Tony Lamiche Climbing at the Stone Fort, Tennessee.Photos by Brian Burnham
How long have you been in the South?We (my girlfriend Isa and I) arrived at the beginning of November. We joined our friends Stephan and Julien at Horse Pens [HP40] for a few days, and I competed in the Triple Crown competition there.
And how was Horse Pens 40?Oh, very good! The style of climbing there is so fun. I have to learn to climb to the style of Horse Pens. It involves a lot of squeezing, a lot of opposition. I am better at crimps, but it was still enjoyable.
And the competition?Oh, it was fun! So many problems, so little time ... my skin suffered.
In the past, HP40 sold a shirt embossed with “Fontainbleau: the HP40 of France.” This has got to be funny to you ... how does the climbing compare?Of course, Font is much larger. You must have a car in order to get to all of the areas. But the stone at Horse Pens is different from Font; the texture is better here [HP40]. The rock in Font has a very fine grain, very small crystals, and it is softer. It is a purer sandstone. While this rock ... it has more quartz, perhaps? In order to do a hard problem in Font, the weather must be perfect: no sun, low humidity, cool temperature. Here, the friction is so good! When you slap, it is as though your hand will never come off!
Where else have you been in this month?We spent most of the month in Chattanooga [Tennessee], staying with friends.
How’s the climbing?Oh, it’s very good! Lots of different angles, with many beautiful lines at every area. The Stone Fort [Formerly known as Little Rock City] is full of great climbing, so close to town! And the Alabama areas ... well, there are some superb lines there, as well. The climbing in the South is as fine as anywhere.
Did you climb anything special at The Stone Fort?I did several different, nice lines that were a lot of what I like in climbing: tall, clean, and pure. And they were of all angles from slab to bulges, as well.
Any highlights of the trip for you?Definitely the people. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming.
What about climbing-wise?Well, there is one problem at The Stone Fort, New Sensations (V11), that I really enjoyed. To establish yourself on the wall, you must put your left foot on a small nipple and then quickly kick your right into a delicate heal-toe cam, all with hands on only a small gaston and a bad, two-finger undercling pinch. Long, precise moves lead to a unique step-through move into a final long jump to the lip. Very nice! I was very happy to complete this problem.
Any other strong impressions?Yes, once again, relating to the people we climbed with, so friendly and so strong! They climb very differently from me. They pull very hard. Lots with the upper body, and using the feet only for momentum, all the time squeezing with the biceps and chest. I tend to use my feet for positioning and to make moves less powerful. They would simply pull! They are much stronger than me, and climbing with them made me think hard about this new style. It is sometimes much more effective than my approach, and [laughs] sometimes not, I guess! I learned a lot. That is what makes this — traveling, climbing, hanging out — all so fun.