The weekend of the Academy was very busy in the mornings and I was impressed with Tanja Kulkies and Veronika Kraler for not having nervous breakdowns trying to organise who was going where. I helped out with some sport climbing sessions with Mina Leslie-Wujastic and Luka Lindic. Climbing on Gaillon in 30+ temperatures we stuck to the shady sections of the cliff feeling sorry for Nina, Josune and Rikar and the teams who were multi-pitching without reprieve from the sun. The levels of enthusiasm in our group was pretty impressive as coaching and heckling from the trees at the base felt pretty tiring in the heat. Cheers for everyone who came and Isabel and Alisa for looking after us.
The day after myself and Luka went to find Thai Kickboxing, after getting lost trying to find it in Switzerland a few phone calls later we arrived at the crag which incidentally was back in France. We warmed up on some sport routes on the right and the 7b crack which would be E4 6b in the UK and a classic. My friend Matt Perrier (aka Ug) had said to take 3 friend 5's and 3 friend 6's. We'd managed to borrow 1 cam 4, a 5 and a 6 from Dougal Tavener, a friend whose current appearance is similar to that found in 1970s Yosemite with long blond hair, aviator shades and usually a rollie in mouth he can usually be found with his knew white BMW parked outside the Elevation Bar in Chamonix itself.
First go I got reasonably close but after a tussle getting stuck with chickenwings trying to squirm over the crux bulge at half height my body gave up. Having seen a picture of Tom Randall with his leg above his head I decided to try the same, second go up before attaining my high point I inverted and with both feet above my head it took a few moment to realise I was no wideboy and couldn't move. Third go got most of me above the crux bulge and I could taste success, this feeling lasted a few minutes but I grew sicker and sicker before the git spat me out.
After only 3 goes I felt pretty rinsed but I'd got the 'gist' of how to tackle it. Next go I got stood above the bulge and having thought the upper crack looked easy I had to down climb to retrieve a cam to protect the upper crack and was very thankful to have protection as it felt quite touch and go. Sleep didn't come easy for the next few nights with sores acquired on elbows and shoulders, I left the crag with a good deal of respect for the wideboys as I don't intend to climb any more off widths if I can help it.
The downhill mountain biking was something I was quite dubious about and with various people wiping out early there was good reason to be cautious. Wrapped up in body armour it felt like being a teenager again, tire burning your friends to try and get them off their bikes. At points on the downhill tracks there would be 2 options shown by a red arrow and a blue with the red offering a trickier option. Mina went the way of the red arrow and asking advice from downhiller extraordinaire Harald on how to do it - he shouted back "you don't". Big thanks to Tanja Kulkies and Veronika Kraler for organising the week. The rest of the week had its good points like meeting Emily and its bad points like hanging out with Jack but generally the holiday made me realise why so many people went and spent a winter in Chamonix and never returned.