Lots of climbing has occurred since the last update so I’ll try to keep it brief but interesting.
After my first day in Saussois I was psyched to head back down and try to do Bidule and a mild 34°C wasn’t going to stop me. It was only 2 grades harder than Chimpanzadrome and the chimp felt relatively easy so I thought I should be in with a good chance. Unfortunately the realisation of it’s difficulty arrived very quickly. The start involves 2 moves on good holds, then there is a blank section, and then the holds continue. Getting around this first blank section is the crux and by a very long way as I could climb from the move after it to the top. I spent a while trying to fathom the way to do the crux move but in the end I genuinely had no idea. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do the move, it was the fact that I couldn’t understand how the move was possible. I envisaged a way that a very very strong man would do it, which was a dyno from a slopey 2 finger pocket with the left hand to a mono with the right hand. Unfortunately I was nowhere near this method for obvious reasons. In the end I got combinatorial on it and tried every possible hand sequence with every possible foot sequence. The result was the same as before, I was stumped. So if anyone reading this knows a sequence get in touch as I’m keen to go back and crush it.
The next day I jumped in the car and cruised down to Innsbruck where James and Emily were waiting for me with open arms. I’d made it a mini objective to do the drive in one hit without any stops and about 3 hours out I began to think a toilet break would become a necessity. But the power of PMA kept me going and after 9 hours of driving (8 of which were in pouring rain) I arrived back home.
With James and Emily here the priority was to go climbing so the next day we headed to a crag in Oetztal called Piburgesee. The location is idyllic, sitting above a beautiful lake and nestled amongst mountains covered in lush green trees. The routes are fairly long, all being around the 30m mark, so I was prepared to get a spanking. The warm up was a 7a+ and after losing the sequence I decided a dyno would be the best way to continue. It wasn’t. I fell off and then with eyes that had suddenly opened I saw the sequence. I suppose it was a good warm up though. I went back up it afterwards to get it ticked, but in reality I really need to learn to route read at a much higher standard as falling off easy 7th grade routes needs to be stopped! The next route of the day was the 7b next to it and I made it all the way to the chains, but some confusion occurred between James and I as he shouted up “the final left hand hold isn’t very good”. I reached it and he was right, it wasn’t very good, and there was absolutely no way I could clip off it. Somewhat inevitably I fell off, with the chains in my face! What a punt! Turns out that the final left hand hold isn’t actually the final hold, as you do one more move past the chains to a jug of titanic proportions. Live and learn… I had to do the whole route again just to add one move to a jug and clip the chains. Another mistake in the art of route reading. James set his sights to an 8a up the middle of the wall which followed a strong natural line of cracks, grooves, and arêtes. He walked up it and once he was at the mid height rest the route was already in the bag. I decided to have a burn and followed James sequence exactly as I arrived at the crux. I was a little pumped and so when I suddenly needed to actually pull hard, the result was not fruitful. I was only a few moves from a hands off rest but I didn’t have it in me to pull it out of the bag. After a quick rest I found a slightly different method and climbed into the rest, from where I climbed to the top with a few more rests to try and understand the sequence. James did really well to onsight it, and I was too pooped to have a redpoint so that was that. The crag is definitely worth checking out (as are all the crags I seem to visit around here!) and there is even a bar on the lakeside for a post climb drink/munch.
The following day we mixed it up and headed to the Zillertal, to a crag called Monkey Island. We struggled with finding it, but this was largely due to the road being rebuilt and the footpath being hidden behind work equipment. When we did get there it was rather impressive. The only drawback is that the only warm up is a pretty bad 6c which is short, ugly, and a little unpleasant. It doesn’t really get you prepared for what’s to come. Next up was a 7c+/8a called Sex Magic. I went up it first, dogging bolt to bolt whilst getting pumped, dismayed, and generally climbing super badly. James was up next and did his usual trick of making it looking easy, adding another good flash to his list. I was inspired and decided I should get this route in the bad. After all, it was one of the shortest routes at the crag so I had no excuses. First redpoint ended in disaster. My feet were cutting loose, I was overgripping, and by halfway I was done for. Pathetic really. Jorg was at the crag too and commented that I needed to learn to use my feet. How right he was. My body was still locked in bouldering mode. I was jumping for holds simply because only a boulder problem they would be jugs, but this was only serving to make me look stupid and get pumped. My next redpoint was better and I made it to a few moves from the end but ran out of gas. The 3rd redpoint was altogether better. I discovered new footholds, I reached statically, my sequence flowed. It felt nice. I got to the last move and I felt a bit powered out, but I had the hunger. I saved a near failure when my left hand slipped off with only one move left, but recovered enough to thrutch the final move to a super sharp jug and clipped the chains much to my relief. The difference between this go and my very first was incredible. I’d not got any better or stronger or fitter as a climber, I’d simply climbed more efficiently and the difference was amazing. I felt like I may have begun my quest to become a fluid sport climber (or at least fluid enough to pretend I’m a sport climber!).
This is already getting long so I’ll post again later with the following days activities, which basically involve more climbing in more cool places (with photos no less!).