Starting blocs- Fontainebleau.
For a while now i've thought that there has been a large gap in climbing media for a valuable insight to climbing for the average Joe, particularly in famous climbing venues.
Here myself and Max Ayrton present a collection of problems for everyone from kids to adults, from beginner to intermediate.
But remember not everything is simple in the wonderful forest of Fontainebleau!
Grey days in the mountains
So it finally happened, my image was one of a set that went viral over the past two days.
Also printed in the telegraph. But at the moment only buzz feed now correctly credits the author. Also check out the short clip of me and Lucy on the Chrysler building at the beginning of the video! Great times!!
Also check out Lucinda's website for more adventures- http://www.theeyeofsilence.com/
Lazy Stanage days
So my first trip out of the EU where will it be ?
New York it was!
I was set for some high flying adventures thanks to a tip off from Lucy about January sales on flights to the US
The usual extremely late booking and inevitable mishaps made the start of this trip slightly more fraught than it should have been though!
Unfortunately after 24 hours of jet lag and no adventures i went down with a chest infection and the scene was set for the next 8 days! Most night time activities were out of the window but with help from Moe we sampled some of the delights that the big apple had to offer...
Just a pointer for aspiring roof toppers.. don't wear a nice thick shirt and padded suit to walk up 50 flights of stairs, even in January it gets a little warm! The end scene from the film enchanted (yes i know, i was tricked into watching it honest) was set on this rooftop and the rooftop is the only good thing about the entire film. The Woolworth building has a beautifully placed abandoned viewing deck for those (explorers/cubical workers on fag breaks who manage to get lost) that want to sample the evening views!
Another day another bridge-less night, after getting up late and donning the suit once more we made our way to the most famous square in New York for a hotel stay, i say stay i mean more sit on top of! With more info from our main man, we found what we were looking for, a squeeze and there we were there...
After this my chest infection knocked me for 6 and i took a nice rest day (and bossed Moe's new book ) at the flat while Lucy went to visit friends. The next day was our main objective of the whole trip, to stand on the eagles of the Chrysler building. Moe set us up, all we had to do was navigate the building once past the barriers, walk up 60 storeys, climb out of a window and hope it all works out well!
With the main event over, and still nowhere near well enough to climb bridges we pottered about visiting people, exploring subway and the delights of bourbon with Steve Duncan, general mischief and great hospitality from Logan Hicks, meeting more people from Australia, doing rooftops and eating burritos with Cat, yet more tunnels with Lucy, and to top it off a great leaving meal with all the guys we had stayed with and met over the past few days (minus Moe aka prince.)
It was a belting trip, it was a shame to not have managed to do more with our time, but that's all part of the game right? With thanks to Steve D, Logan hicks & Kristen & Sailor, Cat, Pearl, Max power and most of all the big daddy for letting us crash at his, making us feel welcome and all the info and help that he gave us... Mr Moses gates!
Ps. Sorry for the (awful) water marks but if this is true id rather be safe than sorry ... http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/04/29/err_act_landgrab/
International Drainer Meet 2013
The IDM is always a fun time, to catch up with explorers from around the world old and new and of course to visit new drains! An early flight to Bergamo the morning before the event was the plan, hire a car, see some sights before driving to Brescia to see the rest of the group.
On arrival, we met our first hurdle a €1000 deposit for the hire car, now being under 23 is a bit of a pain it seems, so we quickly changed the driver to Keitei for only a €250 deposit and we were on our way! Now the normal sites were seen, turbines and derps, alarms and gas holders a nice eclectic mix of urban exploration!
After arrival in Brescia, and at the bar where i had first met Andrea, Nina and Marco in 2010 now decked out with Brescia underground paraphernalia.
Soon the party was moved underground, there is nothing like the sound of a thumbing sound system in an underground tunnel to get your heart beat racing. This years IDM out did anything ive ever seen before, from a Dj booth, lights, and campari on tap, everything concreted my opinion that the Italians are some of the most hospitable people ive ever met. With a mixture of campari, wine, no food in 24 hours and an hours sleep on the plane my camera was soon forgotten and the more important activity of catching up with old friends was at the forefront of my mind
With the inevitable end to the night, and morning group pizza, we left Brescia as even more snow began to fall. With the prospect of another night sleeping rough or in the car, we booked into "flower hostel Milano" kids, NEVER go here. This hostel was simply a building site owned by gypsy mafia (well, something similar).
Glad to get back out on the streets we headed for the restaurant where we were meeting Luca for our last supper of authentic Italian cuisine and after for the most amazing Gelato i have ever had!
We said our goodbyes to Luca and the rest of our party that were leaving that night, and to the other that were leaving early the next morning and with my passport and wallet under my sack, we bed down for the night.
The entire of the next day was taken up with botched attempts at daylight train yards and a very long, very slow journey south in yet more snow.
Now the mountains in North Tuscany might not be hugely tall but I've never seen so much snow in real life before! With breaks in driving taken up with me perfecting my post holing technique for further mountain adventures it was a blessing to be greeted in Florence by a clear sky and full moon, perfect for drains! Drains and here then it was time for the age old explorer tradition of getting drunk and kipping in the car outside explores, this time, Non-plus-ultra was the failed objective....
With a quick call back home and some help from Gina Soden and Doug Forrest we mad our way in the mist and sun through the woods into this magical building, magical is simply the only way to describe it! We spent a couple of hours walking around in awe at the architecture, but as time was getting on, and our flight time nearing we decided to grab some food and make one last pit stop before going home!
Villa Sbertoli was such a let down after Non plus ultra, fantastic in its own right but still not to be partnered with something so unique.
The International Drainer Meet 2013 was such a huge event, amazing to see so many faces old and new, with thanks to all of the Brescia underground particularly Andrea and Giacomo and Luca for being as awesome as ever and organizing an amazing couple of days for everyone! See everyone next year?!
Find out more about my antics here.