I bumped in to DMM reps Alex and Rob in Chamonix and persuaded them that it would be a good idea for me to be a third wheel on a Grand Capucin mission. The next day I packed my stuff to walk in, as I watched torrential rain hammer the windows. It’s OK, it will stop. Well, it didn’t stop and since we had already wasted a few days due to rain, the boys decided they’d had enough. Sometimes climbing full stop, is more important than climbing what you want to climb. So they decided that their best bet was Ceuse, and I decided my best bet was to tag along.
I was upset about not being able to climb on the Grand Cap – it looks amazing – but I was very happy about being back in Ceuse. On my last day of my previous trip to Ceuse I tried Femme Blanch (8a+), and had written in my diary ‘must finish’, always one to try and follow up on my own commands, I was psyched to be back.
It’s a really cool route, with a bouldery start, pumpy middle section and prolonged, run out slabby section to finish. I thought I would get in second try, but it actually took me quite a few goes… I had an unusual excuse the first time: a wasp stung me in between my toes and apparently puffed up and painful feet are not great for slab climbing.
On my next try I ran out of light and unable to see my feet, I messed up my sequence, ended up wrong handed and unable to clip the bolt. I tried to create a new sequence utilising a ticked foot hold. This did anything but work and I fell with the unclipped clip at chest level. I’d asked my mate Amit, to give me as soft a catch as possible, this combined with the runout meant that I clocked up a fair few air miles. More pissed off than anything at having fallen off again I did not appreciate the air time, but I think it could have been one of those falls where you have to take multiple breaths.
Even though the next day was my 4th day on it was also my last at Ceuse. With a deflated foot, a little more day light and better concentration on my behalf, it felt easy, and I left Ceuse the next day feeling happy to leave.
I really enjoyed Femme Blanche, even though it took me a few more tries than I wanted it to. The climbing is really good and I really enjoyed working out the sequences between the bolts. After a little thought, I think this is why I like run out sport climbing; you can onsight climb even when you’re red pointing, since the only way to rehearse the moves properly is to top rope, and that’s no fun.