Lots to report!
Firstly - a funky pic of one of the storms we've been having lots of recently clearing up over Servoz (taken from our balcony).
A couple of days ago I chipped off with Brian for some evening climbing to Le Fayet just down the valley near Saint Gervais. Basically the whole crag was overhanging. We (and by we I mean Brian) did two piches. He led both, but I only managed to get up a few sections of the first pitch and one on the second.
I actually scampered up the first two parts of the pitch noting that my technique for overhangs could do with some work. The first section went surprisingly well hauling myself over a small ledge jutting out and then breezed up the second section that was a small pillar. The third section looked do-able standing on my little protected shelf but I just couldn't quite get the hand-jamming technique exactly right at the crux point of the move. It was incredibly frustrating but realised what was going wrong after Brian explained it fully. I'm determined to get the knack of that type of hold and am looking forward to going back after a month and getting over that section. Had a wee tumble when my hand slipped out of jam rather unexpectedly but didn't hit anything (the beauty of climbing overhangs - always fall into fresh air!) - the thing that annoyed was having to climb back up to have another go! I scrambled up the first section of the second pitch but to be honest it felt like someone had administered an epidural from the neck down after the rigours of the first pitch and after a brief mental argument felt the accompanying dangers of fatigue were too great to continue - retreat!
The upper whole crag at Le Fayet overhangs by about 30 feet so it's pretty daunting to look at. Brian reckoned that there's been an earthquake or some sort of geological shift gone on in the past ten years or so that's made the rock lean over more as the pitch grades given in his book were WAY out of synch with how the pitches actually are (much harder than the book says). If you've found this blog posting via a search engine and are planning to climb Le Fayet then prepare to shit yourself. Take two pairs of undies. Actually better make it three as the walk to the crag through the forest is hot and sweaty and you don't want to be uncomfortable on the rock now do you?
It took two days to recover from that little trip and there's still some residual aching in the arms and hands. But my god I feel fit. This fitness thing has been heightened by the procurement of a brand spanking new pair of bling-bling trainers whilst in the UK last weekend. They duly got buffed up and the shiny bits shined and the laces tied just so in readiness for the first run in them yesterday. Huge fun as it happens - donned the traditional knee-length surfing shorts and ipod and took the dogs along boshing directly up the mountain we live on. Running around the mountains is incredible and exhausting. Continual steep slopes and beautiful views really feel like you're being pushed for a good reason. I've found a little course to run - around 4 miles or so all in (2 miles uphill, 2 miles downhill, no flat bits!) and the intention is to do this a few times a week with Digby the dog accompanying as moral support. Because it's light til late these days, it's a perfect alternative to do anything non-activity related in the evening such as watching Scrubs on the pooter or going to Le Delice and getting pissed.
Storm clearing over the Aiguillette des Houches
Unsurprisingly with all this activity of an evening and having stopped drinking temporarily (switched to mango juice) it's meant some seriously good sleeping. Always been a problem over the years but for the past week have been up early rising fresh and happy regardless of whatever time I go to bed with not much dreaming. We've been woken up for the past few days with amazing thunderstorms and yesterday we even had a hailstorm roll in at 6.30am to greet the arrival of the day. I got up and took some photos and then stayed up checking emails and writing content for a website happy in the simple side of life living up high.
Large hailstones on the balcony
I chipped down to Le Delice last night for the Fête de la Musique - a musical festival that takes place on the 21st July each year that encourages amateur musicians to take to the streets and perform in public. I kept thinking how much my Dad would have enjoyed it - he's a wicked guitarist and it'd have been cool to see him up on stage again throwing a few songs out. Katy and Fred had a really good acoustic guitarist (Mark from Canada) in there strumming away whilst people were eating and drinking. Katy was hugely impressive having a whirl with the microphone and has a really nice voice - Norah Jones styley - and opted for some classic tunes like Son of a Preacher Man and Pink Floyd's The Wall. Fred made an appearance on the guitar and showed some class and style with a couple of soulful numbers. I've got to say the hairs stood up on my neck when the pair of them did a song together - it really was amazing and the bar was in awe as they did a duet with much whooping and cheering when they finished. All in all a really good night. I was talking to Abi, one of the Les Houches crew all night and we spent the entire night laughing which was great. Also, we realised that Fred makes his "sex face" when playing the guitar. This snippet of information will be filed and brought out in future!
All in all a really good day - a run in the evening, then cooked coq au vin with rosti potatoes for Andy and myself, a bit of chocolate then down to Le Delice for a mango juice and to watch your friends show some hidden talents all the time having a good giggle. Awesome.