As I wrote in the last blog post, we often drive to the south of France for some days or more to get some warm rock to climb. Last Christmas we spent almost two weeks in Buoux. Well the rock was not always very warm, it can even be very very cold in Buoux. But anyway we spent nice vacations there in Jean – Pierre’s gite Les Borys We feel like at home in this house on the plateau des Claparèdes, about 5 min driving from the rock.
8b in Buoux Despite Being Really Weak on Pocket Climbing - Martina Cufar
We are so often in Buoux, because for Nico there are only three climbing areas on the world; Yosemite, Verdon and Buoux. And he’s strong on pocket climbing which dominate on the molasse rock of Buoux. His one and a half year old project, La Chiquette du Graal 8b+ (I am sure that everywhere else would be 8c+), still remains project, but he’s close to do it. It’s a route that I didn’t even put a finger in it feels so horribly hard; steep climbing on one finger pockets!
Even though I climb a lot in Buoux I am far from being good in this style of climbing. I did almost all the routes until 7b, come 7c and only one 8a. I “visited” many 8a’s, but wasn’t even able to get the rope until the anchor, the bolts being too far away and the moves on the pockets too hard. That’s why I thought it was stupid to go to take a look at CTN 8b. But Nico told me I should, because it’s more crimpy and technical style of climbing. Ok, I obeyed my husband and I took a look.
Effectively I did all the moves on the first day. The route is more close to the climbing style on the rocks around Chamonix then to Buoux. It’s 40m long, with two resistant crux sections, where the choreography of feet placements is crucial. The first crux resisted to me during Christmas holidays, but I was happy to leave Buoux with the project I could send. Nico did the route quite fast, it was good for his motivation to try La Chiquette.
Last weekend we made what Nico calls “Bliztkrieg”. Buoux for two days. We left Tommy at home in the igloo:-) No, it’s a joke; he stayed with his grandmother and got three new toys in two days plus McDonalds. Grandmothers would do anything for their grandsons!
The first morning in Buoux was too cold to climb, so to use the time usefully I came to CTN from the top to put back in 15 quickdraqers and made all the important tick marks; the rain erased all the traces from our Christmas climbing. I also repeated some moves , but the rock was so cold that everything felt really hard. I am a climber that needs a warm rock to feel the holds. In the afternoon the sun came out of the clouds and the motivation to climb came along. We warmed up on one of the classics, No man’s land 7b. Then I did one run on CTN but fell on the same place as always. After a minute I realized that I need to take the problematic hold (which is also the only with some sika) vertically and nor horizontally to be tall enough to reach the shoulder hold higher up. I was a bit angry to be so stupid and not to see this before.
After that Nico went to “dechiper” the Bout de Choux 8b+(the day was too cold to get on the Chiquette) It took him quite a while. It’s always like this in Buoux when you go on a new route. But one you get to the top you are almost sure that you can do the route, because of the cruxes being obligatory. I decided to do one more run in CTN despite the wall being in the shade already. I wanted to check the new “beta”. And it worked! I did the move quite easily, and before the second crux I managed to get the blood back into my fingers (it was cold again), to feel good the small crimpers that lead over. Everything went perfectly well, the last 15 m of easy climbing I hurried up and I caught the sun just on the anchor! Magic moment! Thanks Nico to push me to try this route!
But I am aware that doing this 8b don’t mean that I will do all the 8a’s easily. I found the classics like Reve de papillon, Chouca, La diagonal du fou, Petit cali so extremely hard. I don’t know if I will ever be able to do “no foot climbing “ on two and one finger pockets!
But since Nico has all his projects there, we will surely come back soon, so I will try to improve! Winter time in Chamonix is time to train and ski!
PS: I don't have any photo from the route. I found the one of Florence Pinet on the web. So you can see the style of climbing