To celebrate 20 years of pulling down hard, the "Tout À Blocs" (TAB) bouldering contest wanted to make a lasting impression. What better way to celebrate this anniversary edition than to once again organize an international open bouldering competition in Argentière-la-Bessée, France.
From July 24-28, 2013, the Pays des Ecrins area of the Southern French Alps beat to the rhythm of a fantastic climbing festival: bouldering in Ailefroide, a kids contest, and an International Open in the middle of Quartz Square.
Rocking out to start!
Before pulling on plastic for the competition, Charlotte Barré and club FACE, the organizing team for the event, offered to show everyone around the spectacular granite boulders in Ailefroide. Even with the sometimes skin-shredding rock and hazardous landings, the place can only be described as magical. With the cool breeze blowing off the surrounding glaciers like a natural air conditioner, more than 80 young bouldering enthusiasts gathered to test their skills on the boulders at the "Suprise du Chef" area near the village and at the "Steppe" area near Pré de Madame Carle.
Then comes plastic!
Climbers then gathered around the club’s new high bouldering wall. For this International Open, 40 problems were put up by a team of route setters guided once again by Mickael Fuselier, one of Team Petzl’s illustrious climbers. The locally inspired problems, crimpy to say the least, required not only great technique but well-honed biceps and strong fingers for the sequence after sequence of powerful moves.
Joining the fray, Gérôme Pouvreau and Alizée Dufraisse, climbers from Team Petzl did extremely well, qualifying for the senior category finals. In the "Jurassic" category (a frequent term used in the local dialect to describe the "veteran" or "older persons" category), Olivier Fourbet and Yann Ghesquiers put on a good showing and once again qualified for the finals.
From the advent of "Microbes" through the "Jurassic" period
During "Tout À Blocs," there was something for everyone, including kids, with the MICRO TAB contests. Several up and coming champions showed their future potential at the event. As with every year, a small handful of "microbes" demonstrated who will be the next generation of top climbers in the not too distant future.
Speaking of our "elders," while climbing to the beat of Sagagnass Sound System, Olivier Fourbet and Yann Ghesquiers won first and second place respectively in TAB’s "Jurassic" category, following a "dinosaur-like" battle on the three boulder problems set for the finals. The natural order of things was not completely destabilized in the Pays des Ecrins; last year Olivier and Yann stood on the podium, but in reverse order. Congratulations to both of them and to the entire Fourbet family – wife Nathalie and kids Diego and Louise – who performed well in their respective categories.
The power of Pouvreau
We already knew the Gérôme Pouvreau who is an extremely talented and champion climber. The Gérôme who competed in this year’s finals showed us a completely new dimension. While there are a lot of strong climbers out there, only a rare few are also capable of bringing kids and teens together in a club to share a similar passion. Gérôme is one of those rare climbers. Wearing his club’s jersey, and climbing to the enthusiastic applause of kids from the his climbing club, Gérôme and the other finalists put on an amazing show of power and skill all the way through the third and final problem, which he onsighted.
Gérôme finished the open in second place just one attempt behind Guillaume Glairon-Mondet, and right in front of one of his disciples. While the student has yet to teach the master, for Gérôme, "My greatest joy will be seeing one of my climbers standing on the step above me on the podium. Then I will know that I have done my job right!"
In the meantime, Gérôme and Florence Pinet are planning to take a year to climb all around the world. We will keep you posted on their adventures.
To learn more
- View Mickaël Fuselier's film, "Destination Bishop" - shown during TAB
- View all results for the OPEN and MICRO-TAB
- View Gérôme Pouvreau's complete profile (sends, photos et vidéo)