I arrived in font feeling rather under the weather. Too many nights of only 4 hours sleep and lots of driving had left my body in a state of recovery. I probably shouldn’t have gone climbing but how could I come to font and not head out into the forest in search of great problems? I took some painkillers, some throat lozenges, wrapped up warm and headed out. We went to Rocher de la Reine which gets the sun and is a nice crag to open the account with. I didn’t want to go out and try anything in particular, but simply go out and do some climbing. With that in mind we wasted some time on a 7B/+ traverse which was nice but I ended up getting too pumped to do it. Some nice moves though. Then we went up to try a problem called Compression Zip du Fond, 7C+, which would be a 5 star problem if it was 8 foot off the ground. As it is, it’s still good climbing, but a bit lowball which is a shame. The start is a bunch of easy ass dragging moves along a crack and then 2 hard moves to get established into the 7B end sequence. The 2 middle moves are really nice and I climbed various links but didn’t manage the full thing. I was let down a little by my wood skin, which gave me no grip when I got to the end and couldn’t get any purchase, but also let down by a lack of shape. I was getting a bit too pumped on moves that I shouldn’t be getting pumped on, which was confusing me. I made a good enough link to feel like I had done it and so didn’t feel the need to do it from start to finish as I was out for a day of fun climbing and not getting stuck in to a certain problem. With that in mind we headed off to try Hotline, 7C, which was over the ridge, and always in the shade. Hotline is something I’d always wanted to try but I’d never found it dry enough. I was keen to do it and after realising I couldn’t span between the holds like most people do, I found an alternate start sequence. It worked just fine and I got up the small right hand crimp, but then got stopped. Every go it was feeling either damp or greasy and I put that down to my skin. I just couldn’t grip it enough to do the move to the large crimp rail. It was a shame because that was the final move but I kept trying to no avail. Eventually my skin gave out and I called it a day. It’s a great line, a great problem, and one I’ll be going back to finish off. I’d spent a day at the rocks, completed nothing, but felt happy to have got a day’s worth of climbing in. I wasn’t feeling too bad at the end of the day but my throat had certainly seen better times even with the hourly administration of decquacaine.

Today, Sunday, I woke up after many hours of sleep and still felt a bit rough. I once again began the day with some drugs and the will to enjoy the rocks drove me on! Neil wanted to go to Cassepot so off to there we went. We started off with the wonderful Double Axel, 7A+, which climbs up prime rock and is far too short lived. Neil made swift work of it and once again I couldn’t span between the holds we was starting on, but all that meant was that I had to use an alternate sequence. It’s always amazing that the same bit of rock and different sequences that all end up being pretty much the same grade. I found my sequence and despatched within a few goes. It’s such a great problem with the exact type of move I love. Strange leg flick jump moves off wonderful slopers… mmmmmm. It was so good that I decided to have a quick burn on the sit start. I fell with my hand on the top and was happy with that effort so took my shoes off and moved to the next challenge. This weekend wasn’t meant to be about ticking problem but only about my reacquaintance with the rock, so walking away from things like this was altogether easy. We moved to a problem called Cent Pofs et Sans Reproche, 7C, which at first glance looked rather similar to something else i’d done recently. The crux looked like a long lock/throw to a sloper whilst your leg was stuck under a roof… hmmm… Luckily this time there wasn’t any issue with falling off so it was most definitely going to be a throw. The first few goes saw me unable to even grip the start holds, but I soon warmed into it and had it sussed. I shot off a couple of times completely unexpectedly which I attribute to a lack of rock skin, but I knew it was possible. Then one go my skin gripped and I made the crux reach and then rocked over to a nice slopey topout. There’s a video if you follow the link so check it out. Neil has footage which he will probably put online this week. After this I wanted to try the 8A to it’s right, but my skin was weeping and my body was actually feeling a bit sore. It was a reminder that I hadn’t been doing enough climbing in the previous 10 days as I’m usually never sore after climbing! It also acted as a reminder that I needed to do a bit of stretching whilst warming down and spotting Neil!

The two days of climbing in font have been a great reintroduction to the rocks. I feel like I’ve already become much more familiar with my rock skills and my skin, once recovered, will be strong and grippy! I’ve also realised a few things about my training that aren’t necessarily good. My board at home is perfectly formed, but it is very small. This has certain benefits but also certain drawbacks. The moves and problems I do are exceptionally distilled. They involve only 3, 4, or 5 moves, but each move requires maximum effort and maximum skill. This means that I try super hard on every move which is good for training but not good for climbing on rocks. On real boulder problems there is usually only 1 or 2 moves per problem that require maximum strength/power/etc and the other moves can be climbed with much less effort. Climbing efficiently is about only using the required amount of strength for the particular move, so when you do hit the crux you have the required juice left in the tank. More often than not I can do all the moves on most boulder problems, but find that I reach the crux with a lack of power left. This is largely due to my lack of efficient climbing. I often watch the top guys/girls and see how well they move on the rock. They never expend more energy than necessary and always look so fluid. I definitely realised this weekend that I can easily fall into the trap of overpowering moves, leaving me wasted when I hit the crux. Often I have enough strength to be able to overpower easy moves and still do the crux, but when I reach my limit I have to climb efficiently and so this is the perfect time to realise such a lesson. In many ways this is probably the reason I rarely do a hard problem quickly, and find that the days I spend working them are spent refining my energy expenditure on  the easy moves and not simply trying to do the hard moves. I just need to remember all these lessons, apply them, and execute when it counts.