lundi 14 janvier 2013

Wet Monday afternoon

Doom, 7c at Castillon.
Scamp and I have just got back home after our walk up the hill behind our house. It was pretty cold out there - I had to put a fleece over my T shirt and hoodie! However, what I should have put on was a waterproof. From the summit, I could see that it was raining over Roquefort les Pins and, on the way down, it caught us about 15 minutes from home and we got pretty wet. Still, it could have been much worse. Now the fire is roaring away and a very happy, tired dog is sleeping underneath and I've got a mug of Twinings Earl Grey. We're both drying out nicely.

Not-so-Fatman and Robin have been out cragging. They were seen having a merry old time at Castillon last week. On Thursday, N-s-F was chuffed to do a 7c he hadn't done before called Ultimate Mort de Faim, which does all of Starlette then follows tufas and a groove to the top of the crag after 30 metres of very varied climbing. On Saturday, they both hauled themselves up the first part of Mortal Kombat, a tough, powerful 7c+. N-s-F had already done the full version at 8b in 2005 (an event he happily relives most days) but it was the first time for his trusty side kick, Robin. They then moved onto Doom (down graded to hard 7c), the route just to the left of Mortal. (N-s-F did this with "steady" Eddie Martinez way back in 1998, before he moved down here with lovely wife and Merlin.) They both huffed and puffed, with arms that were already feeling tired. Unfortunately, it was too much for the young Robin (who apparently was heard to complain about the age difference as N-s-F reached the belay, after a real fight up the damp tufa in the middle!).

Whilst the boys were out battling with the real thing, Elaine went to Val de Grimpe (a fantastic bouldering wall nearby, opened up by Alex Chabot) and had an equally merry time by all accounts with no problems experienced with her injured finger. We will be doing more of the same at Art'Bloc this Wednesday afternoon (shame Val de Grimpe doesn't open until 6pm!!).

Yesterday was cold and overcast and Liverpool were not up to beating Man Utd. Just when will they be able to knock Fergie and Man U off the perch that used to be Liverppool's?

Oh well, I should drag myself downstairs and do some bouldering in the cave. See ya.

mardi 1 janvier 2013

Happy new year everybody

It's a damp, cold day here in Le Rouret, very un-French and more like typical UK weather. Still, it doesn't matter as my body needs a rest after climbing the last six days.

The last month has been colder (not surprising for December, I know) and I caught a pretty bad cold at school. I still haven't shaken it off, so the climbing has suffered. We spent some time bouldering at Art'bloc and Valle de grimpe, but hardly any time outdoors. With the holidays arriving, we were keen to get away in the Cali but didn't want to make the usual long drive to Catalunya. So, we decided to head to Valle Pennavaire (Castell Bianco) near Albenga an hour and a half away in Italy. Unfortunately, the sun didn't follow us and the crags were very wet, so we returned home for Christmas after enduring two damp and cold days at Terminal.

After Christmas dinner, we were wondering where to go next. Elaine came up with a great idea to go to the crags near Toulon. Immediately I was transported back in time, remembering the long falls off En un combat douteux at Cimai (whilst putting the clips in for Ian Vickers, who refused to watch me so that he could do it onsight!). Patrick Edlinger gave me some great beta for the last section, that enabled me to redpoint the same day Ian did Treblinka Direct. That was a very cold day in March, 1996 and it was the last time I had been climbing near Toulon.

So, we headed off in the Cali and were climbing in the sun at Coudon, about two hours after leaving home. Brilliant! Elaine was happy to do some easy 6a's to test her finger and I was happy with just onsighting up to 7a+ (not easy on match stick edges on vertical walls, just like in the 80's!). After two days we moved on to Baou des quatre oures and found the climbing much more friendly (i.e. steeper and with bigger holds) at secteurs Cayenne and Minarets (ticking away at the routes in the excellent Cote d'Azur Rockfax). We did loads of brilliant, long routes from 5+ up to 7b+ and most of the time we had the crag to ourselves. We headed home last night for a well earned rest, as the forecast was for rain today.

It really feels like winter here now, the temperature downstairs in our "cave" has dropped to 11 degrees and I had to light the fire at mid day. Snow was forecasted today but so far hasn't arrived.

2012 was not a year that we'll remember with great affection in years to come, but we do have some fond memories that have made us very happy and put big smiles on our faces. We're hoping to have lots more happy times in 2013. And of course, I'd like to wish all of you all the best for the coming year, great health and hope you realise your dreams.