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Mental limits, the highs and lows of working a route

What I am going to tell you corresponds to my thoughts and feelings experienced over the past two months during the process of working and linking Classe Croute, 8b. It's a work process that I discover in these terms and which can correspond to any climber who reaches his limit and tries to push it back, whether in 6b or 9a.

It all starts on the New Year's weekend that we spend at Mollans, a cliff that I finally discover. After 3 full days of testing, I got to the end of Classe Pieds, a solid 7c+ which could well be worth 8a given the high level of resistance required. This 1er January, the conditions are perfect, we are the only ones in this sector Céline and I and we each do our routes side by side: Classe Pieds for me and Classe Croute for Céline! In short, nothing to say about the ideal nature of this day.

Feet Class for me and Crust Class for Céline! In short, nothing to say about the ideal nature of this day.

Caroline Minvielle
First good Crust Class blocking

With the desire fueled by the successive climbs of Céline, Nina and Kathy in Classe Croute, I find myself dreaming and before returning to Haute-Savoie, I pay a visit to this route... Certainly the desire played a big role , certainly that the conditions were met, certainly that the mind was freed from all weight but the fact remains that the movements took place and that from that moment, I knew that this path was feasible for me, or even that it was made for me!

Nina sharpens her fingers in Classe Croute

At the time, I even thought that I would do it faster than Classe Pieds as the variety of holds, rulers and holes, brought a much less resistant effort than its neighbor and the shoulder movements seemed to suit me more than a climbs from the front, raising your feet high and bending your arms hard.

Perhaps this is the first step in the process of bringing it to fruition? Have self-confidence and believe in your abilities...

The fact is that the following weekend, we were again in Mollans and I made my first attempts at this beautiful route, very confident. But reality took over. Certainly the path suits me but one movement in particular costs me and systematically makes me fall. No matter how much I work on it and rework it to feel the smallest detail limiting my effort on the holds, when I go to the bottom of the route, I'm missing a little something to succeed. Not to mention that each trial opens the hole that forms in my index finger a little more, making the next trial more mentally difficult. I actually come back empty-handed from this weekend but with the feeling of having progressed along the way, of having allowed my body to assimilate the lower movements and the assurance of having found the perfect placement for the key movement . I'm still confident and I ended up having a lot of fun!

The movement that brought me down so many times...

The timetable tells us that the next Mollans slot is 15 days later. A little respite to recharge the mind encourages me to think that the next visit will be a good one! But the flu caught me, knocked me down and the Mollans slot found itself in the middle of a period of convalescence. A hazard of life that must be accepted. But I don't lose hope. The first day is dedicated to regaining vertical sensations after 5 days lying down. Then the next two days, I go back to testing on the route. Always the same tests in terms of height but always the feeling of optimizing a little better each time, of integrating the details.

Cédric walks in Double Peine 7c+

The conditions this weekend are a little limited... It's really cold, almost climbable! It's more the desire and the mind that allow us to get started and not once, I arrive at the crux without the nail... But the incredible happens, despite the fatigue and the cold, I hear Flo tell me “Come on Caro, it’s now!” » and I go through the movement in question without flinching. However, nothing has changed compared to the previous test, I still have a hole in my strapped finger, my shoulder is still tired when I get there, I still don't feel the holds that I am holding under fingers. So what happened? Did his sentence give me an electric shock? Take advantage of the moment, to be there, where everything can change, to give everything at a precise moment, to focus your attention exactly on the action, on the grip and on the shoulder. Why can one sentence cause so much change? And how can so much happen in itself and say that this time the attention was focused even more specifically on what was missing? This seems contradictory...

Still, the second step in the process of realization seems to be the presence of the mind at 100 % at the moment T, full consciousness pushed to its paroxysm...

I passed this movement but the route was not finished. Each time, while working the route, when I passed the movement, I followed the end. But this time, 3 movements later, my mind certainly saturated with information, I made the small mistake, the costly one... I forgot to place my foot exactly as required for the next push and I zipped… Everyone downstairs was surprised and expressed their disappointment with a terrible “Ooooohhhh noooo!” ". I didn't understand anything... It was only once I was hanging from the end of the rope that I realized it was over...

Céline is enjoying the last rays of sunshine…

From there it was pretty hard. On the way home, my mind wandered: “Why are you persisting on this path? », “Another 10 hours of driving during the weekend for “nothing””, “What is the meaning of all this if you don’t have fun? ". My problem is that I only saw success in following the path. I felt like every extra weekend I spent trying this route was another failure. And all these sensations were fueled by new ones that I had not yet experienced: fear and doubt... Until now, excitement, desire and naivety took over. I had not made any remarkable progress on the route so the hope of a better attempt than the others was still present. But this time, this test had taken place and I had screwed up... What if I was never going to succeed in reproducing it? What if I had missed my chance on this path?

Honestly, this is the first time I felt all these emotions so strongly. Anyone who has ever worked a route to its limit must have experienced this but for me it was new. My mind was saturated with negative emotions and the drive home was thoughtful…

This is where all the mentality comes into play. Clearly, I was not ready to face this route again the following weekend. The fear of failure again was too present in me and the doubt about my abilities too. Fortunately, what saved me was that our schedule only allowed us to consider the next Mollans session a month later! This is the time I needed to clear my mind, to think about something other than this path.

Nina in the end of Double Punishment bins

For a month, we skied, we climbed indoors, we trained and we even did a little competition which gave me confidence. In fact, I needed this time to tell myself that my state of form was going to change since my mind was not able to tell the difference. Some objective facts showed me that my form had indeed changed and my confidence in my abilities had returned. Put the doubt aside!

This weekend looked good in terms of conditions and company. One-on-one with Céline, we warm up in the sun in another area, without pressure or haste. We know we have to wait for the shadows. When I go to put on the quickdraws, I realize that the conditions are absolutely perfect: warm so no frost, a slight cool wind and no humidity, so a rock that sticks like never before. So, I try to continue by putting down the quickdraws and perform the key movement but my fingers slip and I fall. Regardless, I feel really fit and announce: “I’m doing the route today!” ".

The doubt is gone, the fear too. I know that I am physically ready, the conditions cannot be better and this test has finally convinced my mind that today has nothing to do with the other times. It's funny how these 3 elements influence the mind and self-confidence.

The baccalaureate is close!

Before leaving for the test, next I take advantage of the moment, of this little ball in my stomach which announces a big moment. I know that now is the time for me to do the route and I try to enjoy every little moment. I arrive at a hard pace, my fingers slip again on the finish grip but it doesn't matter, I go back to rework the grip perfectly and continue. It's blood on my index finger that makes me slip... But it doesn't matter, it holds. At the step where I had zipped, I concentrate on replacing the foot to the millimeter then move forward. Two movements later, you have to engage in the movement and I remember that I skipped the quickdraw and I feel a little limited. This thought lasts a fraction of a second and accepts whatever may result if I miss. I concentrate on blocking, shout a shot and reach for the hold. There are two movements left before the baccalaureate. I dilute on a single finger and at the moment of crossing, my arm opens and I feel that I will not finish the movement... I go back to dilute once this right arm which no longer wants to close and I return there ! This time it passes and I find myself on the last single finger, the middle finger totally insensitive from having diluted so much on the previous one... It doesn't matter, I grit my teeth and cross my fingers so as not to zip without feeling it and reached this famous baccalaureate! Deliverance and happiness!!

This sequence was incredible. I felt like I had full awareness of my body and mind. As if everything was going 100 miles per hour in my brain and I could readjust at any moment to any situation... How do we find this state close to conscious trance? I don't know but just the fact of having experienced it is a beautiful moment!

This is the first time I have worked a route for such a long time and I was able to face the ups and downs of this process even though I did not actually regress in my attempts. All my respect to those who stick with a project for several years. It's far from getting easier with time... Quite the contrary!

Caroline Minvielle


Passionate climber, I officially started climbing at the age of 6. The exterior and the mineral correspond to my ultimate aspirations. The playground is endless and the rock always has new subtleties to submit and puzzles to decode. I practice outdoor climbing in all its forms at a sustained level: from bouldering to multi-pitch in adventure terrain.

On the canyon side, my father, Pierre Minvielle, introduced me to it at a very young age around Rodellar, the place of his finest explorations. He gave me a taste for adventure and discovery and above all passed on his love for the Sierra de Guara.

Trained as an engineer, I decided to venture into the world of teaching and the transmission of knowledge by becoming a climbing and canyoning instructor in order to be able to share this passion that drives me and help those who wish to achieve their dreams.

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Maxime Poirier


I grew up far from the mountains, on an island in the middle of the Pacific and if my first ascents were those of coconut trees, I became passionate about climbing when I returned to France. Touch of everything, globetrotter and passionate about outdoor activities on all elements, I became a fan of thrilling sports such as highline, base-jump and canyoning.

For me, the mountains and these activities restore to us this capacity for admiration and wonder that modern existence can so easily evacuate. Live fully the happiness of the moment, the renunciation of living for tomorrow because today is enough.

My meeting with Caro will have finally sealed my destiny, here I am a climber, in love with the Vercors and the Sierra de Guara, ready to share my passion with those who wish.

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