Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Watson's French Rock Trip

Hamish trying hard on the onsight of a stiff 6b
I have spent the last week in the Briancon area of France with kids from George Watson's College on their annual climbing club trip.  We had an excellent week with great weather.

After a long day travelling on Monday.  The kids were keen to rip it up by the time we got to Rocher Baron on Tuesday morning.  This is a great crag, with routes from F3 to mid 7's.  As a result, most of the group got on the sharp end straight away.  It was great to see them get to grips with leading outside on routes of F5-6a.  Ivan and Hamish had been training hard before the trip, as well as competing in the YCS.  They had slightly higher goals, and Ivan managed to tick his on the first day with an awesome flash of Affirmatif Yaka! 6c**.  A great day for everyone to start the trip.

Jonny cruising a nice 5+
Wednesday took us to La Randouillet.  This limestone crag offered  very different style of climbing from the previous day.  Less positive, it forced everyone to use the feet more accurately.  Again they knocked down pretty much everything we put in front of them.  Gemma seemed to cruise anything that had draws in it, especially a tricky 6a that others found hard work.  Hamish and Ivan worked with Mhairi to see how redpointing worked.  They both put a quick working session into Emoroides 6c+***.  Hamish decided to leave it as his fingers were sore, but Ivan went for it.  He put in a sterling effort, but dropped the route 2 moves from the chain.  He had just not sorted his feet out enough to remember.  The day finished with most of the group again leading most of the routes in good style.

Euan enjoying the Le Bez Via Ferrata

Ivan all smiles as usual
Another nice day and another crag (I can't remember the name sorry).  A perfect venue for a group like ours, with the hardest route F6a.  We arrived and the Watson's machine set off leading anything they could get their hands on.  By the time we left at mid day, most folks had led 5 routes each in a few hours.  In the afternoon we decided to split.  Half the group chilled out and the other half went to do the Via Ferrata at the Le Bez.  This is a great intro for all those who have not been on one before, and the kids loved it.

Vicky enjoying a change

Kirsty and Aileen finishing the exposed traverse
Friday was the big day, with a trip to Ailefroide.  The group managed to cram in around 7 hours of climbing on routes from 4+ to 6b+.  We worked around 2 crags in the La Draye area which gave another rock type and different climbing style.  It was a little damp after the nights rain, so toproping was the best option.  Again the group dispatched everything.  It was only in the afternoon with a few harder routes to go at did they slow down.  Even then it was only one specific 6b+ that caused any trouble.  Andrew stood out for me on this day, for his sheer determination to send everything.  Ivan made an impressive ascent of the Fais Attention 7a/+.  He fell off the crux, which is pretty thin and tricky, only to get back on and finish.  There are too many names to mention to give praise individually, but everyone climbed very well.

Saturday was the last climbing day and another hot one.  We split again so the other half could climb the Via Ferrata, whilst the others went to Le Bez crag.  Once we all came back together for lunch, those that wanted to multi pitch got the chance.  A few laps later and with everyone done, we where on the beach enjoying an ice cream in the sun.

It has been an amazing trip again this year.  I would like to thank all the kids for their efforts, as well as Mr T, Mr G and Mhairi for their hard work rigging, coaching and looking after the group.

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