80 is the smallest number that is diminished by taking its sum of letters (writing out its English name and adding the letters using a=1, b=2, c=3, …) – EIGHTY = 5+9+7+8+20+25 = 74.

It seems like so long ago that I wrote anything on here, and I’m sure you can’t imagine a scenario where I haven’t climbed for 6 days. But what sense can that make? Climbing? Not blogging? Fear not! I had an impending deadline so my head was in my books most days, but I was also out and about. My time in font is drawing to a close, so that means I’ll need to change the name of the blog, but it also means I have to finish off the things I still want to do. I’m intent on making a decent short film containing the things I’ve climbed since being here, so I need to shoot some more scenic footage, and there are a few comedy scenes that I want to capture. All will be revealed in time (which I realise may be too much to bare for some). It also means that I have to clean up a few things that I’ve tried but not completed. As some of you may be aware, the weather out here isn’t exactly wonderful at the moment. Last weekend saw 23C on Saturday and 25C on Sunday. Then it went into a spiral of rain, thunderstorms, sunshine, and cloud. Every day that’s passed has had at least 1 hour that you could have climbed somewhere in the forest. Unfortunately I was too lazy to be out searching for that place.
On Saturday evening I returned to La Nombriliste with Tim so he could try to do it, and I get footage of me doing it. I was hoping it would go down without too much hassle, and I was proved right. I shot one angle for my first go and amazingly I got to the top first go! Then I set up for another angle and managed to do it again. It felt so comfortable actually, which I can only assume is because I’m climbing in Anasazi pinks again or perhaps because it was completely dry and I knew the movement. I actually think it’s because I trusted my feet far more and it enabled me to weight them more precisely. In light of that, I think that 7A+ is fair, rather than the 7B I thought after having done it the first time. Anyway, it was good to get it on film as it a beautiful slab. If you have looked it up in the new 7+8 guidebook, the chap in the photo is doing it differentely to how I suggest. He is reaching up with his left hand, whereas I reached up to the same hold with my right hand. I think the right hand method is way better, way cooler, and the way YOU should do it.

Sunday morning I went to get footage of a friend trying Rubis sur l’Ongle, 7B+, but ended up being sucked in and I had a few tries. I notice that on bleau.info the description says “Exposed to the south : recommended for cold seasons”. I doubt a sunny April day with temps of 25C is exactly what they meant. I had about 4 goes before my skin hurt far too much and I was unable to reach the rubis hold. I must have gotten within a few mm but that wasn’t close enough. I did however find a new technique (read; common sense) that gave me the confidence to know I can do it when I’m not passing out from heat exhaustion (I also forgot to take any form of liquid).  Basically, I found it easier to miss out all the intermediates and instead just pushed down with my right hand on the lower rail. The reason I find it so hard is because I can’t put my left leg on anything due to having grossly inflexible hips, meaning I have to do it as a big rockover. Anyway, these aren’t excuses, merely facts of the situation, but facts that won’t be any different after I go back and crimp my way up that bad boy. It’s a big tick since it’s on the Real Thing ticklist. In fact, I should do it before leaving.

Monday and Tuesday I was studious but ended up in the board for a mini session. Neil had pointed out a hold that no one had used yet because it was so horrific. Clearly I made it an objective to use, and without massaging my ego too much, I ended up setting (and climbing) a rather cool problem with it. I’m starting to find that I just don’t pull on small holds when climbing on boards. I gravitate so strongly towards pinches/slopers/pockets that I find it hard to actually pull on small holds. This is a serious problem as my fingers just aren’t getting any stronger. I need to get home and start deadhanging again on those 6mm edges (which only serve to rip the skin off my fingertips due to the rucksack of encyclopaedia). I’ll do something about this when I get back… perhaps some time with Doylo. He knows about small crimps, so I’m sure I can learn a thing of two from him. I just don’t want my finger strength to fall way behind my other grip strengths, as I really don’t want to start boxing myself in. I want to be able to climb fairly hard (font 8A) in all styles, including slabs, walls, etc. I think specialisation should only really occur at the very top level and I’m nowhere near that level so I should continue working weaknesses on the path of improvement.

Today I woke up free up any obligation to study, which meant I could spend time surfing the web reading all about great things like the eyeball of the collosal squid, the gop structure of HDV, the overclocking of quad core processors, and robots that can reassemble themselves (although not quite as well as Terminator’s foe). It also meant I could go rock climbing! WOO HOO! The weather wasn’t looking very good, but by lunch time it looked as though it might dry out. Neil and I prepared for an outing with the little man, but before we got a chance to leave the heavens opened and we thought that was that. I checked the webcam up near Arbonne and it all looked dry! With blue skies and dry rock in my mind we set off, doing nothing more than driving towards wherever we could see blue. We ended up at Cuvier where it had clearly rained a little but things were drying out already, but decided to have a walk down to St. Germain whilst waiting for things to dry completely. We got down there to find dry rock, cool features, and a man with a tarp over Megalithe, 7C+. That was a bit of forward planning! By the time we checked the place out, then walked back to the car we were all hungry and thirsty. The sun had come out and it was actually rather hot in the sun. We spent 30min sat there lounging around trying to decide what to do. I’ve got issues with making decisions sometimes. I want to know that I’m making the best possible decision I can make, based on all the information I can possibly have access to. The sun was out and hot, which meant we needed to go somewhere that was shady but would remain dry, so perhaps an overhanging block that was north facing. That seemed a good solution, but without a firm decision in mind, we headed into font for water and a sandwich. Whilst in the Champion, variables altered, the skies turned grey and once again poured down. Lifeline or not, rain doesn’t make for great climbing. We drove back to cuvier and found wet rock, but only the tops, and the topsy turvy weather had now decided to show us some sunshine and a nice breeze. I was sure things would dry quickly, as the rock in font has that magic property, and sure enough within 30mins things were dry. We warmed up at bas cuvier, doing some of the classics, and not doing some of the non classics. I tried Super Prestat, 7B+, but got up the final move and had a razor in my right hand which I just wasn’t willing to pull on. I jumped off and decided to seek out some slopers! The rock in font has another magical property which it probably shares with other places. After rain the rock sometimes feel very, very grippy. I’m not sure why, but if the factors are right, a shower followed by some sun and a breeze can actually provide excellent conditions. Everything felt great and it was so nice to feel clean, grippy sandstone against my tips. I walked up to Rempart with the intention of getting Noir Desir, 7C, on film. It seems I live for footage sometimes. I set the camera up, tried the sequence I’d used last time, failed. Then I tried a new sequence, and fell off. Then I sat down and tried to analyse why on earth I was falling off this thing. What was I missing. Then it dawned on me, I was blindly following some beta that I’d gleaned from a video, which provided a nice LH-RH-LH way of climbing it, but I decided it involved a move that could be missed out completely. Armed with my newly constructed thought beta I set off again. I wasn’t hugely surprised when it worked and I got to the top, but I was pleased to have it on camera. Everyone goes on about it being a great problem, and I suppose it is quite good, but it didn’t do much for me. It was starting to get on a bit, the sun was setting, and so I began to pack up to leave. Then I suddenly realised I was walking away from good conditions, so changed my mind and rushed down to Atresie. It was getting a bit dark, but I had enough time for a few tries. My second go was probably my best ever. The kneescum worked really well and I felt good on the holds, but as I reached up the crimp my knee slipped out and I landed on the pad. Failure! But I was pleased that it felt within reach, and I even said to myself “you can do this right now”. I was battling against time, so I would have a go, fall off, chalk up, and set off again. The lack of resting soon showed and I was wasting my time. I wished I’d arrived 30mins earlier as I think conditions were the best I might get for the rest of the trip. I packed up and walked down, trying to stay alert for lewd french men looking for a good time. It really is true about Cuvier after nightfall… lots of dodgy men walking around smoking, and then heading off into the bushes. I wouldn’t reccommend it.

Last night I was watching Live with Jools Holland and there was a mini interview with Eddie Grant. You probably know the type of thing, Jools speaking as fast as he can trying to cram everything in, the interviewee just taking their time with every response not caring it’s live TV. But that’s besides the point. Jools asked Eddie if he had any advice for up and coming musicians, since Eddie had been in the game so long. He said “you look after the music, and the music will look after you”. I thought this was such a nice thing to say, and perhaps somewhat idealistic, I’m sure it has some level of pragmatism. What Eddie meant was that if you are doing something you love then just keep doing it, because everything else will fall into place. It’s kind of easy to say this with hindsight, especially when things have worked out, but it’s far more difficult to have trust in the future, in the unknown. I thought a bit about this, in relation to myself and my life decisions. I’m put a lot of my life into climbing, and I’ve forsaken a lot for it, but I am happy. That is the bottom line. I don’t know where my future path will go, and it’s probably because I’m reaching another juncture that I thought a lot about Eddie’s words. I have another set of paths to choose from, and how to choose between these paths is always difficult and complicated, but I’m sure that if I look after the things I love, they will continue to look after me.

I also wanted to write some diatribe about passion, but it’s really rather late and I’m so tired that I think it would be better to wait until next time. The succinct version is something like; passion underpins all greatness.