Euroinvasion 2004: Trip Report

Another old trip report, stored here for posterity. This was a ripper trip, and the beginning of an entire lifestyle of climbing and traveling for Sam and I.

Friday, September 03, 2004

In Paris

Hi all

Still alive, in Paris now and about to head out to Font in a day or two. Despite the three lost bags - now found - we are doing well. French keyboqrds qre q nightnqre so I will stop trying for correct spelling;

gotta fly

Until next time

Friday, September 10, 2004

Europe has bad internet!

Well, I now do battle with the German keyboard as I sit in a dodgy pub in the Frankenjura. Excuse the spelling as always.

After doing the touristy thing in Paris a week or so ago, we journeyed 1 hour out to Fontainbleau. Totally amazing bouldering! I probably did 60 or more problems in the 2.5 days we were there. Some quite hard stuff too (love the slopers!) but unfortunately I have no idea what each of the problems were named or graded.

After Font we drove for about 8 or so hours to the Frankenjura in Germany. Steep pocket pulling on limestone. Little crags, spread out in the forest. I've been climbing quite well, ticking off up to grade 23 stuff onsight, and 24's second shot. Having a rest day today because our skin is so sore. We don't have a good guide so it's hard to know what to get on in the harder grades. Plenty of time for that though.

After a few more days here I think we're heading to the Chamonix region in France so that Marty and Neil can climb Mount Blanc while we the others do some cragging in that area. Then maybe Ceuse!

Hope everyone is well.

Until next time

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Bonjour from Ceuse!

Hi guys

They keyboards in France, as I have mentioned previously are absolutely terrible, I would like to write more but it's sooo painful.

Firstly, in terms of pics, we have heaps. Really great stuff. Before we left, Neil bought a 10 Gig dumper. Great. Of course now when we plug it in to try to upload some pics for you guys we get some crazy USB errors (in French). Not happy! I now don't hold great hopes of getting pictures online before we get back to Australia.

Anyway, since last time, we've been to the Frankenjura in Germany where I onsighted a bunch of 23's and a very cool 45 degree overhanging 24 which came complete with kneebars.

After that we headed to Interlaken in Switzerland, the most expensive place on the planet? The crag Lehn was fantastic. Overhung sculpted gneiss which was almost like gritstone in parts. Another excellent 7a / 23 onsight.

From Interlaken we crossed the border back into France so Neil and Marty could trudge up hills (Mt Blanc, Chamonix). Jac, Sam and I contented ourselves on the rock of the region instead.

Then it was back into sport climbing mode and because Neil's feet were destroyed from Mt Blanc, we went to Orpierre instead of Ceuse (less walk in). Stacks of bolts and easy routes on limestone. I onsighted everything up to and including 7a+ / 24 which was great. Also did Destruction 7b+ (26) second shot. Neil and I did the longest route there (7 pitches - 170m, 5b) in 28 minutes bottom to top. 4 minutes per pitch isn't bad.

Now we're at Gap, host town of the so called best crag in the world, Ceuse! Went there yesterday. Very hot, but very awesome. I onsighted 21, 22, 23 and after a small slip and lower-off at the 2nd bolt, got back on and 'pretty much' onsighted the amazing Le Petite Illusion 7a+ / 24. Soooo long and rediculously sustained on two finger pockets and slopey dishes with almost no places to recover. I was so off the whole way up and almost passed out upon clipping the chains. A dream ascent. My endurance seems to be getting quite good. All those laps at UrbanClimb are paying off (thanks Erik).

More Ceuse this week!

Anyway I hope everyone is doing well. Thinking of you all.

Until next time

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Ceuse ticked!

Hi all, we've finished our stint in Ceuse now, very sad. 5 days climbing all up, and definitely not overhyped as one of the best climbing locations on the planet. Last time I mentioned my ascent of Le Petite Illusion, which was cool, but I managed to better that effort with Blocage Violent 7b+/26. This route was incredible. Gently overhanging the entire way up a blue streak. So inspiring. Every hold a pocket. No hard moves, but incredibly sustained the whole way, and increasingly runout as you climb higher. I had one shot a few days ago, then left the draws up on it overnight and went back the next day, climbing it on my third shot of that day. I wasn't sure I would have the endurance to do it, but just managed it. It was certainly the highlight route of the trip so far for me. We also did a super overhung 30m 7b/25 and a bunch of 7a+/24 routes.

The walk up. Certainly a defining point of Ceuse. It's at least 50 minutes uphill walking if you're fit, and longer if you're not. The cliff sits at almost 2000m altitude. Doing the walk day after day can really take it out of you. We stashed all our stuff up at the cliff to avoid having to carry it.

Yesterday was the last climbing day there so I jumped on Berlin 7c+/28 and destroyed myself in a couple of tries. I was being belayed by a Dutch guy we met called Frank and due to his super dynamic belaying I managed to take a 10m fall which was nice. After watching me climb the route with 3 falls, Frank promptly flashed it. I mused, "I wonder what it would take for me to be able to get this clean?", Frank replied "Err, I think maybe you need to be stronger". Thanks Frank!

Anyway, we are now heading into the southern France region. Buoux, Verdon, Chateauvert, before heading to Italy and Finale, Arco, Dolomites etc etc. Should be pretty awesome. Neil's brand new rope is already showing the core in parts, so you know we're climbing lots.

Sam says hi to all. Managed to get a few photos online for you, but we're still battling the greater photo situation with Neil's photo dumper seemingly inoperative. We're scared we may have lost images, but we'll see.

I will keep in touch. Take care.

Until next time

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


Hi guys

We're currently in Finale Ligure, Italy. On the coast, with scattered climbing areas in the surrounding hills. The weather finally caught up with us in the last two days and we've been hiding under shelters to cook and going to sleep with rain battering the tents.

Before crossing into Italy, our last crag in France was Chateauvert (2 days), which was really cool. Almost reminded me of a sport-climbing version of Arapiles, along a quaint little river. Many of the routes here have seen some amazing amount of traffic and basically play join the dots, white for the hands (chalk), and black for the feet (rubber). Managed to flash a 7b roof climb there, and onsighted a bunch of other easier things.

Before that was Verdon. Ahh Verdon! Amazing place. 300m high sheer limestone dropping straight down to the river below. Gorgeous. =). Unfortunately Sam and I were sick for part of our four day stay, so only got a couple of climbing days in. We did a little multipitching, but also had great fun just rapping part way down and doing single pitch stuff. Almost like Point Perp. Anything here over 7a (23) was super hard we found, but the rock quality and scenery meant that you didn't mind at all climbing the so-called easier grades.

We'll that's about it for now. Heading to Arco and the Dolomites soon. Hope everyone is doing really well.

Until next time

Italian climbing - Lee's perspective

I did a post-trip write-up of the Italian climbing for this thread on

A rundown of our recent Italy climbing

Well we're back from our super-trip. We did France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. I can imagine other people will be in the same boat as me and be madly searching for info about Italian climbing. With that in mind, here were the crags we hit in Italy, and my thoughts:

For your reference, we were in Italy in October. Also, I tend to enjoy (and favor) endurance climbing on quality limestone.

Finale Ligure
2000+ routes spread over several different crags. We'd come from Verdon and Chateauvert in France before this, so I must say I wasn't overly impressed. After speaking with many other climbers, it's reasonable to say that Finale is a place you either love or hate. I guess I was put off by the fact that the place isn't overly well set up for climbers. We had difficulty finding a campsite that was open, and it ended up not being anywhere near the climbing areas. The best crag we went to here was Monte Cucco - Fenia o Anfiteatro. There were some really good enduro limestone routes here. Baci de Rio (7a) is superb.

Beautiful spot. Cheap gear to buy in the several climbing stores. Cheapest we saw all trip. A nice town to walk around in and buy gelati. The camping ground is obvious which was good, but expensive which was not. It was raining so we got a hut instead of tents, good move! Arco had been so hyped up beforehand though that I was again not overly impressed. We went to several limestone crags, some of which were quite crap (Belvedere). Massone was pretty impressive and certainly worth a visit if you climb 6b+ and up. It hosts the most impossible-looking routes I've ever seen (Underground 8c+ and the 30+ quickdraw 8c extravaganza next to it). It was however quite polished and blocky. You could spend a few days here.

We journeyed up here for a single day. It was snowing and super-beautiful. It was too cold for me to climb, but the others did some single pitch sport climbing at Pian Schiavaneis. Chipped, drilled, and bolted-on gym holds. The finest of Europe. I think for a quality experience in the Dolomites, you really need to hook up with a local or someone in the know. Certainly the most impressive views and scenery around.

Hidden away in the middle of nowhere, Ceredo is a quality crag. It will be much better when most of the routes are rebolted with ringbolts. As it is, some of the homemade fixed hangers won't accept certain (thicker) quickdraws! Quality sportclimbing, perhaps 100 routes, but enough for five days of fun. All steep. Stay in the pizzeria (cheaper than camping at Arco). Cook your own food outside on the deck if you're on a budget.

Definitely worth two or three days. South of Rome on the coast is this Thailand-like experience. Buy the guide for 5 Euro from the supermarket. Grotta dell'Areonauta is one of the most amazing caves you'll ever see for climbing. Grades from 6a to 8c+. Like roof? There's more than 20m of it here. There's lots of other non-cave crags lying around the countryside, but of the three days we spent here, we spent two in the cave, mostly because it was super hot climbing in the sun outside.

Anyway, not everyone will agree with my opinions, but I'm sure they may help the odd person plan their trip.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Oh no, it's Rome then home!

Hi guys

Ah well, my trip is rapidly drawing to a close, and I suspect this will be my last email to you from overseas. The climbing has concluded, and we're now in Rome taking in the sights. I think I'm more buggered now from walking around all day checking out the Colusseum, Vatican and Pantheon etc. than from any day of climbing out on the rock.

Good news is that we recently discovered Neil's 'black hole' aka the photo dumper device has actually been working all this time and we verified all our precious pics are alive and well inside. Once back in Oz I'll be spending time getting many of these online for viewing.

Our last 10 days or so have been spent at the new sport crag Ceredo, and then down on the Italian coast south of Rome at Sperlonga. Both very good, and we managed to avoid some very bad weather by climbing on some very steep rock! My warm-up one day at Ceredo was an 8a+ (30), purely because it was the only thing I could find that was dry. I made it to the anchors in less than perfect style =). The Grotta Dell'Aeronauta cave at Sperlonga is particularly amazing. You walk up a sand dune on the beach and see a hint of a cave roof. "Hmm, a small cave with a few routes" you think, until you drop down the other side of the dune and the immense cave becomes fully visible. A steep 15m wall, arching up to a 20m long horizontal roof complete with dripping stalactites and routes up to 8c (just a little hard). We spent two days just climbing routes in this cave. Really Thailand-like and great fun.

Anyway, tomorrow we fly out to Singapore for shopping (if I have any money left) and lazing by the hotel pool, before reluctantly boarding Qantas for home. At least it beats Lufthansa!

I'll get in touch again when I'm home and there's piccies to see. I'll see some of you very soon!

Until next time

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Qantas plane quality

As an addendum, I must add that our last flight home (Singapore - Brisbane) did NOT beat Lufthansa! As Sam and I walked down the gangway, I was happy that we were getting on a colourful blue 747 emblazoned with aboriginal art. It looked cool. Minutes later, when I realised there were no personal seatback screens (grr!), everything became clear. This must have been one of the oldest POS jets in the fleet, and it was painted nicely to cover up the rust that must have surely been forming on the outside. "Little Rusty" got us home without incident, but also without me being able to see the bottom half of every scene in The Bourne Supremacy (thanks big head in 73A).

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Memorable Trip Quotes

"You could tell by the state of his chest harness that he's been in the game for a while"
-- Jac at Orpierre

"Why leave the comfort of the ground?"
-- Marty at Buoux

"Why are you giving my Euro to the Change Man?"
-- Sam

"We found it on the ground!"
-- Sam

"Are you climbing Marty?"
"Nope, I've retired"

"Orpierre and Arco crags are purposely overbolted by gear shop employees to encourage the purchase of extra quickdraws in said gear shops"
-- Observation by Lee

"I am a man of contrasts"
-- Neil on fashion

"Ceuse campground is partially financed by the owner throwing wooden palettes into the camp, waiting for climbers to make furniture, then harvesting the furniture for a tidy profit at the local flea market."
-- Observation by Lee

"Climbers love junk!"
-- Ceuse campground owner

"Is this the wrong signal for me to send on a nude, possibly gay beach?
1) Remove pants
2) Put pants on rocks
3) Look around sheepishly
4) Walk up into bushes."
-- Neil at Sperlonga

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Media onslaught - let the pics begin!

Lee's Galleries
17 gallery collection!

Neil's Galleries

Germany and the Alps

Southern France

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Frequently Used Sayings

Marty: "Super!"
Jac: "Can I make a suggestion?"
Neil: "Totally do-able"
Kathy: "Hot springs"
Sam: "It's so simple!"
Lee: "Downtime"

Maximising Your Climbing Gym Workout

Something that comes up often in climbing’s big book of Frequently Asked Questions is “How do I climb better/harder?” The answer is obvious: “Climb more and train for climbing!” The problem is, everyone has different ideas on how to train for climbing. Some are good, while others are downright ineffective.

If you’re serious about improving, regular visits to the local climbing gym are often the way to go. But it’s what you do when you get there that matters. Why not think about employing some of these strategies…

Warm up
Start with a good warm up. A light stretch first, then two sets of sit ups, push ups and pull ups (alternate them) will get you nice and warm. Don’t think “I don’t want to warm up because I’ll get pumped early and won’t be able to climb”. You’re at the gym. Your aim is to get pumped! A good warm up is very important, especially to help prevent injury.

Easy routes
Once you’re warm, do some easy, steep routes. This will warm up your mind as much as your body. Before you can go hard, you have to get your climbing head screwed on, and some easy routes will help this happen.

If you top out successfully on a climb, you should then (without resting on the rope) try to downclimb the route – even hard ones. There’s many reasons for this. First, it makes the climbing last longer. You’ll get super wasted – hence your endurance will start to improve. Secondly, knowing you have to downclimb a route makes you focus more on the way up, you’ll climb better. Third – footwork. Downclimbing demands very good footwork, and this is an area that many climbers (especially gym climbers!) need to work on. At first downclimbing will feel awkward and painful, but stick to it! You’ll reap big gains if you persist and your friends will wonder why you can hang around all day not getting pumped!

Intensity – deciding which routes to climb
Aim to spend 50% of your time doing routes you can top out, and 50% of your time working projects, i.e. routes you can’t yet climb cleanly. If you only climb things within your limit, you’ll never push that limit higher, and if you spend all your time failing (flailing?) on routes that are too hard, you’ll become demoralised. Get the balance right.

Lapping routes – endurance builder
At the end of the session, pick a route to lap. This should be something that is steep and long, and well within your ability when fresh. It should also be something that you know you can get pumped on – don’t pick something too easy! Grab a patient belayer, and climb up and down the route without resting until you fall off. Get back on and continue. Continue doing this until you run out of belay credits, or you’re too tired to climb with an acceptable level of grace.

Warm down
Don’t forget to have a nice stretch at the end of the session. About 10 minutes’ worth is good.

So there you have it. There’s plenty more techniques that you can use to make the most of your time in the gym, but if you start with these – they’ll set you on the path. Good climbers around the country are using these same techniques in your local climbing gym. Become one of them!