My last post was about a project…well it took a few sessions, but I’m very pleased with this problem. It pushed me a a bit, struggled initially to climb past my seven move limit/block. In the end it went easily though. I’ve spent a year in the Ariege looking for new problems but it was only in the last couple of months that the searching started to pay dividends, the bare trees of winter probably made the difference allowing glimpses into the trees that finally revealed the potential. Should be more to come!
I looked in the woods and I found a very promising unclimbed boulder. I came back with brushes and a ladder and cleaned the moss and dirt from the boulder. Revealed beneath was a prow of granite, hidden in the trees, a thing of interest a thing of desire. On my second visit I began to piece the moves together, complex yes, but everything seemed to be in the right place, every move was powerful and interesting. I’d found a beauty.
It’s now a project, it’s harder than I thought. Thirteen moves long, none easy a mid way crux and a difficult finish.
Ohh but the joy….
I went for a long drive to go bouldering; in the end I didn’t climb much at all. After crossing the Pyrenees I drove across vast tracts of empty arid Spanish landscapes, boggling in its scale and occasionally marvelling at its detail. I had plenty of time to think on this long journey. Bouldering has for a few weeks lost some magic, relentless failure and snow has left me jaded, the pursuit of projects had numbed my desire. The trip was cut short, just too much snow, I was back home and today drove out to look at some recent discoveries and to try an old project. Exploration and newness left me refreshed and invigorated, this is what bouldering for me has always been about, the creative, unknown, the possibilities.
One night whilst away I drank a bottle of wine in a white plastic hotel room and watched on rolling news the unfolding spectacle that is Trump. I’ve been completely out of touch from mainstream news media, only getting the endless second hand horror from Facebook. Are we moving into an un-theorised phenomenological era? There has never been TRUTH, any event or happening or experience is always represented and mediated, always serves a specific discourse, there is always a transition and an impossibility to represent the act itself. A ‘post truth’ world, of ‘alternate facts’ and ‘falsehoods’. The FB’s, the tweeters, the instagrammers, are a generation of experience seekers, their lives documented and sprayed for all to see, nowadays a life or experience without mediation means nothing…Beuys and Warhol in different ways prescient…and in principle the contestation of truth is a good thing. This directly leads us to a world where politicians are celebs, the message is a massage, the desire for popularity, success and winning comes at a price. That price is mass idiocy. An opinion, is an opinion is an opinion and we get Trump and Brexit.
Let’s build a bridge across the Atlantic, a wall to divide America from Mexico, let China suffocate, all the animals are dead, the world is too hot, burnt toast is bad for you…
I’ve had a FB exchange with a climber, who has been visiting Cornwall and has been in touch for details and directions for the problems in the ‘Treen’ video. It felt strange, for it’s the first time since moving to France in March that I can honestly say I missed Cornwall. At the time I wrote…… and we came to a landscape bare of light and life, fields and paths of mud, earth and animal…two years later I leave the same landscape… of granite, wind and sea… But right now I remember the wind, sometimes constant, sometimes a storm, the moist wet air, the drizzle, the mud, the stinging cold. Snatched blues skies, intense, between squalls or rain. The rain that falls for days, the rain that falls and the rain that comes from the sea, and the storms, I miss the storms.
Meanwhile from a shuttered room in the heat of Southern France my current reading and research…
So you live in the Pyrenees, its raining, you have no training board, what do you do? Well it just so happens that I stumbled across a bit of steep limestone, sandwiched between Lidl’s and a Carrefour Express, easy parking and three minutes across a field. This has a kind of urban feel to it. It felt like I was back in the UK, just bouldering nothing fancy, in the drizzle.. Being France though it’s all very peaceful, by a river and really quite nice. No one has bouldered here before, there is no chalk and no white arrows. The cave has harder linkups and plenty of potential to keep me busy until I get a board built.
update…it turns out I was mistaken, my blog was based on prejudice, as was the decision made by millions in the UK. The animal that turned up in my toilet bowl was in fact an edible door mouse…. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edible_dormouse
It’s been a strange few days. I’ve been party to the UK voting to leave the EU from a distance. I’m in France and I’ve witnessed a deluge of opinion from social media and the other media, yet felt removed and isolated. Apparently a large number of people voted without understanding the issues, I wonder how they made a decision, flip a coin! It was a heady and intoxicating mix of lies, propaganda, capital, ideology and fear. I’m sorry to say fear seems to have decided the issue. Yet now the UK appears to be exploding or imploding, becoming fragmented, decisive and inexorably insular. Both main parties, having manipulated the debate to their own ends now appear to be committing a kind of mass outbreak of mind numbing, crass stupidity. The streets appear to be bristling with aggression, blind ignorance and intolerance at levels that seem unprecedented. Fear presides and runs through the exit-eers , they have no idea what to do. Europe postures, rejected and hurt, keeping a lid on the extremist domino effect that we may yet still see.
I surprised myself last night and I surprised a rat. It’s normally very silent in the evenings, yet I heard a bit of a commotion in the bathroom, without really thinking I walked over opened the door and there it was a rat in the toilet bowl. I had an involuntary shudder, shut the door and swore a lot. I thought initially i’d flush it back down the loo, but I don’t have a flushing loo as yet. I use a bucket of water. I tried four buckets, each time the rat got pushed back a bit, fought and writhed and I swore some more. Ultimately though we were back at square one, me looking at a wet rat, pathetically scrabbling at the smooth sides of the toilet bowl. A kind of peace prevailed. I relaxed a bit as I could see that it couldn’t get out of the toilet bowl, I’d feared it running through the house. I bent down and stared at it, the rat stared back at me, its nose twitching, smelling the air. I started to talk to it, I had no idea what to do. I walked round the house in the hope of finding inspiration.
Then I looked at my pasta tongs. I plucked the rat out of the toilet and dropped him, squealing a little in protest, into a bucket. Minutes later he was free, wet, but alive. I hadn’t butchered him with a hammer, although I’d considered it. I had a kind of inbuilt fear of the rat, but after some time in each others controlled company I could see that it meant me no harm and thus I owed it to the rat to set him free.
The EU was a bit like my meeting with the rat, yea for sure we maybe didn’t want to meet each other that evening and yes I had a reaction that was initially negative, yet peace and equilibrium were restored and no blood was shed. WE SHOULD HAVE STAYED IN.
I’d had enough, I was fed up with it all, so I drove into the mountains and found a boulder to climb.
I’ve been thinking about scale and motivation this last few days. I’ve made four drives across the mountains to go to Targasonne, crossing the Col du Puymoren at 1920m to drop down to the Targasonne at 1500m, the temps in the evening are lovely, nice and cool, but with sunshine and low humidity. What a contrast to the UK. I’m trying one problem, which seems crazy given the hundreds to choose from, but then this problem chose me unfortunately. I’m getting close, very close…
Back closer to home, which is now Ornolac Ussat Le Bain satying at the lovely Chez Arran, before moving into my house sometime in May or June…. I’ve been bouldering at Laramade, which is good. Now the thing is I seem to be operating on this weird myopic level, yet surrounded by large cliffs. I thought I’d better check the sport climbing out, I looked at Sabart, amazing cave and no doubt hard climbing, but to me it just made me feel so tired just looking, I found the cool air blowing form the back of the cave more exciting.
On the way back I checked out some roadside limestone boulders and found a 60 degree roof, pretty much on my doorstep, it was dusty and dirty, had fallen from the quarry wall, but it looked quality. If I had found this in Cornwall I would have thought my dreams had come true. Yet it made me feel guilty, surely I couldn’t get a saw and chisel and brush and start cleaning and working this, not with so much good sport climbing around me. But you know, I probably can, for me its all about the discovery and the new lines, the creative process. Following a line of large holds across a roof, getting harness chaf, falling, falling, working out, working out, I’d rather go the gym, than follow the line of another man!
Here’s the other thing, the peaks of the Pyrenees which are the backdrop to these musings and actions are peeping over ridges, filling the skyline at valley heads, they are snow covered, ice glistening in the sun. The thing is I want to climb them, in fact not even climb them, and simply be on them. But how, can I do them in old 5.10 tennies, do I need a coat?
So in the end stick with what I know, get a wire brush, some chalk and create.