The Blue Tarp

Thursday, May 8, we decided, after a rest day, to head to Buthiers and make a go of Attention Chef d’Œuvre and possibly Appartenance. What we ended up with was La Rampe, a blue tarp, a poor showing on Trojan War, and a send in the Coquibus.

The blue tarp. hiding Attention Chef d'Œuvre.

The blue tarp. Hiding Attention Chef d’Œuvre.

Our only traverse during the 2.5 months; nevertheless, an excellent warmup.

Our only traverse during the 2.5 months; nevertheless, an excellent warmup.

After our warmups, we wanted to do one 7a then on to Attention Chef d’Œuvre. We chose La Rampe because it looked good, was right next to the vehicle and warmups, and near ACŒ. La Rampe turned out to be a pretty solid 7a with an unforgiving topout. It’s all there, just I had trouble figuring out how to sequence the odd set of holds without it looking pretty awkward. It was and I sent.

La Rampe, 7a. This problem gets lots of traffic.

La Rampe, 7a. This problem gets lots of traffic.

I'm not sure where the crux is as it all felt just sustained right to the top.

I’m not sure where the crux is as it all felt just sustained right to the top.

This is the first move from the sit.

This is the first move from the sit.

Using my height to the max--all 5' 10.5" of it.

Using my height to the max–all 5′ 10.5″ of it.

Lots of compression but at a moderate level.

Lots of compression but at a moderate level.

For the topout, I went to a small crimp up and right of Jill's right hand. I then heelhooked and reached a very high incut sidepull not in the picture.

For the topout, I went to a small crimp up and right of Jill’s right hand. I then heelhooked and reached a very high incut sidepull high above the right hand.

Jill got her warmup but fell short of the send. She actually was having a hard time with the topout after doing all of the wide compression moves and wanted to save her energy for Attention Chef d’Œuvre. Off we headed to our destiny. Ah, what more could a person want than to see such a stellar line as Attention Chef d’Œuvre covered in a giant blue tarp! The evidence pointed to a production company with sandbag tiedowns and anchors holding an enormous blue tarp on and over almost the entire face of the problem. No note was left by the perpetrators. What are our options?

I guess in a perfect world the thing to do is just leave, be happy that the sun still shines (behind the clouds), and go to another problem. Or, take the tarp down and climb. The problem is that there’s no reason to have a tarp on a problem that’s dry and still usable by other climbers to climb. Most important, this line isn’t hard, nor is it cutting edge, but it is classic, and one of the finest examples of a tall ‘Mur’ or wall that goes at 7a/7a+ (7+8 calls it 7a; Frigault’s guidebook calls it 7a+).

I personalized the blue tarp. Jill was checking out the holds.

I personalized the blue tarp. Jill was checking out the holds.

We did ‘just leave’ and not exactly happy about it either. After working the line Trojan War, and getting nowhere for my second effort on it, feeling powered out, we headed back to see if the blue tarp was still there. It was and now so were the tarp installers. They were starting to bring out equipment for a night shoot of Mayan Smith-Gobat, the super trad and sports climber from New Zealand, and Ben Reuck, a climber from Utah we were told. Our spokeswoman was from an unknown European country and was accompanied by her associate/female friend and Neill Hart, the brit that has a gîte down south of the forest. This is an interesting situation from the perspective of a professional production setup. First, we have two talented (mainly) trad climbers bouldering. Second, we have an easy line at hard v6 (given that they are either pros or experts) to showcase these climbers on. Third, this wall has a short finger crack section that makes for the crux. In sum, it sounds like this problem is a way to get the two climbers to boulder a line at a crag that otherwise wouldn’t suit their styles at all, but allows them to appear competent while doing a stellar classic in the forest. All at our expense. Sweet!

At the same time we showed up, a russian man with his girlfriend who we had met previously at Bas Couvier on Côntrole Technique also showed up. All 4 of us began to talk to this woman. I explained that I thought what they did was ‘Not Cool!’ (this I had etched in chalk earlier on their giant blue tarp). She asked us where we were from, and when we replied Russia and California, she noted that that was far away, and explained that they wanted to do some unique lighting setups, hence the night shoot, and pointed out that it was expensive to have the production so they had covered the boulder ‘in case of rain.’ I explained that normal climbers spend lots of money to come all the way to font to climb lines just like this. These climbers may only do this once in their lives and so it would be a major disappointment to have to be shut down because a famous climber and another strong climber wanted to be filmed on a given boulder. As I mentioned earlier, the production crew left no note indicating what was going on, nor did they have someone around to interface with any climbers or to facilitate moving the tarp in the case that someone wanted to try the boulder problem. Maybe that’s asking too much; regardless, that’s a serious bogart offense! In climbing I find it offensive if another climber, at any time, claims some form of control and ownership (albeit temporary), and expects others to understand why they do this because they have sufficient and just cause to take something away from pretty much anyone else capable of making a trip to font. The point of media is NOT to impose an impact on those that actually practice the sport or activity, but to find a way to work with and REDUCE their impact to a minimum. This commercialized attitude is simply NOT journalistic, and it’s not professional. It doesn’t exemplify a rasta attitude (she and her female associate both had dreads), and it shows little consideration or respect for their fellow climbers. Neither this line, the crag or the whole of fontainebleau bouldering are low-profile, but there are many isolated standout lines throughout the forest they could have chosen to build their production set around, instead they chose one of the forest icons of moderate bouldering… smack dab in one of the major/popular areas.

I understand the concept of an expensive production crew, what I don’t understand was the need for a tarp all day long with overcast skies and no or little sprinkles. Conditions were such that even if there was rain, it would dry fast as the wind was quite strong and pleasant (which happened while we were on La Rampe). Temps were reasonable, and conditions were good for May. The weather report was pretty specific about strong winds, most likely no rain and then definitely rain at night. In other words, climb as much as possible until it rains. They chose a night session when it’s forecast to rain that night, but they tarped it during the day when it’s dry. WTF? Let’s think about this for a second: if the tarp keeps it dry during the day, then they pull the tarp for the shoot but it’s raining, it will get wet, along with their equipment and everyone standing around. Exactly what is the tarp for then, but to claim control and ownership.

I told my friend Thierry a few days later, and he just gave a matter-of-fact look at me and said ‘just take it down.’ I guess the choice was pretty clear. Maybe it was my sympathy for what a production crew goes through when trying to get a shot/shoot right, as I’ve been in that same situation with commercial accounts in the 80’s, not with climbing, but ad directors and business owners breathing down my neck wanting what they want, getting what they need.

I didn’t wish bad luck on them, but by 8:45 pm, it was raining nice and steady in Arbonne la Fôret at the Croq Fôret while we waited for pizza with our amber Bieres du Gatinâis. I guess the one real positive is that nature won out on that one fine May day, as the stone and surroundings got a reprieve from the constant attention of climber, chalk, brush, rubber, trash and urine.

Oh, and afterwards Jill sent Crotale, a super cool 7b at Coquibus (sud) L’Auvergne. More on that and its other options on another post.

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~ by r. mulligan on 2014/05/17.

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