But alas the trip came to fruition while the perfect limestone cliff was the last thing on my mind. Now almost 6 months later and I find myself looking back on a summer full of Ceuse memories, from the once daunting turned therapeutic hike, to the intimidating climbs now proud achievements, to the once unspoken acquaintances turned new confidants.
Half way through my summer I was at another crossroads about whether to continue my „la la land“ trip in the southern countryside of France or make my way back to the „real world“ of US must-do’s and should-have-done’s. It was Melissa Le Neve, as close as a Ceuse local as you can get, who convinced me to bite the bullet, rent a retro camping trailer, stay, film and project the never ending bucket list of the area’s have-to’s.
There’s a reason Ceuse stays on the map and is one of the only cliffs the Euros, with their beaucoup of conveniently placed limestone, will curb their morning slumberings and late night wine fiascos, and suck it up for the 45 minute hike in order to test out the classics and tech their way up airy faces of perfect pockets, edges and crimps.
Without sounded too privileged I’ll mention this was not my first trip to the mythic cliff. I had visited Ceuse twice before. Once on an extended trip another just passing through. Both times I got my butt kicked in all the climbing senses of the words; physically, mentally and emotionally. Ceuse was not for the faint of heart, not that that’s what I was looking for, but sometimes it takes a trip or two to know where to put your ego when you tie in.
This trip I knew exactly where I stood. I was a completely different climber than four years before. Not only had I achieved my hardest routes, but I also knew that on the bigger scale these achievements meant very little to my climbing. More than anything I had learned that the pace and scale of my climbing was always changing and most importantly I was learning how to weather that sliding scale better all the time. It was with this head space that I set my sight, not on a new grade or particularly difficult climb for myself, but on a few of the Ceuse classics I remembered failing so miserably on years before. I had undone business.