After a quick 15 hour flight from Salt Lake City-Chicago-Dublin and finally Paris, the once far away magical forest of Fontainebleau was within my grasp. I love returning to an area 10 years later for its as if I had never been, everything fresh and new but still so familiar, a bit of deja vu was clearly present. We snatched up our spiffy French car and hit the road, after sussing out our living sitiuation with a good friend the time had come to attack the precious boulders. Unfortunately the ever present moisture and dew had devoured the boulders and never seemed to evaporate. Climbing in Fontainebleau is by far one of the most technical styles of rock in the world, its also extremely temperature dependent. The conditions were completely horrible, and even the thought of projecting anything above the warmup grade was out of the question. It was fun for a day or two but after 3 weeks of the continuous let down, my mind began to go a little cuckoo. Nearing the end of our France adventure, in hopes of being in the best shape ever and ready to give the full on Utahn invasion of Great Britian, the exact opposite was at hand, too much delicious pastries, wine and cheese mixed with no climbing, made for some ruff times ahead.
With the dreams of Fontainebleau behind us it was time to venture onto the next chapter. England! Sheffield! The Peak District! The complete unknown and mysterious land of Gritstone and delicious ales, eh eheh. Even though the weather in England is rumored to be quite dubious, we decided to go ahead with it in hopes of dry rock. Upon arrival was clear skies and bitter cold wind, the rock seemed dry enough especially for British standards. Our first day out was to the Stanage Plantation where a whole slew of classics awaited. I was in total awe as to the superb quality and stickiness of the grit. The rocks were small but jam packed with subtle features and hard moves. It was like a dream come true standing there amongst the Grit not to mention the glorious scenery. My first objective was obviously to have my way with some of the true classics, Deliverance, Breadline, Crescent Arete etc.. but first and foremost was to build a good base of skin. It reminded me a lot of granite, and I know one thing about granite, it has the capability of destroying your skin faster then you can pound your favorite pint. After a few days in the Peak the weather, strangely enough was better than normal apart from a day or so of solid rain.
(The Storm 7c)
We decided to check out a crag known as Caley where a longtime dream bloc of mine exists. High Fidelity! Unfortunately this crag is North facing meaning no sun, as well as a load of thick jungle-like foliage making it nearly impossible to dry out. I was almost certain these factors would not stop me from achieving my main goal but between the never ending manky moisture and a bad case of the man-flu on my final week, I was left once again broken hearted by bad weather. None-the-less, we had an amazing trip and got to experience the real feeling of what living in England is all about thanks to our gracious hosts. In the end we can say that England by far has the most friendly people, the driving is absolutely nuts and the pubs are brilliant. We were a bit sad to leave but onto the the chapter, but first a short stop in London, where we indulged ourselves with street art, markets, bridges, The Tate Modern Musuem and a small taste of Big Ben.
(High Fidelity 8b)
Never been to Rome before, seemed suitable for a nice lil historical stop at what was once the Great Roman Empire. Another speedy flight and BOOM! We were in a whole new world. Actually a world of my ancestors, primarily my dad, he is 100% Sicilian. We met up with my 2nd cousin Marco and his family for mouth watering home made meals, tasty espresso’s and a beautiful tour of the city. One of my all time favorite cities, very easy to walk around, definitely need to go back and spend more time.
The last leg of our 2 month voyage was underway, another flight to Geneva, France to pick up our final rental car. The rentals in France for some reason are at least 3 times cheaper then renting in Switzerland or Italy, it seemed reasonable to just drive a couple more hours and get a way better deal, plus the French cars are a bit bigger for crash pads which is a bonus and its fun to drive around knowing everyone thinks your French. It had been roughly 10 years since my last visit to Ticino in the southern region of Switzerland which is primarily Italian, and boy have things changed. When I was last there the only publicly known bouldering area was Cresciano. Chironico, Brione and surrounding zones were all top secret. I had the pleasure of having these zones completely to myself with loads of FA’s. Its great to see how much has been developed and how many people from all over the world are now enjoying an area that I helped influence in the past. After receiving my new giant Saturn crash pad in the mail which by the way comes with a perfect waist strap, It was game on and time to make the most of my last days in Europe. With so many top notch problems to project, I really had to stay focused and to be a bit picky. All in all, the Swiss blocs are astounding, the scenery is beautiful, but in the back of your head knowing that your bank account is getting drained is a bit unsettling. It really gives me an appreciation for all the amazing things back home, I mean its even cheaper to buy Toblerone in Utah then it is in Switzerland, that’s insanity!!
(Disney Production 8b)
Check the video to see exactly what happened.