June 4, 2013
9:00 am – Ride to Boulder, CO, USA bus station
9:30 am – Bus from Boulder to Denver International Airport
11:00 am – Arrive to airport and check in
12:30 pm – Depart Denver, CO to Newark, NJ
6:30 pm – Arrive Newark, NJ
9:15 pm – Depart Newark, NJ to Charles De Gaulle, Paris, France
June 5, 2013
11:00 am – Arrive Charles De Gaulle, Paris, France
9:00 pm – Depart Orly, Paris, France to Reunion Island
June 6, 2013
9:45 am – Arrive Reunion Island
By this point in the travel I was delirious. I would fall asleep for 5 or 10 minutes and wake up to be completely disoriented. I would almost panic at the feeling of my body, and at my surroundings. I was the last of the team to arrive, and I was picked up from the airport by one of our local guides, Panouille. He took me to the newest climbing gym on the island where half of the team was waiting. I quickly unpacked, and repacked for a week out of camping and climbing.
We then drove together up into the mountains to Cilaos, and met everyone else.
We organized amongst ourselves and then made the walk into La Chapelle – a beautiful, narrow, and tall canyon.
It was always to be the primary objective of our trip, and we’ve managed to establish a difficult 7 pitch route from the ground up.
6 of the pitches have been climbed free, but the most difficult – pitch 5 – which we think is 8c or 8c+, has not been completed.
All of the movements have been done, and some sections of movements have been linked together, but the entirety of the pitch has yet to be realized.
We’ve been out of the canyon for a few days to rest, and see other parts of the island, and will return tomorrow to see about this section of our route.
In the days out of the canyon, we have had a chance to experience the people and culture of the island. This is a very special place.
This island is a volcano, and it first breached above the surface of the Indian Ocean approximately 3 million years ago. Thus, everything is Basalt rock. It is a department of France, and this is very evident, but there are strong influences from Africa and Asia.
The feeling is very unique and special and international. This coupled with the drama of the landscape and the weather makes for a magical place. There is lots of relief here – dramatic gains in elevation caused by a constantly active volcano building the landscape, and aggressive tropical weather with a lot of rain fall that eroding the land quickly.
The island basically shoots up out of the ocean to its highest point at 3069m, the Piton d’neige. There are deep and narrow gorges everywhere, and the vistas are overwhelmingly green due to lush vegetation everywhere.
In all to this point, I feel very lucky to be here, and to be with this group of people. I’ve traveled a lot in the last few years, and La Réunion Island is certainly amongst the most special. We’ve worked really hard, but we’re having a lot of fun and laughing a lot. We’ve also spoken deeply about life, and shared some pretty personal details. So, I’m looking forward to returning to La Chapelle for a few days, and also to other places and things that I will see and do in the final week here.