The Final Leg

Sharing a parking spot with the ponies.
Sharing a parking spot with the ponies.

I should never have written a post about the great time we had in Spain – things were bound to even themselves out. As soon as we crossed the border into France in fact, our luck sort of disappeared for a while. Our first plan was to film in Targasonne – a wild bouldering area high up in the Pyrenees, but winter had definitely not left the mountains yet. I mean the weather was fine up until we parked in the climber’s car park – then it snowed for 2 hours. We did our usual thing of walking around anyway and saying lots of different rocks looked cool, then headed for the campsite. The next morning we had to be towed out with a tractor – more snow. We tried to go climbing again… more snow. We thought we’d go find a supermarket… you guessed it, another snowstorm, followed by another and another and another. Targasonne was not to be, so at 20mph we crawled down and out of the mountains. Onto Annot!

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I’ve only ever seen pictures of Annot looking lovely and sunny, so in my mind that’s how it was all the time. Al and I were both pretty excited about climbing there, and we were mentally prepared for the gravel track you have to drive up in order to reach the boulders. Well I thought we were. The Sun Seeker had got us through most situations so far, but the pot-holed, mega steep, hairpin-ridden gravel track that leads to the boulders in Annot really took its toll on my nerves, and when the ice started to appear on the bends, then the snow, and when there was no where to turn around and we got stuck and had to off-road it… well it broke me at last and I burst out crying. Eventually we got to a snow-free bend and parked on it, deciding not to move the car again until our food had run out, then we would never have to drive that track again. But the next morning we woke up to… yup, a snowstorm. Some of the biggest snowflakes I’ve ever seen actually, so again, we trundled out of there, tails between our legs. We didn’t even take any pictures, it was that traumatic.

La Beda, 6a+ in Buoux. A great route!
La Beda, 6a+ in Buoux. A great route!

This led us to one of our many late night meetings in McDonalds, trying to work out a new plan, which lead us to Buoux. I liked Buoux, it was almost impossible to get lost, you didn’t have to walk far to the crag and the towns nearby were lovely. But I wouldn’t say it was our favourite place to climb – quite polished, stiff grades, quite run out… maybe we were getting tired, but we both found the climbing there pretty tough at times.

After a four day break with my folks it was onto a snowy Magic Wood where we couldn’t do much but trudge through the drifts.

And then it was full circle as we headed for Chironico, where we’d spent a lot of time at the start of our trip, waiting for Brione to dry. This is where our luck returned – two and a half weeks of glorious weather and lots of good climbing. I mostly slept and ate because my ankle was still bad after La Pedriza, but Al crushed.

My favourite problem in Nivo Alta, Triangolo.
My favourite problem in Nivo Alta, Triangolo.
Al and his beloved Second Life.
Al and his beloved Second Life.

And after that, well, naturally we went skiing for a bit and saw some friends and family, but now we are back in Glasgow. Obviously our Epic Europe trip was the ride of a lifetime, but in all honesty, 6 months on the road was plenty for me. By the time we got to Buoux really, I was starting to feel pretty broken from a winter living outdoors, from making thirteen episodes on the move, from so much climbing and I was a bit fed up of being limited by my ankle. The whole adventure feels like one huge blurr, I think it’ll take a while for it all to sink in and settle in our brains. So for now, it’s good to be home.

Al 23 moves or so into Second Life.
Al 23 moves or so into Second Life.

 

 

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