This is where we started the Climbing trip nearly a year ago, so it only seems fair that this would be where it ended. As ever when I arrive in Font I am immediately fond of the place, pulling down rugged roads, avoiding potholes and ending up at a car park surrounded by nothing but nature. As it turned out, this time we were surrounded by other campers, the car parc was overflowing with them. I have never seen the place so busy with vans as it was on this trip.
We arrived late and after eating watched a film, knowing that we would be up fir an early boulder session before dropping off Colin at Charles de Gaulle Airport. Last time we were at Isatis we worked our way through a few blue problems, and then made our way through the orange circuit, this time we started strong, ticking a blue onsight and then working the red problem on the corner. Whilst jess went to find another problem, I stayed and worked on an off piste route of 6a, I worked the route for a while, and was eventually left to myself. In no time I stuck the matching hands and slapped up for the ledge only to sink my hands into a lake on the top of the boulder, however as it was the best hold ever I refused to let it go.
Such a good start was followed by a couple of other routes, and I already felt as though I had more in reserve and was climbing to a much higher standard than when we started the trip. That afternoon we dropped off Colin, which became a nightmare, due to height restrictions at every terminal, and returned to the same crag as I had found the most amazing looking arête and was determined to climb a route on it.
I found out that the route was 6b+ and persisted to spend the majority of the day working out the moves and getting within finger crawling distance of the final moves, I just could lock my feet in place for the last hand hold, every time, they slipped. As time went on my progress improved but the crimping hand and tiny ledges were ruining my hands and feet. I failed, even after spending most of the day working on it, hopefully one day I come back in form and get this one ticked!
Later I found another problem and set off to climb it. At 6a again, it should have been within my ability and fair to say in about ten goes I got the problem to go! We then moved on again in search of some problems for Jess to Climb, as she had spent most of the day waiting/spotting for me. She disappeared for a while and again I found myself looking at a problem, I had a couple of goes and although I could do the start, and the mid I could not link it to the final moves. I tried a plethora of angles, holds and moves and not one stuck! In all fairness this was a 7a, so a little out of my usual range, however to be truthful I also think with another day working, this would go.
So in all my second trip to Isatis had proved a day of failures, but I had failed on hard climbs, so I still feel good for at least trying to get them to go. We stayed that night at the Aire in Milly de Floret, and the following day drove just down the road to Diplodocus, a really cool boulder location with a massive boulder as a centre piece. I had always avoided climbing this due to the height and surrounding boulders that you could fall and break yourself on, the guidebook has a fair warning of injury or worse if you fail and fall. After warming up on the first seven blue problems, all routes I had done years ago and struggled on, whereas now I aced nearly all first time, I deceived to Climb the Diplodocus by the easiest route. I was confident that the moves were easy, it was just the height and danger if I fell that made it harder than it was. Half way up, i heel hooked the large flake and rocked over, eventually sitting inside the flake, it was safe and comfortable. However getting out was a chore to finish the route. Once on top I was happy, and looking at the bolts at the top, felt a little to high! I down climbed the ridge all the way to the foot via a blue route, so not bad to down Climb what I was only just able to climb up when I came years ago.
On another trip a few years ago (I’ve been to Font quite a lot), we got rained off and me and jess ended up taking shelter under a roof of a boulder and tried to sit out the rain, that got worse and worse… we made tea and had soup on my jetboil, and in the end gave up and went home! This time however I came to Climb the very roof that we were sat under, at 6a, this was a good problem for me, short and powerful! I started a little left of the actual start as it was covered in water and moss, however still started way inside and under the roof. An average hand on the face and I felt comfortable to move my hand to a slope intermediate and then onto the lip of the roof. I could not believe that I had got this far on my first go, I was now Climbing blind as had not planned the final moves, however these came easy enough with a heel hook to pull up with, followed by a lock off on my left arm and again boosting my right hand higher to an intermediate and then again to the top of the problem. Before I knew it I was on top, a 6a at Font and onsight! Unfortunately, jess had not taken a sequence photo, so I got a chance to prove it was not luck by repeating the problem again for the camera.
That afternoon we moved up another area called Rocher Fin, although I climbed a couple of problems I was beat. No more big problems for me. It was not long until we were taking the long walk back to the van. The sun has been beating down with abundance these last few days in Font and I knew I was in dire need of a cold shower! Luckily for me, my lovely van and the Aire in Milly Du Foret was ready to oblige, and that afternoon it felt good to be cold in a shower for once!
That was it for our second Font adventure of the trip, we considered a morning boulder before heading north into Belgium but thought better if it, as not only were my finger tips in a dire state, but we smelled nice for once! This time round I could tell I had improved quite a lot from our first visit. To be able to search out and Climb the lower grades off piste was evidence of this improvement, considering I struggled on some orange routes last time out, and was super comfortable on blue routes and happy to work the reds and whites. Sad to think this is our last climbing element of the trip, time to pack away the climbing shoes and rack, and get into tourist mode for a week or two before we head for home for the first time in just under a year!