mercredi 9 mars 2011

A bit of history and an ounce of thoughts

Ouch, it's beginning to be a while since my last post... Lately I've spent most of my free time (which never seems to be enough by the way) in Gréolières, but I will post on that later. Before talking about the future, I'd like to talk a bit about the past, and especially about a route I've recently done above Monaco. This route was FAted back in 1987 by the french legend Jean-Pierre Bouvier and is located right under the famous Champagne. As I'm sure you've already guessed, I'm talking about Trop petit pour jouer au jeu des grands. But first, for those who shamelessly might don't know him, let's have a look at who Jean-Pierre Bouvier is!

JPB, alias "la mouche", is typically the kind of climber who impress me and who I highly respect! He as been indeed climbing for almost 40 years and pushing the standard for almost as long. He started in Normandy where he probably did one of the firsts french 6b, in lead but also in solo... Then he moved to Grenoble where he spent a lot of time bouldering on the "famous" quarry's boulders! At this period, he also did a lot of alpinism around Chamonix, climbed in england, in the Verdon gorges, but more importantly in Fontainbleau and in Saussois! JPB has always been super psyched and to him, every line, every project is either "majeur" or "grandiose" ;-). Years 1980 was a turning point for him at the top french level since he repeated L'ange, the first french 7b  just realized by Laurent Jacob. In 81, he did Little Plum 7c in the Peak District, the first of Médius 7c in St Victoire, President 7b+ in Saussois, but most of all Chimpanzodrome 7c+, right after La haine, the first french route at this grade, was climbed by Patrick Berhault! By the way he also grabbed the 1st repeat of this last one... Since his beginning, he kept pushing the grades... up to 9a with Festin de pierre in 1994, still in Saussois. A route suggested later, after the first repeat, to be 8c+. In the past few years, he's been repeating hard boulder in Bleau, but mostly opening super hard traverses like Amanite tue-mouche, Voluptueuse fantaisie, Action discrète just to name a few, all around 8c traverse! Even if the least that we can say is that there ain't tons of climbers who fancy traverses in Bleau, most of JPB recent testpieces remain unrepeated till now! My point is that la mouche really stand up as one of the greatest name in the French climbing history, and has contributed to promote all different forms of climbing... An impressive climber!

Petr warming up on the bottom of Champagne : "Les Passagers du vent"
This being said let's get back to Trop petit pour jouer au jeu des grands. This route is really nice, short, vertical, on rather good crimps, not at all reachy as the name could let us think. Due to its shortness, and since there are good rests, it's mostly a bouldery effort. Concerning the grade, to me it is with no doubt easier than the announced 8b grade, but this is really not relevant. What is, on the other hand, is that I've been really disappointed to found a glued tiny rock tooth in this route... and even more disappointed to realized that it could have gone without it, but that the hold was glued right above the only natural feature that could have been holdable! It really is a shame... But on the other hand, at the time the route was bolted, JPB must have though that there were a blank section in the middle of his route that couldn't be climbed. Gluing the hold must then have felt legitimate... especially  since even with it, the route was one of the hardest in France. Anyway it is what it is, and in this particular case I'm absolutely not in position to decide whether or not this tooth should be removed. So I did it with the glued tooth... 

There are a lot of example of routes like this one, which are entirely natural with only one or a few artificial holds in the middle. From the climber point of view, these holds make the route climbable but, on the other hand, they often are ugly and totally messing the line. Now, from the bolting point of view, I'm pretty sure that every climber who bolt new hard lines have one day or another been confronted to this situation : Having bolted a perfect natural line, but realizing that there is just a tiny blank section. A section which, even after having tried every method on it, seems impossible. Before taking any silly decision, the first reflex should be to look carefully for another natural path, that goes around the blank section! This could solve the problem... But in cases where the bolted line is the weakness one of a much harder wall, this may doesn't apply! I'm slowly getting to the situation I'm facing in one of my last bolted route.... 

To sum up, I'm not talking here about whether or not these holds must be removed if we realize afterwards that it's doable without them (with a grade change or not). This is a whole other debate on it's own! But before having this debate, the first question to answer is the following one : What should be the decision of the guy who just bolted such a route, with a blank section? To me there are three different possible answers: 
- The "passive" solution: Leave it like that, as impossible as it seems, hoping that someone will one day be able to climb it...
- The "easy" solution: Chipped or glued less holds as possible to make it possible. In this case, to me, it should at least be as discreet as possible, in agreement with the global difficulty of the route, and be removable without leaving to much trace... just in case...
- The "radical" solution, but the most frustrating one for the bolting guy: Unbolt the route...
Definitely not an easy problem to solve!

4 commentaires:

  1. Quid de ce blog désormais anglophone ???

  2. cannot agree more with you !
    beautiful blog btw

  3. Je vois pas en quoi c'est un debat perso je pense que c'est a l'equipeur de décider ce qu'il veut faire de ca voie. Imagine que Troussier n'ai pas taillé Taboo il manquerai quelque chose à Buoux et si Lafaille n'avait protégé Biographie il manquerai quelque chose à Ceuse. C'est comme le preclipage des points ou l'espacement entre les points, chacun a sa propre éthique.

  4. Slt Romain! C'est vrai que ça fait un peu quid par moment, mais je prefère ça à raconter que j'ai plus de peau ou que je suis sous affuté mais que comme j'ai la diarée je vais bientôt être de retour en mode machine ;-). Et puis moi ça me permet de cultiver ma connaissance du monde grimpesque. Au fait, je viens de découvrir ton mag... totalement fan! Aussi doué pour OnLine connerie que pour la connerie live... quelle prose!!!
    Merci Gaëtan, j'avoue j'ai eu des conseils d'expert pour légèrement améliorer le design ;-).
    Nathan, Ok pour Biographie, mais pour Tabou tu craques un peu... ça doit être le nombre d'essais qui a altérer ton jugement de la voie! Buoux ce porterait très bien sans! Ok c'est à l'équipeur de décider. J'essais juste ici de ne pas trop avoir le raisonnement égoïste ("J'équipe pour moi et je fais ce que je veux de ma voie") et d'essayer de prendre en compte l'avis de ceux qui aimerais grimper dans mes lignes... Et quand tu vois les massacres qu'on pu naître du "chacun sa propre éthique" dans le passé, je préfère sonder l'éthique des autres avant de me forger la mienne!