Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Tripping all over

Years ago my mate Rhys was in Sheffield Uni, on Friday nights I would head over from Wales to go and climb for the weekend.  Usually I would arrive before him and his house mates were back from the pub, so I would let myself in through some window or another.  Generally I would let myself in find his stash roll a fat one put Rampage on and read either Rock Stars or The Power of Climbing.  There was one photo in Rock Stars that I loved, it was of Fred Nicole on Dance De Balrogs.  At that point I decided that one day I would go and see this block in Switzerland.  Time Passed and I started to go on more trips including many to Switzerland but I never made it to Branson.  The list of things I wanted to see or try got shorter, some of them got done, a lot of them did for me.

A couple of years ago I suddenlly realised that contary to what I had always thought there is more to life than slopers, and love had a part to play in my world.  A chance to be happy presented itself and from the botom of a pint glass I decided that this time I would not be as foolish as I had been in the past, fear of losing my options would not stop me from being happy.  So this has a few repercussions the main one being the creation of my very own baby mutant.  This is great and I am super keen for the summer when he/she should arrive.  It does however mean that I wont be able to galavant around sleeping in woods and try problems for the next few years.

So while last trip plan was formed the goal was obvious, and plans were put in place to go and pay homage to this block where so much history had been made.  A few people told me it was shit and a few more told me there was amazing climbing all over the valley, initially in my head I planned to go alone and siege the line, then I got in touch with Ug and he was keen, Jack and James were also keen so the team was set, so off we went.  I wasn't really sure I was up to climbing hard having trained hard last year the season in Wales had been shit, almost no good weather on my days off, and any strength I had gained was rapidly disappearing.  So a back up plan of having a nice time and ticking was formed, we arrived at Ugs.  The following morning already nursing a hangover, he pointed out it was hot, and we were heading to a valley 1000 meters lower reality started to set in, this was not going to be the trip I had planned....

First up he took us to a crag called Ravio (or something like that)  we got stuck in and tried this ace roof that was good and quite tricky.  Nobody did it but I was pretty close before the team got bored and we decided to come back another day.  Down the winding road to Vernayz, which was a great crag, after some warm ups, we did 7a+ which was amazing, its the sort of feature you get on amazing 8a's but easy.  By this point I was preety desperate to see Dance so we decided to head up there for the evening.  After a very tight squeeze through the town itself we arrived and I ran off to touch the holds.  They were shiny and warm.  Nice.

The following morning arrived and started same as the last, after taking the edge off the day we wandered down to the boulder it was hard and it was hot.  After spending 8 dayas trying Emotional in adverse weather last trip my heart wasnt in it, and it would have taken a lot of manuvering and sulking to get the team to stay up there as opposed to the much more extensive areas around the valley.  So I accepted defet and after doing a lot of the moves, but failing to link anything we set off back down to the valley.

From here on in drinking and smoking ruled.  Apart looking for Fionney buried chest deep in snow, scorching in the sun at a crag we thought was La Balmaz, walking miles with a topo looking for Master of Pouges but it turned out it was  the wrong crag.  Having a half hearted battle against the slime on Satan 8a+ in the big roof at Vernayz, I don't remember much.  And I certainly cant piece it together in any sort of coherent order.  Fortunately one night I did a problem called Tommorow comes knocking which at 7c was the line that saved me from coming home without a 7c or above for the first time since Font in 1998 or so. So there it is a massivley unsuccesful climbing trip for the second time this year.  Roll on family holidays in Fontainbleau.  

The Ravioli Roof

7c+ at Vernayaz

Its a hard life

Dance de Balrogs

Cool 7b+ at not Balmaz

Sleeping with one eye open

After 30 goes we checked the topo, 6a I hope we were doing it wrong.  Vernayaz.  

James on Mrs Dick 7b

Jack on Something Somewhere

Jack on a classic 7a+

The local

Mill training coming in handy 

The Dru from Ugs Balcony

Awesome 7a+ at Vernayaz

Tommorow comes knocking 7c

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