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Sun Nov 02, 2003


12.30 a comfortable start as usual, but the days shorter and our numbers greater. A small invasion of Milanese stood around chatting in the car park waiting for panini. The first snows accentuated the biting teeth of Resegone. Perhaps it was a bit late to head up to Parete Stoppani, but it was such a nice day it didn't really matter.

It was not a day to hang around so I directed the action towards Desire 7b, it looked nice so why not? Lorenzo played lead role. For him it would be more difficult; placing extenders as he went. He always climbed smoothly and would hardly feel the difference. We were not really sure if we could make the belay, it was a grade above what we had been climbing, however he made good progress even if he needed to take rests. It was 7b after all. That's all I can say of his ascent. It is difficult to say much from what you see from below.

Now my turn. The first part followed a steep crack, the moves not difficult but sustained until a break where you can rest before the more difficult ground above. On either side the Milanese were making upwards progress. The difficulty cuts in immediately with a long reach left, maybe there is an easier way to shorten the reach, but I didn't find it. A small rest before an improbable launch out right up and back left followed by a slump on the rope. Small holds and even less for the feet. Another launch out left leads to good holds and a rest. Was that the crux? I hope so.

What now, it's not obvious, in fact only the position of the bolts indicates the route to be taken. A delicate downward traverse right on crimps before heading directly up the slab. Now after all that has gone before it feels desperate, the holds small but they are all there, it is intense I am drawn in. I feel that I will fail on every move, but somehow I manage to keep going. With no reaction from my hands they manage to stay in place, connected to the rock, feet are impatient, arms depleted. Then its over, the final holds lead to the chain. The sequence has been revealed, possible, broken down into small passages, just needing linking. Is this what they call a project?

Sun Nov 09, 2003

Waiting for snow

Things have been a bit grey recently. The slow transition from autumn to winter is nearly complete. Now that the temperature is nice for cragging thoughts are turning to skiing. But still there are some of us 'committed to the core' and not satisfied to wait around for the inevitable snow rush.

Some cheering weather persuading myself, Dick and Lorenzo out to the Torrette. Already there was Claudio, a strong climber I recognised from the scene in Milan. Lorenzo knew him well having started climbing at the same time. He was normally seen with a camera hanging from his neck, but today he was hanging from a rope.

After some chat, and not to be upstaged to much we selected a testing route. Thaj Trip, short and severe it was well know to be a bit sharp. It was really a long boulder problem, continuous with little respite. The initial slab led to a problematic bulge. To climb it one has to lunge out right to a layback, transfer feet and left hand to rock over right. In this position I am at full stretch, I can't see my feet so have no idea what they are doing, and without input from the brain they do not know what to do. Damn it I'm off. Despite many efforts I didn't find the key to this sequence.

After a valiant attempt by Lorenzo in which he faired somewhat better than me we offered the route to Claudio for his warm down. Obviously he had done the route before, his memory of routes and moves seemed to be the equal of Lorenzo. Climbing smoothly and without error he revealed the sequence leaving us to ponder how we could follow.

Mon Nov 17, 2003

Kendal Film Festival

We had to convince the campsite to let us stay. From a previous year we knew that they operated a policy of no single sex groups. That time with only three in the group we had got away with it, but this year we would be seven. Our trusty leader has done his home work, he had called the Caravan and Camping Club to make some enquiries; 'what is your policy on gay couples?'. This was to be our back up plan if all else failed, fairly weak but our leader did like to take up an issue.

To test the waters two of our group went to book in whilst we remained hidden in the car. They seemed to be gone some time, it seemed that our joker was being played. As it turns out they booked in without a problem, but just the two of them! The campsite staff then informed them that they relax their rules for the film festival weekend, but by now it was to late. We would have to remain stealthy and book in with the rest of the party the following night.

We arrived at the Brewery Arts Centre early, our first challenge was to sort out the tickets which this year seemed to be incredibly complicated. We had tickets for Fridays films, weekend passes and tickets for special events! I ordered the coffees whilst greater minds sorted out the confusion. Like shopping, or a visit to a museum you have to pace yourself at events like this. We had three days ahead of us and although you do little more than sit in a chair fatigue is inevitable. Apart from the Extreme Film School seminars we filled Friday with short films covering the entire spectrum of extreme sports.

The big event of Saturday was Catherine Destivelle. The theatre was packed with eager listeners. Unfortunately there seemed to be some technical problems with her presentation. Her slides seemed bleached out and her films low quality or without sound. The biggest gasp was during a showing of a film made on the Devils Tower. Climbing to half height and bridging out across a chimney the rope 'apparently' gets stuck and the only way for Catherine to proceed is to untie the rope and let it fall through the gear. She then continued to solo the rest of the route.

The second eagerly anticipated lecture was Alex Huber. He was talking about his recent activities in the Dolomites and had some top rate film footage. Starting with a winter solo on the Tre Cima di Lavaredo and then free climbing the route in summer (Bellavista, 8c). The best was left to last with a solo of the Hasse-Brandler route. He talked through how he prepared for such an undertaking by practising on his local crag, soloing up to 8a+. But this couldn't prepare one for the film that followed. Really you have to see it. Despite the fact that he practised the route with his brother it is an outstanding sustained piece of climbing.

By Sunday afternoon we were feeling the effects of too many films. The last film of the day was Rubicon, an 'experimental' Russian film of climbers tackling the Great Sail Peak in the Baffin Islands. The mountain spirits were to much for at least one of our party, funny enough I think it was another of my friends who put the film maker in touch with the organisation at Kendal.