As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a quick trip to Fontainebleau (which will hereby be referred to as Font) with one of my good friends Marshal German. We left to Font on Monday the 23rd of January in hopes of climbing 5 days in a row. I was supposed to come back Friday or Saturday night to get back into training. After the long Christmas break, I’ve been eager and motivated to be back in a gym. Trips like this to font just make my passion for outdoor climbing grow.
After leaving Toulouse at 7am and getting to Font 7 hours later, we headed straight for a climbing area, the Franchard to be a bit more precise. I had been there a couple years back but tried a new parking spot. After a good half an hour of walking around, we found ourselves back at the car and no climbing had been done. We drove to another parking area that I randomly had in my GPS and climbed for an hour before the rain started in.
Tuesday to Thursday were complete write offs. In those 3 days, we were touching rock for maybe 20 minutes… We’d usually get to the crag, it’d be wet, we’d wait for it to dry, try to climb, and then it’d start raining. We’d be disgusted but since we were already out there, we may as well try go find the boulder that we’d want to do on dry days. I figured if it took us an hour to find a boulder, I’d rather find it in the rain, than when we could actually climb!
We didn’t do ANY climbing on Thursday but found the Elephant area as well as the Elephunk boulder. Marshal and I were both intrigued by the Elephunk line although we guessed that it would take an extra day to dry out because of all the vegetation around it. On the Tuesday or Wednesday, we had roamed around the Cuvier sectors and found a few of the ones we wanted to get on including “Sideways Daze”, “Noir Desire”, and “Kheops”. As soon as I saw the Kheops boulder, I was instantly fascinated by it. I had watched Paul Robinson climb it in The Schengen Files and it looked like the line fit me perfectly. The moves at the bottom didn’t look very hard, and it was all compression. After looking at the problem for a while, I assumed that the sloper to sloper move was going to be the crux. After watching Paul’s video a few more times, I was pretty sure I was right.
After getting up a little earlier on Friday (9:00am), we were out at the boulder by 11. It was the first day that we had woken up and not seen wet rocks just outside where we were staying. We drove straight to the Rempart sector and started warming up on the first boulder we saw. It was cold! We did a few boulders before wandering into the main part of the sector with the “Big Four”, which I can only imagine are the 4 amazing boulders separated by manmade stairs to keep the sand at bay. I did a few of those and even tried an 8A on the top boulder but after grabbing the heinous left hand crimp near the top, I concluded that it was too hot to climb in the sun and we moved on. We went to the “Noir Desire” line and then onto Kheops.
By the time we finally got to the Kheops boulder, it was probably 3pm. It was cold in the shade, and luckily the boulder had tree coverage. I unpacked my stuff, set up my tripod and began taking a closer look at the problem. From the ground, I touched the first few holds and got a good sequence in my head. I figured I’d use the same beta as Paul as it’s the only beta I’ve seen. From what I could tell, I’d probably get up into the hard crux move, and I guess there was a chance I could flash it. I always like to give boulder a good flash burn even if it’s impossible. Now with Adam Ondra and Daniel Woods flashing V14, you just never know when it’s going to possible for other!
I was happy to say that my flash go was very satisfying. I did the first 5 or so moves and fell exactly where I thought I might, from sloper to sloper. I didn’t even come close to doing the move, but it still felt good. I then figured I’d just try that one move until I got it. I spent the next 20 or so minutes trying to figure out that move but after 7-8 tries, I just couldn’t do it. After that many tries, I sat down and studied Paul’s movie again. I was just looking for where he put his right foot for the hard move. After watching the movie for probably 5 minutes, I suspected that he was putting his heel unusually close to his left foot right on the arête.
I saw how I assumed it would work, and put my shoes on pretty fast. The first time I tried the move with that magical heel, I did the top! I was psyched and as I was running down the backside of the boulder, I already knew that Kheops Assis was totally possible, and today! I didn’t rest nearly long enough before my next attempt and fell on the hard move again. I figured I needed a bit of rest, so I suggested we walk back up to Noir Desire for 10 minutes to let me recover and let Marshal try that one again. We hiked up and Marshal tried Noir Desire another few times before declaring that he was spent for the day. We were only up there for 10 minutes, but I could feel my muscles twitching to get back on the wall. We walked back down to the problem and found two other climbers now trying it as well. I grabbed my shoes and asked if I could add my pad to the mix. They had the area pretty covered so I put mine near the back mostly as added comfort.
After waving my arms back and forth a few times, I felt good. I pulled on, did the first 5 moves easily and felt strange on the crux move. I subsequently fell, and was a little bit annoyed. I didn’t feel tired when I got there, and I couldn’t really remember what I had done differently while doing the top. I figured I had to pull more with my left arm and try to press my left hip against the prow. After a quick 5 minutes rest, I was getting ready for another attempt.
When I stepped on, I could feel it again, the bottom moves felt relatively easy. I got up into the crux move and focused hard to pull with my left arm. I rotated my left hip as much as I could, and stabbed for the right hand sloper. I managed to get up high enough and before I could realize it, I was on the hold. Now I just had to keep it together for the top. The top moves aren’t that hard, but they’re still spicy. You’re smearing your left foot on the arête, and any slip would make you fall. I managed to keep it together while running up the final slab as well. I was thrilled as I came running back around the boulder. I gave a quick pound to Marshal and sighed with relief.
As I mentioned before, this is the first V14 (8B+) boulder that I’ve managed to do in just one day. New Base Line was close, but I tried it for 15 minutes just before the sun went down and sent it two days later after a rest day. Regardless of how long it takes one to do a boulder, I was psyched with this one!
On top of it all, I got my whole ascent on film! I have my flash go, my working burns and my 3 ground up burns at the end including the send. I even have a burn where I pull on, do a couple moves, dab, then step off. Can’t have any of that on hard sends! The one minor downfall is that I just bought my new D7000 and everything’s a bit new. Marshal and I, whoever was closer would press record and I guess it didn’t properly focus on some of the burns, including the send… Sadly, my some of my work and also the send of Kheops Assis will be a bit blurry
Oh well. I’m also trying to put together enough footage to make a short film about myself over the past few months. So far, I have a bit of footage from Switzerland, then this footage from Font, and hopefully more footage to come when I head to Hueco in a month. I haven’t decided on a name, and to be honest, it’s my first video so it’ll be pretty bad when you compare it to movies that have teams of people working on it, but it’ll still be cool footage and free!
As you’ve seen throughout the post, I have some stills of the boulder. I took them off my video footage so it won’t be the best quality either. You can find all the shots HERE, or just go to the photo gallery as well. Next on my plate is training! With ABS Nationals not too far off now