36 is the smallest number (besides 1) which is both square and triangular.

The weather always plays a part when making plans for rock climbing. Yesterday’s forecast predicted alright weather for today, bar the blazing heat that would be descending upon us. Of course, everything is relative, and by blazing I mean the prediction was for 16°C. As it turns out, they were wrong (a rare occurrence for the boys at MeteoFrance). The car was reading 17.5°C as we drove away from the crag today…

Saturday is normally a busy day here at Maisonbleau because people are leaving in the AM and arriving in the PM. Once all the jobs here are taken care of Neil and I head out to the crag. Before I went to bed last night we were discussing a plan for today and I was in the mood for closing projects, not trying new things. With that in mind I declared my intent to slay La Coccinelle, 8A, at Buthiers. Why do I want to do this problem so much? Perhaps it’s the Staminaband of Fontainebleau, by which I mean it’s one of the most famous traverses, and so maybe it’s a rite of passage in the traverse department. I’m not exactly known for my cosmic levels of Stamina, but La Coccinelle is a 2 move problem with some easy moves before and after, so it was a ripe challenge. Plus, Jerry does it in The Real Thing which is reason enough to want to do it!

Armed with the pressure of being like Jerry we headed to Buthiers. I plopped my pads beneath it, and did the end a couple of times to warm up, which also served as a reminder as to where the footholds are. I was beginning to feel warmed up when the first drops of impending doom fell from the sky. I wasn’t quite warmed up enough to get involved with the crux move, but the prospect of rain forced my hand and I had a go from the start. Needless to say it wasn’t very good, but perhaps my desperation to climb this bloc showed, and the rain held off for a few more minutes. I tried the crux move a couple more times, but it just felt hard, and then more drops of failure fell from the sky. Neil declared the last couple of slopers to be getting bad, but I didn’t care as I knew I could hold on if I ever got there. In a moment of pure desperation I even reverted to trying the heelhook method (forgive me Jerry) but after 5 goes I sacked it off. I’m happy I gave up on that method for 2 reasons. It makes you feel close to the move when really you’re not, and also because that’s not how Jerry did it. If he didn’t need a heel, then why do I? The rain had stopped, and I was busy brushing the holds with a bit of chalk, still determined to slay this dragon. I had some good goes where I got the pocket but only with the tips of two fingers, and I slipped straight out as soon as I tried to move off it. I really needed to get 3 fingers squeezed in to make use of the good bit of the hold, but it wasn’t happening. I kept trying though… Persistence is a quality required in this game (as the great Doylo taught me). Eventually, with a smile on my face, I set off. Before I set off I remember saying to myself that if I was doing it easily it just wouldn’t mean as much to me. The beauty and the joy is in the struggle itself. Failure is actually the path to true reward. With that in mind started. 2 moves later I was at the crux and not feeling particularly good or bad, but I managed to get 2 fingers in the pocket. However, I hadn’t fallen off yet, my foot was still glued on, and a quick foot change enabled me to jump to the pinch (essentially the end!). By some miracle I stuck the pinch and my 2 fingers were still clinging to the lip of the pocket! Wow. I was actually surprised to still be on the rock. Just a plod to the end remained and I must have seemed a bit mental as I climbed along saying things like “don’t fuck up now”, “you’re feeling good”, etc to myself. Sure enough I got to the top and felt quite chuffed. I had to try hard to get it done, but the failure only added to the sweet taste of success. I knew I could climb it, from my very first go to the very last. It was a matter of persistence.

With it in the bag I was ready to head back home. I wasn’t feeling in great shape, and conditions weren’t exactly good, so I came home, and had a good stretch. My ass is feeling nearly pain free and a day of rest (uni work) tomorrow will mean I’m 100% for Monday.