straight ups

photo (1)

Isatis car park. Got a table now so feeling pretty satisfied and civilised, drinking coffee and resting for the third day my injured knee, which is a bit of a downer. It’s fairly busy and in ones, two’s and three’s boulderers are walking into the forest. I can hear thwacks of rags as most likely Frenchmen wack the sandstone with their pof rags.

I’ve been coming to Font a long time now and I can still remember the thrill of driving down the track to Franchard that Jerry and Ben race down in the ‘real thing’. I can also remember a time when a friend said to me’ you should go to Font. you’d love it’. Unbelievably in pre-internet times it was quite possible to simply not know about something. This was the case with Font, I was a boulderer, yet had no knowledge that Font existed, I have to add that this is going back thirty years or so.

The first guide I had was the Stephen Gough guide with pictures of Stu Littlefair flashing Alta, (wearing a Poncho?). Then their was the useless but endearing Godoffe purple guide.This was followed by the groundbreaking and epoch making 7+8’s. This marked the beginning of a kind of minor obsession. Whilst sitting in the sun, I’m currently cross referencing my ticks from the old and aesthetic black and white guide into the newer and bigger colour 7+8’s, which I don’t like as much. Initially as I cross referenced, I seemed to be losing ticks, soft 7’s dropped away, this didn’t help my appreciation of the new guide. Yet a few days later as I began a second audit and pleasantly found that I had in fact missed a few, they had been hiding as circuit problems, and my count rose more than it had fallen, yet I still couldn’t love this new book. Maybe it’s because the count of problems has gone from 1115 straight up problems to 2669. I’m approaching my hundredth tick, which I may make this trip and I could see the target and feel the target, the numbers also sat well with the old tally, 100, then 16 more and I would have a target of 999. The new guide however with it’s thick, colour authority, shouts bluntly, there are too many problems, you are getting older, time is running out, and most importantly the next guide will be even bigger. Somehow these reactions are conspiring to make me see both the futility of guide book ticks and their importance as markers and signifiers in the passage of time and of course nothing will deter me from my quest.

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