Saturday, 27 February 2016

The Monkeys in France know how to Dance

The Beautiful Wall of Seynes
Going climbing isn't just about pushing yourself hard but sometimes is about learning new things and techniques. These five days climbing seem to have lead to one of the steepest learning curves I've ever experienced. This revelation occurred mainly at Seynes but we also climbed a couple days at Russan. Seynes is a beautiful cliff, 40m tall with a lower half covered in the biggest tufas in the world and an upper wall full of crimps. I started my quest with Le tube naturale 6c+. I pulled onto slippery tufas and tried squeezing my way up between two tufas an arm span apart. It wasn't until I was truly pumped did it occur to me to maybe chimney up it!
 I'm going to focus on three routes. The first, El Dinosaure, was culture shock into tufas, the second, Shakara, was the learning process and the third, Les Maitres Des Colles was putting it all into practise.

Le 32 Metres 8a+. It's not all tufas!
One line stuck me from my first sight of the crag. El Dinosaure 8a+, where the upper wall is mainly crimps it is broken by one perfect tufa. It looked like the spine of a T-rex and getting up it looked like a harder fight than a velociraptor. I went for the onsight, as soon as I reached the top wall, I was swinging sides of the tufa and trying desperately to get knee-bars but pulling through was the only real solution. While I rested, the tufa reared it's head at me. It challenged me to see if I was strong enough, technical enough. Did I have the grit? After pulling through one more clip my arms were shaking and I was squeezing the tufa with legs. Sweating just to stay on. I was really riding El Dinosaure now. The next hold was a pocket, I tried desperately to reach it but slipped off! Panting I sat on the rope and thought what could have been. I learnt the sequence and lowered off. When it came to my second go everything seemed easier, the moves came easily and I was able to appreciate the quality of the route without it being an all out fight.  

Squeezing hard on Le Maitre Des Colles 8a
On the first day I had chickened out of this climb as it looked more like a wrestling match than a climb. It was called Shakara 7c. Once again I went for the onsight. I climbed smoothly up the tufa then it started to become round and I put up some kneebars. To move I had to thrust up my knee then slap up with me hands. I was squeezing this big round blob, my chest getting tired and my calf screaming for me to get onto some proper climbing. I gritted my teeth, took the pain and climbed to the top. After this I realises the effort that took. Shakara felt like a 40m packed into half that height.

Now was the final day and it was starting to cool down, a local recommended Les Maitre des colles 8a. I'd looked at this but it looked like the pinnacle of slippery tufas. It started juggy then the sides smoothed out and I was getting ready to commit onto the smooth sides. I smeared up, my body perfectly poised between slipping and barndooring. Gritstone aretes eat your heart out at least they have grip! I made it to a solid hold and breathed deep. I needed to hold it together as I climbed past the last slopey monster. I clipped the chains over the moon! That was one of the best performances I've ever had on an onsight and it was all down to the practise. Like they say practise makes perfect.

Pinch!!!!! El Dinosaure 8a+

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