With Mina in Switzerland

It’s Al!


Friday morning already seems like a long time ago. I woke up to Mina’s alarm in the other tent compartment at 6.30am having had little sleep due to a raging storm that had hit the valley over night. I always think it’s pretty cosy being in a tent in crazy weather, but this time my first thought was ‘bugger’. The rain must have soaked everything, and we had plans to film one last problem before we headed for home later that morning. Mina stuck her head out of the tent and asked what I thought we should do. On looking outside, we pretty much decided to pack it in because everything was wet and the clouds were low. But something told me to go check the problem we’d hoped to film, so I jogged off into Magic Woods to check if Super Nova was in anyway dry. I felt pretty light without the 20kg pack of camera gear on my back I’d been lugging around for the last three days, and as I looked over at the boulder we wanted, I couldn’t quite believe it. Yeah the last two holds were wet along with one section of the rail, but from what I’d witnessed earlier in the trip I was pretty sure Mina could handle it. I ran back to the tent and let everyone know it was dry. Al carried a pad, Stu brought his camera, Mina turned on the psyche and we filmed for one last hour before packing up and heading for GB.

A still from the early morning Super Nova sequence

That’s sort of been the gist of my short trip to Switzerland – things have threatened to go horribly wrong but at the last minute have worked out splendidly. I’d been trying to film with Shauna Coxsey for my project since April without success due to weather and life getting in the way, and as a last resort had booked a last minute ticket to meet her in Magic Woods. Then, three days before I was due to fly out she let me know that she’d broken her leg, and I felt defeated (I can’t imagine how she must have felt – speedy recovery!) I got in touch with Mina on the off chance that she might be up for taking part in the film, and on the off-off chance that she might be able to come to Magic Woods in a few days… we’d never met before… but three days later we were negotiating the motorways around Milan in a Fiat 500 Switzerland bound. Ain’t life grand.

Rhythmo, what a cool rock.
Lunch of athletes

Watching Mina climb was sort of a revelation to me. I knew she was strong of course but seeing her stick ridiculous move after ridiculous move time after time so I could switch angle etc was actually kind of mind-blowing. Within minutes I was both inspired to get training and asking myself what the hell I’d been doing all these years to be so far from that kind of power. The fact is Mina is talented, but she also puts in a mountain of work to get to that level, and most of all is just beyond psyched to climb stuff. And so polite! Making a climbing film is turning out to be an emotionally complex affair – a third of me gets mega inspired being around these awesome ladies, a third is psyched to be using my camera and all its associated toys (I well impressed some Swiss boys with my crane) but the other third is kind of wishing I was climbing too, because having a camera in your hand and a need to get footage in the can makes you quite the observer.

On Pirana (may have spelt that wrong)

Of course the other bonus of this trip was seeing a certain Alex Gorham who has spent the last month crushing a fair few things out there. He was our wonderful guide, taking us from boulder to boulder, helping Mina out with Beta and dodgy landings, cooking us dinner, carrying pads and basically being an all round super host. He’s back next week and I can’t wait.

Jack the Chipper.

So despite the world trying hard to stop me from filming the bouldering sequence for my film, now it’s safely on two computers and two hard drives, so take that! Now for the editing and training for El Capitan, just six weeks to go and it’s still raining hard outside. Oh well, I guess we’ll just have to go at it cold turkey!

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