So I've recently just got back off a bit of a Europe trading trip, which was pretty flipping cool!
I had a couple of projects that i wanted to get done and the rest of the time was spent new routing, which some days turned out to be pretty epic, i.e abseiling down the wrong buttress in the pitch black with no head touch, no fixed anchor points, etc, etc, haha, fun times.
Anyway below is a summary of the 3 places that I visited:
First stop, Chamonix:
The aim here was to try and repeat the Hardest Offwidth in Europe, 'Thai Boxing.' Orginally put up by offwidth American legend Craig Luebben and having only been repeated once by Stevie Haston. I had an onsight attempt where I tried to go invert, but got totally shut down as the crack was much to flared on the edge to get any decent stacks. After working out that I needed to take a more traditional approach I figured out some sequences. I got the 3rd ascent the next morning! The quickest ascent maybe? as I think Craig and Stevie may have taken up to 2/3 days. (but don't quote me there, not sure) With the pressure off I actually climbed it again!
Second stop, Annot (South France):
This place I thought was pretty cool, it was a sandstone area. There are a few locals there who have been developing the place, but there is liturally potential for hundreds more new routes of really good quality. I did 3 new routes, nothing that hard, but of absolute quality, the best being a perfect 7c ish wall climb with just the right amount of holds leading up and protection in all the right places. The route was a project for the area so it was obviously difficult to know how hard it was going to be before setting off, it turned out to be fine and only around E6 6b, but probably one of the best E6's Ive done.
Third stop, Valle Del Orco (Italy):
I spent a couple of weeks here with the main priority to do some new routes. I managed to do my hardest onsight of a new route up this wall and vague crack line. It ended up being one of the scariest routes I've done as the top section started to get steep and the rock was like down on Craig Doris on the Llyn Penisula (a cheese fest,) with no protection. My friend fell off seconding and ended up pulling half the upper head wall off, spicy times! Although the top section was loose it was a excellent pitch of climbing in that classic choss kind of way, the pitch probably ended up being around E6 6a.
Probably the highlight of my trip along with climbing Thai Boxing was making thr 5th ascent Greenspit. This route was orginally climbed by Didier and can be seen on the film 'First Ascent.' I think he gave it 8b+, but with a few repeats the grade seems to have settled at around 8b. I had had a few sessions on it last year but managed to do it in a couple of days this time. A hold had actually broken off this time which I found made the route slightly harder then the last time. Anyway I was pretty pscyhed to have done these two contrasting hard cracks (Thai Boxing & Greenspit) on the trip.
After getting back from the trip I quickly polished off another grit project at The Roaches that had been at the back of my mind for a while. In the end it didn't turn out to be to bad, just a really technical and smeary arete, and it ended up being around the E7 mark.