Easter Climbing Adventures

Over Easter, I had an 11 day break from classes at ETH. Obviously this meant it was time for some outdoor climbing! My friends Natalie and Remo were gracious enough to let me accompany them on their trip to Fontainebleau. Unfortunately the Easter weekend weather forecast did not look too promising in France…so on the Thursday night before Easter we decided to head down to Brione, a climbing area in Ticino, to wait out the weather.

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River boulders in Brione

What a place to go as a plan B! Brione is a small town in mountainous Ticino with beautiful gneiss boulders sitting right on the banks of a river. The weather was great for climbing – no rain, a little sun, and quite cold. We were a group of about 10, either on the Zürich Regional Team or friends. The first day we started in the forest above the river, and explored a few interesting boulders there. However my favourite boulders were those down by the river.The next two days I spent mostly down at the river, and had a great time working a few hard slab problems, and two really nice (and hard) problems that I am really psyched on – Bachblock 7c and Entwash 8a. Hopefully I will get a chance to go back to Brione to try them again this year!

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Rock stacks in Brione

On Monday we took a rest day and drove to Fontainebleau and met up with a large group of climbers from Zürich that were already there. The next day was my first day climbing on sandstone…let’s just say it’s not exactly my style. Fontainebleau grades are widely considered to be quite stiff, especially as most of the climbing is very balancy, techy, and not powerful.

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This is what Fontainebleau sandstone looks like – texture and the general amount of “holds”

I think for me the moment that summed up me trying to boulder in Fontainebleau was getting to the top of a warm up boulder only to find a very rounded top out with no foot holds. I looked down at Natalie to ask for beta, to which she replied “just mantel!”. And now imagine my best “you cannot be serious” face. Although I did not finish it that try, I did get back on and managed to top it out without too much “beached whaling”.

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Remo going for the crux hold on an 8a that I forget the name of
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Watching Natalie send Beatle Juice

Over the course of the 5 days we spent bouldering, I was very proud to finish 4 climbs above 6c:

– Beatle Juice 7a+ (flash!) : okay so this wasn’t exactly classic “Font” style

– Légitime Adhérence (assis) 7a : climbing in direct sun is hard

– Attention Chef d’Œuvre 7a : learning to finger jam

– Lady Big Claque/le Flipper 7a+ : compression climbing!

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Natalie sending Lady Big Claque/le Flipper

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This one is still a project for me…La Rampe in Buthiers.

Being in France was a lovely vacation. We camped, which meant sleeping in late and big campfires in the evenings. It was hot – some days almost too hot to climb. And being in a French speaking country with Swiss German speaking people got me very confused indeed…by the end of the trip my understanding of Swiss German definitely improved, but I was also mixing my French and German. For example, saying “nein, merci”, or throwing in a French word or two when trying to speak German.

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It’s not just the perspective – this bonfire is about 4 feet tall!

And now I’m back in Zürich…for a few days at least. Tomorrow is the first Swiss Cup competition in Pratteln, near Basel, and our team is leaving straight from there to go right back to Fontainebleau for a training camp (with Fred Nicole!). I’m feeling refreshed, motivated, and strong after this trip so I am very excited for this competition!

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