This trip was a great opportunity for me and I feel rather privileged to have been asked to come onboard. Surprisingly I thought a lot about whether or not I would do this trip as I’ve got a lot of editing to do from this year’s Font trip and also because 40 days of travelling and filming is 40 days of missed training. Eventually I decided that it was such a great opportunity that I’d be foolish not to accept it with open arms and it has turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
When I left England I only had one expectation from this trip, which was to be very sure that I should expect the unexpected. This was a situation which could turn out in many different ways and if I had chosen the best possible outcome then I would have fallen short of what actually occurred.
The unexpected did turn out to feature heavily on this roadtrip, with it making it’s presence felt in climbing, in countries, and in people. I had visions of this trip being a nice jolly around Europe, taking in some sights, and doing a bit of filming. It became so much more than that and I think it’s solely down to the team of people involved.
Not knowing Gaz at all it was always something of a worry that maybe James and I would get on superbly and Gaz would end up being the third wheel on a two wheel bike. I couldn’t have been more wrong and it didn’t take long to figure that out. Gaz is one of the nicest people I’ve met and someone who I could easily and willingly spend far more time with! It didn’t take long for the “tripod of stability” to become recognised, utilised, and relied upon. By the time we left the UK our bond was developed and it wouldn’t waver for the next 40 days, proving that three is most definitely not a crowd, but a recipe for a good time! As the days and weeks elapsed the tripod only became stronger. Each and every day may have seemed like hard work but it was a joy to undertake because I was in amazing places with amazing people. There’s not much room for moaning in such situations!
The manic schedule was something that I’d glossed over as I figured everywhere is fairly close to everywhere else in Europe, and trusted that James had utilised google maps in his research. After about a week I realised that being on a single giant land mass in no way means that places are close to one another, and it was a nightly occurrence to stay awake driving until the early hours. Luckily the human body is an incredibly adept machine and after hitting a wall of tiredness, hunger, and fatigue I broke through with the force of a thousand horses. Once my body understood it could survive on less than 6 hours sleep and only 1 real meal a day (on a good day) things became a lot easier.
This trip marked one of the longest breaks for me from climbing. Normally a 2 day period doesn’t pass without either training or climbing, so the thought of spending so long without pulling on was difficult. Initially I thought it would be possible to climb some of the routes that James and Gaz had listed, but it quickly dawned on me that we were too tight on time and I had to make do with only seeing and not trying some incredible looking lines. On the odd occasion I would get the chance to have a do or die effort on a route, and since I’m in no position to flash 8a’s right now, they all ended with more of a die. What this did was to motivate me to come back and finish them off, along with some of the other mega lines at whatever crag we were at, so failure once again provided me with the means/inspiration for eventual success.
Even though I’ve spent the last few years as a dedicated boulderer, I always harboured secret desires to do certain famous sport routes. This trip was an opportunity for me to receive the necessary psyche to actually buy (or beg, borrow, and steal) some quickdraws and a rope, so I can turn an airy fairy dream into a reality. Learning how to sport climb will be a fun process for me as I think it’s diametrically opposite to the search for a single hard move. Seeing routes like Agincourt in the flesh only filled me with psyche and I’m sure once I get fit enough to try it, it will fill me with both joy and lactic acid. The most magnificent route I saw on the whole trip was an 8a in the Czech Republic which we (unfortunately) saw on the day we were leaving. It probably ranks as one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen in climbing and returning to do it is a certainty, not a distant pipe dream.
If I was again offered the chance to partake in a similar trip I would jump at the opportunity with open arms. Whilst it’s all too easy to romanticise past events, I’m not going to forget that it was hard work. The overall memory will be one of very good times, with plenty of amusing moments every day even when we were faced with late nights and lots of driving. The scales were definitely tipped in favour of the good and I have to thank James, Gaz, and The North Face for that, because without any of them this trip wouldn’t have been possible.
The future path is now one which I can’t quite see. This roadtrip took me to many new places and it opened my eyes to just how much sport climbing diversity there is within Europe. I’d never been to Austria before, but after being there I now find myself with a flat in Innsbruck, and an inevitable move happening in the coming weeks. I’m under no illusion that the grass will be greener upon arrival, but I know that creating an opportunity for change will result in new adventures and that is something I look forward to. New challenges, new adventures, new opportunities... Perfect.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog then feel free to continue reading my personal blog which is located at www.unclesomebody.com/blog
You can of course stay up to date with James’ adventures at www.jamespearsonclimbing.blogspot.com/
To keep track with Gaz’s new life in Spain make sure you click through to www.gazparryclimbing.blogspot.com/
This blog isn’t quite dead yet as there will be another couple of updates along with the fifth webisode featuring Zillertal, Misca Pec, and Val di Mello, so stay tuned for that.
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