Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I got a pocket full of Euros and my homeboys do too

We got mad monopoly money up in this piece.

So I finally, by the skin of my teeth, sent Loups Hurlants. I let out a 'Wolf Howl' at the top just to let the Frenchies know I could understand a bit of their garbled nonsense. It was a classic redpoint epic story. I fell 4 times from the final 5.8 move. The pressure was on and my last try of the day I pulled it together and sent. We pulled the rope, hiked out, and drove for Switzerland. We spent the night in Italy and the better part of the next day as well.

This is my queen in her castle.

Culture shock happens fast around here. As soon as you cross the border into Italy the people get different. Very different. It's kind of like living in a TV commercial for Pasta Sauce. We stopped at this pizza place and it was nuts in there. No more snobby and reserved French. These people are LOUD! Man, they bring the whole family. Tables of 10 were common. Kids, parents, granparents....And they are all talking at once. Hey Italy, Howa boutya trya to enda worda withouta vowela? You can't do it can you? And a further challenge...try to do it without moving your arms. Now you're really struggling. The Italians are boisterous and super friendly. The campground we stayed in was just as crazy. The whole country feels like a big family. Lots of talking, all at once. And very fashionable.

Then the next day we crossed into Switzerland. Instant change of pace. Switzerland is beautiful. So very green. It's kind of like Oregon or Maine but with huge mountains, tons of moss, big waterfalls, castles. We are staying at this campground in Werdenburg. "The smallest city in Switzerland" is their claim to fame. This is Werdenburg. We are actually across the lake in Grabs. So the people here are totally different. We pull into the campground and it's silent. Husbands and wives are eating their meals in silence. They sit across from each other and everything is perfect and clean and organized. Like OCD organized. We saw a couple make the bed in their camper van and they were turning down the corners perfectly and eliminating any creases. It's militaristic cleanliness. Very strange. But the people are very friendly. I asked a guy where I could find wireless internet and he just gave me the password for the hotel for free. Just before that I went to buy some earplugs.....OK, here's why. They love clocks apparently. They have this bell tower that chimes loudly every 15 minutes. And on the hour it chimes the number of the hour. Not too bad right? OK, at 9:00 pm it chimes for 5 minutes straight. We timed it. 5 minutes is a long time. Still quite charming right? Well it does it again at 6:00 am. Not very charming. We think this is their way of marking the beginning and end of the day for the farmers in the hills that may not operate on real time. Maybe. Point of the story is, the guy gave me the earplugs for free and said with a smile "welcome to Switzerland."
The reason we came here is to climb at a crag called Voralpsee. I think this picture of Elissa pointing at the crag is funny. We travel half way around the world, then we drive for hours through the mountains passing miles of cliffline. Cliffs are everywhere. Then we hike in to this tiny chunk of rock that is unlike anything else in the known universe. It is a truly unique little rock with amazing routes. about 15 amazing routes. The cows on the hike in are cool. The big ones have cow bells that ring all day. You can hear them from the crag just ringing around eating grass. Happy as a swiss cow. I think chocolate milk actually flows freely from their teets.

Here's two views of the crag. The cliff is 30 meters tall and overhangs about 15 degrees. Very pumpy and very technical. Check out this hold. Does it get more perfect than that? I was able to onsight the classic 7c Paradigma and it really was one of the coolest climbing experiences of my life. I don't want to sound like some hippy stoner freak but it was pretty trancelike. Just floating up this face on tiny edges with no contact with the earth other than the tips of your toes and fingers. And no one else is around, with this crazy green forest and lake behind you. And in the background you can hear the cow bells creating this hypnotic, offbeat techno music. Totally trippy bro. After that I sampled Euphorie 14a and got spooked. It's super runout at the crux and working it made me a headcase. You take repeated 20 footers working the crux if you're brave. I took one and hauled up a log and log-clipped through. It wrecked my head though and so I tried an 8a, then a 8b, and then I had no skin left and could barely move my fingers and now we had to take a rest day instead of climbing two days in a row.

Elissa is faring much better than me. She is working Pardigma and has a 13a on deck as well called Lucy. I don't know what my tactics should be at this point. I could go all in and work the 14a and maybe come up empty or I could be conservative and do a couple 13a's and b's? Climbing.....what a mind meld.


David said...

Swing for the fence, Williams! 8b+ or nothing! Remember, life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but rather the moments that take your breath away.

Blackford said...

I'm not sure why I keep reading these blog entries. They are quite painful if you're stuck in Atlanta where the heat index is 105.