ChamWow

It’s been a long two weeks. It feels like we’ve slept on at least 10 different couches in about 5 countries, although 3 countries and 5 different beds is more accurate, along with over 3,000 miles of driving and lots of new friends.

IMG_1701
Jen eyeing up the first problem of the day.

The first leg of our trip was to Switzerland, more specifically Magic Wood. I’ve climbed there a lot over the last few years, and to tell you the truth before going this time I had some doubts about returning. It’s a great place, but can often be a little crowded and is actually pretty small – a big change from the places I’ve been bouldering of late. We did feel old in the campsite though,  especially when we had to ask the drunk teenagers to be quiet at 2am.

To cut a long story short, the extra effort I’ve been putting into my training appears to have paid off. Some of the moves I had previously deemed impossible are now possible and I came very close to a personal goal of font 8b in a session.

Me on One Summer in Paradise. Such high feet!
Me on One Summer in Paradise. Such high feet!

We knew we had a lot of camera work the next week so there are only two pictures from that Magic Wood stint. In all honesty it was kind of refreshing just to be carrying our climbing gear around the forest for a change. And we were soooo lucky to miss most of the rain!

After that of course we stopped off at Chalet Martin in Gryon, where Merlin was kind enough to climb for us in nothing more than pants, harness and helmet. What a guy. I can’t wait to see him flash his project one day.

Style points where style points are due.
Style points where style points are due.

On to Chamonix! This is where the real fun started. We were meeting our star at her place, which happened to have the best view in town, and as we pulled up in the perpetual Chamonix summer rain, Emily came out to greet us. I don’t think she’ll mind me saying she was looking a little worse for wear after being caught in a thunderstorm and flash flood a couple of days before whilst out multi-pitching – you can see why she was a good subject for a film about all the mishaps that have tried (but failed) to trip her up along her climbing career. Although I’m sure she wasn’t that psyched for our arrival after her latest epic, I could tell it was going to be a fun week.

Pitching a tent, Light Shed style.
Pitching a tent, Light Shed style.

But even if she wasn’t feeling well, Emily was amazing. She welcomed us into her home and patiently got on with it as we asked her to walk the same trail over and over until we nailed the shot, then the same boulder over and over… and then there was the road biking. Let’s just say the French aren’t the most patient of drivers.

Couldn't wipe the smile off her face.
Couldn’t wipe the smile off her face, even in oncoming traffic.

In the short time we were in Chamonix we filmed bouldering, hiking, camping, road biking, alpine climbing, training and kicking it back alpine style. And this was in 3 days of filming. Jen was nervous because it was one of her most ambitious shoots, but watching the rushes back, we all got pretty excited. Needless to say it’s hard to pull her away from the edit now.

But the highlight has to have been getting up into the big mountains. At 10,000 feet, the altitude was noticeable to say the least, the light was phenomenal, the landscape stunning, our guide very reassuring, and despite the glare of the snow we managed to nail the footage minutes before the fog set in.

Up high in the hills. Emily in her element.
Up high in the hills. Emily in her element.

I have to say, with crampons on your feet and an ice axe in your hand it’s hard not to feel like a bad ass. It was also pretty cool to mix it all up a bit and hang out with some people who are as in love with climbing as we are, but with a totally different kind of climbing. Who knows, maybe we’ll get a bit more into that alpine stuff.

Blazing a trail.
Blazing a trail.

Thanks Emily for all your help, and thanks to Mountain Equipment and BMC for the support. The film will be out soon on BMC TV.

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