Friday 28 August 2015

Team ABC Training Camp in France

Day 1 - Traveling to France

On Saturday 15th August my parents drove me to Gatwick airport. I was flying to France with some of the GB climbing team for a training camp run by team ABC (an American climbing team).

We arrived first and waited for the rest of the team. When they came my parents left and we checked our bags in. Our flight was delayed for a while so we arrived in Toulouse late but got the hire car and drove to the gite in Saint Antonin arriving at 00:30.

Kirsten, Abi and I were sharing the downstairs room which had an ensuite bathroom! It was also right by the pool!

When I opened my suitcase my frozen bacon had defrosted so I put it in the fridge quickly before I went to bed. I chose the double bed and then went straight to sleep.

Day 2 - Roc d'Angulars

We woke up late. Robyn and Didier (the team ABC coaches) brought us some food for the week so we helped them bring it up to the kitchen. I made breakfast and then at 12:00 we met the Team ABC climbers at the gym.

We stood outside the gym and told everyone a few things about ourselves. The four climbers from team ABC were also on the US team and were going to Arco this month for the world cup. There names were Brooke, Stella, Natalia and Joe.

After we all got to know each other we drove back to the gite to pack our bags for the crag. We decided to go to Roc d'Angulars because it was in the shade all afternoon! I was really excited about going to the crag because I only had a little bit of outdoor climbing experience which I really enjoyed.

We got into our nine seated hire car and followed Robyn, Didier and the others to Roc d'Angulars. I could see the rock as we drove down the mountain it looked massive and very white.

We parked at the top of another mountain and walked down a woodland path to the crag. It looked tall and the routes went down a long way.

I climbed with Abi and Kirsten and did the following routes.

1) Bombement catastrophique - 6a+
This was my first outdoor route in France! It was a bit slabby and most of the holds were good. But there were bigger spaces between the clips than I'm used to in the UK. Also at the beginning the holds were spread out and slopey. But overall the route was quite easy.

2) Deroute des choucas - 6a+
I found this route easier than Bombement catastrophique because its was mostly vertical but slightly overhanging in places. All the holds were good but there was one big move at the start and one towards the top but apart from that it was pretty easy. I felt more comfortable on this route.

3) Magie Noire - 6c
This route was longer than the first two and a bit harder. The crux was in the middle. There was a mixture of crimps and jugs and it was harder to find the holds. But I managed to top it.

4) Clin d'oeil a la lune - 7a
This route was the tallest route I tried out of the 6. I couldn't see the chains as they were hidden over a ledge. This route had an ok start with good holds. Around the middle of the route I couldn't find any other holds and I was getting pumped so I tried to reach a good slopper one last time before I fell off. I thought I should try it later on in the week when my hold finding skills had improved!

5) Lutin Vert - 6b
Before I attempted this route everyone who had tried it had said it was much harder that it looked. The start was all jugs but got hard at 3rd clip and the crux was a 4th. At the crux I bridged in a small hole and reached for an undercut in the overhang - it took me a while to do this! I then climbed over the hole and held a good jug to get me to the chains. I would also agree saying the route is much harder than 6b.

6) 2° main - 6c+ 
This route was short and hard and it looked my style. It had a hard sketchy start but once I got the 3rd clip in I felt a lot safer. I didn't really notice a single crux but parts at the top of the route were quite hard and a bit scary. I felt really good when I got to the chains on this route! It was my favourite route because I could have given up at any point because I was scared but I managed to stay calm! I was very pleased.

After this route I packed up and we drove back to the gite for dinner. I also went in Brooke's pool which had a slack line on it! It was so fun.

Day 3 - Project

After an earlyish breakfast we met at the gym for a morning session before going back to Roc d'Anglars to pick projects.

The gym was really cool and I couldn't wait to try the blocs. Robyn took us through a warm up before we started easy climbing.

While we were warming up Ian and Robyn made us some blocs and we did a mock comp. Everyone started on one bloc and you had minute to complete it, you then had 30 seconds rest before moving to our right for the next bloc.

I did ok in the mini comp, but I really enjoyed the blocs, they were a lot different to my usual training blocs. I was very hungry at the end.

After this Ian drove us back to the gite and we had lunch before going to the Crag. I brought some popcorn as a snack.

When we arrived at the crag Robyn gave me and Pippa a 7c route to work for the week. Pippa put the clips in and I had my first attempted after.

The route was called:

1) Le Fil A Plombs - 7c

On my first attempted I managed to do the first 5 clips before taking. I then rested and carried on climbing to a massive undercut which I clipped from. It took me a while to work the rest of the moves but I made it to the top eventually.

For my second I made it to the undercut all in one and carried on up the tufa. The top of the tufa was good but I couldn't find the next hold this got me pumped so I fell off. It then took me forever to find the gaston but when I found it I climbed to the top with no rests. I knew if I found the hold next go I could do it in one!

I went back with Didier to the gite next for dinner.

Day 4 - Le Capucin

I had another early start as we had another gym session before going to a different crag. I had breakfast at 9:00 with Kirsten and Abi. Ian then drove us to the gym at 10:00 where we did the same warm up and made up blocs for each other to try.

In a small group we played a game of add on which started on a vertical wall and ended over the roof onto another flat wall. Pippa started with some small crimps to a big volume and I carried it on through the roof. It was very pumpy but I eventually made it go all the way through the roof and onto the flat wall!

It was really fun but also quite tiring.

Again we went back to the gite for a 2hr lunch before going to the new crag.

The crag we went to was called Le Capucin. We parked in a lay-by and walked up another woodland path to the crag. But this time it was boiling hot and up hill! There was rope tied to trees in places to help you get up.

At the top the crag was in the sun so I went down under the trees and put my bag down. We had to wait a while before we could climb so that we wouldn't have to climb in the sun.

Pippa and I climbed together again and climbed these routes:

1) Tapis Rouge - 7a+
I went first so I had to put the clips in! It was a very short route will lots of big holds at the top. The bottom was hard and when I got to the 3rd clip I couldn't work out how to do the move to the jug so (the same as most routes) I kept trying different ways but I couldn't work out how to do it. I fell but then did the move really easily after a rest. I completed the rest in one.

On my second go I was annoyed that I had messed up the first go but I managed to top the route in one.

2) Sombrero - 7a+
This route is a lot longer than Tapis Rouge and looked a bit harder too. The clips were already in because Kieran and Sammy had lead it before us and topped it. Pippa climbed first this time and topped it too. I did the start which was easy but at the 3rd clip I went for some bad holds and was just about to get the undercut jug but my foot slipped and I fell. I was so annoyed. I had a quick rest then did the move fine and climbed up to the no hands rest. I sat down and looked at the next clip and then stood up and clipped it. I climbed off the ledge and onto the awkward crimps. I held them - only just - and put my foot on a small bump. I rocked over to an undercut and went up to the crimp and clipped. At this point I was feeling good as I had made it passed the crux and I just had to not be scared for the last two clips. I started laying back off the pocket jugs and walking slowly up the crack. I was scared and a bit pumped but I managed to make it to the chains but only just clipped them because I was so pumped and shaky. I was very pleased to top it and get the tick (Ian)!

This was my last climb of the day before we all packed up to leave. The walk back down the hill wasn't as bad as it was now all in the shade!

Day 5 - Rest

We got up at the usual time but it was our rest day so we went into town at 10:00 and looked around Saint Antonin I had an Ice cream and a slush with Kirsten and Abi. I also brought a guide book for the area.

We met back at the car soon after our ice creams and went back to the gite for lunch. We had 2 hours for lunch. I ate as soon as I got in and then went in the pool as it was so hot.

The pool was really refreshing and I had fun jumping in.

I lay in the sun to dry off so that I could get dressed again before Team U.S came over and Didier gave us a mental preparation talk.

We sat outside for the talk and listened to Didier. I learnt a lot of about what goals to set and how to learn that as long as you climb your best there is nothing more you could have done therefore you should feel happy. I thought the talk was very helpful for my comp climbing and I hope I can think about some of those things in my next comp.

Next it was time to go to the lake and we were all quite hot.

We followed Robyn's car to the River and walked down a steep slope. We put our bags on the side of the river and swam around the 5m boulder to a very easy boulder problem which I topped in bear feet only to find there was and easier way of getting up on the other side!

At the top it seemed like a long way down! I was a bit nervous about jumping but I didn't hesitate for long because I knew I would get too scared.

For my first jump I went with Kirsten. It was really fun but it hurt my arms a bit because I stuck them out when I hit the water!

To get back up to the top this time I climbed up the easier route.
When I jumped again I went off a higher ledge and hen the next time over a bush! I had a lot of fun. After a 4th or 5th jump we went back up the hill with our towels and had and Ice cream in the cafe.

Ian drove us home next for dinner 

Day 6 - Super Manjo-carn

We had an earlish night because we had to get up at 7:00 to go to a new crag called Super Manjo Carn. You have to be there early because that is the only time the rock is in the shade.

We met at the gym at 9:00 and Ian drove us down to a lay by where we parked and walked up another steep woodland park. The walk was quite long but it was in the shade.

At the top I walked round the overhanging part of the crag at went around to the flatter routes in Secteur Classique. I climbed with Pippa again. I climbed these routes:

1) La Schwimmer - 6b
This was my warm up route. It was quite long and the chains were hidden over a ledge so the belayers couldn't see them. Pippa went first and put the clips in. She topped it. When I climbed I found the first part easy and thought the crux was at 4 to 5 clips and then another few hard moves at 7th clips but apart from that it was ok and I enjoyed it. I thought the route was graded low. I think it should have been 6c.

2) Mega fastoch - 6c
This route looked a lot easier than it actually was. I again thought the start was the easiest part but it got harder at the 5th clip by a big hold with a nice undercut. I stayed on this for a bit while I tried to work out which way to go. I went right and found a few decent holds before moving up to a big flake which I had used on the first route. The rest of the route was easy but I had to miss a clip at the top because Kirsten was climbing up my first route La Schwimmer and both routes shared the same clip. The top of the route was really juggy and I was very happy to complete it.

Some other routes I tried were in Secteur Super-manjoc:

1) L'occasion manquee - 7a+
I started this route well and got to the crux moves quickly. I found the sharp undercut and went up to a crimp. I then jumped to a two sided jug and I was amazed I cought it. It was a massive hold and I rested on it and clipped. The next move was hard but I managed to get a small undercut which got easier to hold as I pushed up. The route got a bit easier after this because the angle of the route felt less steep. Just after the last clip I got to a massive long jug and and traversed across it to the chains.

2) Melancolie - 7b+
Before I tried this one the first routes I did of the day were almost completely in the sun. This route shared its first 3 clips with L'occasion Manquee so I felt comfortable on this part. I then went over to the 4th clip. It was too far to reach and I had trouble working out a way of getting to it. I had to climb down and move left and then up to some bad holds. I had to trust them and my decision to move out to a big hole which I clipped from. The next two clips were easy. At the second to last clip I had to do a really dynamic move to another smaller hole. I was a bit scared but I did it anyway. I had two rubbish holds and I jumped for the hole, I got the bottom but it was to slippery. I fell quite a long way. But pulled up and tried again and again, until I finally got it on the side and it was really good. There were good holds to the top from here. I put the last quick draw in but the bold hanger spun so I was determined to clip the chains without falling. I did manage to do this and clean it.

3) Ouvreur pour dames - 7c+
This route looked a lot easier than it was. The start was quite hard but it had a few good crimps. I managed to get the third clip in but then went too high above the clip because the route was diagonal. I had to climb down and try a different way of doing it but I couldn't work out how the holds linked together. I had a few more goes trying different ways but didn't manage to get past the third clip.

By the time we had all finished on the 7c+ the sun was on the routes so we waited for the rest of the group to finish and then went back to the gite for food.

Day 7 - Roc d'Angulars Project

I got up at 8 so that we could get to the gym by 10. At the gym we had an endurance session and did circuits. After the warm-up, Robyn set us an easy circuit. Pippa climbed it first, completed it and showed me how to do it. I finished it as well and talked Abbie through it. I then went to the second circuit which was harder than the first. I managed to get to the second last hold first attempt and lapped it twice on my second. It was very pumpy. The last circuit was really hard. On my first attempt I pulled on and swiped my foot on the floor. I kept on doing this so eventually we move the top mat out of the way. After this I managed to do the first move and go all the way to the third last hold on the circuit. Every time I tried the circuit I got to the same place but I was happy to have completed the first move.

We had lunch after the gym session then went to Roc d'Angulars to finish our projects. When we arrived neither me nor Pippa wanted to go first and put the clips in so we asked Siri to toss a coin. I said heads and heads won. I chose not to go first.

After Pippa had put all the clips in it my turn to climb. Le fil a plombs has a reachy start up until the 4th clip where it gets overhanging and the hold are easier to reach. I climbed onto a tufa from another route and where the tufa split was a good hold which I used to get a jug right next to the clip. I moved up the jug to get to the side pull which I played back on and went to a massive undercut. I clipped off the undercut and bumped up to the top of the tufa. I got my feet onto the only foot hold that I could see and popped for the gaston which I couldn't see. After catching the gaston I felt really confident as this was where I fell off last time. Next I went up for another good undercut which was a bit sharp and then rolled over to a jug which was difficult to spot. There was a flake to right of the jug which I took some time to shake out on and clip. I then had to move over to the left so I crossed from the jug to a sloper-crimp and through for the start of the crack. I bumped to the back of the crack where the good hold was and reached to the right of the crack and got a mini jug. From here I held the next jug with my left hand and crossed wrong handed to the rectangular tufa which I matched and clipped from. I was relieved when I clipped this because the last part of the climb was easy. I had a long rest to make sure I had enough energy to top it and then made my way to the top. I was really happy to top it because one of my goals for this trip was to top my project - I topped it on my 3rd attempt.

For the rest of the day I belayed the other climbers and then we went back to the gite for food.

Day 8 - Roc d'Angulars

We had a choice of what crag we wanted to go to: Super Manjo-carn which meant you had to get up at 7am because of the sun or Roc d'Angulars and get up at 8am. I chose to go to Roc d'Angulars because the route were more varied.

The routes I tried were:

1) Dure limite - 7a
Me and Kirsten warmed up on this climb. I didn't think there was a crux in this route because it was about the same all the way up. There weren't many sloper holds and a lot of the crimps were good. 

2) La gueuse - 6a+
I had to second this route to clean it and I found it boring because a lot of the holds were good and it was a bit too easy. 

3) Clin d'oeil a la lune - 7a
This was the route I tried and failed on the first day at the crag so I didn't want to leave it unfinished. Kirten gave me a belay and like last time I easily got to the part where I fell off last time. When I got there I tried it the same way as before - but again couldn't do it. So I climbed down a few moved and eventually found another way of doing it going left instead of right. Once I got past this I had to clip off a nasty sloper and found it hard until the next clip. Once I clipped this clip the holds got better and I got well past half way. Again I thought there was no main crux because there was a lot of hard sections. I carried on climbing and it was still hard but when I got to the second last clip there was a hard move which took me a while to work out but I eventually made it and topped the route. I felt much more confident on the route this time and I was glad to have improved over the week.

4) Baston - 7a+ Super Baston - 7b
I had a bit off a nightmare with this route. I didn't really like the route because it was so long - 18 clips. But I made it to clip 8 first go and then worked Baston in large sections. On my way up I passed a large hole with a lower off next to it but I didn't think it was the end of baston so I carried on climbing to the top of the crag. It was quite tiring. After this Kirsten lowered me down to about the 5th or 6th clip and then showed me that we had run out of rope! Luckily I had tied a knot in the end of the rope so it wouldn't slip through the belay.

I shouted over to Ian and he got me down! I'm not sure how though. Ian said that I had climbed Baston but I had then gone on to do the 3rd pitch of another route. This is why I ran out of rope! The route I did was called Super Baston! I was happy to know that I had onsighted the extension of Baston.

After everyone else had climbed (just Baston) I had to go back up and clean Super Baston. I lead up the route as far as could but I was tired so I didn't get as far as I had first go. I then just finished the climb going bolt to bolt. At the top I threaded the belay and took out the quick-draws for Super Baston missing one by accident. I then climbed over to the Belay for Baston and threaded that, pulling the rope down from Super Baston.

Before I got lowered down to get the clips I had to climb away from the chains and get the bolt I had missed earlier. This was completely safe but a bit scary! It was time to leave after this as it was quite late. It was also very hot!

After dinner we went back to the gite and packed our stuff because we had to get up at 3 to go to the airport on Sunday.

Day 9 - Traveling Home

It was a good trip home with no delays. But I was quite tired.

I had an amazing trip and I learnt so much. Thanks to Robyn and Didier for inviting us on the camp and to Ian for taking us. I am now much more confident climbing outside and have learnt some techniques for training/comps. I hope I will get a chance to go on more training camps in the future.

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