Hopes and Expectations

This summer I'll be bouldering in Rocklands, South Africa. I've been to Hueco Tanks and Fontainebleau in the past and Rocklands is measured at this same standard. In 2011, before I travelled to Fontainebleau I had some thoughts to share about my dreams of that magical forest and what I expected from my time there. Looking back, time having eroded things, I feel that my experience there was not what I had hoped it to be.

In 7 weeks I'll be departing for South Africa. How many and what expectations do I have? What do I want this trip to be like? The answer: I don't know.

Before my trip to Fontainebleau I was fully prepared and ready. I would look through the guidebook at night and imagine my body moving across the rocks. I would imagine the French villages and the beach sand stuck to my climbing shoes. I arrived and absorbed everything, comparing things to my expectations and constantly awakening.

Before my trip to Rocklands I am also fully prepared - prepared physically and logistically. I have a copy of the guidebook, I have my clothes ready, reservations made, and time booked. Physically I'm prepared as much as I'm going to be. I competed all season, trained with the team all season, and challenged myself as much as I could.

However, I am not prepared mentally and I don't know why.

I'll keep comparing this Rocklands trip to my Fontainebleau trip. It wasn't until about 2010 when I wanted to go to Fontainebleau. For six years before that I had no desire. The climbing style was as foreign as the location and I wasn't attracted. Maybe in the end I just needed to grow more, or at least grow into it (Fontainebleau). It eventually happened and I was so happy for that. The memories of that trip are wonderful.

Have I grown into desiring the Rocklands? I think so, but not at the same level. Is it simply because it's no longer my first trip over the atlantic to a major desination, or have I just not watched enough Rocklands videos online? Is it simply because there's no magic in Rocklands? There's no footage of Ben Moon sending Karma, or Ty Landman crushing Khéops. You can't ignore the fact that there's just fewer magical moments to expect from Rocklands.

Or is there? Let's be honest, I didn't climb well in Fontainebleau. I don't know how much of it was due to the weather but in five weeks I climbed only one V11 and two V10. The week before in Albarracin I did three V11 and one V10 in one week.

However, with a doubt, the magical things I can expect from Rocklands are great climbing moments. I will climb better in Rocklands. I will climb harder, I'm sure. I'm good at the style of climbing in Rocklands and I will enjoy it.

I just have to get mentally prepared for it. That's the missing piece. I need to know the climbs more, read about the place more, dream about it more. I need to have expectations. Magical or not, achieveable or not, inflated or not. Perhaps once I have those expectations I can then begin to let them go, replacing them with hopes and then I can succeed.

Fontainebleau Video Volume 2

As promised, our second video of climbing in Fontainebleau. I've mainly been projecting hard boulders so I haven't been sending much. I've been challenging myself a lot and it's been frustrating at times, but that's what it takes. [vimeo video_id="31730159" width="580" height="326" title="Yes" byline="Yes" portrait="Yes" autoplay="No" loop="No" color="00adef"]

Leanna has been climbing well. She recently had two solid days where she completed two of her projects. The weather has been quite damp. The forest certainly does not want to dry after the rain and many of the holds stay damp-ish. Relative humidity is high, usually around 60-70%.

All of our friends (Seely, Pallek, Moher) have returned home so we're flying solo until we depart.

This video features Atmosphère assis, Hypothèse, and Le Mandarin Droite. Atmosphère assis is an amazing line that was recommended to us by our neighbour Bruno from Switzerland. Moher was psyched to find it so we went one day. The first move is likely the crux and it's unfortunately more difficult for short people. The direction of the line and the movement on this boulder is top notch. It is very pretty to see too with the sloping rail and the sharp arete. I'm surprised this boulder is not more popular.

Hypothèse is a classic hard problem at Cuvier. I think Jerry Moffat may climb it in "The Real Thing" but I can't be sure because I don't have the DVD here. The first hold is a small crimp. After that you float up the boulder on virtually non-existent feet. You can't "try the top" moves or anything (this is typical in Fontainebleau because of the style of the boulders) so you must start from the bottom each time. It took me 4 or 5 sessions to complete. Some of those sessions were in bad conditions or while tired. The start crimp has broken a few times since it received the original grade, so many believe it could be more difficult now. They have not adjusted the grade to reflect the new difficulty.

Le Madarin Droite is another beautiful boulder. Maybe not the most beautiful in appearance but it has some really wonderful movements. You may see in the video when Adam reaches for the lip of the top of the boulder that he has a left toe hooked underneath. These floaty / drifty moves are so much fun and sometimes you wonder how you're able to move from these positions at all. The humidity during that video was insane. Once the sun goes down the conditions get worse instead of better. The humidity skyrockets and the rock gets really moist. You'll see me brushing the wet chalk off as he's climbing.

Hope you like the video. Please comment.

Fontainebleau update and video

[vimeo video_id="30709185" width="580" height="326" title="Yes" byline="Yes" portrait="Yes" autoplay="No" loop="No" color="00adef"] We have left Spain behind and relocated to Fontainebleau. We've been here for over a week and we've had lots of fun so far. The forest is incredible and the scenery is very picturesque. The small french villages are really cute.

Obviously the highlight of the video is my ascent of Fata Morgana – a famous boulder problem known even to Canadians. I was so happy to do it. The method is really cool and I found “micro-beta” for almost each move that made the whole thing come together.

I want to climb more hard stuff but I have no skin left on my tips. It’s really quite frustrating because my muscles and fingers aren’t worked at all and I’m fresh to pull – it’s just that I have no skin. I might even be getting weaker sitting around waiting for my skin to grow back.

Hopefully I can get it to recover enough that I can manage to climb on it relatively soon. I’ve never had skin issues like this before. I gave my Flashed Tool Bag to this foreigner who was really excited to have it. I miss it already.

Rest day today so we're gonna head into Paris and visit the Louvre. This is so much better than working 9-5. As if I'm only 2 months into my 12 month leave from work. Exciting.

Fontainebleau 2011 Post & Video 1

After a many-faceted epic last year that lead to canceling a three month trip to Font at the last moment (literally, the day before we were supposed to fly out) we spent what turned out to be quite a productive season in Hueco and felt glad we'd missed a wet European spring.  Hueco was fun, but we really enjoyed our previous experiences in Font and wanted to come back.  After hemming and hawing about what to do this winter, we finally took the plunge and booked our tickets for two months this spring.

It seems like we booked our tickets for too late.  Like last year's weather, this year February was very very wet, with lots of rain, lots of damp climbing days, and a few sort-of-dry days, though the rock didn't totally dry out until a nice streak in the beginning of March.  And then it rained again.  Anyways, on one of the dry days we ventured out to an area called Oiseaux near the more popular area of Roche aux Sabots.  I made this little video of a wonderful problem called Brasil, also 7a, though don't go to to try to translate Font grades to V grades, because they despite attempts to the contrary they don't really translate.  I've seen multiple V14 climbers utterly fail on 7a's here and spend all day working to send 7c's, then do 8a's in a few tries.  Font is it's own kind of climbing area, and everything here should be taken purely as it is--fun movement on cool holds in a beautiful setting.  Here's a great example.  Enjoy!

[vimeo video_id="20982957" width="400" height="300" title="Yes" byline="Yes" portrait="Yes" autoplay="No" loop="No" color="00adef"]