Another holiday in France, this time with added 36 degree weather! In the UK, we were protected mostly from the fierce weather happening on the continent. This meant we set of for France with temperatures of around 17 degrees, to driving past Paris in 36 degrees. Luckily for me, I was in a car with air conditioning, so barely noticed until we got out for lunch along the route. Scorchio! Poor old Jim, Lolly and Dave weren’t so lucky, having to make the 5 hour or do drive in their mini metal saunas. Ouch.
Day 1 – Bois Rond
Hot hot hot! With the temperature peaking at a mighty 36 degrees there wasn’t much hard climbing to be hand. We’d chosen Bois Rond as it was a) close to home and b) well shaded by trees to try and take the sting out of the heat, which did seem to work a bit. Definitely a day for remembering how to climb on real rock, which is pretty normal for the first day for me.
I mostly pottered on the yellows and oranges and odd blue, moving between the two groups that had developed.
Climbs of note: A couple of attempts on Red 1, Pas Fin de Fan 5+ which was never going to happen for me due to the huge splits style move needed to start it and Red 39, La Pince Multi-Prises which actually wasn’t that tough once Andy had brushed the top of it!
Day 2 – Apremont Bizons
Again a hot day, with a few less degrees but still hitting over 30, and significantly increased humidity which make it feel much sweatier and harder work. Again I hovered between the two groups, mixing up climbing on the Yellows and Oranges mostly. I covered a lot more ground this time, but had done a bunch of them before a long time ago which might have helped?
Climbs of note: We had a good go on Red 11: L’Arabesque which on a first glace looks like a nice layback but you quickly realise is a bulgy nightmare with the middle lump of rock making using the left hand arete really hard to use. Although I got nowhere near the high right hand hold, I’m pretty happy with how I managed to work out the method from taking a look at it. Also, there was Orange 7: La Tarte à l’Orange which was a really excellent sketchy feeling traverse which included some hip breaking splits and a scary downclimb bit.
Day 3 – The Weather broke.
Finally, the storms rolled in. Although we really didn’t see much storm action, but some very heavy downpours. We had a nice chilled day in the Gite, where I mostly worked on my “other website“. We almost planned a walk to Milly-la-Forêt but as we were getting ready the rain came BIG style so aborted.
Day 4 – Diplodocus
We’ve never been to Diplodocus before, and I really don’t know why! The Jingo guide book seems to denigrate it a bit to being low and polished, but it’s actually fab. It’s got a good mix of easier yellows, reasonable oranges and challenging blues, mostly with decent landings and not too terrifying top outs. There are also some highball ones if you feel like frightening yourself a bit.
I vaguely started out attempting all the Yellows, Oranges and Blues as we came to them but that slowed down pretty rapidly as the blue were pretty burly for my current levels of strength.
Climbs of note: I’d picked out a 6a called Tricera Tops from the guide book for a play, but it was WAY too burly and caused my left calf to cramp up painfully. Instead, Jim found a 6a for me called Technogym which surprisingly went on my second attempt along with a lot of huffing and puffing. We also had a few goes on À Flore de Peau which was a bit of a weird slab/sidepull to get on/dyno to finish. I couldn’t really get anywhere on it as I couldn’t co-ordinate pulling and popping to the right, while looking left to catch a tiny crease with the left thumb. Next to it was a whacking great crack through the boulder which was absolutely brilliant for hand jamming called La Fissure des Boulangers. Last climb of note was the slippery La Dalle Téflon which took a good few goes to get the balance right.
Day 5 – J. A. Martin, or Rocher Cailleau which every you prefer…
Thursday was a bit overcast in the morning with the weather threatening a little. We headed to what was marked as Rocher Cailleau in the Jingo book, but there does seem to be a bit of crossover/confusion between what is Rocher Cailleau and what is the close J.A.Martin site. I didn’t really have much psych initially here as the humidity was bothering me, and I didn’t really enjoy much of the climbing.
Andy and Dave left ahead going the Yellow circuit while I was attempting the first orange problem which really shut me down as it required a very brave right hand pop which I slipped off on my first attempt scraping my chest. After that, I didn’t fancy it and swapped instead of doing the yellow circuit, without a pad, but just taking a door mat to wipe the sand off the feet. The nature of the circuit though made it really frustrating as a solo climber. The problems were mostly not very interesting (mostly a singe move of get the feet on, grab the top and it’s finished) but then they required getting back to the start through a difficult jumble of rocks, and then reversing that path to get back to the finish to try and work out where the next boulder was. Unlike the other circuits I’ve done, it was often quite hard to spot where the next problem was, with the markings often either missing or very sparse and some of the boulders a long way away. I was rapidly running out of psych and when it started to rain more consistently, gave up on the taller number 23 as it had got slippery and I didn’t want to damage the rock, or take a ugly spill.
Heading back to the rest of the group, we had lunch, did a couple of the oranges there and I had a look at what I thought was a 6a there called La Fissure. Disappointingly, I couldn’t do a single move on it as it was far to strong for my lack of psych, and doubly disappointing it turned out to be a 5+.
After a bit, Ceri, Martin and Liz headed further into the area to a bit called Ongles and I followed them after a few goes on a really tough orange. By this time, the sun had come out making the forest really humid. The spot they’d chosen was next to a few of the later yellows (36 and 37) so I did them, then decided to finish the circuit working backwards to 23 and then forwards to finish. Although Bleau.info has 38 as the last in the circuit, I was expecting 44, so got confused when I eventually found 47… At this point, I couldn’t find any more so assumed that was it but apparently there used to be 54!
Climbs of Note: Nothing really, but it’s probably worth nothing that I managed probably 50 problems today.
Day 6 – Back to Diplodocus!
After everyone seemed to enjoy Diplodocus so much, we decided to go again. Liz and Martin still had lots of problems they could work on, Dave, Ceri and Lolly weren’t too bothered where we went as they were all nursing injuries and Jim wanted to film the 7a problem he’d done last time (La Pousse-Rapière (droite assis), I think). I picked out La Pousse-Rapière (droite) 6a+ as a little project for myself to try, which was basically the same climb as what Jim was doing but without the sit start.
The weather was hot again, but nowhere near as humid as the previous day making it really quite lovely. I half followed Jim a bit trying to get warm and started adding in a few Orange and Blue climbs I hadn’t done on the previous visit. Once warm, I got over on the project and realised very quickly it was NEVER going to happen. The bottom of the hanging slab was over waist height meaning from the start holds there was no way I could get my foot on it and rock onto it. Instead I aborted and tried the blue from the same position which basically started on the 2nd or 3rd move. Nope, can’t reach the first hold! Jim had a go and being shorter than me couldn’t get on it either. So, we folded the mat. Nope. and then added a smaller pad on top and then we could *just* get our fingers to it and pull on. Once on, it was an easy, if high slab. Kinda disappointing.
Now I realised that I didn’t really have much else to focus. What I wanted was a bit of a project to work on, 6a-ish, but I’d pretty much tried them all and been shutdown, apart from Technogym which I’d pretty much flashed. There were plenty of Orange and Blues left, but that wasn’t really as satisfying.
Instead, I ended up completing the yellow circuit. Kinda satisfying, but not really the last projecty day I was after. Still, I repeated the big crack again twice which felt pretty good.
2023 bouldering trip done. I wasn’t really sure how it was going to go as I’ve done virtually no bouldering this year, instead focusing pretty much exclusively on the top climbing. I mostly climbed easy stuff, in fact, a shit load. Probably about 150 problems over the week, but there was a distinct lack of the more difficult 4s and 5s that I’d usually be doing. This probably is demonstrating the lack of strength from just focusing on the rope work. The 6+ with Technogym was a bit of a fluke and I’m still not sure where that came from!