85 is a smith number, which is  when the sum of its digits equals the sum of all the digits appearing in its prime divisors (counting multiplicity).

The final day. After writing my previous post I decided that if I couldn’t heed my own advice then it really was truly useless. With that in mind I’ve decided to leave font (and as I write this I’m no longer in France!). A few other factors also came into play, but a large part of the reason was that spending 25C days in font was totally useless for me.

On my last morning (yesterday) I headed back down to Gorge du Houx with the intention of getting de la Terre a la lune on video and myself to the top. The early morning assault to get cool temperatures was a waste of time, as by 9am it was over 20C and I was sweating out of my tips. I did try though, and after doing Ligne de Mire, 7A, to warm up I was on the earth, but aiming for the moon. Unfortunately the sun was out, the moon was hiding, and I was greasing off holds. My tips were refusing the chalk that I was trying to grind into them, instead deciding it would be better to have waterfalls for grip. I battled on, got to the final move, but couldn’t pull up quite enough due to the feeling that any more pull and my hands would rip off. It made for interesting climbing though, trying to not weight the hands as much, instead pushing in a knee bar (a very nice one too) onto which I was forcing all my weight. It’s an ace problem, and I would guess fairly steady in half decent conditions, but I just couldn’t get myself to the top of it. I really wanted it too, as I know it would have looked cool on camera. I think Neil got some pictures so perhaps they’ll appear soon. It is certainly on my to do list, which I plan to resurrect later in the year.

Font has a lifetimes worth of bouldering for most people. Unless you’re at the very top level it’s hard to imagine that you would finish font off, or get bored. Certainly for me I doubt I will ever grow tired of it. There remains a long, long ticklist which I aspire to, and I know that next time I will continue to tick some of them. I suppose now is the time to reflect on the trip, even though I’m not home yet. The most important thing is that I’ve had a good time. I’ve had so many magical days in the forest where the air was crisp, the skies were blue, and occasionally there was snow on the ground. I love that feeling of dry grippy sandstone under your palms as you battle against the force of gravity, and it’s something I am already looking forward to again. In terms of what I achieved this trip, I am happy, but I also can see so much room for improvement. Improvement in the way I try things, in my ability to be focused, and of course in my actual climbing ability. A big goal of the trip was to climb an 8B in the forest, and I am happy I succeeded, but as with everything, the greener grass doesn’t stay greener for very long. I think I spent too many days not concentrating on projects that I desired, instead doing 7th grade problems, that although great, were not my true intention. The other thing that has been a major factor has been my skin. I really do not have good skin, and it’s a frustrating thing for me. I hate the fact that I have to stop climbing because my skin is too sore or, more usually, too thin. My body is still fresh, my mind is still strong, but my tips refuse to join in the parade. Complaining about it is ultimately useless, but I have learned that skin management needs to be top of my priorities when I’m climbing. What a ridiculous concept, but completely necessary. I’ve managed to tick some things off my life long list, but also added a few. I’ve failed on some classics whilst completely neglected some other classics. I’m shocked when I think that in nearly 3 months I didn’t have/make the time to go and try C’etait Demain or Surplomb de la Mee. It’s rather annoying in some ways. Ultimately though, it’s been great, and I am privileged to be able to spend my time climbing in such a wonderful place. Something that I’m happy about is that I have been able to identify weaknesses during this trip, but I’ve also seen what I can achieve at my current level of strength/ability. I am happy because I know that my next goal is 8B+, even though it may sound somewhat incredulous to some people. I’ve seen enough evidence to know that I am capable, but that the path there isn’t going to easy. I’m answering important (to me) questions about what I will be able to achieve, and although I may winge and nag on occasion, I am having a great time doing it.

As for the short term future, things are up in the air. The family house in Derby is pending on being sold, my board and I will have no home, and I don’t know what the next few moves are going to be. I’m short on money, long on psyche, but stuck having to get everything sorted. Sheffield isn’t the attractive option it once was, with training facilities being scarce on the ground. It seems that the only way people are going to improve is with their own boards, and finding somewhere to house my own board isn’t going to be easy (especially since I want to expand!). Maybe I should go crazy and open a training wall, but then I wonder, who would really come? How many people are there that are hell bent on putting lots of energy into climbing, into improving, and into maximising their potential? The BMX/skate/inline/snowboard world has something like camp woodward which started out as a desire to have something great and has expanded ever since. Can the climbing world support such a thing in it’s current incarnation? I don’t know, but I do think it would be a super interesting thing to find out.

I don’t know what will become of this blog as blogging about training is likely to be very boring, so perhaps it will be put into hibernation, to reappear when I next hit the rocks for an extended foray. I guess we’ll see.

I really should point out that this whole trip wouldn’t have been possible without Maisonbleau. Although they might not like me to get this idea too deeply engrained in my head, it really is one of my homes away from home.

One final thing. Keep your ears to the ground for the film from font. I did manage to get some decent footage (I think) so I’m hoping to put something half decent together for your viewing pleasure. It won’t be as seminal as west coast gimps (what could???), but it will at least be in HD. I hope you all have HD capable hardware…