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.