Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Adversity in Europe

Well I can't really complain too much, but the beginning of the trip was a bit of a struggle. I arrived in Zurich the morning of the 11th, picked up Ethan, and drove down to Ticino. We made it out to Cresciano and the weather was glorious. I had my sights set on doing a problem I had failed on years ago called Frank's Wild Years 8a+. We warmed up and gave it some goes. We both figured out all the moves and I climbed it from 2 moves in. Ethan managed to send just before dark, but I ran out of juice and was feeling a bit spent from the long day of travel.

That night we made a big pasta dinner and something in it wrecked my stomach. I was sick all night, hardly slept at all. I'll leave out the details, but it was a really unpleasant night and there was no way I could join the crew then next day out in snowy Magic Wood. The following day arrived and the weather was completely rainy -- a forced rest day. The weather was mostly rainy for the next two days but we managed to get out and climb a few things. On the second day, I got back on Frank's Wild Years and linked to the last hard move but couldn't keep the tenuous heel hook long enough.

With the forecast showing 5 more days of rain, Ethan and I made the decision to seek sunnier situations. Oddly enough the weather in Fontainebleau was looking splitter so we got in the car and headed there. The first two days were a bit cloudy and it even rained for a moment, but mostly the weather was good. I pretty much rested the first day but climbed some easier problems in Isatis to get some movement in after the 8 hour car ride. The next day, we went to Petit Bois. There were some fun moderates to warm up on and then we hopped on Big Dragon 8a. I tried really hard on my first burn and it flared up my bicep tendonitis a bit... I guess 4 days of climbing in a row can be too much some time. I kept trying the problem a bit but never quite figured out the top moves which require a really small crimp on a sloper. Later in the day we went to another area and I managed a flash of a really classic crimp problem called Megalithe 7c (one of 3 problems in the forest with that name). I have some raw video of that ascent here.

Megalithe and La Beline from Matt Wilder on Vimeo.

After a rest day, Ethan and I headed back out with Paul Robinson to the boulder with Fata Morgana. It had rained the night before so things were a bit wet, but the problems on that boulder were mostly dry. The warm up was pretty pathetic and probably not enough to avoid more bicep tendonitous. We tried Fata Morgana for a while and Ethan eventually did it. I climbed through to the last move, but slipped off trying to adjust my hand in this bad pocket. Hopefully I can get back out to finish it up. While we were working on Fata, Paul was working the 8c traverse into it called Angama. It looked pretty cool and Paul was getting really good links on it. I think it'll go down for him quick.

Despite needing another rest day, we decided to climb again the next day. We went out to Gecko which is an awesome 8a+ sloper problem on a cool face. I stuck the first move on my first try but was baffled by the second move. Eventually my arm started hurting more and I had to throw in the towel for the day. The problem felt really hard but I think if I could try it more, I could figure it out (at least the stand start).

Yesterday was my last day of climbing (I had one rest day the day before). My body felt like it was working a little better which was nice. We had a really slow warm up at Isatis that I ended with a flash of Alta 7b+. I was psyched to do this problem because I had always seen it and thought of it as a hard problem. Next we headed to Tajine 8a+ to try it. The problem requires some really hard squeezing and heel hooking. It took a while to figure a sequence that worked for me, but eventually I came up with something I think will work. I'm hoping to get back on it tomorrow. I think I have a decent chance of doing it, but it's one of those problems that is really hard all the way from the start to the finish so it's easy to fall in lots of places. I'm psyched to try hard on it though. To end the day, I gave a go at a 7c+ called something like Terre de la Lune. It was a really cool face with slopes and a long move off a sidepull high off the deck. I gave it a go and stuck it my first try. It was super cool and I ended up climbing it again to get some video footage of it. It was probably the coolest climb I've done this trip (though that is not saying much since I haven't completed many problems).

Another rest day today and then I have 3 more days left (probably only 2 climbing). Hopefully I can finish off some of the problems I've already tried. I'm feeling better and starting to get into the groove of font climbing so maybe things will work out. It would be great to have another month here -- so many amazing problems.

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