Stuck in the trees.
Every year i forget exactly what Winter involves and what Summer involves, longing for whichever i’m not experiencing. Autumn is usually my favourite time of year but i’m pretty sure it passed us by this year. I have certainly had no crisp 8˚c days out kicking leaves along footpaths whilst out exploring rocks and then basking in some golden light, getting home just in time for dinner and a night by the fire. Glum evenings up here and many humid days have cast winters dour blanket all too early for my liking, the worst part is the sickening christmas adverts advertisers are hammering us with in November desperate to wring every last penny out of us, just incase we’d forgotten we all have to buy stuff at the end of December. A trip to font was a bit of a curve ball too, i packed all my thermals and coats hoping for autumn. Chucking a pair of shorts in at the last minute, only to be stranded in said pair for a week as temperatures sat in the mid 20’s The rock felt it too, seemingly sweating in the trees, with beads of condensation indiscriminately covering arete and roof alike. Summer is still crap too it seems. Luckily it cooled down in our second week enough to get a brief glimpse of font in autumn. Leaves were hastily kicked and problems were hastily ticked in a mad dash to sate our bouldering hunger. What a brilliant place Font is, but like frankenjura (arguably a nicer area with less condoms and car thieves) Even a fairly diverse forest of different trees can breed monotonous feels to the rocks and the areas feel, on the whole, much alike. You cannot escape up a mountain or to the coast as is so easy in the north of the UK.
In fact the nearest different rock types worth a visit are a many hours drive away.
Still Font makes up for this by being totally awesome on the micro scale (not that anyone who's been doesn't realise this!). It really is some of the best rock on earth with curves and gratons conspiring to twist and stretch out limbs in brilliant sequences. I can’t wait to go back when it’s cold with the specific aim to try hard stuff, as this trip was mainly an attempt at relaxing (albeit a little forced in the first week) I wound up the gears a bit in the last 2 days and got some stuff done i really wanted to do. Before i left i got the new 7’s and 8’s guide and noticed Oliver Lebreton had put up a 8B+/8B sitter to L’arete De Boissy, A line which'd always begged to be completed from a massively logical sitter, as there is a huge juggy break which skirts the boulder at knee height. To me it seemed likely to become a bit of a classic of the grade, albeit a new one. I’d done hip hop very quickly and was in the area when i thought why not and had a dabble. It seemed a little dirty on a few holds considering it’d only been done last year but i had no idea what the official sequence was. I sniffed out a way pretty quick which seemed like nice climbing and didn’t use holds on other climbs so i was good to go. Pretty soon i was dropping the crux move of the stand but i ran out of juice just after figuring a few tweaks out. It was great fun anyhow and nice to play on some reasonably hard moves. The next climbing day after Katie crushed her project i managed to get up it in the nick of time as my skin was heading south faster than the sun. It was one of those really nice moments which climbing trips can only produce thanks to time pressure and skin issues. No returns, just giving it what you have at the time. It’s probably as close as you get to comp climbing outdoors. Relative difficulty instead of absolute. For, Shirley, things can only be at your true limit when everything is working in your favour and you only just get there. It still felt great to top it out. I think it was maybe the second ascent. Jan has walloped it since. I found out when i got back that i’d naively done it a new method as Lebreton came into it from the LHS via divine invasion’s side pull so that’d explain why there was a bit of lichen on some of my holds. It was great fun anyhow and it felt good to wind up the gears a little on the old away game.
Upon getting home i’ve been fairly docile compared to pre Rail me.
When last week i went back with Mark to get some photos on it I really got a good warm glow with what this climbing malarkey is all about for me. It was nice to just sit there for a while and bask in the light remembering both good and bad times had on a really nice bit of rock. Bouldering in the UK is often set in real landscapes and you are made to feel like you are somewhere very different every time you head out. Bowden has a vista which really adds to the pleasantries of the crag. This variety is something we shouldn’t take for granted as there was a time even 70 years ago when accessing so many places in the course of a week or month was challenging and the preserve of the ~5% who could afford the time to do so.
No more so was i reminded of being lucky in life than a recent trip up to Sampson stones to try a great problem called Stellar Dweller of Greg Chapman’s. There is still something a bit absurdly victorian about driving over Hardknott and Wrynose in the lakes. It doesn’t feel natural taking automobiles over such places, and it’s a lot more relaxing to head about such a landscape on foot.
What a place the Lakes can be on those quiet crispy days. Just the odd blurble of a stream to remind the ears that things are still moving in such a timeless place. In the end Stellar Dweller was a great excuse to get out in the mountains and be part of such a brilliant landscape for a small time. It doesn’t hurt that it is on great rock and has some lovely shaped holds either. But to argue the point there are great moves on my board, yet i would never bother to drive over an hour each way and walk over an hour to try one problem for 10 minutes climbing on it. The sum of outdoor climbing is much more than its parts and it’s only when you appreciate things as a whole that it’ll all click. What much of lakes bouldering can often lack in terms of size and quantity it more than makes up for in landscape and serenity. So to cut to the chase, Font is awesome but it's in a bloody big forest . The UK has loads of nice views as we chopped down all our trees to fight the french and spanish at sea. so the real winners are everyone except the dutch, but they are all tall and good looking it seems.