Chris Schulte has just climbed his first V15 by finishing off The Big Island in Fontainebleau, France. Schulte has been working on The Big Island—which is considered the hardest "up" problem in the forest—for several years.
"My resolve is unshakeable, thankfully," wrote Schulte in "Origin of Species," an article he published in the December 2011 issue of Rock and Ice. "I know I'll climb the thing sometime, maybe next season, and until I do, I get to work on one of the best climbs I've ever tried."
Schulte's dream of squeezing to the top of this famous compression problem was finally realized yesterday. "Now I can relax and enjoy a few more weeks of climbing," he told Rock and Ice.
Schulte's European vacation has been highly successful, with an astonishing two weeks in Switzerland where he climbed The Dagger (V14), and added three V13s and a V12 flash to his ticklist before heading back to Font.“It’s really fun to go somewhere, climb many things, and top out boulders," said Schulte after his Switzerland trip. "But it’s quite different to tick something off the ‘life list.’ Hopefully I can have both!”
Once back in the French forest, Schulte had a stellar day where he repeated Nalle Hukkataival's The Realist (V13/14) and the classic Elephunk (V13) in the same afternoon. With prime conditions in Font and Schulte feeling extremely strong, the stage was set and on March 3, Schulte topped out his first V15 and finished off a problem on his "life list" by climbing the hardest line in Fontainebleau.
How were the conditions yesterday?
The day was actually a night. I started climbing around 9:30/10 pm after a late coffee. I'd been trying it at night for a few sessions now so it was colder- that night it was great: 1 Celsius [34 degrees Fahrenheit] and a little breeze. I'd cleaned all the holds early in the afternoon, and it was a nice dry day leading up to the evening.
Were you coming off of a rest day?
I'd tried it a bit the night before, and fell off one move before the lip, moving my feet! A key sloper just before the end was a little damp.
How many tries on did it take yesterday?
It took a few tries! I was there a while, warming up on it in parts, taking big rests. It kept getting cooler and the breeze kept blowing.
How does it feel to tick something off the "life list?"
A lot of different emotions... It's always great to do a "life list" line. Mostly, right now I'm feeling relief. I was close my last trip here in 2011, but it never got cold enough for me. This time, the weather has been in and out, I got sick twice, split a tip pretty bad. So yeah, lots of relief! And satisfaction... I don't quite know what to do with myself.
Was topping out The Big Island the highlight of your climbing career so far?
Ahhh... "favorite" isn't the right word. I put a lot of time into it, and had many good and bad days with it, and lots of days in between. So, definitely one of the most complex moments. Lots of depth!
I still have two weeks left before I go home. I'm gonna help out a friend with a filming project in the forest, climb many, many classics, and just enjoy the forest and be a tourist!