december . dicembre . décembre . dezember

We wanted to leave the year on a high note so with the help of some friends we have put together a small collection of images in our 'living and playing in the mountains' advent calendar. Just like a real advent calendar the images will appear one at a time up till christmas eve.

Here in Lecco the snow is falling and the hills are taking on their winter coats. Time to dig out some warm winter sweaters and put some colour into our cheeks. So that's pretty much it for this year, I can't think of anything else to say. It has been an interesting year, hope you are around for the next one. Ciao MJ.

2004

A warm welcome to the 2004 edition, tentatively labelled as the germination. The journal will take a slightly different tack this year, moving away from the 'blog' style of the previous two years to a more experimental monthly format. Hopefully these changes will fertilise the MJ to grow beyond the potent seed that it is. As always we will try to mix creative presentation with interesting content.

january . gennaio . janvier . januar

With the excessities of turn of year festivities still tracing a path through our bodies the golden yellow rays of summer sit evasively beyond. Framed in by cold damp mornings and long dark nights our days are short and need to be lived with gusto to avoid early year rot. It is a fine year for the ice, get out and grab it while you can. And when you've finished doing that start making plans for the easter trip of your life that will set you up for the summer.

So now go find your diary because to kick the year off we have hand picked a juicy selection of mountain related events and boxed them up in the 2004 alert!. No excuses for missing any of them since it is available in both plain vanilla and tangy raspberry flavours.

february . febbraio . février . februar

Even if we are not always tolerant we have become accustomed to sharing our city spaces but in the mountains it's quite a different story; to see just one person within a kilometre radius their presence is immediately felt and questioned. Such are the mountains grand and we fragile. Starved of space once let off our leash we consume it voraciously, moving through it only wettens our appetite and we feel the hunger more. Last February a party of 8 friends joined the thousands who had passed before them discovering one such passage; the descent of the Vallée Blanche. They shot a film on the way and it is here through the video stills that they share the experience.

march . marzo . mars . märz

The neighbour across the void likes to walk around in his underpants, fair enough; it is his house. Living how you want to live and living by those choices is not always so easy, do you ever stare at yourself in the mirror and try to make yourself out from the background. Do you see your history in your own eyes?

In this months happy episode photographer Colin Stocker smashes his mirror into a thousand pieces and picks up the fragments that reflect his time in Cambridge, hoping for the unexpected glimpse of a bare thigh.

april . aprile . avril . april

We got our seeds in just in time, fresh basil lined up for the end of the month and lovely smelly flowers to aromarise the office over the swelty summer. Stretching back and watching them grow we allow our minds to stroll un-guarded through past memories thick like tangled summer vines. Perhaps it's just the time of the year as Nick Smith continues the reflective theme and attempts to recover his lost youth in the pages of his vintage car magazines. Pegging his climbing career to his motors Smith pulls back the top of his Fiat 128 and sets off on a trip down memory lane.

Whilst we wait for his return we pull out the company credit card and take a look at the Spanish online retailer Barrabes. Barrabes are causing quite a stir within the industry. It's good news for the customer and we love their open minded approach.

may . maggio . mai . mai

Now spring has arrived the year can really begin. It's amazing how quick the trees are to pick up on it, one day they are bare the next green and lush. A time for pruning, pairing up and talking about new ideas. Not wanting to miss a trick MJ is off to Sardinia to check out Planet Fear's ladies week whilst sampling the sweet life and getting in shape for summer.

In our absence Kenny Stocker recounts his experience on the Italian bouldering circuit and finds something he likes whilst Nick Smith keeps the motor ticking over on his personal journey through a decade of cars, climbing and freedom.

june . giugno . juin . juni

As summer heat rises a bottle of water once more becomes the most important piece of kit to put in your sack. Yes, that life sustaining fluid is attracting attention from many sources right now. MJ takes a stroll into Val di Mello to find why some people are not happy just to drink it.

An evening stroll along the shore Lake Como ends without conclusion and Kenny gets all sweaty over Norah Jones.

july . luglio . juillet . juli

In the 19th century Lecco was built on iron, but this was relaced by plastic as the European Championships of climbing rolled into town. Jacky Godoffe, top bloke and bouldering legend shares some of his views against some scenes from the event.

Out on real rock MJ tunes into the soap opera like world of climbing holidays. Pulling up our shirt sleeves we take a light hearted look at the pressures and delights of mixing holidays with climbing, sightseeing, boy friends and girlfriends. Boys & Girls takes a pictorial look at the implications with a test group on such a trip in Sardinia.

august . agosto . aoüt . august

Nick has pulled on his boots and topped it off with a 10 gallon hat as he heads out stateside shifting stick in the big country on a climbing tour of the countries hot rock spots. Back to home we go for a walk in the woods and chance across some hidden rock. Are there fairies out in those woods? Colin pulls out an evocative mood piece.

And finally competition fever takes over the MJ office with some t-shirts up for grabs in exchange for your creativity.

september . settembre . septembre . september

Hang on in because summer ain't over yet. Thankfully it hasn't been as hot and sticky as last year but things have been a bit dormant at MJ. However like the changing of the seasons there are some things that you can't hold back. Progress is one, and MJ takes a look at what we might be wearing next year at the grand outdoor show of Friedrichshafen.

Just like walking around a museum or shopping, trade shows do inevitably take their toll on both your body and mind. Searching for respite Kenny happily trades in his cappucino for an introduction to the simple art of via ferrata.

october . ottobre . octobre . oktober

Living and playing in the mountains has become so essential to most of us that we could rightly ask whether we are not living and playing for the mountains. We can all sit here and wax lyrical about what keeps drawing us back, time and time again to experience the pain and the pleasure, but the experience is so rich I doubt we would agree. Cherry picking our modern world we take two extremes.

High in the Bregalia alps, far from the 9 to 5 the classic line of the Via Vinci has occupied the dreams of budding alpinists for decades. Its striking line is an invitation to take a step into the world of the improbable and lose oneself in the adventure.

Less solitary we take the spectacle. The mountain comes into our own back garden and extreme is momentarily tamed by time and materials. The 2004 edition of the Rockmaster event invites the elite of the sports climbing world together in one arena. So open a beer with us and get as close as you can get to the cutting edge of difficulty.

november . novembre . novembre . november

Can you taste snow in the air? MJ has been out in Val di Mello and comes back mountain chilled and nursing sore finger tips. Leaving the cold granite boulders to face up to the encroaching winter and the waterfalls to freeze, just as they have done for countless years, we wonder for how much longer it will continue like this. Projects to drain the natural energy flow of the Masino valley are being met by local and national opposition. See what the issues are and offer your support.

We also have the results of our short story competition. The world is full of stories; we write them each and every day as we slide one foot out of bed. Sooner or later they come back to us and we discover how we got where we are, and more interestingly, why we are surrounded by the people we are. Who would have thought a blue box could have such an effect?

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