lundi 2 décembre 2013

A ma petite mimichou!

For once, a sad post...The cat at my parents' place died last week, at the age of almost 16, which is fine for a cat, especially since she had been in very good shape until 6 months ago, still running like a kitty! My mum was reminding me that before leaving for New Zealand 8 years ago, I though I would not see her again, which had made me sad at the time... Somehow, I saw her many more times.

Anyway, these past few weeks, she had got something in the stomach which made she could not eat any-thing... She would call my mum for some food, my mum would give her something, and Mimichou would just look at it without being able to eat... In some sense, I am glad to not have seen this.

One morning, my mum woke up. Mimichou was on the floor, in epileptic status. She had been waiting for my mum to wake up. She stood up as she could, called for my mum to take her in her arms... (she always has been a very talkative cat) This calmed her, and two minutes later, she was gone... When my mum told me this, this made me sad and smiling at the same time.

Mimichou, tu as toujours ete un chat tres classe!

lundi 7 octobre 2013

Adventure climbing in Oliana with Albert and Dany

The initial plan was to go to Mont Rebei, a famous place for adventure rock climbing. But the weather forecast was for rain all the night before, so we decided to change plan for a sunnier climb which would dry faster... I suggested a route called "Mare Tenebrossum", in the region of Oliana... The route is quite long (340m for 11 pitches), and presents 2 huge roofs which have to be aid climbed. I though it could be "fun"...

About the name of the climb, the Mare Tenebrossum (Dark Sea in English) was for the Romans the ocean Atlantic, which was supposed to drop in some huge precipe eventually, populated by monsters, diseases, and which has regular big storms. In any case, not a place where you would want to venture, unlike the Mediterranean sea, or Mare Nostrum in Latin.

Forgetting about this, we started the 1h30 hike in at 9am, probably a bit late...  I took the lead for the first third of the route. The first 3 pitches are the ones of an other route, are quite nice, and bolted. Then our route goes out left-ward in order to reach the big overhangs, and the atmosphere changes radically: very little equipment, some parts of dodgy rock... I lead until pitch 5, when Dany takes its turn for 2 pitches of more "equipped" climbing but more difficult as well, on vertical rock...

By equipped, I mean burils, which are what were used before bolts appeared, and obviously don't compare to bolts in terms of resistance... There are still found in many not-so-travelled climbs, and sometimes are in a bad state... That is part of the "fun" of what is called "classica" climbing in Spain, which is often a mix of trad and aid climbing, and equipped with a mix of things, when there is equipment in-situ... Maybe the most apropriate definition is "climbs which have kept the ethic of the first ascent". Knowing that back in the day they had more balls than we do, it usually means that having a solid head is more important than the sport climbing skills...

Back to the climb, on pitch 8 starts the real fun. It's a pitch of aid climbing (equipped with some old burils which you have to use as there are no options of pitoning...). The pitch goes by a large roof, maybe of 5-6 metres, leading to a very uncomfortable belay station, in a very exposed spot! The void starts to be very palpable...

Now, obviously, going down is not an option any-more...

Albert starts pitch 9, which is probably the most impressive pitch I have ever done. The pitch starts by 20m of aid climbing, going over an other big roof, equivalent in size to the first one. Aid climbing this part, the exposure now is amazing... You left the vertical world for a world of void... Void void void... I am not sensitive to vertigo in general, but I have to admit that I was climbing with some stomach cramps this time...

After the roof, you are left with 25m of climbing of grade 6a, and totally unequipped... The first part cannot be protected, and as such you have to climb quite above the last dodgy buril... Definitely some serious climbing, I was very glad not to be leading on that pitch, as I was already scared to second it... Then Albert manages to put some pros and the climbing cools down... At least the rock is of the best quality on this pitch.

At the 9th belay station, we look at the time... It's almost 7pm, which means no more than an hour of daylight, for 2 remaining pitches... We have been going slow... Albert spent a bit of time looking after the start of next pitch, again a grade 6a with no equipment. As such, the way to go is not obvious at all since there are no indices where to go... I ear Albert moaning loud that the protections he did put are shit, that he does not know where he should go... And then come a few "se me cago en la puta" or "se me cago en la mare que em va parir", which are very explicit insults... Very rare for such a calm climber as he is... There I ear Albert shouting to himself "stop to be a pussy, and just climb this shit". So he does, and reaches the belay station, a solid tree attached to the crag. Me and Dany reach him just at full darkness...

Remains the easiest pitch (French grade 5)... But it starts to rain a bit, just to add some more fun to the climb... Bloody Murphy's law... Albert nevertheless solve this pitch easily, and express loudly his happiness to be finished the climb. I had to climb this pitch in full darkness, since I had forgotten my head-torch in the car... idiot...

We are all together at the top at 9pm, very tired, but happy to have made it! After some fun night walking, we reached the car 2h30 later, and Barcelona by 3am... As Dany said very correctly that we lucky to have Sunday to recover before starting the working week... Sunday which I spend in the couch no doing more than farting around on the internet, reading, or eating.

Personally, I learned quite a lot on that climb. First, it is the first time I am so dominated by a climb. If Albert wouldn't have been with us, I don't think I would have managed it, and that we would have had to at least spend a bad night on the cliff, or maybe even call for rescue... Two reasons for this: first, I spent a lot of energy in the aid climbing part because I am inexperienced in this kind of climbing. Neither I had the best gears for it. Secondly, I am not yet mentally prepared for this kind of seriousness, which I guess you can only improve by experience.

But overall, the feeling of adventure was somehow thrilling, so I wouldn't mind to start it again... but not right now! :D


PS: thanks Albert for the photos! :)

Third pitch

5th pitch

5th pitch

5th pitch

6th pitch

Massive roofs on our left

8th pitch - Albert going through the first roof

Dany at the 7th belay station

Dany in the first roof

Dany in the first roof

Albert taking us at the 8th belay station, from the 2nd roof

Happy to have made it!

lundi 5 novembre 2012

Visting my familly in Alsace...

I could check that my nephews still have a lot of energy, that Alsace is a pretty region (especially in autumn), and that my sister is still a fantastic cook! :p

And about the side effects:
- pumpkin fondue (note the string&foil technique to avoid a catastrophe)
- first snow
- 2.5kgs of cepes!
- a cat (for Donn)
- some pretty lights on the local vineyards

PS: photos are from my brother in law, Sebastien, who is enjoying is new camera!


mercredi 17 octobre 2012

Boulet in Catalunya!

Bruno (master Boulet) came for a few days around Barcelona to get a taste of the local climbing before the skiing season starts. The weather being average at the beginning, we took the drive south to the world famous Siurana... Bruno could enjoy the great limestone climbing, the scenery, and the food!

After 2 days there, the weather improved up north, and we went to my beloved Montserrat, where we joined Joan for a multipitch climb in the pretty "pinnacles" sector, and Bruno could discover the local crazy conglomerate, and its difficult style of climbing... I love this place, its so beautiful!!!

But sorry, no boulettes to talk about, despite the presence of myself and Bruno... I guess this makes a boring post?

PS: the pics are from Bruno!

dimanche 13 mai 2012

New member, and a nice keys story!

This Saturday, we went one more time to Montserrat with Carles to climb a multipitch route. It was way too warm to do our initial plan which in full sun, and we climbed plan A', a nice and easy 300m route in the shade on great rock. The route is called Easy Rider.

The climb went really well. At the top of the pinnacle, the wind was strong, and I was putting back my running shoes with great care not too loose anything... Carles was more confident, and left his backpack unattached... He was thinking that he had heavy things in it so the wind can't blow it away: a pair of climbing shoes, and his car keys... and anyway, he has been in Montserrat with much more wind, and nothing has never happened...

While we were setting up the abseil, we saw his backpack rolling away from us, and jump a 200m cliff... with the cars keys in it! The infamous "car keys" joke was not a joke this time.


Romaric: oh shit, do you have the car keys?
Carles: no, they got blew away by the wind...
R. : hmm, that's a bit annoying... so I guess we have to go and search for them!
C. : venga, vamos!


So we abseiled and got off the pinnacle. After messing around a bit (i.e. bush bashing, using New Zealand terminology), we found the gully where the bag would have gone... Well, it wasn't an easy gully to go down, and the terrain was quite rough around... We went up and down on some part of the gully, just getting lost in some bluffs every time... It was really warm, and we started to be quite dehydrated by then... eventually, we resigned to go down to the car. Of course, Carles didn't left it open, not like last time...

Luckily, we found some very friendly climbers who gave us a ride to the closest town. Carles could call the spanish auto club, after drinking a couple of litters of water. They opened the car so we could get our belongings (flat keys, mobile phones...)... Overall, we were back to Barcelona by midnight...

Welcome to Carles to the B4 club! (for the details, it grades B4-iomlc)

lundi 7 mai 2012

"It doesn't have to be fun to be fun"

Well, as the title suggests, a good story for Travis... Saturday, after twisting my ankle the day before (see previous post), we went climbing with Carles to Montserrat. He suggested a classic route which he hasn't done before... This should have rung a bell as he has been climbing for years in the region, and had climbed most of the classics... Moreover, taking the excuse he is just coming back to climbing after a bad accident, he offered me the honor to climb the crux pitch... Thank for that, bro!

I discovered later that this crux pitch was not only a classic, but a mythic and terrifying pitch! It is basically a 35m off-width crack (OW in the guidebook, this should have rung an other bell...), which is way too wide to protect, but not large enough to climb easily as in a chimney... There were 3 bolts, the first one 15m above the belay station... an other bell which I didn't listened to, as Carles was telling me that this part is supposed to be the easiest... my arse!

I went inside the crack, my helmet jamming in it perfectly... Not very practical to look after feet holds... My running shoes, which were attached to my harness, were doing exactly the same job... "Ostia puta"... After struggling like hell, I made my way to the first bolt... Relax... Next bolt in 10 meters... I choose then to climb out of the crack, which is more exposed but more comfortable in a sense... 6 meters later, I tell Carles that I am scared... 4 meters to go to the next bolt... The climbing is still sustained... Bolt, relax... Now, it gets a bit easier, and better equipped (logic???), next bolt at 5m, followed by the belay station... I am glad to be up there, and the tension goes down.

Conclusion: that was how I made my way up one of the most terrifying pitch in Montserrat... Definitely a fantastic climb, but I still don't know if I liked or not... Afterwards, I checked on the internet about it, and many people had epics in this pitch, someones talking about nightmares and stuff...


B2-i, i for idiot as Oliver would say...

Last Friday, we went (with Jonatan) to a small boulder contest at a local gym. It was a lot of fun. At the end, just after we gave back our list of sent problems, Jonatan suggested to try a dyno problem, just to get out the last energy remaining in my arms... I was indeed tired from 3 hours of bouldering, but while saying "its probably a bad idea", I grabbed the starting hold, jumped... And twisted my right ankle on the landing... Idiot! ;o)

PS: nothing bad, just a bit painful... you can see in the following post that I managed some climbing the next day