River boulder, Laramade

Leaves are falling, autumn has arrived. 

Three or four years ago I found a really good boulder  in the Vicdessos valley, near the popular and developed area of Laramade. I was very surprised no one had found it before, being about 45 degree overhanging some evidence of cleaning or chalk would have been visible, but nothing showed any sign of having been climbed on. 

Initially the wall seemed very hard. I spent about a year with the occasional visits spent trying moving and envisaging the lines. After a couple of forays up the far left and far right of the face at about 6c /7a ish I decided the original line I was trying was too hard, it was not an eliminate but it did not necessarily follow the easiest line. Two years ago, I started to understand that climbing the easiest line was also in fact quite hard.

I feel very ambivalent about climbing this problem. I expected a far greater sense of joy. I think that having a long term project over a period when so much has happened and changed; deaths, marriage, births, global pandemic and Brexit. That it is what it  is and that is not much at all. I thought I was having an existential crisis, but I think in reality my reaction is actually in proportion.

I’m not sure of any of the grades on this boulder, By the river I suggest 7C it could be harder though. I simply haven’t climbed enough problems recently to make a good comparison. The project line is quite a bit harder!

training…second week, home and away

In the second week of this programme and each session has involved dealing with a sensation that can only be described as mild nausea. I remember this feeling, years ago when I ‘trained’, now its clear that for years I have only been putting effort into the things that I enjoyed. For example, hanging off and moving on small holds I like, thus I do lots of it and think I’m training. This last couple of weeks I have been doing  amongst other awful exercises; ‘planks’, they are horrible, what is their to enjoy from passing from fatigue to feeling sick, heart pounding, red in the face and vibrating from head to toe, basically nothing.

training…bla, bla, bla.

I’ve been lying…’I train’, that’s what I say to myself. Maybe many years ago I did actually train, I had notebooks, stopwatches, targets and plans. Over time things changed, I took the words in a couple of articles in an old ‘On The Edge’ magazine too seriously, Moffat said all you had to do…I’m not sure of the exact words but something like ‘get down low under an overhang and pull hard’. Moon said stop ‘training strong’. So right now, the situation is I can pull quite hard on small holds on steep ground, as long as I don’t need to do more than five moves., but I don’t train. This in itself would be fine if one of my projects wasn’t more like 18 moves long, 12 hard moves at least. predictably no matter how strong or motivated I’m feeling I always fall more or less at the same point, about 8 moves in.

So I’m facing up to the fact that I need to train, specifically power endurance. As I’ve said my forte is for short and sharp, wandering into la cabane (shed) and coming out an hour later having done no more than five moves in a row won’t cut it, nor will half hearted stabs at finger board routines.

The problem is I find the amount of info online so big it overwhelms me, I know I need to do core work, conditioning, bla bla, It’s so boring and seems so complicated as these days people are making money out of this and need to seem ‘expert’. Yet the training protocols vary massively, I think in reality its pretty much guesswork still. So I’m using a generic workout plan, the beauty being that it comes through each week via a website/email and I’m confronted by three workouts a week to follow. I know that I will benefit from it, simply because its making me doing everything that I would normally avoid, namely longer sessions with volume and many horrible exercises for my core, I believe I will also need to start running! I’m writing this down in the belief, that I hope holds true, namely that once something is named and written it becomes more likely it will happen. I’m also lucky, I have a board (pictured below) and finger boards at home and a decent(ish) wall, with 50 or so set problems, 20 mins drive away. I have free time and a goal that will come into condition in a couple of months or so. I also have many, many other projects and interests in my life, honestly!

burnt toast

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…

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…





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…


Bouron Marlotte, Fontainebleau. Icy evening, moon, mist and trees.

The next morning I watched as two forestry workers cut down a large diseased tree. The chain saw buzzed and sawed cuts around the tree base, one cut and another watched, metal wedges driven in to the cut. I looked at the top branches waiting to see movement. Slowly at first and then with a powerful rush of air the tree toppled. I could feel the push of air a 100 metres away. Initially a whooshing noise then a roar and then a cracking woomph as the tree hits the ground and branches explode in all directions.


in between the rain

Amazingly it was dry today! I nearly missed it, such has been the unrelenting regularity of shit weather. Filmed a couple of classics, a lot else was covered in damp glowing wet lichen. I also saw for the first time the damage on the classic arete boulder.  It does look like it was intentional. I also thought Crystalline entity seemed to have better holds/crystals than it used to.

Reported by Bob here  http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=602276#x7922302


Australia boulder 3D laser scan video

When I first saw the results of the scanning I was quite unprepared for what I saw. It is quite hard to describe, but I can say it was not like looking at a conventional digital image. What I had previously always seen from my perspective as a climber, I could now see from one position removed.

When the photographer Gaspard-Felix Tournachon took the first aerial photographs of Paris, he described it as though he were experiencing an existential free-fall. My first view of a 3D scan of Clodgy produced a similar feeling of disorientation. The experience felt immersive and visceral. The overall sensation was of a bodily experience rather than a visual one.

scan by J. Gallwey, 3DMSI