Full Report by Ned Feehally (video at base of report):
I was last out in Switzerland in February and got really lucky with the weather. This convinced me that the weather would be perfect again for another 2 weeks in December so I got a trip sorted. I was feeling pretty strong (for me) but had not really climbed much on rock for ages and had no idea how I was climbing. Strength and ability to dispatch are 2 very different things...
Day 1 – We stopped off in font for a day to break up the drive. Conditions were amazing and I went and finished off a couple of problems I had tried a few years ago. Ventricule Gauche 8a+ and Ventricule Droit 8a. Different sit starts into the same problem. I surprised myself by doing them in a couple of goes each. Good start to the trip – it's hard to climb hard in font as there is so much to wrong. I left for Switzerland feeling pretty keen for some hard boulders.
Day 2 – Bit of a drive
Day 3 – First day! It was cold and crisp and everything was dry, winner. I did Serre Moi Forte 8a+ and Vent Nous Portera 8a at Chironico and then went on Boogalagga 8b for a brief night session. I felt pretty worked but made good progress. I could do the top steadily and was getting closer and closer to sticking the crux - an annoying dead-point to a pocket. It's a funny move, you pull on all scrunched up in a ball then throw an arm hopefully towards the pocket and see how many fingers go in. I seemed to get the distance every time but never quite grab it. Oh well.
Day 4 – Rest day.
I didn't climb for the rest of the day but felt like I had a fair bit left in the tank so I went up to Cresciano for a night session on the Dagger 8b+. This was my main goal for the trip and I thought it would be good to do the moves again and get familiar with it. I got pretty close last trip but basically wasn't good enough and fell off near the end a couple of times. This time I was a little more prepared – I had trained a bit for it and I already had a decent sequence from last trip (there is about a million hand and foot moves to remember). I warmed up on it slowly and re-worked the sequence. The beginning is quite straight forward but very meaty, while the end is physically easier but quite complex. This trip I had my secret weapons with me which would hopefully help on the crucial toe hooks – anasazi velcros with a little addition to the front.
Anyway after an hour or so i got through the start and found myself questing along the end section – it was a bit of a shambles and I had to do some free styling but fortunately I had enough beans in the tank to finish it off. It's nice to top out with bit of a fight (and a 360) sometimes. Quality.
Day 6 – Felt like I had been wrestling. Rest day.
Day 7 – Back to Boogalagga 8b. Conditions down there were perfect but we only had a couple of hours before it got dark. Nalle was trying Big Paw (the sit start) so I got some useful beta off him, then after nearly doing it many times (too high, too far left, too fast, too slow etc..) I finally stuck the crux pocket move and rumbled to the top. Good boulder problem, but it's over a bit fast. I would love to get stuck into the sit start sometime but I left it for this trip as I had plenty of other stuff to do and I didn't want to spend my holiday sitting under one piece of rock.
Day 8 – Another rest day.
Day 9 – I wanted to try something easier and have a bit of a chilled day. I warmed up (a little bit) then pulled on Le Pilier 8a. From the ground it looked pretty simple and I thought I should try to flash it. Fortunately it was quite straight forward – if a little crimpy and I did, despite trying really hard to fall off the top. We went over to another area to have a look at Delusions of Grandure 8b. I had a quick go on this and the arête to the right, Kienfisch Klienfisch 8b and got the moves sorted but was too tired to link them so went home and ate a lot.
Day 11 – Went on teamwork. It's a pretty cool wall on small crimps. Normally the climbing in Switzerland involves decent sized holds that are weirdly hard to use. Teamwork 8a involves tiny crimps in a straight line. I did it in a few goes, fortunately as it punishes the skin, then we headed back to Delusions 8b and Keinfisch klienfisch 8b. I had a good sequence on both of these problems from the day before and managed to do them both in a couple of goes. Good day.
Day 12 – Rest
Day 13 – We headed up to Brione for the day. It's a beautiful place and the rock is some of the best I have ever climbed on. First port of call was Pamplemousse 8a. This is an old Dave Graham problem on some incredible swirly rock. After a couple of pull ups and some arm windmills I jumped on. I got through the crux but fell off when I tried to grab a hold I imagined I saw. Doh. 2nd go I knew where I was going and finished it off.
Next up was Amber 8b. This is a cool little problem with some meaty shoulder moves and some bad slopers. I quickly did all the moves then remembered what I had heard – it becomes hard when you try to link it. True that, it's quite long and although none of the moves are desperate they are all hard and it adds up. I got right to the end a few times but fluffed the last blind slap.
As usual in situations like this it's all about sitting back and having a long rest, even though all you want to do is jump on and finish it off. I sat back and cleaned the holds and let my hands cool down. After 10 minutes I got back on and busted it out. Good problem, good day, good end to the trip.
I am pretty keen to get back to Switzerland next year. Looking back at what I've written I think I should train some fitness. I never managed to climb more than 1 day on! Punter...