Joined April 2017 Message
  • Day20

    The patience game

    June 6, 2018 in France ⋅ 🌫 19 °C

    Our night was spent on the other side of the mountain in what felt like a ghost town. On the way to the campsite we passed multiple abandoned buildings and pig farms. Upon arriving at the campsite, which was well kept with grass that had been cut possibly less than a week prior, we discovered it to was abandoned.

    After a bit of a discussion we put the posted fees along with a note into a box marked reception and called it a night.

    Driving back to the crag the next morning we finally saw the famous Corsican pigs! Mareike has been talking about how there are more pigs on the island than people. The pigs love to hang around licking the road, eating the hillsides and getting uncomfortably close when people roll down the window for a picture 😄

    The day at the crag was a strange one. We tried climbing well below our grade but both felt very lethargic and tired. We were so out of it, and hot, that at one point Leo randomly blurted out how he wished there was a swimming pool at the crag.

    We decided to call it a day and headed for a new campsite in Vizzavona.

    In Vizzavona we caught up with our friend Emile at the small convenient store and settled in for the night.

    We awoke to rain. Leo believed that the rain would not be in the valley where we would be climbing. He was wrong. We spent a good part of the morning playing cards in the car listening to music. Eventually we wandered out for some food and continued our card game in the local cafe. By 1pm the sun was out and by 2pm we were climbing at the crag, hooray!

    We had enough time to climb all 6 climbs on our list. Including a 6a+ on top rope that Leo set up with a daring traverse from the 5c climb anchors.

    It was such a fun climb! Mareike went first working the tiny finger crack that moved to a tiny finger crimp all the while standing on minimal footholds. After working back across the face to a more gracious handhold she made her way up to the anchors.

    It was now getting late but Leo was determined to get the climb in. Equipping his helemet with Mareike's headlamp he jumped on the climbed. He's not sure if the low light helped or hurt, because at times he knew he was standing on tiny features, but couldn't see them that well, only feel them. In the end he trusted his instincts and fought his way to the top.

    All in all a fantastic day of climbing and the sharing of another beautiful day together.
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  • Day16

    An actual rest day

    June 2, 2018 in France ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Today, we had a real rest day! We hiked up a stream to a 50m tall, narrow canyon with cascades running through. We set up our hammock by a little waterfall, slept in the sun, read our books, swam in the freeeeezing water, planned our next climbs, and enjoyed Corse pastries and fruits. Our bodies say thanks!Read more

  • Day15

    We're so bad at rest days

    June 1, 2018 in France ⋅ 🌙 17 °C

    Today, we left Bavella to make our way to the coast for a small crag right by the ocean. Mareike had seen it in our climbing guidebook and immediately loved the look of the climbs as well as the setting. Since there are just a few climbs and only two of them within our skill level, it was going to be an easy day with plenty of time to rest and enjoy the scenery. So far the theory :)

    We got there mid-day and immediately loved it. The climbing was mostly crack climbing. It looked super fun and hard at the same time, so we decided to set up a toprope (Leo was able to hike from the other side of the climb). Since the falls in toprope are so much shorter than on a lead climb, it is a lot less scary to do hard moves and makes climbing a lot easier mentally.

    Yet, this kind of climbing was totally new to Mareike - a lot of jamming your feet and hands in the crack and moving up one move at a time. She (and Leo from below) really had to push herself to trust those moves and keep climbing. So much fun to figure it out! She ended up climbing the harder climb three times and got more "graceful" each time :)

    Feeling great and well protected, we decided to venture out of our climbing comfort zone and try a 6a+ route, two levels above our hardest climb so far. It was a super challenging start but once Leo figured it out, he sent the route! Trying all sorts of moves for this hard route, we had totally lost track of time and realized the sun was setting already - what a full day of climbing fun! And we realized that we also finally learned what it means to run out of skin on our fingers ;)

    Since it was so late and we were tired, we decided to stay in a Bed and Breakfast. Such a good decision! It was an apatment attached to a lovely house up in the countryside. The owners Claude and Marie-France were the best, most friendly hosts and we had a few nice conversations in Mareike's broken French :)
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  • Day14

    Being the best climbers in Bavella ;)

    May 31, 2018 in France ⋅ 🌙 17 °C

    The three most important rules of mountaineering are...
    1. You don't have to make it to the top, but safely back down (so you can climb some more tomorrow).
    2. Every step is an important one.
    3. The best climber is the one having the most fun!

    Four days of climbing in Bavella made it easy to be "the best" climbers. We had such a fun time here in a most scenic setting! Often you could hear us singing made-up songs early in the mornings as we warm up our bodies and minds and hike up about 20 minutes from the road. Bavella's granite rock is quite grippy, which is helping us trust our feet and use smaller and smaller hand holds for balance. We're also graduating from slab climbs to more vertical climbs and consciously choose the routes that challenge us mentally and in technique for vertical face climbing.

    The area is huge and dotted with hundreds of climbs, so we follow our guidebook's advice and keep moving from crag to crag throughout the day. The first two days were mixed weather and we keep having to pack all our things and take breaks while we wait for the rock to dry again. The next 2 days are perfect weather - hazy sun with a cool breeze. Happy Liebstes!

    Meeting other climbers at our campsite and in the mountains usually makes us realize how much we have to learn yet and that we're still such beginners :) But even in just the four days here, plenty of the climbs we choose are pushing us to a new level of confidence on the rock. Leo's strengths are definitely in the climbs with large features that require a lot of technical moves - the climbs that Mareike thinks always look the most fun. My strength is more in the tiny features and balanced face climbs - the ones Leo usually thinks are terrifying . But we learn on every climb, mostly about each other, ourselves and how we can get stronger mentally to climb the funnest routes. One climb here was so fun, it deserves its own story (to follow).

    Tomorrow we're moving west to do a few climbs by the coast and then slowly move back North again. Bavella definitely offered the funnest outdoor climbing we've ever done!
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  • Day14

    Leo's pretend project

    May 31, 2018 in France ⋅ 🌙 17 °C

    We like to talk about having a project climb. Basically a climb that's one level above what you think you can climb and will take numerous attempts to complete. When we arrived in Bavella to climb we were 5b climbers (according to the French system). 5b is one of many climbing grades given to each route so you know whether you have a fighting chance to climb a route.

    While flipping through the guidebook in camp Leo saw a picture of a beautiful looking 5c route. "This should be our project". Mareike agreed that the route looked amazing and it was set, we had a project. This meant we would spend some time attempting the route, trying to reach the top figuring out the moves.

    The climb was a beautiful dihedral that had a couple slices running up the gut creating flakes to use as hands or foot jams. When we looked at the bottom of the climb the start was a great bouldery start (gymnastic type moves to get up). From there it was up a face and then you gain the final crack.

    As far as a project goes, well we both completed the climb first try. The start was a blast to figure out and took a series of about 5 moves to gain maybe a meter. Then after the first face, there was a large block to climb around/on top of using some holds underneath the block. At the top of the final crack we both agreed that after the last piece of protection you had to commit and make the final moves to the anchor.

    We've never felt so excited to finish a climb before. Both of us let out yells of excitement upon reaching the top. It might not have been a project, but we both agreed it was the funnest climb of the trip yet.
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  • Day10

    Clanca Murata - T6 route

    May 27, 2018 in France ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    After being forced into a seaside resort for the night due to a big rally car race around the Northern peninsula of Corsica, we spent the day in Bastia trying to figure out the most economical way to Bavella for climbing.

    Since buses don't make there way there until July and camping is a 10 minute drive away, we rented a car for 14€ a day. And yes, the car runs.

    In Bavella we took to the hills and spent a couple hours route finding our way up Clanca Murata. With no large packs today we were able to do some more intensive scramble climbing to the top.

    It was another great experience in route finding. There weren't any markers this time but we came across some old climbing bolts so we felt like we did a great job reading the rock.
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  • Day8

    Rest day turned last day

    May 25, 2018 in France ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    Today's goal was mostly to investigate how to best continue our journey. We head on a short one hour hike to Vizzavona, where the southern part of the GR20 ends and the northern higher altitude part starts.

    Besides finding a big lunch at a local restaurant, we also find Emile, the local "wise old man" when it comes to mountaineering in this area. We go over maps of the upcoming hikes and he shows us all the potential hazards (=mostly snow on steep parts of the trail as well as snow slides due to all the late snow they got this year).

    The result: most of the days (including tomorrow's) are still covered in too much snow on dangerously steep slopes too continue. And we decide to come back for the North half of the trail another year, instead of going around all the fun and most scenic parts of this trail now. And the alternative isn't bad: 2 weeks of climbing the mountains we've already fallen in love with :)
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  • Day7

    Route finding a must

    May 24, 2018 in France ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    Waking up with out the sound of rain on the tent gives us hope, and when we stick our heads out for a peak and see blue sky we look to each other and say "we're clear for our summit bid". We kick it into high gear to leave camp as quickly as possible, our goal for the day is another alpine variant over the top of the South's highest peak, Monte Renoso.

    As we walk out of camp Mareike mentions a trail that will save us an hour getting to our approach. We quickly agree this is the best option and vear from the GR20, climbing the forested hills from rock cairn to rock cairn in route to the i'Pozzi bivouac.

    From the base of the approach we keep a close eye on the skies around us, we both know that thunderstorms end our journey to the top. We use our ice axes and crampons to reach the first saddle and pull out the map and GPS to confirm and discuss our route. From here we find the trail to not be much more difficult than other parts of our journey. We are able to reach the summit with only a couple short climbing sections and celebrate the top of Monte Renoso with sugary dragon tongue candy.

    Mareike brings up another variation to our trail down that would save us a day on the trail and keep us out of the valley. It's a ridge trail that connects into another trail that is supposed to be fun for kids, in the end we both highly doubted people take their kids here.

    There's not enough space to tell the story of the next 6 hours of our journey. It's a story to share over a hot meal or a cold beer with friends and family. We became stronger yet as a team as we negotiated thick fog, trails that seemed to end in cliffs, trails that were nonexistent, looming rock towers and snowfields that would play hide and seek and numerous up and down climbs through the granite. In the end we felt like we had the best adventure yet and truly used all of our mountain knowledge along the way. We also couldn't have been happier to get off our feet and lie down after a 12 hour day.
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  • Day6

    Playing the GR20 game

    May 23, 2018 in France ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    Feeling rested and -more importantly- dry, we start the day in sunshine! A nice change ;) spoiler: it doesn't stay dry all day though :D

    Our trail begins steep out of the forest and back on the rocky ridge line. The views from these ridges are so stunning and change from left to right and back. The fog still does its best to hide views here and there, but we get good peaks down the valleys and over more rocky mountain tops again and again. What a beautiful place we get to explore together!

    The fog keeps us playing another game, what we simply call "the GR20 game". Our trail mostly stays on the highest point of the mountain ridges and it's often mind blowing to see the rocky faces in front of you and to think there is a trail to go up them somewhere. The game is simple :)
    - the fog clears and you see a high, steep, rocky mountain ahead
    - you try to guess if the GR20 trail will go right over top it
    - the answer is usually yes :)

    Compared to the last few days, we start seeing more and more hikers on the trail, a few larger guided groups as well. At one section, we get to our first longer crossing over snow, which we do carefully and safely. One of the guides tries to steer his group above the snow and ends up in a much worse place, having his hikers go over a much steeper snow patch and a tricky downhill, just to join our snow trail in the end anyways.

    Of course, it wouldn't be a day of hiking in Corsica if it didn't end in more fog and rain though :) By now we've learnt and are much better at staying dry in our rain layers though! We follow the beautiful trail down into another forest and enjoy all the spring flowers of the season. We camp at a refugio in the middle of the forest and enjoy the rest of the day with other hikers and planning for the next day. Leo met two French hikers, one of which had fallen into a spiky bush and who had tens of splinters all over his hands. With his headlamp handy, he got to be surgery assistant for about half an hour or so. We both decide to be careful which bushes to fall into in the future ;)
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  • Day5

    The rain just won't stop

    May 22, 2018 in France ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    Sunshine! We feel it on the tent in the morning and get to work quickly to dry our stuff in the sun :) As we start the day, we talk to our fellow hikers - all the groups are unsure what to do. Everyone got soaked to the bones, a few hikers much more than us. We decide to give our stuff a good dry and then do a half day, as others start heading out. BUT we still play by nature's rules and so our half day for drying is cut awefully short by the next rain clouds - so we run and pack everything as quickly as possible. Around 10am, we start with a steep uphill and then a nice easy downhill into the forest.

    For our half day camp spot, we had read about an old hikers hut in our guide books, an abandoned refugio in the middle of the forest. It lays a bit off route and we get to play the trail finding game again, but manage to find old trail markings one by one. I will admit, we are both a bit creeped out the deeper we go into the unknown forest. We get there about 20 minutes away from the GR20 and start to look around. It's an old vacation hut that's barely been used in the last few years but otherwise in good shape. There are pots above a stove in the kitchen, beds and a fireplace in the other room. It looks like the mice have taken over here and we decided to dry our stuff off the clothes lines but sleep outside in the tent.
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