Schooled in Ceüse

By Ramon Marin

A couple of weeks ago I booked some flights for a long weekend to Spain in the heat of the moment. I didn’t have a plan, just a vague idea to go and check my friend’s crag to be bolted and maybe do some climbing in Lleida. That changed at the very last minute with a stitch-together plan to go to Ceuse for 3 days. I flew into Spain, do all the mandatory family visits and jump on my parent’s newly-converted van heading to Ceuse. I thought I was going to crush the place. My god how wrong I was.

First off, I forgot what a bitch that walk-in is, and realised how my aerobic fitness is rock-bottom. I sort of knew that thanks to Ciro pointing it out. Something to do with Glycogen Index and sugar levels, I really don’t know, I have to figure it out. Another friend, french Nic, was also onto the same song, he actually had a heart-rate monitor to check his fitness just to see if he needed to do something about. He did indeed! But apparently being fit is one of the crucial pieces of the Ceuse jigsaw. An average route will be 30mts, but 45, 50 and even 70mts routes are common, it does make sense when you see the size of the cliff! Quite a world appart from the 15mts routes in Brean Down.

I was in Ceüse 4 years ago. I hated the place. The walk up 800 vertical meters, the stiff grades, the lack of any quality routes below 7b, and that everyone else didn’t seem to have a problem with all of that. I promised myself that I wouldn’t be back unless I was climbing 7c. It was hard to argue when people asked me why I’ve written off the place, but it made sense. And now that I’m climbing 7c I thought I had a chance to enjoy the uber-classic routes. Ceüse has the highest concentration of quality 7c’s and 7c+ anywhere: Vagabond, Mirage, Privilege du Serpent, Tenere, Makach… they are all out of this world! I was meeting Andre, Jerome and Asha there, and Andre being the psyche machine he is, came up with a whole plan for me. It was his rest day when I got there, but he dutifully walked up the crag with me and started me with the plan. Lapping the worlds hardest and polished 6c+, then a 7a, then onsight SuperMicky 7b, and then quick work on Vagabond 7c. The plan stopped when I fell off my second lap on the 6c+, utterly flash pumped. Then fell-off again the 7a which I had done easily 4 years ago. Then made a right meal of SuperMicky, a straight-forward 7b. At that point I realised I wasn’t going to walk out of the trip with a 7c classic tick.

Day two, started a bit better. After painfully warming up on the 6c+, I got on SuperMicky to finish it off. I got to the crux alright, feeling good, but then pulling on a shouldery move on a slopper my shoulder started aching badly. I fell-off, and tried the move a few times. The pain grew to a point I had to come down. On the ground I started to get worried when I couldn’t even lift my empty rucksack. Suddenly I panicked about the thought of ruining my upcoming long climbing trip in Rodellar and Kalymnos. Back at the campiste it was a diet of Ibuprofen and some miraculous deep-heat cream from USA that Andre swears by. The day after I managed to do a bit of climbing wich lifted my spirits, but far from good. Will have to come up with a good plan of recovery.

Despite all, we had an awesome time. I had the chance to hang out with most of the strongest young British talent. Fellow Alpkit climber Luke Tilley is on fire, got his first 8b on the second redpoint. The Hammer brothers are also crushing the place, Ed got the same 8b as Luke with very short work. Other young talent like Ethan Walker, Robbie Phillips, Nat Berry and Kitty Wallace are also crushing. It’s good to see they got the right end of the stick in climbing. And do not underestimate Andre Hedger, he’s up there with the lot, I truly believe he will get his 8b before the end of the year, not bad for a 22 year old.

I’ll be back to the UK tonight and it’s off to the Cris the physio as soon as possible.

Happy cranking folks!

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