Posted on March 20, 2012 by Daniel Varian

This one is from Ned for once!
I recently had a 2 week trip to Switzerland. I thought i had better write something down about it...

Day 1: We seemed to spend all day crawling along snowy motorways but eventually arrived to a white out. Very cold. Go to sleep.

Day 2: Have a look around Cresciano as it’s the only crag we can get to with all the snow on the roads. After an exciting approach we run around looking at boulders and sweeping the things we want to try. Franks Wild Years is totally snow free so we do it. I’m climbing like a sack of spuds and decide to blame the traveling rather than a lack of ability, or any sort of warm up.

Day 3: Brione. The roads are fine but there is at least a foot of snow everywhere making getting to the boulders a cold wet nightmare. Again, we sweep a few things and then get stuck in. The rock is incredible, swirly granite with an almost sandstone feel to it. I do Marilyn Munroe then we retreat to the big cave so we don’t have to stand around in the snow. I do Fake Pamplemousse (flashed it, chuffed) and Ganymede Takeover (nearly flashed it, gutted) then fall off the massive holds in the middle of Frogger as exhaustion sets in. Its hard work being cold all day, let alone trying to climb.

Day 4: Rest. Skin good but body broken.

Day 5: Feel good. Time to try something hard. We warm up (nearly) on Harry Spotter then go straight to La Boule. I have a go at flashing it but fall off the 1st 2a move. Strong start. Next go I fall off the last hard move with totally numb fingers. Maybe there is something in warming up properly? After a few minutes with the mitts on my hands warm up and i get it done.

Next up La Proue. It looks easy, the handholds are massive. But then you see/don’t see the footholds. Tiny, like raisins squashed onto the wall. After a few goes working out what to stand on and generally flapping about I start getting close to the crux 1st move. I get a shove through to get familiar with the top – still tricky but not a problem if your feet stick to the raisins. A few goes later I hold the crux and do it. 2 Stone Love ticks in a day. Yesssss. I feel like Malc!

Day3 - La Boule, La Pelle, La Proue from Sandstones on Vimeo.

Day 5The dagger. Try this for an hour or so and work out some of the moves. Its great fun. I still can’t work out why climbing on such big holds is this hard. I leave feeling totally beaten up but keen. Maybe I can do all the moves with a bit more work.

Day 6: Rest. Aching all over.

Day 7The Dagger. Sort the moves out finally. Fall off making a stupid mistake on easy(ish) ground. I think I can do this now, it seems like I fell off purely because I’m not clever enough to remember the million move sequence! Nice one Ned, how embarrassing. Go home and do some crosswords to wake my brain up.

Day 8: Rest, this is getting frustrating, I want to actually climb something. Ive not come on holiday to rest (strangely).

Day 9The Dagger. The end is easy, the start feels fine but for some reason I feel totally exhausted and just can’t link the 2 halves. I know I can do this… I think. Decide to bin it off and have a look at Confessions as its fewer moves, so less chance of getting pumped!

The crux of Confessions is supposed to be the doing the splits between 2 heels. Wow. I surprise myself by doing the moves pretty fast and falling off the jugs at the end, totally pumped. Something isn’t right, I shouldn’t be falling off jugs. Annoying. Phil makes me go for a walk with him to sweep snow off some boulders and force me to rest (grumbling to myself the whole time). After a walk and a brew I put my shoes back on and dispatch, by the skin of my teeth. Mantling the flat top feels like the hardest move I’ve ever done.

I feel totally done in now but at least I topped out on something today so tomorrows aching will feel deserved.
Day 10: Rest, no skin and aching all over. Go out spotting various people on various problems (secretly taking notes on their sequences)

Day 11: Chironico. Yay new crag. It’s still really snowy but some boulders are clean and dry. Freak Brothers first. It looks amazing. Mince around for a bit then find a toe hook that makes all the difference and it feels ok. Not as big as I was hoping but its a beautiful wall and a world class problem.

Conquistadors next. I had spotted Ben on this a couple of times so had a good idea of the sequence (from my secret note taking). The holds all feel good from the comfort of the floor. After pulling on I have one of those rare moments when climbing feels effortless (how I imagine climbing feels all the time for small, skinny people) and with Ben talking me though it move by move I flash it. Another world class boulder, and better still we have time for a 3rd venue.

Finish the day on Reve de Mario. I have an old Prana postcard of Fred Nicole doing this, I think it’s from 1996 or something when I just started climbing. It’s a boulder I had always wanted to do so it was a nice end to the day. What a move.

Day 12The Dagger. I am pretty tired but it’s the last day so I’m up for a brawl. I fall off most the way through the problem as I just cant make a toehook stick. My body is giving up on me, unhappy with 2 weeks of shivering and poor warm ups. Have to call it a day. Gutted. Do Jungle Book as a small consolation prize, it’s a brilliant problem. Still annoyed so go home and eat loads.

Day 13: Up at 4am, drive to airport (get lost on the way, obviously) and fly home.

It was a great little trip. 2 weeks of perfect weather and lots of world class boulders. Still gutted about the dagger however. Will have to go back...

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