Sunday, 24 October 2010


Switzerland is so beautiful. We bought a camera before we left and, although we are still working out all it's technical bits and bobs, it has been brilliant to be able to capture the beautiful scenery. Here are a couple (in one you can see Kook climbing to the left, a beautiful problem called Conquistador):

As far as climbing goes we have been having a great time. I love the Swiss rock although some areas have better rock quality than others; Brione is the best in my opinion. We have spent a day in Brione already, working old projects that we didn't manage to complete last year. It was encouraging and we both made progress but no cigar yet!

We have also spent some time in an area of Chrionico called Schattental. It's a great area that could easily be overlooked and it has some nice problems. Our first day there I had some success on a problem called Powerstrips. As you may have guessed, it is a powerful problem. Given 7C although definitely at the soft end. The hard climbing is fairly short but the boulder is huge (see pics below) and you have to top out on a very scary slab. The slab climbing isn't very hard but it's not as easy as I would have liked given how far up I was! It's the kind of climbing that one could probably do blindfolded if two foot off the floor but in this case, I won't lie, I was pretty terrified! Right at the top (the place where from the ground it looks like it should be plain sailing) you have to rock over on a right foot smear with with hands on nothing. Eek. Drama over, I was pleased to have done it.

I also tried a problem called Bridge Over Troubled Water in the same area. This was originally climbed by Fabian Christoph and is super. It has a hard start and a technical finish and it took some skin loss and two sessions to get it done. A really nice problem, it was originally graded 7C+/8A (7C+ from the obvious and most commonly used start that I did, and 8A from a lower start that Fabian did) but I think that (from the start I did) it is more realistically 7C.

So, due to sore skin and some rain, today is a rest day.....time to think about what to try tomorrow....

Friday, 15 October 2010


So quite a bit of time has passed since my last blog – apologies! This is due to a lack of internet access as we have been camping in the van. We had just under three weeks in Fontainbleau this time and it was always going to be an odd one for me as I had so recently hurt my ankle. The temperature was up in the twenties (for non-climbers benefit that means way too hot!) so everything was a bit of a mission in terms of no friction and sore skin mounting up. However, early on Kook had some success in doing Neverland (8A) at Bas Cuvier! For those of you that haven't seen the problem it is very slopey and burly (just his cup of tea) but not a problem to go for in bad conditions. Kook managed to do it in 22 degrees! Bodes well for the trip I think....

In terms of my climbing I was a bit limited by my ankle. I couldn't use it very much at first but this got better very quickly and I was able to do more and more. My brain wasn't letting go though and I was scared to fall off anything or go to high for fear of hurting it again. This is probably very sensible but not conducive to my climbing and I was starting to get a bit fed up! Then a friend suggested I try Verdict at Cuvier Rampart. This is a relatively small bloc with three hard moves and then a tricky but learnt top out and it barely uses the left foot! Perfect. So I worked on this a few sessions, glad to be climbing and to have something to try and keep strong on. It is a very crimpy problem with a powerful first move which I just couldn't do. I could do the problem from one move in but the first move proved too hard for me at the moment. I watched a video of Roddy Mckensie doing the problem with different beta at the start and I tried this for a while but in the words of a friend: “Roddy has the power of six men and the weight of half a man” (Nedwin Vanderhally, 2010). So I ditched that way and promptly gave up. Good fun trying though.

By this point I had grown more confident with my ankle and had started trying another problem at Rocher Greau called Supplement d'Armes (assis), 7C+. This has left heel hooks throughout and is a high ball so on paper it was a huge no no....but in practice it seemed like a good idea. The heels didn't hurt my ankle as they weren't twisty and the hard part is the first section with the really high bit being easy climbing. So, having thrown in the towel on Verdict, I set to work on this and it went down in a few sessions with no further ankle injury :).

When we weren't climbing we were enjoying the easy camping life. This involved some attempts at shanty building (!) as you can see below.

Some of Kook's friends from when he lived in the south of England were also camping with us and we had some interesting “cook offs”, trying to outdo each other with exciting camping food. The favourite cooking method was wrapping vegetables (with some oil) in tin foil and roasting them in the embers of the camp fire. I tried to take a picture to get the idea....that night we had barbecued duck with roasted vegetables and falafel!And no camping gas was used! :)

We have just left Font and driven to Switzerland so the next chapter of the trip begins......