When the weather has allowed me, I've been trying this stunning open project up the gut of the Berlin Wall. This incredible wall is home to some of the most sought after test-piece routes at Ceuse, and as I mentioned in the previous post, is likely one of the best sections of limestone anywhere. The open project was the last logical line up the wall, and as a Gap local (whose name I've unfortunately missed, although I'm searching for it) lowered off of neighboring 'Rat Man' 8a+ last year, he was certain there could be another route.
At the end of last week, a few days of blistering sunshine was enough to finally dry out a crucial pocket in the bottom boulder problem, and I had my weather window… I could feel the pressure, it had been well over a week since I tried the route, but now it was bone dry-- another storm was brewing over the weekend, my trip is winding down, skin was wearing super thin and to boot, Adam Ondra shows up at the crag. I had to get at least one good go in before he onsight F.A.ed my project!!
|bottom boulder problem... this is the frequently wet pocket..
First go I fell up high, at the route's red-point crux-- a very precarious stab to a one pad mono pinch, followed by (personal beta) a ridiculously high foot and a long rock-over lock-off to a two finger gaston. From here the remaining 20 meters of dead vertical heinousness just keeps coming. You don't find rest or easy terrain until the last bolt, and the runouts keep you on your toes. It's a killer headwall!
Next go I sent, brutalizing my skin the entire way, leaving blood stains behind. I knew this effort was going to cost me, but I was determined to finish off this wicked route. I feel super super fortunate to have the opportunity to be part of the Ceuse community and be the first to climb such a rad route at one of the Earth's best cliffs.... on that note--
New routes, open projects, F.A.s are kind of a different game here in France. Where most times at home my ascent feels like something that I own, here it feels more like my ascent is just my way of being a part of the community-- it's rad. Others had worked the route alongside me, like badasses Arnaud Petit, Michael Fuselier and a strong climber from Grenoble, Quentin. The bolter was more than stoked his route was getting action (he's a great guy), and had no reservations about us climbing on it. In the end, I climbed the route first, but it felt a little more like a group effort than a stand alone victory. There's a new, test-piece route, named 'Coraux de la Vie' at the Berlin for everyone to enjoy, stoked that I could be a part of it. As for the grade, I would say that it warrants 8c+. The route has a lot of hard climbing and essentially nowhere to hide. It feels a step ahead of the 8c's I've sampled at Ceuse, and I also recognize that this route suits my climbing preferences quite well.
Now I've got less than a week left here in France. Over the weekend I started checking out a very cool climb on the Berlin, just a few routes down from 'Coraux de la Vie'. It was bolted by Dave Graham a while back, and eventually sent by David Lama in 2010. He suggested 8c+, but it seems like consensus has landed closer to 9a for this unrepeated monster of a route. I really, really like this climb-- it's extremely resistant, long, thrilling and beautiful. Yesterday I one hung the rig… really hopeful that the weather cooperates, and I can manage to get it done… fingers crossed!
Now we're off to check out Chamonix and the Arc'ademy event for a couple days. Speaking of Arc'Teryx, they just released another short in their 'Chasing Jstar' series that I really liked. It features a very cool route in remote Utah called 'Moose Licks', the cliff has not had much media over the years but it's an incredible spot- reminds me a lot of a tiny little Ceuse actually! The route is brilliant, and I was very excited to do it, I'm glad the footage turned out so well.. check it out.