Magic March in Fontainebleau

We had a great trip with good weather, fun with friends and obviously lots of climbing!! I seem to be back in alright shape, doing the powerful “L’art de la fugue” (8A) and my big project from 2013, “Frisson” (8A+)…which is my 50th boulder 8A and harder:) That problem evolved to be a mental game, as I already fell after the crux in 2013. This trip it didn’t gave up easily as well… After way too many times stepping off, making mistakes or just not trying hard enough, I managed to switch off my head and try with an all-or-nothing attitude. Super super happy to climb ‘Frisson’ on the last evening of the trip!

Très heureuse also about doing some high classics, like “Misericorde”, “De la Terre à la Lune” and “Super Prestat”.

Miséricorde (7C+) is the kingline of Franchard Cuisinière and was maybe the best experience of the trip. I’ve tried this high problem in previous years, but after some weird falls I was usually scared and climbed like it. This year I went there with no expectations and a relaxed mind…(and better pads… 😉 Such a great feeling to grab that perfect top jug!

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Back to bouldering…Sunny days in Ticino

Spot the difference: Before (CT) and after surgery (X-ray)
Spot the difference: Before (CT) and after surgery (X-ray)

After a couple months of ‘rehab-climbing’, the final X-ray for my wrist showed that everything healed fine and that the lunate bone (Os lunatum, the bone with the cyst) looks normal again. Even though I was pretty positive about the healing process before, hearing that from the doctor was a huge relief! My only souvenir is a nice ‘pirate scar’ on my wrist as a reminder that I’m not unbreakable 😀

Since then I’ve started bouldering again and the wrist feels great, stable and no pain at all:) I’m only avoiding these weird huge plastic sloper and volumes in the gym where the wrist is in a very contorted position …after reading so much about wrist injuries these don’t feel ‘healthy’ anymore….

I was obviously very psyched for my first climbing trip in a year: Ticino for New Years Eve. Except the first two days we had perfect weather with a lot of sun. I got sucked into trying a bit harder problems than planned… Oh well, I had a lot of fun and seem already be in alright shape…

Back home in the frankenjura I took advantage of a single day with perfect weather and sent my first 8a boulder after the injury, the tricky ‘Barny Geröllheimer’. Very excited for the rest of 2015!!!

weeeeeho I’m back…. ! unfortunately with a bang…

Pic by @sarah_seeger: my very first day outside! Sooooo happy to be back climbing after a 7 months long break due to my #stupidwrist. Some days later, I made the most stupid mistake in my life though: Using a too short rope, which resulted in a groundfall. Luckily without severe consequences, feeling much better already. Please stay safe everyone and MAKE A KNOT IN THE OTHER END OF THE ROPE…

Life without climbing…at least for now

Climbing has always been part of my life: as a baby I slept in the stroller while my parents climbed in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains and later most of our vacations were spent in one of the numerous climbing areas all over Europe. When me and my brother had the choice between hiking and climbing on the weekend, we usually choose climbing, as it meant that we could play instead of going on a “boring hike”. So from an early age on I’m used to spend a lot of time moving outside and on the rocks surrounding me and love it. This scrambling around on the rocks was always playful, not about performance/improving/grades. Our parents never pushed us in any way, they were just happy to share the experience being outside. Maybe one exception: my dad got tired of putting up topropes for me, so he promised me a set of quickdraws for my first 6b on lead 🙂

 

Even though a big part of my childhood was spent near the rocks, I discovered my own passion for climbing as a (performance-oriented) sport rather late, around 12 years ago. I was asked if I wanted to train with the local youth climbing team and from that day on I’ve been climbing usually four times a week. Even though I spend most of the day doing other things (university, working, friends,…), climbing has been part of every day, every daydream and influencing many of my decisions. Through all these years, I’ve never really been injured, some tweaked fingers or the usual suspect, my right shoulder, but never something which wouldn’t be fine after two weeks rest and taking it easy afterwards.

Right now it’s different story though: I’m in my 5th month without climbing. It started with a strained tendon in the wrist from a weird undercling (which should be fine by now) and more gravely, a bone marrow edema in a wrist bone (lunate). For months I didn’t had a definite diagnosis, I was told it might be just from overuse, could be caused from an intraosseous ganglion/cyst or (worst case) Kienbock’s disease (don’t google that one, trust me).
I should avoid any stress/weight/ on the wrist, which means no climbing/pull-ups/hanging of any kind. At first it wasn’t so bad to stop climbing for a while: no stress with projects/skin/bad weather and a lot more time! Working full-time plus commuting 2 hours a day means I have to organize my days pretty diligently to free some time for climbing.

After a couple of weeks though, my energy levels dropped. I put so much energy in my climbing, but get so much out of it in return! My body and mind are so used to it, I needed something else to replace it. So I did more yoga, running & biking and monkeying around one handed in the gym. Oh well, all fun, but nothing makes me feel as good as climbing… My body misses the movement on rock and my mind misses having goals to work towards. It’s a weird feeling waking up day after day without that familiar soreness from climbing and just as weird going to bed with a crowded mind… Nothing clears up my mind as well as climbing.

I’m generally a very positive person, approaching every problem with the attitude that you could solve this if you think hard enough about it / try hard enough. But with the injury there is nothing I can do about it. Just rest… and wait. And so there were days where I converted to the dark side. The dark side corrupted me with negative thinking and envisioning worst-cases and “what would’ve been if…”. Not really understanding where the injury comes from didn’t help with the trust in my body. Not knowing how long it would take to heal neither…

In the last week the situation changed, as I got a more definite diagnosis: Other examinations showed that the main cause of evil is an intraosseus ganglion grown into the bone, which basically caused a hole in the bone. I will get surgery in a couple of days to fill this hole. So relieved to have a diagnosis that makes sense but on the other hand super bummed to rest for a even more months!


The thought that helps me the most is how many years climbing has been a part of my life and how many more decades it will be. Eight months off in total (if everything heals well) sure sound A LOT, but I have to put them in the perspective of my whole life. Of course then that devilish little voice in my head keeps on telling me: “but you wanted to try this and travel there and do this and learn to do that… When are you gonna do all this?” But as I got older I have realized that I will be never able to fulfill or even try to fulfill all my dreams, even the ones which are in principle realistic. .. Time is limited. On the one hand an unpleasant thought, on the other hand I definitely find it quite comforting that I will never ever run out of dreams, ideas and goals… (Would be kind of sad if that happens, no?) I know that climbing will supply me with enough goals to work for, places to travel and people to meet for more than a lifetime. Some of these will now just have to wait a bit longer…

more footage from the Grampians (Australia)

Still injured (more on that soon), which means no climbing but more time to edit videos;)

a little clip from the Grampians trip last year! 3 classics which each involve a very hard shoulder move…

On our first day at the Hollow Mountain Cave, we were a bit shocked to find it covered in charcoal graffiti: Presumably left mostly by hikers who wanted to leave a proof that they managed to get up the ‘strenuous hike’ up there. Trying to brush it off made it almost worse though, as it left big black stains. The local climbers suggested first rubbing a carrot, let it dry and then brush it off?!?

On yet another rainy day Andi and Alex made their way up the Hollow Mountain… only to find the cave a cloud, completely wet due to condensation and the fog. Obviously no climbing that day, but the water layer enabled cleaning of the graffity!

Be a good guest in nature and try to leave every place cleaner than you found it:)

Australiaaaaaaaa II

the land of the never ending sandstone…

We’ve been ‘Down Under’ 8 years ago and well remembered the quality of the sandstone and the impressive flora and fauna. It was always a dream of mine to go back there, especially to the Grampians, a National park in northern Victoria. Well, this year tickets were booked and the trip was planned.

On our first day, where we still completely jet lagged barely made our way to the crags, we were blown away by the quality of the rock! I remembered it being very good, but after seeing many different areas around the world in the meantime we realized how amazing it is! Especially considering the proximity of two ‘world-wonders’ of climbing, the Hollow Mountain Cave and the Taipan Wall are, as they are forming a giant ‘amphitheater’. Hiking around on various rest days through the lesser or undeveloped areas of the Grampians (all of the classic areas are concentrated on the very northern tip of the park), we sometimes felt like walking through a museum full of exceptional and unbelievable rock-formations: There is yellow or white smooth rock, very sticky ‘velcro-like’ red rock , ‘spiderweb’-quartz-swiped rock, bright orange overhangs, slopey-HP40-reminiscient boulders, marbled walls, grey shields, ….everything you could dream of and of course studded with amazing crimps, pinches and slopers. The only thing we didn’t find was choss!

This excess supply of amazing rock led to the ‘I-wanna-climb-everything-syndrome’ with me… I had a hard time to decide what to try, especially as climbing days where limited by the wet Australian winter. The first 2 weeks were perfect, with only one rainy day per week. After that this ratio switched to the reverse, with only one dry day a week.

I spent some time working a really cool hard route, but could just not do the first crux move. We even never made the drive to Arapiles, although now back home I could kick myself for not even trying the classic routes there…Some of my personal highlights were the first ascent of ‘In the cloud’ (see http://www.verticallifemag.com.au/2013/10/dorothea-karalus-puts-up-a-v12-in-the-grampians)  and my send of ‘Serpentine’, the probably most famous route on the Taipan Wall. The crux pitch is the second pitch and starts with a quite exposed roof section. The moves are long and I maybe would have complained about them being reachy, if I wouldn’t have had a poster of Lynn Hill hanging on my wall for years. It shows her on that section of Serpentine, wildly cutting her feet. So there was no room to complain, instead just did the same. Maybe “W.W.L.H.D. – What would Lynn Hill do” should be my new mantra? 😉 The rest of the route offers  40m of very varied climbing, from delicate stemming, powerful fridge-slapping, crimpy cruxes  to (luckily) good rests. While I was trying to recover at the rests, the sun was going down and the birds went crazy, singing and floating all around me. Topping out Tapain wall was such an awesome feeling!

Other highlights were a send of the gaston testpiece ‘Dead can’t dance’ and ‘Forced Entry’, see below!

Australia I: In the cloud, First Ascent

Here is our first video about our trip to the Grampians in Australia!

Pictures by Andreas Barth/Peter Würth

On our first trip to the wonderful Grampians eight years ago, Andi found and brushed a really cool crimpy shield. He tried it together with Peter Würth, but they couldn’t finish it. Since then no one seems to have stumbled upon this boulder, even if its quite close to some of the established sectors. The boulder has two perfect and very obvious starting holds and follows a beautiful line of very small horizontal crimps with a sequence revolving around a tiny crimp and a gaston flake in the end. It is rare that you find such a pure crimp boulder that is not awkward and sharp! With the exception of the first move all the 5-6 moves are hard and uncompromisingly powerful: I tried various drop-knee variants, but the footholds are just too sparse and bad for that. It took us several days to figure out a method, but even after having done all moves isolated, I was rather unhopeful about linking them, especially the third move felt impossible from the bottom. Also we soon realized that its quite tricky to get good conditions for this problem as it faces the sun pretty much all day. On cloudy days attempts were usually thwarted by rain showers, so we resorted to night sessions. I made slow but steady progress and one dry evening I managed to stick the crux third move from the bottom only to fall going to the gaston! Nervously I rested for a bit, managed to stay calm and did the probably first ascent the same night!

As it took me waaayyyyy longer than any crimpy 8a I’ve done, I suggest a grade of 8a+/V12. Here is the video, make sure you watch in HD to get the full kangaroo experience;)

For the lucky people in the area: ‘In the Cloud’ is located only a couple hundred meters from the Gulgurn Manja Shelter back towards the Hollow Mountain carpark.

More videos and a longer trip report soon!