It has been a while – almost a year – that I have been “giving testimony” about one of the probably less important things in the world, especially in these days: my passion for climbing. And though I already have recognized that people who still have the possibility to enjoy and practice climbing are not very welcome in the internet society, I felt like giving a summary of this last year before this pandemic might “end” in a year or two. So less than 10% of this resumé refers to the pandemical times and out of these 10% a part refers to climbing on my own bouldering wall on our ground. So, I hopefully will not offend too many people too much (this time).
For many climbers Frankenjura as a living destination has something of an Eldorado. When we moved here a little more than a year ago, for us it was rather a compromise between good crags, a proper hospital and not as inflated land prices as close to the Alps.
Until 2006, I climbed quite regularly but never much and never harder than 8a+ in Franken and then moved to Fribourg in Switzerland. The next ten years I did not visit the Frankenjura a single time. From Switzerland it was pretty far away, the conditions hard to predict, the style for my taste very physical – favoring rather small, compact and explosive climbers.
So, of this kind were my first contacts with Franken rock when we moved back to Germany in 2016/17. I had a look to Corona and Action directe but it was clear that this was no home match for me. So, I just passed one or two times more – mostly on the way to Berlin.
Moving to Franken then was a pretty spontaneous decision in late 2018 and not at all at the speed I would have preferred. After a great climbing year my two hardest projects in Kochel and in Pinswang (both 11+) were close but still unfinished. But my wife’s job in hospital of Bayreuth started in February 2019 and so after one month in Siurana and again a very close fail in Via de la Capella (9b), we moved there in a small rental house close to an old farm we wanted to buy.
Which luckily never happened as we learned to know our current housemates before, set up our yurts on their ground and started one of the most passionate stories (of creation, care and construction) in my life – just pretty different from the travelling ones of the past. If you want to give yourself an impression of it, visit jurte.de.
What concerns climbing, the winter of 2018/2019 was not too bad, the spring then really good and as I didn’t want to focus too much on a single project I began to work more or less all 9a and harder in a 20km perimeter. These were nine.
Probably a good tactic to avoid overtraining, but perhaps a little large to avoid forgetting all the single moves all the time. Before conditions got too warm by mid-May I sent “only” The Essential (9a) at Luisenwand.
After this I took an almost total break until mid-September diving into a mental “yurt-construction-tunnel” and setting up everything in our new paradisiac place. Unfortunately, the oncoming late autumn and winter started their storm-and-water-mess already in November. Time to send Black Label (9a) at Schneiderloch in November and House of Shock (9a) at Rothenstein in the first days of December with zero degrees and the first time in my life I sent a hard route wearing a pullover.
Winter without sun can be the price for a wide range of great routes and good rock here in Franken.
And we paid this price double this year. Cold, windy, wet and a single rock-climbing day until almost the end of March. Plus no indoor training makes not really much climbing. The only thing that saved the rudimentary rest of a shape was my new climbing wall in the garden with my homemade climbing holds. But as I chose a rather exposed spot for it, the steadily windy and close to zero degrees weather made it even there hard to do more than a couple of moves before my feet turned into ice cubes.
When the masses of water (that we all need against the still acute after-effects of the great draught in 2018) slowly began to withdraw in March, I did not have a precise idea of how to get into a sending shape before the too hot summer weather that comes every year a little earlier.
As Rothenstein with Elder Statesman (9a) und Becoming (9a+) are closed to birds having bred there somewhere along the line, I decided to focus on Corona (9a+), Panthera (9a) and Unplugged (9a) – all close to our hometown and thus unaffected from the restrictions due to Corona. I’ll leave aside The Essential direct (probably the variant Adam Ondra climbed and by far the hardest of all these routes) as it is a little farer away and probably would need more time than I have until summer.
I often work routes alone on the GriGri and Schneiderloch has a single 7c and then only 8b+ and harder – no great risk to meet people there – which meant hardly any change for me in pandemic circumstances. The frustration of a non-existing shape would be a very private “pleasure”!
On my first day out, at least conditions were very continental: dry, cold and windy. 3,5° directly from Russia. I chose to ruin my skin in Panthera, that had been already close in autumn. After six months off I couldn’t remember the crux beta and thus tried the hardest move the way I worked it out at first – and the way I could not do it a single time.
And directly was able to hold the mini crimp against the opening door.
I don’t know. I addition to the perfect grip, most probably it is because I stopped to eat animals (and most of their products) that I did not raise myself and because I work physically quite a lot without being repetitive. Keeping weight, inflammation-tendency (milk) and other injuries low seems to be enough to keep a basic shape. At least after 20 years of climbing.
Logically, the thing that I could not have by know was well-adapted skin. After 15 minutes of bouldering in Panthera the session was already over due to a bleeding finger.
Same finger, same thing in Corona: The performance not as desperate as I had feared but with at least one week to rebuild my skin from reopened cut.
In the second session, that again lasted only 20 minutes, I “sent” Panthera on the GriGri until the belay device held me back at a point where only four easier moves are missing until the no-hand-rest. Two short solo sessions more in Corona, one in Panthera and then a day with 20 degrees but dry air. Before just one rest day – very few for me. And a first try in Panthera that throws me off with the first better hold already in my right hand, but the left one slipping out. Same thing in Corona: I already hold the crux for a second before again the other hand slips out.
I might need a day with 10 degrees less…
It comes some days later and I told about it here.
Is life allowed to feel great these days? Conditions are close to perfect, no school you have to prepare your kids for at six thirty in the morning (a thing that is always a little critical to combine with ideal preparation), hardly any bad ass motorcycle drivers in Frankenjura anymore!!!, flowering trees, newborn chicks and a highly pregnant goat in our “zoo”.
No more airplanes in the sky and colored eggs in the garden.
I’m not proud that our way of living is much more crisis resilient than others, but naturally I am happy about it. It is not my aim to underline than Covid-19 isn’t changing a lot in our everyday life, but I think there is no sense in hiding the reason for all this: The factors that permit an easy ongoing in times like this mostly stem from our ambitions to lead a life with a low carbon and ecologic footprint. Our garden, our animals, our financial independency, our free decision not to fly anymore, our concentration on activities you cannot buy and that seldomly take place in crowds and thus still are mostly permitted…
Because we should not forget: The money we burn today will be missing for the real crisis of tomorrow.