A blog about climbing full time on the road.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

3 months already?

monkey view
Gibraltar monkey
Our last few weeks in Europe have been a bit of a whirlwind. We ended up in Gibraltar which is definitely not Morocco but was actually more interesting than we expected. The rock has a history of battles for ownership and strategic importance in other conflicts which have made it a rather unique place. We walked to the top of the rock which has an amazing view of the Mediterranean. Also on the rock is St Michael's cave, which is a natural limestone cave with huge stalactites and cave formations. They think this is the cave where Neanderthal man was first discovered and that is referred to as the gates of Hades in Roman  mythology since at the time no one knew if there was a bottom and the formations are quite trippy. It reminded us a bit of the gaudi architecture in Barcelona. They even given musical performances in there. That would be pretty cool! After the natural cave, we walked to the other side of the rock where the siege tunnels are. The British built a total of 33 miles of tunnels, starting in the late 1700's and continuing on through WWII. The tunnels were initially to get to a point on the rock and mount a cannon where the defenses were weak. Another interesting quirk to Gibraltar are the monkeys. They were brought over at some point from northern Africa, and they say that the British will leave Gibraltar when the monkeys do. So of course the British want to keep the monkeys there, and have even brought more over when the population was low and feed them still today. They are interesting to see, but a bit strange.

st michael's cave
St Michael's cave
gibraltar bontanical gardens
Gibraltar botanical gardens
After Gibraltar, we decided to make our way back to fontainebleau. The forecast wasn't great, but it was promising enough that we hoped we could get in a few more days of bouldering. On our way back we stopped in El Chorro (but didn't climb) the gorge is amazing and we wanted to check it out and spend one more day in the sun.

el chorro gorge
El Chorro Gorge
Once we got back near Paris, our first stop was Versailles. We had bought tickets when we were first here before realizing that the line wrapped 3 times around the front courtyard and we couldn't handle the thought of a 2 hour of more wait at the time. We guessed that in December, there would be much fewer people and were fortunately correct since we walked right in with no wait this time. Versailles was quite spectacular. It showed all the excesses of the french monarchy at the time and you could understand why the people of Paris were so upset at the time that all this money was being spent on the palace and they were starving. The marble work was probably one of our favorite parts. We've never seen so much beautiful marble in so many different colors.
versailles cathedral
Versailles cathedral

After Versailles we were a bit concerned as the forecast for Fontainebleau had changed to one nice day and 3 rainy days. We were quite discouraged about the prospect of sitting in the rain for our last few days here and were wishing we had stayed in Albarracin longer. We ended up getting 2 1/2 good days of climbing in, it rained at night a few times and drizzled one afternoon, but our last day which looked the worst ended up being a beautiful cool, sunny day. We went to the very first area that we climbed at here, 95.2. It's a sunny open area on a bit of  a hill so we knew it would dry quickly. We found that many problems were a lot easier this time around. We think it is more that it was about 20 C (75F vs 45F) colder this time around which helped a lot with the friction. Maybe we've gotten a bit stronger as well :) We had a great time on some of our favorites from before and checking out some new ones in that area.

We're heading to a hotel near the airport tonight for our flight tomorrow. It's hard to believe that three months has flown by so quickly. It was been an amazing trip that we will never forget. We spend Christmas with Cassie's parents in Portland Oregon and then head down to Bishop California for at least a month, maybe two. So enjoy your holidays and we'll be posting more sometime in late-December or early January.

red problem
fun red problem at font
cul de chien area
the roof at cul de chien

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The world's fastest trip to Morocco.

Yes, we are in gibraltar. After a humbling attempt to go to Morocco, we realized that we still have a lot to learn about travelling and always having a back-up plan for if things don't work out as planned.

We arrived in tarifa 3 days ago, scoured out the ferry and bought 2 open round trip tickets. Found a campground nearby with a beautiful beach and got everything prepared to catch the first ferry of the day at 9:00am. After a nice quick crossing, we arrived in Tangier with plans to take a bus to chefchauen as soon as we could. We found the bus station with some difficulty and while we had stopped at a couple atm's along the way which we couldn't get money out of for some reason, we weren't too concerned until we learned the bus only took cash and we had a total of 5 euros and 30 US dollars on us. We tried 5 more atm's and spoke with a few bank personel trying to find out what was going on. Even now, we still don't really understand why we couldn't get money, one bank told us there was a connection problem and others said they didn't have an agreement with our bank, key bank, another bank told US mastercard and visa aren't accepted in Morocco (probably a language translation issue). On top of this the whole rest of the developed world outside the us uses a chip and pin system in their credit card which is much more secure than our magnetic strip system and this has caused us minor problems in Europe, but we've always been able to get money. So since few places in Morocco take credit cards and we weren't even certain the card would work, (our visa has failed to work a couple of times) and the fact that we couldn't get money from an atm and we didn't have enough cash of any currency, we decided our safest option was to return to Europe that day since we had our return ticket already. We figure our total time exploring this new continent added up to about 3 hours, most of which we were either lost or looking for money.  We decided to drive to gibraltar to fulfil our need to get out of the schengen zone for 2 days.

Not quite the trip we were planning, but no harm was done except to our egos and we've learned some good lessons about the need for backup ways of getting cash and carrying more in the first place. We've learned a ton about gibraltar too, tunnels, monkeys, sieges, pubs, and all. And yes, our atm card works just fine here. Plus we got to visit the UK, without actually going there.

Tomorrow we leave gibraltar to start making our way back to Paris, probably stopping at el chorro along the way.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Clue #2

Scotland and Tangier are both good guesses, but you'll have to try again. Here's another clue.

Guess where we are...

Here's some pictures to help you figure out where we are right now.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Albarracin send fest (new levels reached)

water puddle reflection
water puddle reflection
After Cassie hurt her finger we figured her time in Albarracin would be spent recovering from the injury. After a full week or so of recovery (rest assisted by significant rainfall) she began to pull on her fingers and found that it was feeling much better. So, it seems it wasn't a full tear, but probably only a strain. Yesterday she hopped on a great line called Karma which goes at 7a+ or v6/7. She sent it in a few tries, which was a great effort. This is Cassie's first v7 and it proves she has gotten quite strong bouldering over the last few months. The crux move involves a long reach and she had to really lock off on her right arm and really stretch to get it.  Pictures coming later for this one. Today we head back to a huge roof that Cassie is psyched to try. It's another 7a+ and should make for some very cool photos.

Palpant v8 - small but stout
 Later that day as it cooled off we headed to my project called Palpant. It's a beautiful roof/bulge that involves difficult compression moves and a big throw, on top of that two full cut loose moves. I sent it on my second try on my third day of effort. I nearly fell at the top and really struggled to stay on for the finish so it was a true full value send. It goes at 7b+ which is v8/9. That makes my first true v8 boulder problem and I was incredibly happy to send. We have video of the send that we will post when we get back to the States.

setting up for the second crux throw

catching the sloper and holding the swing. just barely.
 Thanksgiving isn't celebrated outside of the USA but our friends from England wouldn't allow us to pass up an opportunity for a feast. The entrance to the bouldering has a small park which includes a bbq shelter. We've done what is now known as Burger Monday a few times and so we decided that a bird must be on the menu for thanksgiving. We had 8 people chip in 4 euros each and we were able to get three whole chickens, four bottles of wine, and potatoes. We started the fire early and everyone was nervous about grilling that amount of chicken considering we were doing it with firewood. I've gotten a reputation as the chief firebuilder in camp so it was up to me to get some coals going. We threw the first batch of chicken on at about 7:30 and began basting them with Cassie's homemade bbq sauce. Mouths were watering as the sound and smell of bbq chicken came from the grill. Considering most of us climbers are living on quite small budgets such a feast was kind of mind boggling. The result was grilling perfection as everyone began tearing into the chicken in what can only be called a feeding frenzy. Dirty hands or not chicken was eaten and washed down with good (seriously) cheap $1.25 bottles of wine. Batch after batch of chicken was put onto the grill with everyone getting their fill. Afterwords we all sat down next to the fire rubbing our bellies. People had quizzed us about the traditions of the holiday so someone started the "i'm thankful for" and everyone else had to repeat all previous thanks and add their own. Much hillarity resulted from things like "showers", "nice smelling girls" "garlic mayonaise" and a little reflection was allowed as well. We were indeed thankful and happy. Definitely one of the best thanksgivings ever.

As we write this post I can barely comprehend that we are leaving sometime between monday and wednesday for southern Spain and Morocco. Time has indeed passed quickly here at Albarracin and it will be three weeks of climbing when all is said and done. Hopefully a few more projects will fall before we head out. Much love to all our friends and family over this Thanksgiving holiday. Being so far away sure makes it tough and we miss all of you a ton. Can't wait to see you soon.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Albarracin Spain


castle walls
Castle walls

castle walls
in the US they wouldn't let you do this...
We left Apt (Buoux) Tuesday November 1st to head south towards Spain. The plan was to drive while the weather was poor. It worked pretty well except that the weather was quite poor for almost a whole week.
We drove along the coast of Spain and spent a day exploring Barcelona before the skies opened up and the rain poured for a couple of days. Barcelona was a beautiful city with small streets that are perfect for walking around. We explored a famous market, the harbor and the Santa Maria cathedral which we though was even more beautiful than Notre Dame in Paris. The gothic buildings were amazing as were the Gaudi architecture.
Given that Cassie and I tend to do almost no research before exploring most cities we often stumble upon things other people intend to see. It makes it a bit more exciting and allows us to just go toward whatever seems interesting. Cities in the US wouldn't allow for this type of meandering considering you must generally drive everywhere. I'm sure we miss things, but we always feel like we see a lot and enjoy it so it works well for us.
As usual we avoided eating out and spending money on museums, so sorry that we don't have anything to report on that. One thing to note though is how good the cured meat is in Europe. Probably food laws in the US don't make it possible to hang a whole leg of pig up uncovered in an open-air market, but over here they are everywhere, and the meat is delicious.
After leaving Barcelona we stayed on the coast heading toward Valencia and eventually Albarracin. We took our time since the weather was still pretty terrible. After a lot of driving we started seeing huge hotels on the coast and signs for campgrounds so we picked a small town and setup in a campsite there. There were hundreds of motorhomes and rvs there. it seems the coast of Spain is a great place for retired people to get away from the winter in northern Europe. We were the only people camping and were easily about half the age (or less) of everyone else. after taking a walk on the beach we realized we had stumbled upon a famous town named Benacasim. It was a fancy resort for the rich, and during the war the villas became hospitals for the wounded. One of the villas was Ernest Hemingway's home and where he and journalist Martha Gellhorn had an affair. We made some friends at the campground and spent a few days waiting out the rain. Finally the forecast began looking good so we drove to Albarracin in the rain. The only campground was closed so we were quite worried we wouldn't be able to afford to stay and climb. Luckily it is off-season here and were able to rent a hotel room for only 20 euros a night.
Albarracin is the most beautiful village we've ever seen. The infusion of much tourist money has allowed it to become a very eyecatching place with a nice plaza and wonderful red buildings. The castle on the hill is exquisite. Plus there is a famous trout stream running through town. The local bakery has pain au chocolates that put the French versions to shame (why not add more butter and chocolate?) And the Spainish breads are outstanding. The bakery here is by far our favorite on the trip.

 Now to the climbing. Albarracin was touted to us by european climbers as the anti-fontainbleau. At Fontainbleau the climbing is mostly technical power. Here it is just power. It is the most amazing climbing area. The area is known for having roofs and it has not disappointed in the least. We began climbing tentatively because it had rained only the day before and most climbs were still wet. Luckily because of the huge roofs here, many climbs are able to stay dry. In some cases roofs have a second roof (often very high and unclimbable) above them that protects the lower climbable roof from rain. our first day was quite good climbing at the Techos area (roof in Spanish) with us both climbing Obra de Arte 6a+ v3-v4 in just a few tries. The second day we climbed with some new friends from the UK named Michelle and Lucy who are both on long climbing trips. We climbed at the Arrastradero area which had a great variety of climbs in style and length.
obra de arte
Cassie sending Obra de Arte 6a+ v3/4
Arista de los belgas
Matt on Arista de los belgas 7b - v7/8 - completed on 3rd try
 We both flashed a 6a pocketed roof called El Minivarano that may be one of the best v3s we've ever done. We also did a very cool face called El Metodo Decide 6b (v4) in a couple of tries. Both of those sends helped inspire confidence to begin pushing ourselves harder so we headed over to Spider-Pig a 6c+ (v5) which I flashed and Cassie is very close on. Our third day Cassie took a rest and I climbed. Michelle and I put our fears aside and did the huge topout on Supermafa Tacho 6b v4 (i flashed it) the top is quite high and requires a heel hook mantle. Nothing like going horizontal 12 feet off the ground to get your heart pumping. After that we headed to Corona a 7b (easy v8 hard v7) that I came quite close to getting so I'm keen to go back and finish. Also did Meteoro a good 6b. The next day Cassie and I walked around town. After a good day of rest we were back at it again and had a super day at the Psicokiller area which was excellent. By this time Cassie and I were doing grade 6 in a few tries. We decided to hop on a long roof called Anfiteatro 7a. neither of us finished it but it was an amazing line. We also tried Vivo en el Presente 7a+ (v7) another powerful and difficult roof. There was a huge group of guys trying both and everyone was awestruck when Moni (Monika Repitchy flashed it, and Cassie almost sent it as well while most guys (including myself were falling at the crux repeatedly). Moni is a German pro climber who is super strong and is here with her boyfriend Peter. Click here to see her blog. She has already climbed and onsighted or flashed some very difficult problems and is super humble about it. She is easily the strongest girl (and is stronger than almost all guys) we've seen climb. Very fun to watch her crush. we also met a super strong South African climber named Chris who has been on quite the road trip and has crushed all over europe. He has a great blog that you can get to by clicking here.Though we left that day without any memorable sends we were both happy to see that some of our hardest sends might just happen here. Unfortunately the day after Cassie was trying a difficult horizontal roof that was rated 7a or v6 am injured her right ring finger tendon on a small pocket. Needless to say she is pretty bummed because it will hold her back from climbing hard for a while, though whether its a week or a month we don't know right now. There was an audible pop we both heard which isn't good. So, were trying to stay positive, but its tough when you feel like you are close to getting your hardest climb and must then back off. 
Cassie on the tendon popping Eclipse 7a v6
In the meantime I'm trying a couple more projects including a 7b+ called Palpant. It certainly feels like the most difficult climb I've ever tried. In theory its either solid v8 or easy v9. I spent a few hours on it yesterday and did all the moves except the crux move which is a big throw to a sloper while basically horizontal. Also sent another 7b called Arista de los belgas (pictured above). This was my second v7/8 here and that makes 3 birthdays in a row that I've gone up a V grade. Hopefully by the time we see our friend Mark I'll be strong enough to keep up with him.

Today is saturday and our friends Adam and Michelle were super nice and let us borrow their laptop for the night. That's why the pictures are now uploaded so send them positive thankful thoughts if you are enjoying this post. I'm probably taking a rest day after 3 days of climbing and Cassie is going to climb a bit to see how her hand feels. She climbed a bit yesterday and didnt have any pain which is a good sign. We are now trying to decide what to do with our last month in Europe. There are a few options and all have their benefits and drawbacks. 

Cassie trying Joya 7a+ v7

el metodo decide
Cassie on El Metedo Decide - 6b v4

Supermafa Techho 6b
Matt flashing the high Supermafa Tacho 6b v4
       Here's a link to the Albarracin Flickr Set with all the rest of the photos that aren't pictured here. There are a ton...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cresciano and Chironico

praying mantis

la finca - cresciano
la finca campground
We have uploaded pictures for Cresciano and Chironico so a follow up blog post is in order.

The hike to the Cresciano boulders was much higher than we thought, we mistook a road for a stream which shifted our view of where the boulders were. Instead of being on a flat grassy area they were on a large hillside. We were concerned that the landings would be rocks and slanted, but were happy to find a beautiful flat forest with great boulders. On the way up the hill we hiked by a wonderful little old Swiss village.
the view from Cresciano boulders
cresciano valley
the boulder hill - the climbs were above the small village in the trees 

We spent 2 days at each area, exploring and climbing. Most days it was quite cool which made for great friction, but was definitely chilly. It took me many tries before I decided to take off my sweater and climb in a t-shirt.

Cassie had spotted a beautiful boulder with huge crystals on it during our scouting expedition. We did a bunch of great climbs on it, from the line of crystals, to a thin turning crack, a high powerful face, and a funky starting sloper problem. There were so many climbs on it we almost didn´t go to any other boulders that day.
holding the crystals
the cool crystal problem at cresciano

Chironico was a bit puzzling to find given that our guidebooks were in italian and german. We got quite lost. We found the boulders and were happy to find a ton of climbs to do. The rock was excellent and the landings were perfect as well. Both days we found more and more boulders. Would have liked to had more time to explore and climb, but the weather drove us away.
chironico dyno
a 6bish dyno at Chironico
matt´s project - chironico
Matt´s Chironico project - left undone
This boulder was my project for the trip and I left this climb undone, kept falling on the final hard move. So close, but that´s the way it goes.

Hannah and Seamus - our New Zealand friends
We uploaded about 150 pictures, many more than are pictured here. click here to get to them


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Buoux (Back in France)

We left magic wood with the threat of a snowstorm and just barely made it back over the 2000m san bernadino pass before the snow hit. We were very happy to make it safely down to the valley below where we rejoined our friends from New Zealand for some excellent granite bouldering at Cresciano and Chironico. Both areas are located in southern Switzerland in the Ticino region where Italian is the main language.
We stayed at the La Finca campground which was walking distance to the Cresciano boulders.  We thought it was going to be an easy 5 minute walk to the boulders, but our orientation shifted when we asked for directions and were directed way, way up the hillside. We all had thought the boulders were down in the valley along the river. We walked up (and up) the very narrow winding road (cursing the other climbers who had driven up and were obviously free camping although there were signs explicitly saying not to and we had read that the access agreement with the village was a little tenuous due to this) through the old village of Cresciano into a chestnut forest filled with granite and/or gneiss boulders. We had photographed an Italian and a German guidebook which was some help but also quite confusing as we tried to decide if the hand drawn block stating "flugen mit unterkling" was the climb we were looking at or not. We climbed two days at each area and were able to find many great problems and know that there were many more areas we didn't even get to. The scene at each was beautiful, walking through old villages with views of the valley below and the alps above.  Although we could have stayed longer, a few days of rain were predicted so we parted ways and headed for Finale Ligure Italy. Hannah and Seamus began making their way back to England
We arrived in Finale which looks like it has some great climbing and is one of the few areas with a free (although disgusting) campsite, but decided not to stay or climb since more bad weather was coming and we didn't have a guidebook. We drove along the Mediterranean coast which was quite beautiful and made it to Nice France where we camped. Heavy rain was predicted for the night. The receptionist told us it was only the 12th day of rain they had all year, but we thought it rained enough for at least a week. We decided to save our time to relax on the beach for when it was sunny, so we made our way through the Verdon Gorge (in a ridiculously heavy rainstorm) to Buoux where we are now.
styx wall buoux buoux Buoux is a famous climbing area, one of the first hard sport climbing areas in France. It's a beautiful sandstone/limestone cliff with amazing pockets. Yesterday I climbed at the Styx wall which is where Lynn Hill (an ultra-famous US climber) almost died when she fell into the trees from the top after forgetting to fully tie into the rope. We checked knots and harnesses a few extra times before getting on. The routes were quite amazing, but after a few months of only bouldering, my endurance and head were not quite up to the length of the routes or the distance between the bolts. But we can certainly see why Buoux was and still is such a famous climbing area. We'll probably stay here until Wednesday when we will make our way to Alberracin, Spain for what looks like amazing sandstone bouldering.
For now we are really enjoying the town of Apt which we walk to from the campsite. It has amazing chocolate and candy shops, bakeries, cheese shops, butchers, and a great Saturday market. Most of the shops are in a walking-only area with is great for people watching and window shopping. Today we are planning to go to a chocolate festival at an abbey in a nearby village. We are hoping for some free samples!
macaroons We have a lot of new climbing, town, and food pics, but will have to wait to post those until we have access to a computer again.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Chamonix and Magic Wood

aguille du midi sunset

After leaving Fontainebleau we headed to Chamonix to check out the French alps and see Mt Blanc (a famous mountain). We left on a thursday because rain was predicted and rain it did. We drove through the rain and ended up camping in the rain for about 4 days. Much time was spent in the car watching movies, drinking wine, discovering that our tent leaked, and heading into Chamonix for the free wifi. The weather was quite cold with temps near freezing at night. It snowed for a bit at camp, and a lot in the mountains. Once in a while the clouds would part and allow us to see the peaks and they were quite spectacular. By Tuesday the weather had improved considerably and we were able to hike on a few trails and enjoy the views. Many cable cars exist in the area and most people pay the 50 euro price to get higher onto the mountains and then hike from there. Being on a tight budget means we chose not to do those more expensive trips. We would have loved going to the top of the Aguille du Midi which was a spectacular view from camp and is pictured above.

waiting out the rain
waiting out the rain. very exciting stuff.
posing for a picture
free internet at the tourism office
the wonderful bakeries of france
the wonderful french bakeries. this one was in Chamonix
another rest day activity - laundry...

We left Chamonix after about 5 days of exploration and headed to the Matterhorn (a famous Swiss peak) only to realize that there was a steep charge to take a train into Zermatt and that you can't see the mountain until you get to Zermatt. Being a huge tourist draw has caused the town to ban cars and force tourists to take a train or hike. The hike would have been okay but we didn't give ourselves enough time to do it and so we left without seeing it.
We decided to move on to Interlaken Switzerland to see other peaks that were supposed to be some of the best in the alps, but were thwarted again by army officers who had closed the only road because of huge amounts of rain. We chose to head instead to the east to Magic Woods and start bouldering again. this path took us through Northern Italy for a few miles, and wow was that some of the craziest mountain driving we've ever done. This was on a local road since the main highways all have steep tolls here which we've been avoiding. It's slower to get around and takes us through a lot of small villages, but we have the time and mostly have been enjoying the experience. The Italians have quite narrow mountain roads (on the sides of sheer cliffs) with drivers that love driving in the center of the lanes and only get out of your way in time to avoid head on collisions. It was probably the most intense driving I've ever done and we were happy to find a campsite in Locarno Switzerland. The site was crazy expensive at 36 francs (basically 40 dollars) and even charged another franc for a 5 minute shower! Needless to say we wasted no time leaving there in the morning to finish our drive to Magic Woods.We drove through the day and crossed San Barandino Pass. The height of the pass is about 2000 meters (6000 feet) and we were not totally surprised to see a bit of snow at the top. This made us a bit nervous because we knew we had to go back over the pass to get back to Italy and the coast.

the crazy Swiss switchbacks on the way up San Berandino Pass 

Magic Woods campground
bridge to the woods
hiking across the river to the climbs at Magic Woods.

We got to Magic Woods that afternoon and arrived to find the rocks wet from rain so we didn't climb that day, but got setup in camp. The next few days we spent exploring the woods, finding boulders, and climbing. We didn't have a guidebook and instead had a printout with an overview map. The map has boulders depicted as drawings and numbers marking the climbs. This made it quite difficult to get oriented, and it was even harder given that the boulders are located on a steep hillside covered in wet moss and mud, hiking around was strenuous and we ditched our gear to explore as quickly as possible. We weren't terribly impressed with the first two areas we found though we did find climbs we wanted to try and did a few small climbs. The following day a lot more people arrived at camp and we met our new friends Seamus and Hannah. They are from New Zealand and were living in Britain for the last couple of years. They've done a ton of traveling and we were eager to hear their stories and pic their brains about it. We spent the next few days completely exploring the forest and climbing together. The landings at Magic Woods leave a lot to be desired so having extra spotters and a huge pad helped immensely with our confidence. Plus Hannah and Seamus are great to hang out with.

lunch in Magic Woods with New Zealand friends - Hannah and Seamus

a fun warmup

a great 6b. We both did this climb and loved it. one of the best in the woods.

We did our hardest climbs those days with Cassie sending multiple 6c's and I got a couple of 7a's and even a supposed 7b (V7) called James Bong (though that grade is a subject of much debate on the internet). We found that we weren't as psyched on Magic Woods as we had expected. The climbs there are more intense undertakings than we had thought and required a good bit of courage and many pads to protect. Cassie and I are pretty much wimps when it comes to falls and we spent a good deal of time complaining about the landings and wishing we could find more problems that suited us. That being said, the friction there was the best I've even seen. The grains of the stone and the 40 degree temps allowed us to stick onto slopers with ease. It was some of the best granite climbing we've done. It made Squamish and Little Cottonwood seem very slick in comparison. There are tons of 8a and harder climbs which are immense and inspiring but are much harder than we can do, and so for us, don't contribute to the quality of the place.

7a crimpy face
Cassie on a crimpy 7a

very hard 6c
a crazy hard 6c arete. didn't finish this one. 

With snow predicted for Wednesday we decided to leave Magic Woods ahead of schedule. We opted to head to two bordering areas many European climbers had talked about. Located in southern Switzerland, Cresciano and Chironico are famous bordering areas that we had never heard of before we got here. They have an added benefit of being located at an elevation of 300m instead of Magic Woods which is at 1200m. The weather here is warmer and drier than Magic Woods. We spent our first day exploring both areas and just spent our first full day on the stones at Cresciano. It was excellent. We'll plan on doing another blog post recaping our time here in the next few days.

There are a ton more pictures that we didn't put into this post. Click here to get to them
Chamonix-Magic Wood Pictures

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Final Fontainebleau



Well after three weeks at Font we are mentally and physically drained. There's so much climbing it's easy to be overwhelmed and we are finally throwing in the towel. There are tons of climbs that we would have loved to finish, but when you can barely raise your arms above your head it's just time to go. Supposedly it's going to rain tomorrow so we figure that's a good time to head East toward the Alps. We're planning to check out Switzerland and plan to be in Magic Wood (a very famous granite bouldering area) by the end of the weekend. Hopefully by then our muscles and minds will have rejuvenated themselves and our psych will be restored. The ferns are starting to change to brown, a good indication that autumn will be replaced by winter soon!

Since our last post a couple of great projects have gone down. Cassie finished the superb Marie Rose (6a). It's quite famous since it was the first 6a (done in 1946). It's pretty incredible that it was climbed so long ago because let me tell you it's not like most people just walk up this climb. During the 3 days we spent on it I saw one other person climb it out of at least a dozen people trying. The top part is the crux and many many people fell off that last move. Cassie had it dialed after the first day, but it took many tries for her to get past the crux. The hands and feet are both quite poor and require much technical footwork and balance to succeed.

Marie Rose
La Marie Rose 6a
She also finished La Coquille (6c). It's a much steeper climb (overhanging) than Marie Rose, and has a huge move off a high foot to a small right hand. The move took much effort by both of us to succeed and we were both psyched on it. Really amazing climb and outstanding rock. Each move is unique and difficult.

La Coquille
La Coquille - the awkward and powerful start

La Coquille
La Coquille - the desperate crux throw

A few days ago I finished a project that I was psyched on called La Oblique (7a). It was the only 7a of the trip to Font and wow did it tax me. 7a appears to be a grade here that is quite difficult to break into. I tried probably about a dozen or so 7a climbs and this was the only one that felt doable to me. It's a sit start that goes to a dyno and a mantle finish. The slopers at the end are pretty terrible.

La Oblique
Matt's "Try Hard" face at the end of La Oblique

The fine grained sandstone

roof climbing
an orange circuit warmup at Franchard Isatis - Haute Plaines