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
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
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.