Friday, 9 September 2011

Confessions and OBSESSION

Video:Body Count
           Glacial Surfing (skit)

Burger King, Porto Christo, Mallorca...

A man sits, alone, hunched over a laptop, head in his quiet contemplation. Long curly, unkept, sun-browned hair, hides tired eyes and a weeks worth of stubble accentuates it.
He has a task to complete so why does he choose procrastination? Surely, realisation, ultimately leads to escape, allowing him to present himself before that which he currently focuses on...
Sitting upright he slowly sweeps his fringe out of his eyes and stares at the blank screen.
A flashing cursor hovers in position, ready to respond to the commandments he inevitably needs to issue...
Time lapse could reveal a blurred, ghostly stream of energy around him...
Without a beginning , there will be no end. Repeat the past and you will never transcend - Chrisism -Sept 2011
Forcing his hands outwards, he unarrests himself from inactivity and continuing his stretch, reaches towards the ceiling...It’s time for a looonnnggg over due blog update. ;0)

Sincere will see it’s been a bit chaotic...

Firstly, I would like to thank GOD for looking out for me. I’ve been out of my comfort zone and many occasions have required sudden, concise, decision making. HE has presented sudden, clear solutions, for me to choose. I may not understand,or be able to explain some of the situations I’ve experienced or encountered, but I accept it as part of the journey...

Secondly, I would like to thank Thomas & Science @ Bodhi Climbing for helping us in Magic Wood. Without your understanding our trip wouldn’t have been so memorable and extensive. I miss you and love you guys very much. I hope Bamboo (I miss playing Lego with you! I hope you still have my Lego car and aeroplane I made you!) and Alycia are well!

Thirdly, Cotswold for their continued support. We should have pictures and videos for you soon! I promise.

Last, but no means least, my family, friends and new people we’ve met along this rollercoaster of a ride (since leaving Austria). Lots of highs (natural – of course) and lows (huge thanks to Sam & Justin who helped us immediately after our van was broken into. You really lifted what was left of my Spirit when you peeked your head through the remains of my passenger side window with a huge smile. True Heroes)...Every one of you have been in my thoughts (some more so than others...and SOME even more so...) and inadvertently alongside me.


Without a are some HIGHlights and lowlights...inextricably linked.


 Body Count V12/ Font 8A+



The following writing does make for HEAVY READING...and for this I am TRULY SORRY. It’s out of sync with the rest of the post, which will be in chronological order (and less dramatic!), however I wanted to get this out of the way for the rest of the memories.

It reads like a CONFESSION and I have tried to remain as honest as possible...

This is my attempt at trying to explain how difficult it was, to climb a problem of this grade, what it meant to me and what I have endured for the last 4.5 years to achieve it.
I couldn’t stand in front of the camera and explain the significance of the would be illogical and incoherent. I’m more comfortable and expressive through the medium of writing...
The irony being I couldn’t explain how hard it is to climb a problem of this difficulty to a non-climber...because you simply need to be a climber to understand. This is unfortunate...but it is the reality of the situation...I’ve managed to get around this...
I figured the only way for you to understand would be to appeal to your senses (especially emotional...) and try and describe the sacrifices I had to endure to achieve it. This way everyone would be on the same playing field...
This is ESPECIALLY aimed at my non-climbing family and this would have effected you the most.
The rest of you, who are climbers will probably understand and probably relate to this journey...regardless of what level you climb.


Black Spiderman, Magic Wood 

Have you ever wanted something so much that it became your Sun and the whole Universe revolved around it?
Every thought, every event, every activity and every decision was subjected to a mathematical algorithm, which came to a simple conclusion...Does this (insert scenario) interfere with my goals (in any way, shape or form) or not? If it did then 9 times out of 10, I didn’t partake.
On the surface it perhaps seems perfectly justifiable to set such strict, defined goals but what happens when it becomes an OBSESSION?
Obsession isn’t healthy...I know...I am, still am, was obsessed with reaching the grade of Font 8A / V11 for bouldering.
I stood by, watching, for years as Obsession slowly manifested in front of my eyes...and began steering my life. I stood and watched a ghost of my former self, steer away from amazing people, places and experiences (non-climbing related). I stood and watched them all pass by, fusing and blurring into a stream of indistinguishability. I stood and watched...helpless, as Obsession became the ghost...and steered away from me...
The truth of the matter is this “formula” (mentioned earlier) was used and applied to many people...people who are reading this. Probably you....
In my selfish pursuit to reach this grade (compounded by the fact that I started climbing at 23, which I considered late...) EVERY conceivable experience was sacrificed upon the altar of performance...
Work, socialising, IMPORTANT celebrations...Love...It had to be done to reach success.
...I upset and annoyed some of you with my excuses and inactions...I hurt MYSELF the most...
The irony being, that I really love and appreciate all of you in my life...but I had to focus on training, effectively isolating myself from you, to achieve this.
I love climbing but hated what the Obsession was doing to me. It was unhealthy, causing a lot of stress/ heartache and by the time I realised...I was in too deep...
I effectively had an internal struggle of two personalities, constantly at war with each other.
I wanted nothing more than to be in your presence...however Obsession was the complete opposite...pursuing climbing related interests. The majority of the time I would lose and Obsession would stand...alone.
Most of the time I told you straight that I wasn’t available because I needed to climb...often I made excuses...sometimes I lied... Regularly, in order to see me, you had to fit in between the climbing schedule (effectively coming second to climbing)...Knowing I was doing this tore me apart...
...Obsession never cared.
I got to know Loneliness quite well (I really didn’t enjoy his company) and climbed harder and more frequently to escape all of this...which meant even less time for you.
Injuries and illness were a curse...They stopped my progression (progression is usually very slow in climbing as your body, muscles and ligaments take time to grow and strengthen. As you climb the grades, the intensity increases and the progression becomes even slower), setting me back months...having to rebuild the foundations.
Another important factor was location. My nearest crag is an 1hour 30mins away and the boulder problems can be described as mediocre at best...Effectively, Dorset, has no quality, hard boulder all. So I couldn’t really project anything...except indoors.
Bouldering walls are not brilliant in the Southampton Area and therefore difficult to keep the motivation levels high.
I had to REALLY want it.
I over-compensated when I was healthy and got re-injured (more possible progression stunted) or was exhausted all the time, disabling me from wanting to socialise...a truly vicious circle.
The turning point came after I had avoided going on a date....It dawned on me that I had done this on a couple of occasions since I began climbing...
This was ludicrous! I didn’t want to be single however Obsession is a ruthless dictator and had self preservation in mind...and therefore it became my mind...I had to be single. Obsession didn’t want anything getting in the way of the goal.
I was desperately lonely...Something had to be done...
Progression was too slow with all the distractions of modern living...drastic times called for drastic measures.
The only way I was going to overthrow Obsession (and restore myself back to power) was through resistance and revolution. Viva la Resis-o-lution!
A plan was devised...sacrifice ANOTHER whole YEAR of your life so you could concentrate all your energy into turning dreams into reality.
That’s what I did...and I did what I had to do and suffered the side effects in silence...All work, and not being able to afford to, play (a year’s climbing trip needed serious funding) almost destroyed me.
Another difficult year of placing your life on hold and avoiding people, places and experiences ensued (it was the toughest of all...For now, I was conscious of what I was doing and didn’t like it)...and it crawled along... painfully slow.
I just wanted to get on the road so I could get fully engrossed in the climbing lifestyle that would hopefully see me to the checkpoint.
I wanted to be free and enjoy my year with everyone, before disappearing, but I had to save.
I couldn’t allow the sacrifice to be in I pressed forward...and here I AM.
So, if you’ve read this far...and if you watch the “Body Count” video...
You will understand why a “strong” person unfolds, with fragility, before your eyes. You will understand that in that 1 minute of climbing, 4.5 years of experience, inexperience, joy, sorrow, pain, loneliness, togetherness, Obsession and the GHOSTS of all of you were ascending with me...You will understand the significance of the OBSESSION and 4.5 years of SACRIFICE, is REALISED...EXORCISED and RELEASED...You will understand...that with every after-breath, I was reborn and the reign of Obsession had come to an end...
...And with will know my life is no longer on HOLD...and I will be able to appreciate YOU, more than I did before...
Tick list (flash means do a problem first try with prior knowledge):

 Nothing Changes V11 / Font 8A
7B/ V8: 11 (1 flash) 7B+/ V8+: 2 (1 flash)
7C/ V9: 5 (1 flash) 7C+/ V10: 2
8A/ V11: 2 8A+/ V12: 1

Magic Wood, Switzerland...The Beginning

It’s 2:00am and we’re almost in Magic Wood, Switzerland. Who are these tools flashing us? The roads deserted just overtake!
They keep beaming us so we pull over to let them pass...oh, uh, it’s the Police!
The Austrian, Glock 9mm, hand gun is a beautiful weapon but it’s drawn and pretty close to my face.
My hands slowly move skyward...No sudden movements or...the consequences were immutable.
Adrenalin kicks in...jeepers! This is not the best time (those that know me closely understand that I’m prone to sudden bursts of uncontrollable laughter in the most inopportune moments).
I bite my lip hard to distract my attention from the hysterics growing inside, waiting to burst out my chest, like the scene from Alien.
We follow their instructions to the letter...
This is so funny! I hope they make us lie in the road like criminals in those reality tv shows...why do I think that?
I bite my lip harder...After 5mins of checks, the seriousness of the situation dissipates and we learn the reason why they pulled us over. It’s a commonly used drug trafficking road, we have foreign plates, a van and it’s the early hours of the morning.
We explain we’re climbers (I’m wearing my Cotswold “Sponsored Climber” shirt) and going to Magic Wood. They’ve never heard of it.
We chat for a bit, really nice guys, then they say we can go.
...Cheekily, I ask if we could have some pictures taken, to use for our blog and they say sure! Sweet! They pull their car next to ours and put their flashing lights on. Legit! They even use their fancy flash attachment and rig it onto Gregs camera and take a few sanps next to the vehicles. They couldn’t be in the pics for security reasons.
We thanked them, shook their hands and drove off...
Welcome to Switzerland! Haha!

Bodhi Camping Times!!!

Me, Science, Bamboo, Thomas, Flying baby (Alycia) and Greg

Gee whizz!!! Surely that didn’t come out of a human being? Someone, somewhere, on this campsite needed to seek serious and urgent medical attention! Surely there was a possibility of bleeding out and numerous delicate stitches placed?
Over the following weeks I grow strangely accustomed and de-sensitized to the abominations i had to witness.
A new level of respect was gleaned for the human body and what it could process and dispense of...I’m not sure how much detail I’m comfortable divulging, so I’ll leave it at that. Some things are best left in the past...and the lid firmly left down!

I've seen enough... 

“Thank you” Thomas for allowing me to experience the position of Assistant Campsite Manager & Waste Management Technician (I’m sure it will help my job prospects when this journey is over. Haha!).
Some of my tasks involved changing dirt bags, shifting rocks, levelling out wood chips (to ensure the camp ground is even, stocking the port-a-loos with toilet paper and...the memorable “stirring of the pot”.
It entailed a breach of the water line (within a port-a-loo), a long stick and a stirring motion...similar to that of the boatmen of Venice. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination...
A brief stint in wood chopping saw me make the mature decision not to handle an axe, for the safety of the others but more own safety.

Hossegor, France

Surf times! And new things to see and do! Rest and relaxation is well deserved. Who would have known I would have got bored of looking at bare chests...or did I...haha!

I LOVE Hossegor!

Missing all my French friends!

Almost getting into a fight:

Let's go surfing

So there I am, innocent Chris, paddling back to catch another wave when a French bodysurfer (person who rides using their body as a board...another name for them...losers! Haha!) grabs a hold of my right bicep!
Now, firstly, this is pretty brave, as everyone knows my biceps are huge. Secondly, everyone knows that I’m very dangerous and shouldn’t be trifled with (ask Steve and Ross...they fear
me). Would you grab a hold of a fully grown Grizzly bear? No, you would get torn apart! It is a common fact that I eat Grizzly bears with my morning imagine the devastation I could unleash...
He says something in broken French. I don’t have time to respond as a wave is approaching and I need to duckdive under it, I come up and he is still clutching me...
I calmly tell him I don’t speak French but quickly figure out that I’m not allowed to ride my bodyboard into the deserted bathing area (this is allowed in South Africa).

Remains of a Portugese Man O War (giant blue bottle)...the flotation device was the size of a rugby ball! No word of a lie!!!

 It didn’t help that I busted an air on the previous wave and almost landed on his head...I tell him I will move across...He pushes me forcefully (turning to swim away) which “annoys” me.
“Hey! What’s your problem?! I told you I was moving away! You don’t need to treat me like that!”...Ah great, he’s swimming back...
He attaches himself to my right bicep...again! “Do you want me to call security (bro, by the time security gets here I would have crushed you into vapour...who is this kid?!)?”
“Do whatever the hell you want! You’re in the wrong! You can’t go around treating people like shit! Let go of my ARM!”
He swims off and positions himself 50m away...
What was the point of that!? He’s lucky I’m such a “nice” guy and was in a good mood...

Fugitives on the run...(Dedicated to all the amazing people we met, in car parks, in Hossegor! To many names to mention! You know who you are)

Car park times!!! Moments before the police laid the smackdown on us! Haha!

That’s the best looking hedge I’ve ever seen! Let’s sleep next to it!
This road looks familiar...didn’t we sleep here 3 nights ago? No, we slept in the Supermarket car park then...Oh ya!
The hedge is natural barrier separating the destitute (Operation Beastmaker) and the rich family who lives in the mansion. If they see us they are bound to call the Police one wants vagrants sleeping on their verge.
There is a war against campervans in Hossegor...Elite, Specialist Teams of soldiers are engaged in battle, 24hrs a day, 7 days a week.
Allow me to elaborate further...We can’t afford to pay to sleep in campsites so we sleep in the van, in car parks, on the side of the road, basically anywhere flat and dark.
One morning we awoke, in a beach car park, with a Police Notice on the window. It stated that it was FORBIDDEN to sleep in a car park, road or any space, for more than one night. You were then FORBIDDEN to sleep in that car park, road or space from then until the end of your journey. It stated that they had our vehicle registration number which was entered onto a database.

Gaz is far to passionate...dodgy white stain after looking at small surf. Imagine if it was going off! 

If we did not adhere to the rules and were caught there would be SEVERE consequences...
Consequences being destroyed by their Plasma Particle Beam Weapon, fired from “La Death Star”, currently hovering above the earth...or in simple terms...a 30 Euro fine and the possibility of your vehicle being towed...I’m not sure what is worse...
Every campervan owner knows this, as we’re ubiquitous and gather in beach parks all over Hossegor, discussing the latest techniques to avoid being caught.
We are the Car Park Kings (between the 08:00 – 22:00...after this we have to leave) and relinquish our Kingdoms by night. And like peasants, seek refuge beneath the shadows of lofty, cosmopolitan castles, in the nearby, laanie (promounced larn – knee – South African terminology meaning rich) suburbs (within walking distance from the beach) to rest our sticky-sunburnt-sea-salted-surf-shattered-sleepy bodies.
We all get up early the next day and return to our Kingdoms...completing the cycle...repeating perpetually.
...We edge towards our temporary abode...A campervan rounds the corner, stops, briefly admiring the beautiful hedge we settle in to...too late buddy!
We watch as they slowly approach...The physical barriers of the vehicles, coupled with the cultural, ideological, geographical and barriers of language dissolve and evaporate...
Spontaneously, almost telepathically and in synchronicity, the 4 of us raise our hands in greeting...through the darkness the whites of eyes and teeth reveal broad smiles...erupting into fits of laughter as they pass...
Nothing needed to be said that wasn’t already understood...
We’re all fugitives on the run...the nightly exodus had begun.

Serious campervan!!!

Burger Monday 

Left to right - Pretty1 (Gaz), Douchebag, Pretty2 (Sarah), Onza, Lucia, Janne and Meef

Left to right - Sorry guys! I forgot the first 2 people neames!!! Then there is Amandine, Douche, Nico and Olivier. 

Chris, me and Super-Star Emma (German WW2 bunkers in the background)

I’m not particularly fond of water melon or rum, so I pass the combination down the line to others in the large circle who will appreciate it more.
“Hey man!” I turn to my left as a stranger with an American accent addresses me.
“I heard about Burger Monday, a few hours ago and I rushed off to get burgers but I guess I’m too late...” I turn sharply to the right, the braai (br-eye – bbq) is a light but on deaths door.
I turn back to him, my heart sinks as he is overcome by sadness...I respond positively, “Hey! It’s ok bro! We can re-ignite it for you! I’ll chuck some more charcoal on for you!”
He looks at me, then looks into the darkness of the cave behind me...his lips quivering...his voice breaks as he says, “I’ve checked already...there’s none left...”
Crumbs...what do you say to that? I felt terrible...speechless.
Suddenly, encouraging words materialise in my mind...
“Dude! It’s okay! Burger Monday EVERY Monday! A week will pass in no time and next one will be 10 times better! You’ll see!”
Silence overcomes us as he processes the HOPE and JOY I exude...I bask, for a moment, in my problem solving abilities.
He takes a deep breath...Ready to hear him confirm my sentiments...
“No, I won’t...I leave TOMORROW...”
I reel back as if slapped in the face.
We both stare at the ground in stunned silence.
“Gimme the watermelon...” I take a long, hard sip and convulse as my body reluctantly accepts the poison.
I offer him the melon...he shakes his head.
The silence is unbearable...I inhale as much oxygen as possible, mustering the courage, to say one last thing as effectively and intelligently as communicable.
I turn to appears as though the force of a butterfly’s wing beat could shatter the remains...and say...
“Do you want a hug...?”
Burger Monday is a phenomenon and invokes powerful, primal emotions...which transports you back to the dawn of time...and to our roots...
...To a time where life was much simpler...
Man hunted, gathered and wore one set of clothes...
...Love was simple to find...all you needed was a decent club!
And we sat eating burgers!!!
I encourage, those of you who have experienced Burger Monday, to share your stories on our Facebook page or in the comments so others can read, understand and partake. I hope everyone is continuing the tradition!
I hope you enjoy the Burger Monday video.
We had a Burger Monday song that would have accompanied the video...but some people saw to it that never happened...It will forever be known as...

The DAY that will live in INFAMY!!! - Day 208: Thursday (Excerpt direct from my diary)

Me and my stolen electro-acoustic guitar

Gaping hole, broken glass...shattered Spirit.

All I wanted to do was sit back and play a bit guitar. I needed to tab the song that I had in my head.
Greg got to the van first and gave me a look I hadn't seen before...and will never forget.
I didn't hear what he said as I was too focussed on the shards of glass he was standing on, by the passenger side door...The van had been broken into...
The front of the van looked normal...just a few bits thrown around, so I immediately thought it wasn't too bad.

Partition kicked down...backdoors opened guitars taken... 

I pulled the sliding door open and was harpooned by a scene of devastation...They had kicked in the wooden partition down, separating the front of the van from the back, and got into the back of the van!
Greg said that the back doors were opened when he got to the van...The GUITARS!!!
My heart stopped, I took a second look, Greg's guitar and MP3 player was taken and my guitar was gone...
Suddenly I realised we hadn't got away with it...
They had taken apart of JOY, my PASSION and it wasn't coming back...
I dropped my bag and walked around with my hands on my head...I was the embodiment of pain and sorrow...they couldn't have done any better at hurting me...
I remember saying, "They took our f&*king guitars!!!"...inconsolable.
A million thoughts flashed through my head but vividly I remembered thinking, "Could I continue on this trip without a guitar?"

Enough said 

A huge part of the trip was my songwriting and playing...was climbing enough? I don't think so...Music is becoming more important...I know this now. Val Masino had proved this.
No...climbing alone, was definitely not enough.
Strangely, we both didn't go berserk...we had envisioned this from the outset of the trip however reality was far more interactive and tangible. I could see and feel the broken glass scattered across the pavement. I could put my arm through the hole and into the van where glass once separated me from the outside world...The illusion, of safety, shattered implicitly...
...A GB van pulled into the ferry port...I thought about going to chat to them but decided against it.
I confessed my concerns to Greg, explaining that writing music and singing was equally important to me...I didn't know if I could make it without music for 3 months. He looked shocked that I said...I said that.
He said something to me which made me laugh..."A wise man once said, What your mind dwells upon your life manifest..." The tit! He used a quote, that I had created to cheer me up...haha! It worked, and he used it in context of needing to not think about it too much as it could happen again...self fulfilling prophecy. It was true. We needed to put it behind us and move on.
It could have been worse...the laptop would have been stolen if, if Greg never took it and we would have lost all our videos...that would have been devastating. Thry hadn't taken our terabyte so we still had the spirit of the trip captured on film.
I sat, with my foot through the broken window and the other on the dashboard, in quiet contemplation. No one was dead, I would still get inspiration and I could still write lyrics and place melodies down at a later stage...
"Are you Greg?" a voice called to my left. I turned to see a lady with her hand out, ready to greet me. She had a gentle, happy face and beamed a great big smile that distracted me from self loathing.
"Uh, I'm Chris, he's Greg", shaking her hand in confusement. She introduced herself as Sam and she said she had gone onto our blog to see what we were about...ironic as the same huge sticker, that probably attracted the burglars, also ignited her curiosity.
We got out the van and started chatting about what we were doing. She thought we were making a film or something which wasn't far from the truth.
we showed her the broken window and explained what what had happened. She was really sympathetic and offered us a beer. We said sure and followed her to her van.
I introduced myself to Justin, her partner, and were given a beer...we toasted to them and started sipping our beers and chatting.
It turns out that they are climbers too and actually live in Mallorca! How serendipitous!
Realising the predicament we were in they offer to help in any way they can. Hearing them say that was such a huge relief! We couldn't thank them enough as it felt like my whole world was collapsing and they offered stability and support...negativity was being replaced with positivity.
It never ceases to amaze me, how quickly things can turn around. Whenever we have needed help people have entered our lives to fulfil the need. I feel truly blessed!
Over the next few days we end up staying at Sam and Justins beautiful, rustic looking house.
I sleep out under the stars and watch the Heavens slowly revolve before my's hard to remain angry in such situations and PEACE overcomes me...

Thank you SO much Sam and Justin...everyone needs HEROES every now and then.

 Well that's pretty much it...not the usual Chris post (more descriptive) however I'm moving in a different direction so this post pretty much reflects this.

I'm currently in Mallorca with another amazing group of people (too blessed!), deep water soloing (climbing sea cliffs) and getting pumped and scared out of my mind! But loving it!

Hopefully there will be another update at some point but for now enjoy the videos and pictures.

Look after yourselves!!!

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