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South of France

22 Mar 2012

We’re back home after a great two weeks at Buis Les Baronnies, which is about 2 hours north of Marseille.  Experiment number 4 of climbing with children on holiday worked really well.  This involved my mum coming out to join us to act as part time babysitter.  Everyone had fun, but you can never go wrong with the south of France.  Overall I got 5.25 days in climbing, Nic 6, not huge amounts, but there’s a lot to be said for a day out at the crag, with no baby in tow.  Plus Nic and I climbed together outside!!  Only the second time since having Vanessa.

The sun shone and shone.  Meals al fresco, afternoon glasses of wine in bars, mooches around markets and plenty of cheese were the general themes.  Poor Vanessa suffered with a perforated eardrum, probably due to flying out with a cold.  My A-level french was tested with a visit to the doctors and administering the antibiotics wasn't easy but they worked and our little thing was back to normal within no time.

Vanessa and Ventoux

Vanessa with the Mont Ventoux behind.

St Leger was our choice of crag.  I must say that my first 2 climbing days were disappointing, not because of the quality of routes, but the state of my forearms, or rather there was no state.  I was confused and fed up after all the winter’s training.  Nic came up with the solution.  Virtually every time I go to France I have this problem but I always seem to forget:  French bread and pain au chocolat.  I find it really hard to resist but certainly wheat doesn’t seem to have a positive effect on my body when it comes to climbing.  After a day of resistance and rest my following climbing days were transformed.

Mum vanessa and st leger

My mum and Vanessa, St Leger in the background

My onsighting never improved much, which isn’t a surprise considering my lack of time on rock so I went for a bit of redpointing.  This resulted in 2 7cs:  Moby Dick and Baleine Sous Galet.  The latter did involve some kind of an epic and technically I’ve still not done the route.  I strayed left onto an 8a at the top (through incompetent working of the route i.e. I have a memory of this route from 7 years ago and assumed it was easy.  This time I didn't bother working the route so the top was virtually an onsight.  Don't do this at home) and despite being on 6b+ ground I couldn’t manage to bring myself to do the final move with the resulting dog leg rope drag. However I did climb 29 metres of the 30 metre route and those 29 metres well and truely covered the 7c.

Baleine sous galet 7c

Me redpointing Baleine Sous Galet 7c.  No wonder I struggled on this move, I had to dyno, it was reachy!  But check out the long quickdraw and sling above me.  This route was ridiculously run out.  The previous bolt is by my knees!

None of that really matters though as I was perfectly happy with how I was climbing, 7c quickly is more than ok for me at this stage.  Vanessa's crag progress shouldn't be ignored either.  She spent one morning at the crag and uneven ground doesn't faze her one bit.  It's still quite adult (us) intensive, but she's pretty happy to get scrambling about.  Her latest efforts are directed at standing onto steps and small rocks without the use of her hands!!

I’m still taking it easy and next week I’m hoping to get to Raven Tor to start getting back into the swing of things on the Peak limestone, which is ALWAYS a shock to the system.  At some point I'll leave 7c world and go harder, for now there's still time, it's still early in the year!