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Friday, August 03, 2012

Ceuse Report - and my criteria for climbing a new grade

Ceuse and all it's sectors - yes, you do get to walk 4-5km every day up 500 meters of vertical height!


I posted this on Facebook a few days after arriving home last week (was it only last week?!!?):


Home after Ceuse. Short report (before a long one...)
- yes, it's still Awesome!
- all the Irish group were amazing, think every one of the 24 there was ticking in the 7's and 8's (nothing like group motivation!)
- Inspired as ever by all the amazing other countries and people to hang out with. More locations to visit (Zillertal, Finland, and Oz get mentions here).
- the World Cup in Briancon was the highlight rest-day activity. Multi-thousand spectators, jammed into a small square, a poor female final route (too many top-outs), interspersed with some rope-acrobats, followed by an amazing Men's final (great energy off the crowd which made for an ace evening).








I may as well just use this as the sub-headings for the rest of the post :)



  • "Yes, it's still awesome!"

This pretty much says it all. For anyone who hasn't been there (or heard the comments that it's very stiff), well yes, some of it is quite stiff, but it's also phenomenal climbing, some of the best you'll find anywhere - especially if you're into technical-climbing-that's-very-sustained-but-friendly. It is a crag that takes a bit of time to get into, but it's all worthwhile in the end, with payment in a stunning view from the crag, fantastic weather throughout the summer (it's consistently good weather throughout the summer months), a brilliant social/friendly community of climbers on the campsite all there just to have fun and climb, and obviously the brilliant climbing :) The standard is high at the crag but that leads me onto the next point........



  • "all the Irish group were amazing, think every one of the 24 there was ticking in the 7's and 8's (nothing like group motivation!)"

This was fascinating, very interesting. I'm probably being controversial here but I feel this is the first year that everyone from Ireland there turned up and wasn't overly intimidated by the standard. After 6 visits here in 12 years, I've seen a lot of people come through the place. Many have gotten on fine, their own self confidence/belief ensuring they did so, but many others I've seen (at all levels of ability) have not taken well to the level/standard on display there. Is it intimidation, motivation, the walk, the style of climbing? who knows. The grades climbed this summer don't matter (I'm sure those there will be proud to tell you of their achievements if you ask them). All that matters is that it was so inspiring seeing everyone just going for it this year, throwing themselves at routes within their ability (with a lot of laughter too - you can tell when people are enjoying what they're doing when they're falling off with a smile - again, can remember seeing some people out there who just used to lower off swearing loudly), and just outside it. That latter comment is important, I've also seen others turn up and expect to climb way above their ability here too (with disastrous results also)!



  • "Inspired as ever by all the amazing other countries and people to hang out with. More locations to visit (Zillertal, Finland, and Oz get mentions here)."

As ever, if you want a social scene, Ceuse ticks that box too. Hanging out 'normal' climbers and the 'pros' (of which it's easy to forget they are full-time climbers!) means it's always inspiring - be it in hearing about the latest super-route to be done, or hearing about standards/motivations/scenes/weather in other countries worldwide. I don't feel so bad about the travel distance from Ireland anymore to Ceuse (17 hour ferry, and 12 hours driving from Cherbourg) after meeting the Finns. They have 24 hours of driving before their ferry! In relation to the Finns, UKclimbing.com had this article about the first two Finnish to climb 9a recently:

The two climbers are in some ways representative of different aspects of Finland's still small but vibrant and burgeoning climbing scene; Tomi has been arguably Finland's leading route climber for a decade with many hard new routes both sport and trad to his name around the country, while Andy is a young climber who until really rather recently was focused mainly on bouldering, where he obviously developed some mutant strength and has repeated loads of hard problems including half a dozen 8B+'s.
Finnish climbing is leaping ahead currently. New bouldering and lead climbing walls have in the last few years brought lots of new people into the sport. This summer has seen a steady stream of youngsters (and a few vets too!) breaking the 8a barrier, along with new, hard sport routes being sent. Trad climbing has also not been forgotten with some repeats of older test pieces and some new hard and scary looking offerings.
Perhaps most exciting of all is as climbing's popularity spreads, ever more crags and particularly boulders are being found. Gullsten and Nytorp's ascents abroad can only add to the general sense of enthusiasm.
 I've highlighted one section of it in bold - sound familiar to anyone in Ireland? May not realize, but there's a whole lot of energy being built up in Ireland right now, it's frickin' awesome! Watch if the same situation happens here too........ On a side note, they also have very mixed weather, etc so it's no different really.


  • "The World Cup in Briancon was the highlight rest-day activity. Multi-thousand spectators, jammed into a small square, a poor female final route (too many top-outs), interspersed with some rope-acrobats, followed by an amazing Men's final (great energy off the crowd which made for an ace evening)."
I can't emphasize how cool the competition was. A couple of drinks, gear displays from various companies, a nice looking wall, and good motivation from the crowd and the climbers. While I've always believed that competitive climbing had it's place and was a really important aspect, I needed to see it for real to imagine if it would work at Olympics, etc. I'm not sure of it, what a fun, inspiring event!



So, what else? Naomi had a great trip, ticking off a lot of routes she'd been aspiring to. She's moved onto the benchmark wall of the Berlin sector so her own personal progression continues steadily.....

I had a mixed trip, nothing surprising really considering what I mentioned in my last post. I also have a few things that I have as personal criteria for my own climbing:
- I'm not in climbing just for the grade. My personal progression is important, but that isn't always realized through climbing a new grade, there's an important distinction there! I still remember that I just love climbing for the fun of the movement, the location, exercise, etc. Regularly grades get mentioned, but it's the only real measurement we have right now so is the easiest way to discuss amongst others! So when I tried my old 'new grade' route, L'ami du Tout La Monde, again this year I'm not really interested in sieging it just to get the tick. If that is what works for you, good on you, but it's not my thing. I've always been inspired by watching the pros, climbing all routes within capacity and with beautiful 'flow'. So I only tried the route one day a week (two attempts per day), enough to let me develop on it, but not just be spending all my time on it. It also meant I got to go off and just climb/repeat other routes for the pure enjoyment of the climbing. Like last year, I evolved more and more, stronger in moves, but not having the right flow to link it all. It'll be there in the future! And having seen multiple articles from people in their 30's/40's/50's climbing and making progression, I'm sticking to my guns of lifetime progression :) The side benefit of trying routes at this level is that I'm not getting to fully appreciate what level the professionals are actually at. DeadPointMag put up this report which gives inspiration of what will be possible by an Irish climber in the future - I've always believed it was possible, but nice to see proof of it:
At CeĆ¼se, France, Sasha Digiulian has redpointed Slow Food (5.14a.) This is Sasha's 16th 5.14 in the past year, two of which check in at 5.14d. She also managed an onsight of Encore (5.13c) and a flash of L'ami de Tout le Monde (5.13d). Since her first 5.14 ascent just three years ago, Sasha has amassed a total of twenty-two 5.14 ascents, two of which were onsight. 
Amazing......
Anyway, I'll stick to my criteria for climbing a new grade also. Am I the only one who has something like this?
- Must climb at least three routes of same grade, and realistically five of them.
- At least one of them must be at a different crag
- Must be at least two different styles of routes (i.e. vertical, another very steep/short/burly/technical, etc.)