Sunday, June 24, 2018

The French connection

It's been three weeks since I'm back to Slovenia after completing my Erasmus year in France. I was glad to come back after 10 months of living in France, having had a great year and feeling a new surge of climbing motivation.

Who needs hamstrings anyway?
Back in September while climbing in Ceuse I put a partial tear in my hamstring. It set me back considerably, since it was taking a long time before I was able to climb and run pain-free, but it's clear my irresponsible way of going about it prolonged the healing process. Just putting it out there as a note to self. Is there anyone who had the same? I would love to hear your thoughts. Even if less common than upper body injuries, hamstring tears in climbers are serious. And living in Grenoble not being able to climb or ski kind of sucked, too.

from the trip to Ceuse in September

Au revoir, Rocher du Midi (a la prochaine fois)
Between Grenoble and Chambery stretches the east barrier of the Chartreuse massive with numerous steep limestone walls cropping out. I grew to hold dear this unique enviroment of dense forests, interesting rock formations and alpine meadows. The few big birds are your only company up there, yet it's so close to the buzz of the life down in the valley. Taking the car ride back home, I passed in front of those walls for the last time: Dent de Crolles, Rocher du Midi, Aulp du Seuil, le Grand Manti...
In May I've been sieging a multipitch project on Rocher du Midi with friends Laurent and Romain. Romain was madly motivated for this route and it became a Saturday routine to get up early, make the hike to the base of the 250m wall and play on the various difficult pitches. The route is called Carnet d'Adresse and it came to people's attention after Nina Caprez gave it its third ascent a few years ago. Even if with Romain we both managed to climb the crux pitch, twice we were forced to bail due to rain and so the project of linking all the hard pitches remains (a much bigger challenge than the crux pitch alone).

hard sport climbing with an 'ambiance', Carnet d'adresse on Rocher du Midi
Romain levitating the crux pitch
rising above the clouds on a different climb on le Grand Manti, photo by Eirik
'ambiance Chartreuse'

hiking out past L'Aulp du Seuil

The Grenoble school of climbing
While 'saucissoner' (the act of being a saucisse) in my harness, I was inspecting the rock for miniature blips and bumps that would permit advancing the gray slab of the 35-metre crux pitch. It's a vertical wall, at times maybe even a degree of slab, but it's really, really thin. In a typical fit of desperation, I was cursing the rock and my lack of shape, wondering how is this even possible. Romain yelled at me and I looked down. 'Dude, just do this' he said, flexed his fingers and brought the thumb on top of the index. I had to shut up...
Romain, climbing bare feet at Saint Ange, just because...
 flying under the radar but sending like a beast

Climbing in Slovenia
Not long after I got home, I got out for a day with David. It's been since our trip to the amazing granite walls of Kyrgizstan that we haven't climbed together. Predostenje Križevnika is a north-west face on Križevnik (1909 m) in the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. We climbed on Rajčeva, a route I'd already been on a year ago with Kruder. This time, things ran smoothly and I managed to free climb all the pitches. The route is an amazing trip up a very steep wall, an exhilirating mix of trad and sport climbing and a true pleasure to climb. Despite 10 hours of climbing we topped out feeling mega psyched. The next day I woke up feeling completely trashed. I'm running out of superlatives to describe this route. What a day!
Robanov Kot at 8.30 AM, feeling motivated... climbing becomes really fun
on the immaculate slovenian rock. First pitch, 7a+. David has a new camera and I brought my haul bag so we hauled, took photos, climbed, hauled...

me seconding the second pitch, 6c

Dave on the crux 8a pitch, a pumpy 30 metre crack line

me setting off for the next, an steep dihedral in 7b+.

Dave following the 7b+. That was a fight till the last move!

still happy despite sick with lactic acid

the wall. it's not very tall, but it's very good
The French connection
I am much obliged to my old and new friends in Grenoble and everybody who climbed with me during my stay, I've always felt welcome. Slovenia's reputation as a nation of mountaineers and climbers is widespread - one shouldn't be surprised, yet I've always felt secretly flattered. Since Eastern Europe sounds similar to Eastern Block, I've always had to dispell the rumours of our secret training methods. In a way, for the big nation and culture that is France, which sometimes turns out to be ignorant and self-centered, it's cool how climbing kind of puts us on the map. Suddenly I felt proud and started bragging in front of my friends about the performances of our athletes in the bouldering World Cup. Yet few people come to climb in Slovenia, I think they would if they knew how good it is.
a long overdue tour of history in Buoux! I spent 4 great days there during New Year holiday with a bunch of grenoblois. We talked to Antoine le Menestrel at the foot of the routes he opened 35 years ago. And I managed to send La Rose et Le Vampire, still proud about it ^^

Thanks for reading! I hope to post more, provided I get up to some nice climbs this summer. 'Till then, yours truly,