Martynas: It is 2am in the morning. The urge to pee disturbs my sleep. Not so long and I am standing outside. “Damn, it’s cold!”. A thermometer nearby shows +3C. “Wait, it’s end of summer!” follows immediately. Outside, lit by the full moon, I am starting to drift into an autumn-y mood while thinking about kids going to school, adults going to work, facilities such as a toilet at home, people commuting in cozy tubes, falling leaves, etc. Luckily, I didn’t have many teas in the evening, so quickly I make an escape from my thoughts to the warm bed leaving the melancholy outside.
Laura: Gorges du Tarn? Really? Couldn’t we be a tiny bit more original? Apparently, no. Tarn lulls us into coming back again like the Sirens lull Odysseus into sailing to their island. But you know what, we still think that it is such an amazing place to be. With the river that provides a runaway from the summer heat (only that the summer with it’s heat is over now), with the vultures flying high above and the vastness of rock all around, Tarn gives you a sense of belonging to the place. And so we are back. This time we see a different kind of Tarn though, as autumn is creeping in, the Tarn is getting green, people are getting scarce and it rains more and more often.
M: One of the personal return goals was to finish unfinished business (Omar m’a tuer, 7b) which I quickly sent. Clipping a chain after climbing the run-out upper section with super pumped hands and being in the zone was very rewarding and kind of justified such a pointless activity as climbing.
L: Sweet oh sweet is the sense of achievement, bitter oh bitter is the sense of defeat… Tennessee (unanimously the best sector in Tarn) gave me both of these and loads of other sorts of emotions this year. Every time looking above when passing by Tennessee, I had a dream to climb Pyromania one day. For a record, it is a 50m route following a beautiful line along a giant orange wall and finishing high above with roughly 15m of an overhanging section. I was always looking at Pyromania but never dared try it. This year though I convinced myself it’s time. As an introduction to the heights of the Tennessee wall, I decided to climb a route next to Pyromania that is the same grade (7c+) but slightly shorter and does not have the spicy overhanging bit at the end. It is called Bullfrog Avenue. I did the route relatively quickly and won’t lie that I was very happy about it. But Pyromania kept bothering me, it was always there waiting for me to come try it. And so one day I decided to go climb that route. First couple of tries I wasn’t even able to reach the top. And it wasn’t the physical aspect that stopped me. I always considered myself as relatively brave, you know, when needed I thought I could sort my head out and do that scary bit. I didn’t even notice though, how I came to a position where I was hanging up there, shouting desperately “I’m goona fall now, watch me”, but not falling as the panic took over my whole mind. The runouts are real up there, that’s for granted. But still, how could you be so desperate, is still a question for me :) The afternoon try was slightly better. After getting some encouraging beta from Daila Ojeda who just flashed the route, I was back on it. Slightly higher this time, only chain left and yet, no success to reach the top. The gap between the last draw and the top guarantees some real fun if you fall, the fun that I wasn’t ready to take up yet. A couple of days later I came back again, this time no people around, warm wind, morning sun, just as I like it. It felt sooooo good to climb! All the way, no pump in my arms, precise footwork, enough rest when needed, aaaah… but the overhang is still there and I still don’t know what’s the hold before clipping the chain. And that not knowing is scary. If I do a dynamic move and grab a bad hold I’m not gonna keep it and then the flight awaits. Somehow I manage to talk myself into calming down and do that move, the hold is good, phew, I clip the chain. In my head it is some kind of achievement. Somehow I can justify the decision to clean the route and leave it for now. Mixed feelings. Is it an achievement or a defeat? Kind of bitter sweet…
M: The biggest surprise of the trip was Aistė who sent her first 7a (actually two 7a’s). Seeing her top-roping on some 6a’s and saying “I can’t do it, it’s too scary” a few years ago and now confidently leading all the way up to the top of a 7a route was inspiring.
L: Planete Cause sector. Martynas is belaying Povilas on Omar m’a tuer (according to Martynas, the best route in Tarn). Povilas is already at the top. He is being lowered down when a huge bus comes to the parking where Aistė and myself are chilling while watching the boys climb. When the bus stops, hundreds (ok, maybe 50 or so) of elders get off. They all have cameras. As they get off, the crowd starts to form not far from where Aistė and I are staying. At that time Povilas is maybe second draw form the ground. Martynas somehow talks him into doing a swing as the wall is a bit overhanging. Bare in mind that the elders are now all looking at Povilas eyes wide open, many of them are taking pictures, some are filming. Martynas sees all that from where he is belaying. Aistė and me are getting curious as Povilas gets so much attention and we know how he likes it. So now Povilas gets loose from the draw and swings above the road. The crowd of the elders gets wild! They are clapping, shouting, cheering Povilas. (Let me also mention that when the bus came Povilas was already being lowered down which means they didn’t even see him climbing). Now, Povilas gets annoyed, Martynas is dying from laughter, Aistė and myself are shouting and clapping with the elders to keep them roaring for longer. When Povilas gets down to the parking lot, some of the elders try to talk to him and he replies “No french”.
M: It is the last day in Tarn. Aistė and Povilas left yesterday. It is raining, windy and cold. The mood is down, boredom is in the air, no cookies due to all shops being closed on Sunday. A sudden suggestion from Laura to go for a run does not seem attractive first. After-run showering outside and drying stuff in the van is not what I prefer during such days. “Let’s go”. After 20 min I feel the rush of endorphins, my mood goes up and I start projecting autumn climbs in my mind.