Many days with perfect sunny weather, good friends and a lot of fun playing on rocks…that’s how the last weeks in Ticino can be summarized… read a summary about the first part of the trip here: http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=67846.
To be honest, we also had more than our fair share of days with really bad weather and spent many days shoveling snow and trying to dry the boulders…But the sunny days are the ones to remember! Here is a little video we made, featuring amongst others Andi’s 3rd ascent of ‘Heritage’, 8B+ and Brionesque (watch out for my unintended stunt scene…) and my first ascent of Piatto Piedi!
[problem list in video: Piatto Piedi, La Brionesque, I Portici, Heritage, Marylin Monroe]
some comments about the harder things I climbed:
Sun Ichiban, 8A: small cave with perfect rock and fun moves, suited me well. Found smarter beta than the FAionist, but started a couple moves lower
Dreams are full of maybies, 8A: cool crimpy shield, hard foot move.
Marilyn Monroe, 8A: definitely on the ‘lifetime-ticklist’. Tried this on and off over the last years, but couldn’t do the shoulder move at the end. There are other betas for this problem, but I stubbornly wanted to do this the original way/the way I first tried it. You can’t imagine how excited I was when finally did this move this year! Very happy to gotten stronger and/or a better climber…Linking the whole problem turned still out to be quite hard, as the first moves are at my full extension. Its one of those problems where you wish that you could ‘shrink’ it a little bit, so that all the holds and footholds are just a few centimeters closer together.
Frank’s wild years, 8A: my love-hate affair with Frankie finally has a lucky ending:) One of those problems where you do not understand that its so hard, but you still can’t get it up…hence a classic Cresciano problem;)
Piatto Piedi (aka The Sonierto Slab), 8A?: Featured in the classic climbing movie Dosage 4, where Courtney Hemphill comes very close to sending and takes some scary falls from high up. Its one of the most impressive slab lines I’ve ever seen and sits in a beautiful picturesque surrounding, just next to ‘Kings of Sonierto’ and ‘Off the Wagon’. I found a really nice sequence and luckily did not take a fall from the top:) To my knowledge, nobody else has done it before (please correct me if I’m wrong), so it might be a first ascent. As it took me roughly the same amount of time like the classic Fontainebleau slab ‘Duel’ (though it climbs quite differently), I would estimate the difficulty to be in the same range. That is VERY difficult to say though, as its even less powerful than Duel; there is not a single move that is physically hard. Just very sustained, insecure, technical climbing on bad footholds. On the whole climb you are never standing in a relaxed position, as I could only weight the footholds for a few second before they would start slipping. You really have to be focused and stay calm until the very (high) top, where without a handhold that deserves that name I had to stretch/tiptoe on a smeary foot to be just able to reach an edge, which you can use to jump to the rescuing top lip. Whatever the difficulty might be, its definitely one of my favorite problems ever and one I’m really proud of!
A note to the access: The boulders mentioned above are just next to a peaceful little village and a meadow, which in spring/summer is used to make hay. So if you visit the valley, please stay on the hiking trails, keep away from the pastures and the cows and talk to the villagers&farmers if its ok to climb there at the moment!
I Portici, 8A+: A newer Fred Nicole problem, whom I’m just gonna quote here: ”A really nice line that follows an arete, very technical. The first part is the hardest with powerful moves on slopers&pinches. The second part features more athletic climbing on far apart but good holds. une belle surprise!” Apart from the very physical and athletic climbing I personally found it hard to have cold enough skin for the very friction dependent first part, but be warmed up enough for the second part and the slightly scary top. It climbs so well, its definitely one of the best in Ticino!
Apollo, 8A: fun little problem with a tricky heelhook, which I don’t think is 8a+…
check out a review of my climbing year 2012 at monkeeeeeeeeee… http://monkeeclothing.com/blog/entries/231
If you are too lazy to read… here is a summary in pictures:
spring in Fontainebleau:
summer in the Frankenjura:
winter in Ticino:
the beauty of nature… a welcome excuse to browse through my harddisk and reminiscence about past travels on yet another rainy sunday…:)
Projecting a hard route or boulder can be nerve-wracking and sometimes frustrating. For me, the most fun part of this process is usually the beginning, where you start figuring out the moves and try to find a solution that works for you. Doing new moves is always fun and especially the realization that you may be capable of doing a problem is quite motivating. In the next phase, you start trying to link the moves and try to work towards an eventual send. If you make progress, this is a lot of fun. With stagnation I sometimes struggle to keep the motivation up. Which is probably I climbed most of my harder problems in a few days and failed on everything I tried longer…:)
I have friends who don’t care about sending things at all and who get their satisfaction solely from trying new things. I think this is really admirable and in the last years my motivation for climbing has definitely shifted from a goal-oriented to a more process-oriented approach. After all, even if you don’t send anything, if you always had a nice day outside you are a very happy person. Once in a while I still try to stick with projects, as it is a great challenge to stay motivated in a good way. Learning how to be happy even with the smallest progress, learning how to deal with failure, evaluating what to change…it’s a bit like a research project really;)
Sometimes, projecting can be easy though. This year, after a very cool trip to Fontainebleau my motivation for bouldering was dwindling. By chance I ended up on a rope climbing crag called ‘Wasserstein’, whose central pillar is home to one of the most impressive lines of the Frankenjura, ‘Headcrash’. From the first day, I was blown away not only by the beauty of the line but also the quality of the climbing. Especially the upper part of the route climbs incredibly well, though with my non-existent endurance -this was my first day on a rope this year- I could hardly make it from bolt to bolt. The crux is lower down, after about a third of the route: An uncompromising bouldery crux consisting of only two moves revolving around a barely-there shallow pinch.
Since I had never tried such a difficult route, I could not assess whether there was any prospect of success. Thus, the ‘strategy’ was to continue trying as long as it’s fun, without any expectations. At first the progress was quite slow; it took me several days to do the first crux move and to link the upper part. After a few days (I didn’t count how many), I climbed through the crux for the first time from the start. On each of the following moves, I waited for my elbows to go into ‘chicken wing-mode’…but surprisingly I didn’t get pumped and climbed to the top!
So I could climb my by far most difficult route (my hardest route before Headcrash was an easy 8b…) … without any drama… which makes this success even more valuable for me:)
Thanks to everyone who was there with me for the great time at this peaceful spot!
Fontainebleau has always been one of my favorite (if not THE favorite) areas. The climbing style there is so special though, that I always need some time to get reacquainted with the subtleties of the movements and the rock. All previous trips had been rather short, and at the end of each two-week long trip I always felt that I just started to understand…
So when it was time to write my master`s thesis I had the brilliant (or crazy?) idea to write it during a prolonged trip to Fontainebleau…I rented a small caravan on a campground, accumulated my data and material for my thesis and drove to font. As it’s neither productive to sit at the desk all day nor to climb all day, my plan worked quite well. I busily typed in the mornings and evenings and climbed during the day. Though it sometimes costed a moment’s effort to get back to work while everyone else was enjoying le vin rouge after a climbing day…
After five weeks, my thesis was finished and I had climbed a lot. You don`t necessarily get twice as much done if you spend the 5 weeks instead of 2.5 there, but I`d like to think that I learned twice as much:) I also settled some old scores, like my long-term-project “l’angle à Jean-Luc” (red #25 at Roche aux Sabots) and the neighboring “à l’impossible nul n’est tenu” (my first 7a slab…). Each trip I’m amazed by the small line between impossible and doing a problem. In other areas, you can often just power through sequences but in Fontainebleau, moves often feel impossible if you don’t find the perfect body position. But if you do it right, it suddenly feels easy, maybe even easier for a certain grade than in other areas. These rare moments, where it clicks and every move feels easy makes me come back to Fontainebleau every year…and that these moments are so rare makes them even more special:)
This trip the weather was quite summerly and warm for several weeks, which was good for working at my desk but not so much for climbing. That’s why I started doing circuits and I was really amazed how much fun that is! I always had climbed a lot of easy problems, but never a full circuit, always dismissing it as too skin-intensive and strenuous. This time I was persuaded and was instantly hooked! Highly recommendable, you shouldn`t miss this on a trip to font…
One particular goal I had in my mind before the trip was to try ‘Partage’. This stunning arête looks beautiful and requires a perfect mixture of power and technique. I found a good method for the upper moves, so that the hardest part was the start. You do a big move to a bad pinch and then you somehow have to shift your center of gravity to the other side of the arête. It took me a while to understand the movement (and to get strong enough to do it). As the climb is quite friction-dependent, the increasing temperatures demanded increasingly earlier morning sessions… But it was worth it:)
I`m already looking forward to the next trip to Fontainebleau! Jusqu’à la prochaine fois dans la forêt!
Pictures: A. Barth, F. &. M. Christof, N. Korff, merci beaucoup:)
2011…well where did id go? busy with school, I didn’t climb as much as I would have liked to during the summer semester. I needed a break from bouldering, so I mostly went route climbing in the frankenjura, which I enjoyed a lot. Having focussed on bouldering the last years, I felt like I can (re-)learn a lot when climbing with a rope: Of course you need to get endurance, but mainly I felt like I had to (re-)learn the tactical approach: when do you clip, how often do you chalk, how fast/slow its best to climb, how warmed up you have to be to not get cold-pumped but still have dry hands,… I kind of felt like a beginner sometimes, doing stupid mistakes (like not closing my shoes properly and not noticing it until halfway up). I think I have all these tactics figured out for me in bouldering, with routeclimbing its a different story though! Nevertheless, I made progress, climbed some of my hardest routes and had fun with it. Its quite amazing how good and varied the routeclimbing in the frankenjura is, there are many classics as well. One of my favourites one was the ‘Peacemaker’, a pretty long (for a boulderer;)), slightly overhanging crack, which has it all: a bouldery start on pockets, an easy but airy section on a big flake, some layback-climbing, a mantle into a slab, a balancy part with THE move (a cross-over into an one finger-undercling-crack, sounds horrible but feels wicked!), some crack climbing with a handjam and a scary part to the awesome topjug above the last bolt….this may sound like a multipitch, but its all condensed in 25m… the wonder of the frankenjura!
In the summer semester break did a little ‘tour des alpes’. We went to a (for us) new area, “Refugio Barbara” in Italy. Located at 1800m altitude and with several sectors with granit boulders (amongst others the Christian Core “Kimera” and “Black Mamba”), this area sounded perfect to escape the heat of August. At first glance, the area is very reminiscent of the Chaos Canyon in RMNP, just a bit more idyllic: a beautiful meadow with browsing cows, circularly surrounded by steep slopes littered with endless boulders. Driving up the steep road we thought “This sounds too good, there has to be a catch. Maybe there is always fog in August…”. Well…the first day we thought we were just unlucky when we climbed in the middle of a cloud. But the cloud with the warm, humid air was there also the next days. Somedays, we would wake up to a view like this:
Which changed to the following view only a few minutes later:
Needless to say, 100% humidity and 30°C do not make good conditions for climbing and thus everything felt HARD! We still had fun and definitely want to go back there! For the rest of the trip, we visited some other areas in the swiss and austrian alps. The heat and the rain followed us for most of the time, but well, this is summer in europe I guess.
Then came my favourite time of the year: the golden october in the frankenjura… I was very excited for it and had many ideas what to try, but I hurt my finger a bit and retreated to climbing on slopers in the gym and working a lot at university… there are surprisingly little non-crimpy boulder-problems in the frankenjura, its not at all only pockets (as you might have heard)…
here is a quick video a friend made from a fun day together in ticino, where we spent the New Year’s Eve holiday.
January 2012: adventure day;) two small girls and a pretty high boulderproblem!
I’ll try to write something about the last summer/fall/winter soon…if I find some time…:)
After some weeks at university, I had some time for a little trip to the Alps before the next semester starts. We decided to go to Magic Wood/Avers. This used to be one of my favourite areas, but the last years there was either to much snow (in the spring semester break) or it was too crowded (in summer), so we never went. The last time I was there I did ‘Schneesturm’, a nice crimpy line on the Pura Vida Boulder. I really liked this block, the style fits me well and its in a pretty surrounding a bit secluded from the main sectors.
So I was really keen to try ‘Pura Vida’ this time. I quickly found a good solution, as none of the individual moves are really hard. Still it took a bit of time and tape, as I had to wait patiently to grow some skin for the sharp pocket at the end of the problem (3 weeks in the laboratory at university may be good for the motivation, but leave you with a baby’s botttom-like skin). When I did it, it went surprisingly controlled (power endurance is not my forte at all!). I’m really happy to have done this line, as I wanted to try this for such a long time!
Apart from one cold front the weather was quite nice for this time of the year and you could enjoy the sun and jump into the freezing river. I even got a tan (usually I return from bouldering holidays looking pale like I spent my time crawling around in dark caves… wonder why…haha):)
As the weather got more unstable at the end of april, we went to a (for us) new area, the Zillertal in Austria. We spent two nice days there, before the rain chaised us away. Now I’m back in the beautiful Frankenjura: time to get on a rope again! Really looking forward to try some of the super-classic routes here…and to the beer and schnitzel afterwards…:)
Two great weeks in the mecca of all bouldering areas, Fontainebleau! (Almost) perfect weather, good friends and lots of ‘baguette et fromage’ helped us making our way up some classics. Or was it the always motivating musical support of ‘Radio Fun’?
I managed to do the quite powerful ‘Sale gosse assis’ and ‘Fata morgana’, as well as some easier stuff like ‘Rencard’ and ‘Le mur des lamentations’. My undisputable highlight however was ‘Duel’: This very classic slab at Franchard Cuisiniere always was on top of my wishlist, though I never even dared trying it. This time I was convinced going there by a friend who was trying it. It took me 20 minutes to figure out how to get of the ground as I can’t reach both ‘normal’ starting holds at the same time! Still I was happy and keen to keep trying. I found a method, which didn’t involve crimping the tiny ‘grattons’ with your fingernails (which most people to, but I was scared of this). Two days later I found myself holding the crux move (to the left edge) and fumbling the sloper just below the lip. This hold is actually quite good, but due to my slightly numb fingers I couldn’t find the good spot on the hold. I stared at the lip just in front of me, decided to simply take the sloper anywhere and went with everything I had to the lip! Et voilà, I was standing on top of this beautiful boulder!
Andi, who had amongst others already done ‘The Dagger’ in Ticino two weeks before, had a purple patch by doing pretty much all his old projects he had left from earlier trips: ‘Amok’, ‘Elephunk’, ‘la Totalité de l’autre toit’ and ‘Total Eclipse’. On the last day he climbed ‘Karma’ in a couple of tries and couldn’t believe it!
The ‘problem’ in fontainebleau is that for each boulder you do, you wanna try three other ones… Which means we now have plenty of new dreams & goals and can’t wait for the next trip there:)
click on pictures in gallery for bigger pictures, another click brings you to the next picture
There is not a lot to tell about the last winter… A good deal of stress at university and horrible weather, so I barely climbed outside. Over New Years Holiday, we went to Ticino for a quick escape from arctic Germany. Driving through the Gotthardo-Tunnel felt like someone had invented colours again: After not having seen the sun for 6 weeks, it was very nice to see the blue sky again! Even the brown and green hills of Ticino looked quite bright compared to the very limited range of colours of white (snow), grey (old snow, Nebel, rain) and black (wet streets, wet trees,…) back home.
I tried many things and didn’t really send anything besides Fantoman, which is my 100th (or 101th?) 7C (and harder). Here is a video a friend made.
PS: Climbing starts at 00:45;)
Last summer was the first time during my studies that I had a 6 weeks long semester break! So I wanted to do something special and in the end we decided for a trip to Cederberg Mountains (aka Rocklands) in South Africa. The longest lasting impressions of this trip: the colours! Everything ist so colourful and bright, you just have to be happy there! Plus, you can have ‘real holiday’ (aka not freezing your ass off every night) AND good conditions for climbing. It also was my first time travelling alone (the last 4 weeks): A quite interesting experience, you meet so many new people. It also was good for my french;) I found some nice projects, but mostly did tons of moderates as its not easy to work on a project if you are travelling alone. I had a great time and definitely wanna come back!
South Africa, 2010
pictures of springbok by Frank Enz (onemove.de)
some pics from my trip through the USA in 2009/10:
visited bouldering areas: >10
boulder problems 7A and up: 91
routes: 0 (we didn’t even bring a rope)
temperatures: subzero every night
result: dreams about my bed at home, 1 healthy ankle less, so many new friends!
US Trip 2009/10 part 1
US Trip 2009/10 part 2