lunedì 23 marzo 2015

The Forest. Second part.

Spring is coming out, the sun is burning more and more and the winter is giving the last beats with its tail. I usually don’t like spring so much and this year it won't be  an exception. I am sure about this. Winter temps are missing, but it seems they are not going to grow up in the next coming days. I am writing this blog-spot to make a point about the central part of my trip to Font, since I am getting  into the last three weeks of climbing where I actually hope to not meet really warm days and to enjoy the forest as much as possible in terms of friction and pleasant temperatures. Many days have been spent, but it is hard getting satisfied with all this wonderful nature around me.  For this, the desire is still burning.

 I would like to make a kind of report about how the things have rolled from the beginning of the trip until now; about the achievements I had, the little “dreams” I realized and the good days spent out in the wood. First of all the thing that I am noting is that I am feeling more and more at ease  in the full contest of the of the forest. Breathing the air just out of home, smelling the scents in the first steps into the forest and catching all the features and the various shapes of nature is great. Every day I get more aware how quiet some areas are and how beautiful is the setting where we climb. Everything is getting more familiar and it was what I wished.  Beyond the setting, even the rock is now less a mystery and I am improving in feeling the slopy foot holds and squeeze the weird slopers. Feeling like home here was one of the biggest goal for the trip and also one of the thing I have desired most in my climbing career.

Secondly, the other target I set for the 2015, was to find some hard lines to repeat and falling into the working-obsession, keeping trying them for more than my usual 2/3 days after which I started to get bored and I usually give them up. The reason is because I would like to improve my  patience, my constancy and my mental statements. I would like to get mad in mini-details and work hard to climb gorgeous line. Working a line for many days in a short period is something tough where I personally reply some issues: I get frustrated and I am not able to understand the process and how it should have been followed.  Overcome this trouble would mean to get a step ahead for my personality and for my climbing vision. The reason is because there are some wonderful  lines that are too hard to be completed in just a couple of days and since I would really like to climb them one day, I have to start to think upon this side.

For the second time this year, this approach has been reached and  I have been able to stick a couple of lines that in the past I would have let away before. This first happened in “Big kat” (last Jan) and then in “the big island” last week.

This boulder is good; many videos and images represent it quite well, probably much better than my poor descriptions. It climbs really well and the shape is quite emotional. It has anyway a couple of pities. The stone below makes the line smaller than what it is; it should be huge and really pure; while the stone makes in one side the attempts comfortable, on the other a little lack in terms of purity. There are  also few controversies regarding the starting position. Here I try to explain them, making the read as short as I can. Dave Graham was the first to climb the roof, in 2008. He started sit on the stone, LH in the low rails, RH on the first polished crimps and right toe hook in the right rail. This is “the island”, rated 8B+. Later, some repetitions had been made; some of them climbed the original way, other ones adopted a new way to begin: RH on the slopy rail instead of using the crimp. This is obviously much more logical, even personally much easier than the original Dave’s line. Then, in 2009, a new version came out. Vincent  Pochon started lower. He Stood on the ground with LH on the polished crimp and RH on a lower hold. He added two easy moves into “the island”, putting up “the big island” rated 8C.

Beside these little things, I guess it can be considerate like an awesome line and I always like it since the first day when Marco lead me to the spot (spring 2011). I was anyway conscious that for climbing it I would have had need  a good dose of toughness  to attempt it for more days, one of the biggest lack in my baggage as I previously said.  I have been tried it three times before this trip, when I was able to do all the moves except the first one of “The island”. On the third session (oct 2012), being tired by incessant  fails, I attempted the first two moves of Poschon’s version and they quickly came together. For this trip it was not the main project, but definitively it was the first of the secondary ones.

Coming up the first day I was pretty positive and I really wanted to get into the working mentality. I tried several times the starting move again, but nothing changed;  it went on to miss and I felt far from executing it. I had two possibilities to chose: making the deal pretty easy and opted for the “new” starting  version, which is way easier for my style, or getting into the whole line of Poschon.  I thought a lot about the first plan, even the seasons before; it sounded sweet and more logical after all. But it basically didn’t convince me; it would have been a kind of cheating beta, since it basically skips what is the hardest move for me and I could have not climbed the original way.

I opted for the second one. This meant a bad and a good thing. I had to do 2 more moves that  require body tension, adjustments of hands/feet positions and more time on the line in the overall. I hence knew to get at the end  and with less chalk in my hands, which in fact turned into an important point. The positive side was that in this way, I could start with the heel hook directly and my hand was a bit closer to gain the hard move of the Island. In terms of strength it is definitely easier (the two first move are pretty simple), in terms of endurance and mental approach is harder. The second day I was again falling in the middle, going to the central crimp in the roof. The third day was pretty warm but it was also the turning point of the experience and the moment where I understood the importance of the chalk at the end. I fall 3 times after grabbing the crimp and my hands could not squeeze anymore. I was slipping to much.

The fourth day was even warmer but I felt positive feelings in my mind. I opted to go. The path was the same like usual; I knew every part of it. I knew where all the bushes would brush my legs, I knew the colors and the atmosphere of the hill and I knew that my thoughts were always focused about sending. I knew the perfect position where the pads had to stay, I knew the tickmarks I had to make and I knew that we were in march and the temperature could have not been much different than those ones. I had nothing to complain about. There was anyway something that I didn’t know. I found a slightly different position for the slopy rail in the last part, where I fall the previous day. That could have made a little difference. I repeated the sequence a couple of times from 4 move into the start, meanwhile the Slovenian climbing team came up to try it. I rested and they began to work the moves. The kindly let the boulder dry a little bit before my go. I appreciated their spirit and I thank them for this. I tried to focus and not think about the heat. I got into the central part pretty well, I changed my feet and I got to the crimp without efforts. Then I got into the last part, where I missed 3 times. I slowly moved the right foot on the far hold and I focused into the new slopy structure I felt few minutes before. I squeezed the rock as strong as I could realizing that it could have been the right moment. I grabbed the good edge and I almost thought about victory. I swung my body off and this part was much harder than what I supposed. For nothing, for luck or for I don’t know what I was still on and not laid on the ground. It was done. I made the mantle and I screamed out all the efforts; not for only having climbed it, but mostly for have worked the line for many days according to my standards.

Climbing the big island has been a quite intensive and challenging effort. It took me several days to finish it, despite its style suits me pretty well. It has been a good satisfaction, but not as I actually desired. The day I sent it I was pretty happy for the first minutes after the top out, than the happiness started to vanish and I felt I was more happy to have removed an hard problem and never think more about it, more than the ascent itself. This let me a little bitter taste; and I didn’t catch the source and the reason at all.

The big Island 8C, Fontainebleau. Photo Eirik Thorsrud

The big Island 8C, Fontainebleau. Photo Eirik Thorsrud

The trip anyway continued. The weather seemed to have reached a good positive and stable trend and all the moist boulders would have been drier. This is what I supposed. The forest has many areas and you can find boulders which dries up really quickly, while other ones take many days or even weeks to get totally climbable.  There were two problems that I really cared about, more than all the other ones. They deal of “illusion du choix” located in Puiselet and “the realist”, which is situated in a bad hole  into a humid wood;  they both need time to dry up completely, especially the second one.  
During the good period of sunny days I was more positive and relaxed about the issue, since I knew that I finally could have seen them in prime condition. It is a bit frustrating to wait for such a long period for the main things that you come up for, but fortunately the nature helped me. The timing was also on my side, since for the best conditions week Giulia showed up and I had an excellent spotter for “Illusion du Choix”.  We went there and I was really excited to try it. I couldn’t wait. I have been in Puiselet 5 times before that day; 2 of them I got lost, while in other occasions I forgot the rope to clean it or it started raining or I found it wet.  So I waited that day pretty long, impatiently.

It was fortunately dry. The area has for me the best rock quality in all the forest, at least for the sectors where I have been so far. It is quite sandy few times, but the grain is perfect. I remained dazzled on this side. Basically nobody usually go in this place, since it gets mossy in a really short time. “illusion du choix” was already dirty, despite the fact that Nalle cleaned it last year. I quickly put the rope and I give to it a touch of life back. Whit chalk it was a wonder. After two little sessions on the moves I gained the top. I remained speechless by astonishment I had. I knew it could have been one of my favorite, but the reality has been still much better than what I though. World class problem.

The second one was Realist but it seemed harder to find it dry. The slopy rail was always wet while the other holds slightly humid and almost dry.  At the end of Giulia’s stay, we had not enough  time to go there and I was without spotter;  but this is definitely safer than what it would have been on “illusion du Choix”. I figured out a good way, using a higher pinch-hole than the normal beta does. This hold allowed me to skip the rail in the damp section and the vain attempts became a kind of success. In a couple of hours, with some breaks and another one go to bring the pads, I finished this beautiful line.

Now I still have three weeks left here in the forest; I am working on some other lines and I would also like to brush something new that I looked at. Definitely the 2 biggest desires has been fulfilled and the fact that I have not to take about wetness anymore makes me light and happy.

Here is the list of the ascent of the central part of my trip (beauty order)

Illusion du Choix 8B
Appartenance 7C
Partage assis 8B
The realist 8A/+
Gecko assis 8B/+
The big island 8C
Bleau Sacrè 8A+/B
Coup de feel 7C
Le Tajine 8B
Pancras 7C
La Toupie carnivore 8A
Sacrebleau 8A
Irreversible 7C
Kendo 7C 
Shoot 7C+

L'apparemant bas 8B, Fontainebleau. Video still

Gecko assis 8B/+, Fontainebleau. Video still.

Partage assis 8B, Fontainebleau. Video still

domenica 1 marzo 2015

The Forest. First part.

Time has gone quickly since the last time I travelled to Font, the suggestive forest in the south of Paris. It was autumn 2012, when I sent my last problem here, the historical “Karma”, located in the centre of Cusinere sector. If I have not lost the count, that deal of the 7th time in the Forest. It is a lot, I have to admit. Sometimes I try to get conscious about how lucky I am to live not so far from this place, which can be reached by car from my home (7.30 h more or less). Every time I came up, it was the same story year after year: I came here, the motivation was high, I climbed, I tried to get confidence, I had lot of fun and then it was already time to leave. One week in a place with tons of good rock is everywhere too little. The longer period I have ever been is for 8 days and considering how the area is large and how many stones it counts, 7th short times don’t seem too much after all. That last time, back in 2012 fall, I was almost sure that it could be the last short visit and I promised to myself that soon or later I would have set a larger period in the forest; The reasons are simple to realize. I wanted to get used with the rock, the style and enjoy as much as I could this place where I have always been with rush and few time on tap. I had to wait for 2 years and half, before the desire fulfilled, but now the moment has come.

I left on the 12th and the first 2 weeks of the trip are now passed by. It is good. Being here in the forest and enjoy it as deep as ever is sweet and exciting. I can now set a longer list of goals, investing time and energies working on the lines I have always dreamt to attempt, enjoying the wood and the sandstone boulders in all their shapes, difficult, heights and styles. During these two years I fortunately visit other several places around Europe and the globe. Compared to the other trips I had up here, I have got now a different vision and I have more experience to match the quality of this place with other great areas where I have been from 2012 till now. Font is always good and the first days of climbing confirmed to myself this thing. There are a couple of factors that make this place special for me. The sandstone quality comes first. The climbing it requires is not something harder than Granite or than other kind of Sandstone, but it is simply a totally different thing; a different kind of approach. The approach is in fact totally singular, the body positions are tough to find as well as the holds are something we are not used to grab; you have to learn new moves every day and feel what you have up on the tiny footholds. The typical package of holds is a perfect mix of “sweet” grey sandstone which presents wonderful ultra-gripped pinches, edges and mostly slopers or “tortoise” slopers features to squeeze in many directions with your open hands. This is great. Nothing is foregone, both for the easiest boulders but even for the hardest, both in the positive expectations and even for the negative ones. Secondly, the forest makes this place sweet and great. The moss which cover woods was something I missed in these year and I finally have the pleasure to see and admire it again.

During my previous trips here I only knew this world class area, beyond Ticino which for me is certainly a lower point below Font. Now that I have been in other couple of world class places , I can almost put in the same level with this area other spots like Rocklands, Red Rocks and Albarracin. Everyone of these amazing destinations had some special points higher than the respective ones and for a reason or another I love them at the same point.

The weather is probably one of the few negative side of Font, here is typical to go up and down quickly. It is continental climate, so it is less foreseeable and pretty weird in many cases. The good thing is that the rock dries up quickly. Unfortunately for this factor I have been able to climb 8 days in a total of 17. Almost 50% of the time, which is not obviously as I wanted but I haven’t to complain about, since the weather will do its own loop. I fortunately got profit by the good sunny days, where the friction wasn’t so bad. Here is a list of the problems I managed to tick and below it you could find my Insta upload with all the news about my trip. Enjoy.

Ticks (in order of beauty)

- Partage 8a+
- Elephunk 8b
- Eden Rock 7b+
- L’apparemment bas 8b
- Controle A 7c
- Bagheera 7b+/c
- Coup de kick 8b
- Formis rouge 7c
- Hip Hop assis 8b
- Ubik assis 8b
- Deux faux plis en plats reels 7c
- Atomic playboy raccourci 7c+
- L’aeredynamite assis 8a
- Conviction 8a
- Gibouleè assis 7c
- Tristesse 7c
- Respire 7c+
- Le Zebulon 7c
- Sale gosse assis 8a
- De vitae beata 8a
- Plates tonique 7c
- Atresie 8a
- Big golden 7c+
- Big boss 7c