The latest stage of the world cup led TCA staffer and Black Diamond Hero Roz to Briancon, a beautiful town in the South of France.
Having picked up GB team member Jo from Turin, we were now travelling as a 3. Jo thankfully shared Jen and I’s love for tea, completing sudoku’s in the morning and finding WiFi; she fitted right in. The first few days in Briancon we checked out the wall, coffee WiFi (the best kind of coffee) and town centre so we were well prepared for comp day. We even managed a quick fingerboard session in the park (while getting some very strange looks from the locals!)
Comp day was Friday and it was absolutely roasting by 10am. I was out 18th, so had lots of time to read the route, warm up and watch other competitors… though sometimes I feel like it’s too much time! Briancon had the smallest warm up wall I’ve ever seen at a World Cup (though I’ve only seen two), so we would all form an orderly queue to traverse the warm up wall. Warming up is hard, and I still find it hard to know if I’ve done enough, too much or not enough, but I expect more experience will help me with this. Route 1 looked like a crimpy affair from the ground, normally I’d say it was my thing, but when the wall is 50 degrees overhanging it’s completely different. I was spat off pretty early trying to match this small crimp. Disappointed, but onto the next route… Route 2 looked super fun- big moves on big volumes! I was psyched to climb as it looked super fun, but unfortunately when I was climbing I fell off as I couldn’t quite get the right body position to get any higher! Again, I was rather disappointed by this as I didn’t fall off feeling pumped, and didn’t feel I quite climbed my best.
The rest of the girls from Team GB and I retreated from the wall to get a coffee, ice cream and some space, we chilled and chatted about our performance. It’s great to be surrounded by such nice, supportive and psyched team members, so even when you’re feeling low about yourself they can make you feel better! I was definitely questioning why I even climb, but the girls convinced me it was fun! Soon we were back at the wall cheering on Jim and Will, both climbed really well with Jim making it through to semi’s! Semi’s was that evening, there was a huge thunderstorm at the same time- torrential rain, thunder, lightning, which made it even more intense to watch! We stayed to watch the last climbers nearly top out and then bailed back to the apartment for a hot shower, tea and sudoku’s.
The next few days Jen, Jo and I headed outside to do some sport climbing as Briancon is renowned for its great local crags. The first crag was a bit of a sandbag (thanks Dave), super busy that you had to queue for routes, a bit loose and very bad belaying that made me very nervous (other people’s belaying not mine this time). I didn’t enjoy this day. The next crag (Rue des Masques) was a lot better. Cool conglomerate rock and lots of it; I went onsighting and had a field day, nothing harder than 7c but loads of climbing and that’s what I love! I absolutely LOVE climbing outside and getting mileage on rock.
Next stop was Arco, unfortunately Jo left us to head back to the UK to train for a Youth World Cup (good luck Jo!), but instead Jen and I were joined by Jim and Will. These boys were slightly less keen for tea and sudoku time, but they made up for it with their excellent taste in wine and croissant bakeries. The first challenge of the trip was fitting all four people, plus bags and a tent into my little car (it was a pop up tent). I have a Hyunda i10- I’ve genuinely seen more room in tca on a rainy student evening than in that car, but somehow everything fitted in. The boys struggled on through the journey, the main issue probably wasn’t the lack of space, more my questionable music choice (top 40) until we reached Milan.
We spent our evening doing the usual tourist things… And eating pasta and ice cream of course! The next morning we packed the boys into the back of the car again, and set off for Arco. Jen and I had a quick session at RockStop in Milan, which is probably the sweatiest I have ever ever been (and yes I have been to motion on the weekend), I genuinely couldn’t drink water fast enough before sweating it out (there’s a fun image for you)! But it’s good to keep climbing inbetween comps, so totally worth it! Then to Arco, I was greeted by my lovely family who had booked and airbnb with a washing machine, don’t get me wrong I was happy to see my mum, dad and sister, but having not done a clothes wash in a few weeks I was mildly more psyched by the apartments amenities. A few days of catching up with the fam, looking around Arco and the beautiful Lake Garda, eating more pizza and ice cream and topping up the tan! Before I knew it, it was Friday again and almost time to climb!