So here I am in Gorges du Loup in Southern France, living the trip lifestyle and loving it. Climb, swim, chill, eat, sleep, repeat. Perfect. Though the river is freezing. No rain, OK temps (so long as you don't mind shorts and tops off), and a sea of tufas and chipped pockets to destroy ourselves on. Although I arrived with 5 knee pads, I still found it necessary to make the trip to Nice to pick up another 5.10 one to make a pair - they're a bit uncomfy, but when it comes to tough knees these are the bomb. Despite all the pads my knees are still in ruins, and my thumbs haven't had a full compliment of skin since we arrived around a week ago. Just how I like it. Lordy I love steep tufa climbing.
Climbing has been going well with two 8cs ticked off so far - Quenelle Trophy and Qoussai les maux de la fin. First up was Quenelle, my shortest 8c to date - 20 moves of power endurance on pinches, a good knee and a little end section where you shouldn't really fall but it's not over. With some cunning kneebaring and toe hooking I managed to trick my way through the crux, much to the relief of my biceps.This is a particularly attractive route as it's almost natural, which is a rare thing at Deverse, a sector which features more sika and drilled pockets that I ever thought was possible. Despite all the manufacturing it's still a pretty sweet crag. With that ticked off it was onto the next...
I'm told that ...les maux de la fin translates roughly as "the troubles with the finish", which I found out was rather appropriate. It's an 8a+ to the first chains and an upside down no-hands kneebar, and 8c if you extend it to the top of the crag. Just after the chains there's a resistance section on drilled pockets, another upside down no hander (surely sending this much lactic acid filled blood to your brain can't be good?), another resistance section on tufas, a worse kneebar, and then a final sting in the tail, with a bouldery section on pinches. After this it's 5 ok moves to the chains, but with no real rest possible I discovered to my horror that these moves don't feel so ok. Pumping out I grabbed the draw but couldn't even begin to clip when I was holding this... I think I might have been more pumped than ever before in my life! Next time up I remembered the lessons I've learnt from previous redpoints, and focused on climbing the lower section faster and spending less time hanging on my arms in the lower rests (cue a brutal abb pump in the kneebars). Despite nearly missing the final pocket (pump really screws up my coordination) I just about kept it together to desperately clip the chains.
As well as manufacturing, Deverse is famous for having lots of links, in a Santa Linya or Raven Tor style. Quenelle finishes at the same point as where the 8a+ first part of Qoussai ends, and doing it with the extension warrants the magic 8c+, which I'm psyched to have some tries on. I envisage the most hideous, mind blowing, full body pump imaginable.
Too many routes, too much psyche, too little time and too little strength! ~4 weeks left. Bring it on.