Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Gorges Du Loup

After 90 minutes sleep, a copious amount or Red Bull and a long journey I stood underneath the imposing, but rather wet, overhang of the Gorges Du Loup crag Deverse. After some amount of searching, we came up with the 3 dry routes at the crag, a 7c, Mecanik destruktiv komando, an 8a variation of this and a 12 move 8b to the right of these. To begin I got on the 7c, falling off the 1st move once, then missing a jug and falling higher up. It wasn’t going well, but I managed to scrape my way up next go. I then tried the 8b, the aptly named New Power Generation. It would be fair to say this 12 move route was my anti-style, powerful, short, steep and pockety, but I set it as my goal for the crag and set about working the moves. I quickly got them but linking proved a real challenge! Great effort to Buster Martin, fellow team member, for cruising this! Tired and somewhat deflated, I headed to the house in hope of a good nights sleep.

Warming up, top ropes were oldddd!

Heading out the next day perhaps more tired than the day before, the day did not treat me well. The wet crag we visited sapped my psyche, and as with Deverse, the dry lines that were available offered no inspiration, I tried an 8a+ that I flashed to the crux, but, as I found later, this was not easily passable, as Ondra has dropped it on his onsight, not a common occurrence! With little psyche, I spent the day watching Monaco below, dreaming of what it would be like to be rich, and climbed some easy slabs in my trainers.

The next day, and the next crag was a turnaround to how I felt like I should have been climbing. We went to Mesa Verde, a less steep crag than Deverse and with some slightly more inspiring lines. That was the main thing I was disappointed about at this area. In most areas and in most crags there are at least a few lines that inspire me to climb, but I found that this wasn’t necessarily the case here. I was climbing for the wrong reasons, for the grade or because someone else had done it, not because I wanted to climb the route for the moves or the experience. I had come on the trip with the goal of an 8b, whereas I should have just been climbing.

Mesa Verde treated me well, and I was back to some sort of form. To begin the day I dropped the top of a bouldery 7c on the onsight, and thought the day might go the way of the others before it, but I did the climb next go, and after a short rest onsighted Petit Poucet, a crimpy and pumpy 7c+, my first onsight of the grade! Happy, and after beta I flashed the classic 8a of the crag, Arrowhead. This was much better climbing, and my claim to fame is that Daniel Woods dropped this on his onsight ;)

We returned to the crag the next day, and I set to work on the bouldery extension to Petit Poucet. The guides are confusing, with each topo saying different names for the same line, but we settled on L’Ogre, possibly 8b or 8a+. The climb starts up Petit, to the rest before the top, and then continues out left to a boulder problem which for me utilised a 3 finger quarter pad undercut in the roof, to be used for the crux slap around the lip. It was a real fight, and not knowing the top section well and getting there pumped almost proved fatal, but I turned the lip and slapped my way up the headwall, searching for holds as I went. The grade, I’m not entirely sure! It felt harder than Pet Cemetery, and that was last year, hopefully I’ve got a lot stronger since then! The breakdown also looks a lot harder, Pet is a 7b+ into and ok rest, then a V4/5/6/7(?) boulder problem. L’Ogre is a 7c+ into a good rest, before a long boulder problem which feels a lot harder than the one on Pet. Who knows, but it defiantly felt easier than Tuppence seems to be! I’ll plump for 8a+/8b, nice and indecisive! More experience needed I feel. I then did the 8a+ right hand start to the extension, onsighting the bottom section putting the draws in. Definitely easier but still hard! Effort again to Buster for getting these!

L'Ogre 8b? 

After a couple of successful days, it was time for a rest day, so we played a few games of tennis and visited a little fort town to pass the time.

The next day was back at Deverse, still wet and demotivating, but there were routes to be climbed so I got on! After warming up on the 7c I reworked the moves on New Power and it definitely felt doable. After a rest, I got to the last of the hardest moves, but there were still droppable moves above. This continued for a couple of goes, but I could feel my power begin to drop significantly so stopped trying it, vowing to return the following final day. Jonny White cruised this, looking super strong and composed. Ellis also put in a good effort, getting up this a few days earlier! Seems to be a good first 8b, would it be a good second? I jumped on Super Mekanik, the 8a variation to the 7c and to my surprise got it in a couple of goes! This made the day more worthwhile, an psyched to return and get up the route we headed off.

Unfortunately I didn’t get my chance to return, and due to others not wanting to visit Deverse due to the wetness we headed back to Mesa Verde. I spent the day chilling in a hammock, did another 8a extension to Petit Poucet and onsighted the last of the lower 7s, and it was time to go.

A successful, if not the most inspiring, trip. My first major comp of the year is the first EYC in Ratho in June. After this year’s assessment day, I have been selected for all competitions this year, including the European Championships in Austria and the World Championships in Canada this summer. Really excited for the year ahead and all the comps! As it's my GCSE exam year, we're planning to do a roadtrip across Northern Spain and France, before finishing in Austria for the European championships. Safe to say I'm excited!