Font 7a in 80 Days from Now…

For the first time in 21 years of climbing, I find myself motivated to train for a specific goal – Le Toit Du Cul de Chien – a classic Font 7a boulder problem with a compelling finger pocket move through a roof. Fontainebleau was my first real rock climbing trip in the spring of 1994. I remember wandering around the Cul de Chien area like it was yesterday – bare feet on warm sand, climbing shoes on shoulder, man playing guitar on boulder, landing on the ground (bouldering mats didn’t exist back then) and excited people cheering on strong climbers, who were falling off an impossibly hard looking sequence of moves that left me in awe. At that time, I didn’t even consider that I might climb on those very holds.

Nineteen years later, I stood under the Cul de Chien roof in the spring of last year and dipped my toes in the water with a barefoot ascent, just up to the shallow two finger pocket. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to climb this inspiring problem and I believed it was possible for me to do so. Beer, wine and fun times on the campsite that evening put plans for the next day on hold but I was back in the summer and enjoyed a brilliant afternoon, working the moves with friends from Mile End Climbing Wall on my 39th birthday. I barely got any further than I had barefoot a few months before. I didn’t even reach the next hold but I got close, I was hungry for more and, most important of all, I had enjoyed trying.

I have just returned from a beautiful spring trip to Fontainebleau with Lancaster friends, where I tried again to climb ‘Le Toit’. I failed but I did reach that next hold and the next one too. Progress was made, I have become stronger and I am now more clear than ever on what I need to do. After a good last autumn of working my weaknesses  – dynamic and powerful moves on steeply overhanging rock – I interrupted my strength training with a good winter of mountaineering in Scotland. Coming into the spring, I had some catching up to do. I think I have just about got back to my high point of last autumn but that clearly isn’t enough to pull through the next couple of moves. I am going to have to up my game even further…

One day after returning from Font and a plan is taking shape. I shall be back in Fontainebleau with Mile End friends in 80 days time. The key 8 aspects for me to focus on between now and then are as follows:

The training has to be specific to the dynamic and powerful move that is shutting me down.

The highly intense training has to be such that it will take my body to a place it has never been before.

Regular, low-volume sessions will give more opportunity to develop strength without overloading my body.

I need more flexible hips to make the high heel hook feel easy – bring on the yoga!

To provide a stable base to get stronger, I need to balance specific moves with a wide range of strength increases.

High protein and high fat with low carbs and lots of fruit and veg is the approach to nutrition that works for me.

Rest will be essential to avoid injury and reap the maximum benefit from the intense training.

Focus is going to be absolutely key for me to maintain all of the above for the 80 days prior to Font…

More important than all of the above is enjoying the process and learning from it. I know that giving it my best shot and doing all that I can will be just as satisfying, if not more so, than actually climbing ‘Le Toit’. I know that the healthy approach to the next 80 days is going to be very good for me and I know that maintaining my focus and motivation will be a steep learning curve from which I will grow in many ways…

Paul on Le Toit du Cul de Chien in August 2013

Paul on Le Toit du Cul de Chien in August 2013


Posted: May 20th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

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