For the past 3 weeks I’ve been forced against my will to stay in the South Bay Area! I have no responsibilities until school starts on Sept 26th except for one… dog-sitting. My parents went to Europe (as soon as I got back) and I was deemed the most suitable candidate to watch my dog, Scottie.
“Shit! How the hell am I still on these holds? My feet are literally on nothing! I can’t believe they expect me to use this sloper .. though it is sticking…”
My inner dialogue while climbing on granite for the first time in basically a year went a littttle bit like that… with even more expletives. Outwardly, I was climbing awkwardly. I was gripping down way too tight on some holds that looked terrible but had a bunch of friction. I was nervous, placing and trusting my feet on small crystals or just smearing them on nothing; in other words, I suck at climbing on granite.
Chris and I didn’t realize it at the time, but we coincidentally planned our France climbing trip in decreasing order of approach times. At Céüse we did the famous 45 min- 1 hr grueling uphill approach every day and then at the Ardeche our approach was flat and about 20-30 minutes long (once we figured out how to do it and didn’t have to employ kayakers to get our gear across the river), though it did involve easy traversing on cables for a small part of it. There were also scorpion sightings, humongous river otters and hoards of French tourists in mega-industrial “campsites”- it was pretty intense. The approaches at the Gorges du Tarn were quite a bit different… on average they were about 2 minutes long. In fact, a lot of the best sectors are right off of the road which runs parallel to the beautiful (and cold!) Tarn river. In fact, the whole setup was pretty similar to the Ardeche; in other words, a ridiculous number of limestone crags surround a river in a remarkably striking Gorge. However, the differences were only improvements- the rock quality is way better and there were much less tourists.
We left Céüse on account of its delightful weather (aka rain storms every afternoon for 4 days in a row) and because we had two more areas left to visit on our 3.5 week long French climbing vacay… Les Branches in the Ardeche and the famous Gorges du Tarn.