Our site works best with JavaScript enabled.

Daring Deeds - real stories, expeditions, road trips and adventure

Driving to the Mountains

By Kenny Stocker | 05, Aug, 2008

Dan cleaning up one of the easier blocs

Moggy at the cattery, CHECK. Fridge defrosted, CHECK. Passport in top pocket, CHECK. Car full of ‘essential’ gear, CHECK. August is holiday time for most of us and with two short trips to the Pays des Ecrins already in the bag we have made an early start; the rivers are flowing high and the weather is spec-tac-u-lar.

I joined Dan for the drive down to Briancon, a long featureless drive until reaching Grenoble where the mountains suddenly reach out, grab you by the short and curlies and give you back the will to live. From here the views only get better.. that is unless you arrive in darkness. 

We were in the area for the Tout a Blocs climbing festival. Alpkit had already attended TAB for the past 3 years as a sponsor, but this was to be my first experience as a participant. Team Alpkit athletes Beth and Ashleigh had led the way last year and to be honest I had regretted not taking part myself.

In retrospect it would have been better arriving a day or so earlier, a two day bouldering comp the day after 18hrs in the car is not the best preparation. Nonetheless the weather was perfect, the blocs looked great and the place was buzzing with 400 competitors!

The qualifying round included 46 blocs and we had two 2hr 45 min sessions split over two days in which to climb as many as possible. Each day included 5 rounds which gives you a good idea of the intensity of the festival. To give everyone an equal chance the time of the sessions were staggered, so if you climbed at midday on the first day you climbed in the morning on the second day.

With this many problems and temperatures hovering around 30?C tactics play an important part; some easy blocs to warm up, try some harder ones to see how you are going, work some of the really hard ones to see if you might get them the second day or just clean up on all the ones you know you can do.

The scoring system is interesting. You get as many attempts as you have stamina which promotes a very sociable event. Each bloc is worth 1000 points divided by the number of climbers who climb it, so if 10 climbers top out each one would score 100 points. The climbers who risk all going for the most difficult blocs also have the chance of scoring big and making the final!

I started slow on the first day and had a lot of ground to make on Beth who had finished in one of the earlier rounds. I was failing to close blocs which I would have hoped to get first time and my goose looked to be cooked when I fell badly between two mats and sprained my ankle. At this point I should have walked away but I was really psyched for it. I finished strongly getting my last top right on the bell. Dan managed some of the most difficult problems but none of us got near the final, the field really is world class.

And there is the thing, you will really have a great time if you climb 6A, 7A or 8A the route setting is really excellent at every level. I was climbing next to some of the best guys and girls in the world but never felt intimidated or short of stuff to go at.

I am now back in the UK with my elephant foot resting on a plastic box. Beth has moved on to Ceuse and Dan is passing through Chamonix on his way to the Matterhorn with plans of adding a sit start to the Zmutt route.

  • Google+

In pictures

No Comments

Share your thoughts about this article.

Daring Deeds

A bloody long way North
Pete Whittaker takes of along on his bloody long trip
Bouldering in Brione
A Day Bouldering in the Tinico Region
Bouldering at Fairhead
Rob Hunter tells us about bouldering at Fairhead
Slate, sunburn and snacks
Climbing in the Slate Quarries
Easter Down Under
First bouldering trip to Australia
Seven days of cragging
First trip to Albarracin
bouldering at Albarracin
Enchantress 7C+
Ben ticks another 7C+

More from Deeds


WIN: Crack Climbing by Pete Whittaker
Answer a question and go into the draw
Join us for the long easter weekend.
come along and catch nature off guard this weekend.
Alpkit Adventure Weekender
Join us in store for an adventure filled weekend
Adventures for Life Skills
Building life skills through a 19 day adventure in the Scottish Highlands
Climbing With The Pivot Academy
The Pivot Academy is going climbing
What’s in store bank holiday weekend?
Make the most of this Bank Holiday
GB Paraclimber Starts a New Challenge
John Churchers bouldering mission
2017 TGO Reader Award winners
Winners of TGO awards announced

More from News


What’s so Genius About the Jeanius and Sequence Jeans?
Designer Ronnie discusses denim development
Our New Bouldering Pads
Hebe talks us through the new Bouldering Pad range
Ben’s Boulder Bucket
Ben helps develop a new boulder bucket
A call for help
Alpkit help Andy Kirkpatrick out
Gear Shuttle Mule
We develop a new pack for Tom Newman's trip to the US
Our Expertise in Bouldering Mats
Our bouldering heritage
Phud II - Back to basics
A back to basics bouldering mat
Prototype Number One
UK made boulder mat.

More from Develop


What’s So Wonderful About Wool?
Nature's technical fibre
How to boulder like a pro…
We ask the experts for their bouldering advice
How to choose a Bouldering Pad
Choosing a bouldering pad
Where to Climb in the Peak District
Peak District Climbing Venues
What a Difference a Day Makes
What can you fit into the Bank Holiday?
Top Spots: Hathersage Haunts
What to do whilst you're here
Kinder’s Ramparts
Rediscovering why we climb
Wild Child to Adventure Aficionado
Support Hero, Elly, introduces herself

More from Spotlight


More from Kudos

Be the first to hear about our newest products and promotions

Join AlpCol's Espresso newsletter for that hit of Go Nice Places, Do Good Things Greatness


By adding your email you consent to our terms and conditions