Upon finishing work the realization had set in that my organizational skills had somehow skipped, or rather, avoided the ‘what to do next’ plan. This filled me with such anguish that almost out of need for security I opted for the well-known path to Magic Wood. It was a solace for my ears to hear the sound of the singing river. The winter cold cleansed my spirit and restarted my battery. The feeling that I had finished work was finally sinking in. The open road was mine.
The Valais is in the French speaking part of Switzerland and is nestled closely to the borders of France and Italy. Perhaps made known by the legendary Fred Nicole, who has first ascents all over the area, the Valais consists of mini areas scattered around the mountainous terrain. Logistics were a little different this time round. Normally, Cedar and I live, eat, and sleep in our most wonderful Toyota van but old friends from Newfoundland invited us to wine and dine in the luxury of their Geneva flat. The evenings consisted of various activities which came to be known as ‘parties’. There were Monopoly parties, dress up parties, bath parties and I even enjoyed the ability to have a ‘cooking party’ while standing up… (Something perhaps only a van dweller may understand! It’s akin to the enjoyment of having a bathroom!!)
The long drives, coupled with the month of December, resulted in short climbing days. However, the areas were small enough that we could try most of the lines in the given time so it didn’t seem to matter so much. Our adventures brought us to Vernayaz, Massongex, and of course Branson, home of some of Fred Nicoles hardest test pieces, Radja and La Danse des Balrogs which proved hard as… Vernayaz had step roofs, small holds and a wide variety of lines. Massongex was most Narnia like with mossed over trees, sprouting mushrooms and baby waterfalls around each corner. The rock there was most interesting and so intriguing at points that I had to stop and look closer as if with a microscope.
Dave’s research of watching videos of various climbers do the problems with apparent ease gave us the impression that everything was possible. However, looks are deceiving. The feeling of heaviness that accompanied me in Magic Wood did not dissipate; but there was no lack of trying and we all had tons of fun. The combination of seeing new areas, playing on new rock along with the city excursions and nighttime adventure game parties... well… it was enough to make us wanna go back.
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