Touchy Fingertips and Sunshine / by ellie berry

While climbing in the gym or even on the granite rock of Ireland, the skin on your hands (and everywhere else) gets tougher and tougher and develops specific callouses so as every time you touch a hold, your skin doesn't rip. And of course, the more you climb on that day, your hands do rip, and you develop "flappers" of skin, and you hands end up consisting more of tape than skin. 

In France, in Fontainebleau, there's a difference. The rock is amazingly sculpted sandstone, all curves and pockets and soft. Soft rock leads to one very popular kind of hold though - slopers. Slopers are interesting. You put your hand on them, and you say (in your head or out loud); huh. There is a hold there, and you can see it is the only hold, but it's not the kind of hold you really want to trust. You end up squeezing the rock until you start to wonder will your fingers leave indents. You don't end up with flappers, you go raw. Looking at your finger tips, there are no cuts, but blood slightly weeps and you can't really touch anything. Returning to the tent, cans of tuna are opened with broken nails and more baguettes are consumed. You spent nine hours in the sun, nine hours of pushing yourself over and over and over again, scraping elbows and jamming knees into cracks to stabilise. The fact that there are no mirrors around becomes a blessing in disguise, and even though you are so exhilarated after spending the day falling off of pebbles so many times, you can't even muster the strength to talk about it once you all collapse into the car. Soothing music is played on the drive back, people and crashpads haphazardly stacked and leaning on each other. Waking up the next morning, when your fingers past the test of opening the zips and putting on clothes, it means they are well enough to abuse again, and more canned fish and pastries are eaten 

There is no better way to spend the summer.