Performing Mountains, Boulder Being, Leeds, March 2018

I was invited to take part in;  Performing Mountains, An international symposium on Mountain Culture at Leeds University in March.  Unfortunately I couldn’t attend so worked up a remote presentation. I  put something together quite quickly, I guess it’s not necessarily the most captivating video, but it does include a chunky section of text derived from my Doctoral thesis and recently extrapolated into a book called ‘boulder being’. It reminded me of a presentation I made at art college, after which I was met with a three minute silence, this at the time I thought was either a stunned audience reaction to the brilliance of the work, or a polite pause as the staff and fellow students thought of something nice to say. Good luck to anyone that tries to watch the full 17.38 mins.




Featured image by Graham Gaunt



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….

cornwall, rain and reading

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…



A wet Sunday in the Ariege

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.


projects and limited vision

It feels sometimes as if it’s possible to live in multiple places, virtual, real, here and there, close and distant, the idea of being grounded or living in the moment seems sometimes fanciful, fleeting at best. Sometimes I don’t know where I live. Sometimes I wake from a doze in the afternoon and it takes me some time to put a version of myself back together, I feel in a pleasant way detached, adrift, maybe living in France I’m going all Proustian, however the afternoon nap seems to disturb and disrupt the sense of self in a different way to waking in the morning. After one of these naps I was listening to Eels (Mark Oliver Everett) and remembered a TV programme that I saw about his Dad, a quantum physicist. I seem to remember there being an experiment with light being forced through a kind of letter box, the light waves then behaved in an entirely and unpredictable manner. I’m sure that I have got this all wrong, but the analogy I’m interested in drawing is that as we approach a situation, lets say the future, or for the sake of it, a  boulder, then the choices that we think we have, are in fact random, as our consciousness and linguistic formed selves encounter in a kind of phenomenological fluidity the seemingly concrete possibilities of the future.

In my last blog I talked about the view of the mountains and the myopic perspective of the boulderer. Today I am drawn as I have been over the last few  weeks to a lump of stone by the road, it’s the closest and hardest boulder problem to my home. It’s aesthetic, with warped extrusions of harder rock in waves contained within the coarser grained granite, it’s unclimbed (maybe), complex and difficult. During the crux moves, the effort of leaning right of a gaston (hold) causes me to go almost blind. I am literally lost in a black volcanic rock that was extruded from the vents of the molten earth, stuff that had no choice or option, flow this way or that the shapes and forms it took are as of little consequence and determination as my choice to climb on it today. The options are endless, all we can do is stare with an intensity at the thing and experiences that present  before us…

At the age of 51,  Hugh Everett III died at home his bed. Eels had this to say about his Dad;

I think about how angry I was that my dad didn’t take better care of himself. How he never went to a doctor, let himself become grossly overweight, smoked three packs a day, drank like a fish and never exercised. But then I think about how his colleague mentioned that, days before dying, my dad had said he lived a good life and that he was satisfied. I realize that there is a certain value in my father’s way of life. He ate, smoked and drank as he pleased, and one day he just suddenly and quickly died. Given some of the other choices I’d witnessed, it turns out that enjoying yourself and then dying quickly is not such a hard way to go.



It’s been a period of change, flux and transition. I’ve sold my house in Marazion and moved to France, with a fair bit of drifting and driving in between. It’s very strange to have moved, it’s not something I have done much of, now I find myself in the Pyrennes and questioning a little as to why?

There is of course no answer. First thing I have observed and which doesn’t come as a surprise is that it’s so quiet here. This means little distraction, which means you are left pretty much with yourself.

So I have filmed a couple of cool problems at Laramade, which is a better bouldering spot than I thought it would be, these two problems are a minute from the car park! I’ve also put up a fingerboard, drunk some wine, done some writing and been for a walk…