially on sandstone. It’s been a few years since I’ve spent much time on sandstone so I’m very excited that font is the first stop on our trip.
I already feel more relaxed about having so much time to climb. The reason for that is up until now I’ve mostly had weekend trips and the occasional week long vacation to climb. Going climbing for a weekend can sometimes add stress in that I feel like I need to make a list of what I want to work on and what I want to send. With more time I will be able to take some days to just wander around in the forest and climb whatever looks cool without worrying about a ticklist.
All that being said, I will also be psyched to project some really hard lines and to push myself to the limit. Which leads me to a couple of quantifiable goals for 2010. I want to become a solid V13 climber and I would like to climb a V14. I am skeptical that this will happen in Font but I will certainly try to master the bleau sandstone. I think Switzerland and the Rocklands will offer many opportunities to achieve these goals so it will be nice to have several months in these countries.
I haven’t climbed at all this month and it has been painfully boring, but it’s good that I’ve rested my finger and I’m optimistic that I will be back to 100% when I get to France.
My moving plans changed a little once I found out renting a moving truck to drive across country costs $1,300. It turns out that using a moving company and flying home is cheaper and far easier to deal with than 36 hours of driving by myself. So I’m flying home to Atlanta on Saturday where I will be hanging out with family, plus a day or two at Horse Pens until my departure to Paris on February 9th.
Two highballs at the Buttermilks: Mesothelioma and Secrets of the Beehive, plus Stained Glass thrown in for good measure. Check out my wacky new move on Secrets, the dropknee reverse mantel cross or DRMC.
I use the term ‘Around the World’ loosely because we are only going to Europe and South Africa. I’d love to continue jetsetting around the world for a year or more but I didn’t win the lottery and so far nobody has paid me to climb a rock.
We purchased our airfare for the whole trip through Orbitz. The cost for Atlanta to Paris to Cape Town to Atlanta was $1,694. We haven’t booked a car for South Africa yet but we have one for Europe. In Europe we are doing the lease buy-back program through Peugeot. It is cheaper than renting if you need a car for more than a month but it’s still pricey. It might be cheaper to buy and sell a used car but we didn’t feel like it would be worth the hassle and the likelihood that we would be ripped off since we don’t parlez le french. The way a lease buy-back works is that you pay a set charge like a rental car but they deliver to you a brand new Peugeot at the airport and you drop it back off with them when you leave. It includes a full warranty, insurance, and even roadside assistance. The best part is we booked a Peugeot 207 SW which has a 1.6L diesel engine that gets 60 MPG on the freeway! Considering diesel in France costs $6.50 per gallon, this car will definitely save us some money on gas! For all these benefits we had to fork over $3,758, or split two ways, $1,879 per person. Our chariot for Europe:
Typically it is cheaper to fly to Europe so let’s say that portion of the flight is $694 and it’s $1,000 to fly to South Africa. Our total travel costs in Europe are: $694 flight + $1,879 car + $450 gas = $3,023. We are projecting to spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,000 in housing/camping/shelter and $1,600 in food for our four month stay in Europe. So that brings the total up to $6,623. We tried to be conservative and budget more money than we’ll need but we’ll see how it looks after a few weeks in France.
South Africa is a lot cheaper than Europe but we haven’t decided whether we are going to risk using Best Beetle to get a 40 year old car for $200 per month. We also don’t know whether we’ll be sharing a house the whole time or camping part of the time. Some people have said the camping is awesome and some people have said it’s terrible. We’ve heard the same thing about camping in Font so we’ll have go find out for ourselves. Here’s the rough SA budget so far:
Car + Gas (per person): $425
Throw in a contingency plus a few hundred dollars for oversize baggage fees (crashpad) and we get to our grand total of $11,000 for seven months of international fun. If you are a climber in need of motivation to save money, I’d say this is a good place to start. I’d take the trip of a lifetime over buying a house or new car any day of the week!
This is all speculation since it’s been seven years since I’ve been to Europe and I’ve never been to Africa before. We’ll let you know how much we really spent at the end of the journey. If anyone has any suggestions for where to stay, whether to camp or pony up for real shelter, and what type of car is best to rent in South Africa, we are welcome to it!
I am starting 2010 off with a bang by quitting my full time job of two plus years. My last working day of 2010 will be January 29th. Two days later I will be driving a Uhaul with all my belongings across the country to my hometown of Atlanta with a brief stop in Hueco along the way.
From there lots of unpacking and packing will occur and on February 9th me and my good friend Leslie Warnock will be departing for Paris, France. We will start off the trip in Fontainebleau where we will climb for 1-2 months. From there we don’t have a set plan but lots of time will be spent in Switzerland among other countries. We’ll be in Europe for four months before flying to South Africa on June 1st. The Rocklands will be our home until our return flight to the US. Leslie is flying home at the end of July to start grad school and I will stay a few extra weeks before flying home on August 21st. When I get back to the States I will continue the trip here for at least six months or until I run out of money. Up until now my longest climbing trip has been two weeks so this will be a whole new experience for me. I am a little anxious but mostly excited about my new life as a climbing bum.
I’ve been busy selling off things that I won’t be needing for the next year which freed up some cash to buy new film making toys. The best part is that I’ll finally be climbing with someone else who is psyched on filming and editing. Leslie has already made several short climbing vids, so you can look forward to seeing lots of great climbing footage from the two of us as we travel the world for seven months in search of the best boulders!
I just sold my car yesterday, so for the next four weeks I am trapped in the suburbia that is Irvine, California. I don’t even own a bike so my sole mode of transportation is a pair of old running shoes.
I made it up to Bishop one last time to drink beer, heckle, and snap photos. I’ve got some video to finish editing but until then, here are some stills from the weekend.