Est and Ouest: Aprémont

Jill wanted to finish a project from last time we were in Font in 2012: Sitting Bull, 7b+. A turtle shell topout struggle that only gets gnarlier as one’s wingspan gets shorter, unless you can mantel the lip shelf straight up. There are quite a few 7a’s and 7a+’s around also, so we both hit the slopes of Ouest, the shortest destination amongst the Aprémont 7 from the main parking lot in Barbizon.

The underside of the turtleshell. Sitting Bull, 7b+.

The underside of the turtleshell. Sitting Bull, 7b+.

Note: The events in this blog post occurred over a handful of days during a 5+ week period. Currently, Apr. 22, it has been raining with some hail. 

Oh, I’d recommend NOT going to Aprémont’s main parking area that sits east of the Barbizon when it’s a weekend. The drive to the small parking area is 1.3 km long and parking is had its entire distance. This is what it looks like when it’s full. The best part is if you can witness this you will be stuck in it for the ENTIRE trip into the small parking loop and all the way out… then to have to deal with Barbizon traffic afterwards!

exiting or entering, all the same.

exiting or entering, all the same.

entering or exiting, don't bother.

entering or exiting, don’t bother.

And this was on a non-climbing (rest) day. We just weren’t thinking… Afterwards, we headed to Franchard Raymond for our day hike only to run into quite a few other boulderers and hikers.

The 7 Aprémont crags as a whole are very popular, but the ones that require a bit of walking tend not to be so crowded. These include Raymond, Solitude, Envers, Désert and Sully, but even these can see a fair number of climbers on weekends. Two years ago, we spent time mostly at Aprémont Ouest (west), the closest crag to the cafe/parking area.

Here are some shots of climbs we liked and could do, Ouest first. Jill wanted to send Sitting Bull, 7b+. She came close 2 years ago, and now, after 2 seasons of josh topouts and a v10 FA with its own serious exit, she was determined to send. The bottom is hard but straight forward bridging, a toe jam and a knee bar. The jug sloper lip is now in hand. From here, either mantel straight away (a brit we climbed with in Aprémont Est said he sent this way), or make a big move out right fully extended from the underside crack lip edge. Upon reaching this key sloper, heel hook, and make it look good. Or not.

Reaching the sweet sloper before the topout. This is the ledge that the brit photographer mantled to exit. (he's mentioned later in the post)

Reaching the sweet sloper before the topout. This is the ledge that the brit photographer mantled to exit. (he’s mentioned again later in the post)

Our first day there we arrived late, and after she worked the exit moves quickly we also sent a nearby 7a called Le Petit Phoque (play on words???). I next tried Trou, another 7a nearby, and tweaked my right hip by trying to do the sit static first before reaching. Bummer. I accept that I prefer to do sits as static hangs first, but some problems are so much harder to do that way, and this seems to be one of them. The problem is matching underclings with most the weight on the right leg and the whole construct is awkwardly situated between the ground and a boulder to the right. Finding a static position is hard since the center position isn’t conveniently right above the ground. It’s forced. Stay left is out of necessity to avoid the boulder to the right. I did pull on and hang, but on my second try, I felt my right SI joint over rotate and sprain slightly. Basically, the muscles gave out and left the joint vulnerable to the stress while I was still pulling. Since the SI joint was originally injured over 15 years ago, working on an old Montero, I’ve at times re-injured it the same way. This latest incident was about 3.5 weeks ago and only now am I willing to do some right heel hooks with confidence.

After the pull on from sit, Le Petit Phoque, 7a.

After the pull on from sit, Le Petit Phoque, 7a.

About to do the crux after bumping the right hand up and in...

About to do the crux after bumping the right hand up and in…

Fun and short problem.

Fun and short problem.

Going for the jug sloper.

Going for the jug sloper.

Sending Trou sans the first move, the crux.

Sending Trou sans the first move, the crux.

Here is the pull from the sit.

Here is the pull from the sit. It didn’t happen. I should have stussy-started it. Just elevate and snatch…

Late start. We still decided to rest the next day. Upon returning, Jill sent Sitting Bull. Yay! I did Haka, the 7a version from the stand. We both did Gauche and Attaque des Aplats, both 7a, then she did E’pée, 7b. I felt fine, no pain, she felt psyched for doing two harder problems, one of them an old project.

Haka, 7a, from the stand. It's a super fun line that feels more gym the crag.

Haka, 7a, from the stand. It’s a super fun line that feels more gym than crag.

Incut holds and sweet slopers. Compression, and a reasonably moderate topout.

Incut holds and sweet slopers. Compression, and a reasonably moderate topout.

Gauche, 7a.

Gauche, 7a.

4 or 5 problems of 7a or harder all within about 10 meters of this shot. Gauche.

4 or 5 problems of 7a or harder all within about 10 meters of this shot. Gauche.

Gauche is 4 meters to the gauche (left) of this photo! Attaque des Aplats, 7a.

Gauche is 4 meters to the gauche (left) of this photo! Attaque des Aplats, 7a.

This is the reach version. Jill had to use a micro foot hold below and inside my right heel to reach this high hold.

This is the reachy version. Jill had to use a micro foot hold below and inside my right heel to reach this high hold.

The shorty version.

The shorty version.

powerful and short (like the previous problems). E’pée, 7b.

powerful and short (like the previous problems). E’pée, 7b.

jill matched on that left hand; I tried it but felt like I was trying to fit inside a small doghouse!

jill matched on that left hand; I tried it but felt like I was trying to fit inside a small doghouse!

I need to turn it up. With my hip feeling better, 7a’s and 7a+’s are feeling easily sent, save a rare problem like La Conque (Aprémont Est), that neither of us could figure out. And it’s a cool problem also. It felt very technical where the balance point was not obvious nor could be forced. One very poor sloper, a second one that’s good enough. The start is a short vertical crack left of all the slopers, the bad one being the first to grab. Further right and higher up is the next and better sloper. Long past it is a jug. Ugh! The trick is getting the left hand on the right higher sloper. The crack becomes a giant foot, the problem is done. WTF? I can’t seem to get past a match with an insane right heel and toe cam. Stuck in the fucking limbo of tension and footwork absurdity. I will return.

Aprémont Est has many lines worth doing including popular lines Onde de Choc, Fleur de Rhum, Piano à Queue assis and a fair number of crimpy standout lines we avoided. Around Onde de Choc are 4 other 7’s including: La Fosse (7a), Fosse Ailleurs (7a+), Rêve de Pierre (7a), and Tailler en Pièce (7a). Neither of us could do La Fosse. The undercling move after the toe hook (reachy but can’t say if it’s truly morpho) felt so hard! I sent Tailler en Pièce, and we both sent the harder variant of La Fosse called Fosse Ailleurs, and Rêve de Pierre. For some unknown reason which we guess is that we didn’t follow the right holds, the harder line of Fosse felt easier, way easier. Here are some images of it:

Fosse Ailleurs, 7a+, starts on the prow at a red arrow. It heads right to the obvious high sloper to the right. La Fosse starts right on side pulls with the toe hook below where Jill is in the picture.

Fosse Ailleurs, 7a+, starts on the prow at a red arrow. It heads right to the obvious high sloper to the right. La Fosse starts right on side pulls with the toe hook below where Jill is in the picture.

The exit continues right.

The exit continues right.

Onde de Choc is to the left in the two photos above.

I really wanted to do La Fosse but found standing up into the undercling with a left side pulling toe hook, a right hand sidepull and a left hand undercling so difficult to unweight the right foot (that was taking most of the down force) or the left toe hook (and control the release with the undercling). In 1999, I think, a group of us visited font for the first time, and I watched local climber Thierry Plaud do this line on the first day. I always thought it was cool and hoped to return to do it. That trip had insane bad rain where our first day on stone was the best of the 4+ weeks! Also, the first day of that trip I did Fleur de Rhum, 7a+ and, I think later on, Marginal, 7b+ or 7c depending on which reference (at Aprémont).  After sending Fleur de Rhum (I think flashed) really set me up for a shocker. Fleur is more a gym climb then anything. The landing isn’t good, but padable and spottable, and I falsely figured if this is 7a+, cool. This place will be fun! Haha. Yes, but also way technical, frustrating and intense. I’ve since gained more respect for these moderate grades.

In truth, grade conversions to the v-scale from 7a to 7b+ are not very precise. The french scale covers 4 levels while 7a usually translates to v6 and 7b+ to v8, 3 levels on the v-scale. Sometimes 7a can be hard v5, but I also feel usually it’s more like hard v6. They say font has stiff grades. I’ve also heard josh has stiff grades. Josh feels easier. Just to finish the picture of grade conversions, 7c and v9 are pretty consistent, and the two scales match from there on up. Some say the font scale is a bit closer to harder versions of the v-scale. Iduntno. Maybe that’s because conditions here seriously effect climbing performance. The grit of grés is fine. It can feel totally smooth with dry tips, high humidity, little or no breeze and not-so-cold conditions. Not that granite isn’t finicky stone, because it is, but the whole atmosphere of font bouldering can make one feel neurotic about conditions and tips. Really! Even having too many peeps on one problem, trying to gang bang the thing into submission, produces very warm holds and tons of humidity in the chalk collected on the stone, that, without consistent brushing and slapping, and some wind, can be a real turnoff.

Tailler en Pièce, 7a. Super fun slopers.

Tailler en Pièce, 7a. Super fun slopers.

And no, the camera isn't tilted.

And no, the camera isn’t tilted.

No send for Jill Tailler en Pièce, and no pics of Rob.

No send for Jill on Tailler en Pièce, and no pics of Rob.

This next line we both really liked! It’s called Rêve de Pierre, 7a, and it has a nasty sit start that goes at 7c. I did the move from the sit to the very high sidepull, but the next move to get the right hand to the high right poor sloper was nasty! If we return to do La Conque, I’ll try the sit again.

Rêve de Pierre, 7a. Matching felt more the crux, even though the setup was pretty hard.

Rêve de Pierre, 7a. Matching felt more the crux, even though the setup was pretty hard.

Doubled the pad just to reach the right side pull for the stand.

Doubled the pad just to reach the right side pull for the stand.

The sit is a forced line going right into the side pull. There is a cool 5 in the foreground, left of Rêve...that makes it hard to understand if the start of the 5 is usable for the sit to the stand.

The sit is a forced line going right into the side pull. There is a cool 5 in the foreground, left of Rêve…that makes it hard to understand if the start of the 5 is usable for the sit to the stand.

We warmed up on this next problem (3 lines actually: stand left is a 5, stand right 6c+, sit right 7a) before doing Onde de Choc:

La Lune assis, 7a.

La Lune assis, 7a.

Finish moves of La Lune assis.

Finish moves of La Lune assis.

Here is the first move of the sit.

Here is the first move of the sit, La Lune assis.

I have two angles of Jill on Onde de Choc. One was shot by another climber, a brit named James, that also happens to be a professional photographer, at least currently. He also sent, as did his friend making for a fun send train. After Onde de Choc, we all sent Fleur de Rhum.

This pretty much sums up our first day on Onde de Choc. It was after rain, and the rock felt like it needed some good powder love.

This pretty much sums up our first day on Onde de Choc. It was after rain, and the rock felt like it needed some good powder love. Our second day on it we both sent.

Jill on an unsuccessful attempt. Photo by James, a brit boulderer we climbed with.

Jill on an unsuccessful attempt. Photo by James, a brit boulderer we climbed with.

First of three hard moves. Photo by James.

First of three hard moves. Photo by James.

After this move, bump to a a good sidepull with the right. Photo by James.

After this move, bump to a a good sidepull with the right. Photo by James.

Photo by moi. This shot doesn't show the problem very well. :(

Photo by moi. This shot doesn’t show the problem very well.

Lighting conditions changed quite a bit. I think she sent on this try.

Lighting conditions changed quite a bit. I think she sent on this try.

Our second send train, here on Fleur de Rhum.

Fleur de Rhum, 7a+. Matching on the happy face crimp via toe hook. You guessed the next move...

Fleur de Rhum, 7a+. Matching on the happy face crimp via toe hook. You guessed the next move…

James the photographer sending. Maybe we'll see him in Joshua Tree next season???

James the photographer sending. Maybe we’ll see him in Joshua Tree next season???

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~ by r. mulligan on 2014/04/23.

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