Begin July Sophia and I drove to Magic Wood (Averstal), the last destination of our 6 months road trip (see previous blogs). It was a weird feeling to know that the trip was coming to an end, it felt like the five previous months had been gone so fast. But we still had three weeks to spend and that is longer than most peoples holidays, so no complaining.
Switzerland will never be my favorite country (Spain is the best). The whole country is just crazy expensive and the (village)people are stiff, but if you can look besides that Swiss is the place to be for hardcore granite bouldering in an amazing Alpine setting. This last month my goal was to do my first 8b boulder, I felt fit and mentally strong (I already accomplished my tripgoal; an 8c route). The first few days I walked around in the forest to find my project (it was rainy anyway so no climbing ), there where tree 8b’s I wanted to try: Steppenwolf, One summer in paradise and the Riverbed. Steppenwolf was on the top of my list (I wanted to try this problem last time I was in Magic but it was wet) but in the end it was wet the whole month, it is probably the slowest drying boulder in Swiss. One summer in paradise was the ‘backup plan’, in my opinion it doesn’t look as good as Steppenwolf but still a 5 star boulder. I thought it should suit me because edges in an overhang is my specialty, but after three days of working I still couldn’t do the last move (a strange kind of mantle), this one stays on the ‘to do list’ for a next trip.
At that time I was still hopeful that Steppenwolf would dry and I hadn’t really checked Riverbed, for some reason the boulder didn’t completely attract me. But after another night with heavy rainfall we went to the Wood with little hope to boulder. Almost everything was wet but Riverbed was completely dry, ‘fuck it’ I thought and I gave it a workout try. What a world class problem, this one was going to be my first 8b! On the first day I did all the single moves but one or two, that was really motivating. Riverbed felt like I had a change and five months of route climbing where a perfect ‘training’ for such a long boulder. The second workout day I did all the single moves and I could even do some links (I climbed the boulder in three parts), now I knew I could do it after a rest day. Unfortunately Mr weather didn’t play along, and because of more rain and shitty conditions the send had to wait. I tried it a few times but most of the holds where kind a soapy (moist and chalk), fortunately I did made some progress (I did the problem in two overlapping parts). A few days later conditions became more promising and sending time was about to come. On the day of the send it was cloudy but dray and more important the whole boulder was dry, during my warm up it started do drizzle, ‘SHIT’ I knew I had only one try. On the lip of the roof it didn’t went perfect (http://vimeo.com/27205826) and I feared the worst but the crux section went relatively easy and Victory was mine! Probably one of the most happy moments in climbing for me.
Besides Riverbed I did two 8a’s (Scheesturm and Free for all), a 7c+ (Du cote de Seshuan) and four 7c’s (Enterprise in space, Schneebrett, Jack the Chipper and Fight club). Enterprise in space and Jack the Chipper are my first and second 7c flashes but because Enterprise in space isn’t a ‘real’ boulder (a campus of Enterprise 7a) Jack the Chipper is my first 7c flash. My send of Fight club has been filmed by Ivan Lisica and Sandra Lisica (team Moon) http://vimeo.com/29553057.
That is all tree months ago. Coming back to the Netherlands was dual, nice to see all my friends but bitter to leave the rocks. We had to find a new house, get new jobs and getting used to plastic again. It all worked out, we have a new house, new jobs and I rejoined the Dutch boulder team and picked up my study sociology. My next trip is planned, with Christmas a week to Cresciano. The climbing lifestyle never stops!
All fotos: Riverbed 8b, Magic Wood. Made by Sophia Bitlloch