Once upon a time – it must have been somewhere in midst of the eighties – I was born. It would be dishonest to say, I could remember anything, but it must have been quite shocking. (Hard to say if it is more difficult to go from life to eternity or to be thrown from eternity among the living…) Well, now I am here. I don’t regret things I haven’t decided.
About twenty five years later my mother said to me: “You always have been a normal kid, until you started to climb.” I was a rather sad kid with a clear omega standing in my in-group. Is this normal? Maybe. At least for a not that small part of us.
I always had climbed a little bit with my father who is a mountain guide, but I always had had too many fears to enfold my non existing potential. So at the age of 14 I decided to face this omega side of my personality and to train every day. I bought a finger board and after six months of daily blocking exercises I did my first pull up. Which joy! A realm of bliss! One day I would be a great climber! (8b or something like this.)
By then – in 1999 – and with my first pull up to bolster me, I entered into the sixth French grade. I still was terribly afraid of the sharp end of the rope, even with 1m-spaces in between the quick draws in the gym, but I was psyched like hell and I had read in a book: “If you really believe in yourself, you can achieve everything!”
Six years later I sent my first 8c (The Soft Parade in Kochel, Bavaria) that in the next guidebook to come (2017) will be upgraded to 8c+ without a single repetition (or due to this). I was 20 years old and I wasn’t afraid any more. Not of the sharp end of the rope and not of having been thrown into this world. It rather felt pretty good.
Other climbers have reached their zenith at this age. But I was training few, never have touched a campus board in my life and consumed a lot of anti inflammatory substances. Thus my body didn’t feel used at all and I was still improving rapidly. After moving to the French speaking part of Switzerland in 2006, I climbed A muerte (medium-soft-lower-end-9a) with 22 and my first barrier 9a (Force du rapport, Charmey) in 2010 with 25.
It was in the same years as well, that to the causal climbing passions like hanging around, travelling, learning languages and people from all over the world, sleeping in caves, cooking on fire or taking one year off every three years, came the lust for writing, photography and videos. The first distillate of all this was our coffee table book: Passion verticale (Geoquest, 2012). And from there on a lot of articles, videos, cooperations with the television and so on.
My climbing development had been rather stable up to this point (and my life rather chilled), but then I had the (unconscious) idea to freak it up a little bit. After the birth of our first son in 2012, I got fat. At least quite fat. From 63kg with 20 years I fed and drank myself up to 78kg in the end of 2013. My performances stagnated over some years and by 2014 I got myself a bone marrow oedema that knocked me off six months. I was sure my climbing career was over. And I didn’t mind that much, as after finishing my masters degree in Psychology I was writing a 1000 pages novel. This was psyching like in the very first years of climbing.
But with the help of Andreas Schweizer (the first doctor I saw in ten years) I got back into climbing. I had lost 5kg of muscles (and already nearly looked like a writer), but with some changes in my nutrition (thanks to the advices of Damian Cholley from Maiday) I would loose another five kilos of fat until the end of 2014.
Living in a yurt (Mongolian house tent), having a daughter and a girlfriend studying medicine without a single semester of delay, by I became a boulderer (a little bit of necessity). And by lack of time, the motivation to live with an ecological foot print of less than 1, but as well by the discovery of the some genius sand stone boulders at the Cousimbert just 10km away from Fribourg in Switzerland, where we were living. Over eight months and 35 sessions of steady progression, I pushed myself to Drop a line (8C+) in April 2015 (and another five boulders up from 8B) and in summer I sent Des scènes bizarres dans la mine d’or (9a+, Jansegg).
Came the time to leave Switzerland after almost ten years with my biggest project in Charmey still undone. The plan was to visit the wedding of a friend in Ladakh/India, take a ship to South America and then live some time in Bavaria again. Fortunately the four of us got terribly ill in the Himalayas and we had to return home earlier with six weeks to climb in Charmey one last time. Two days before the ship to Patagonia left, I could send Meiose, my first 9b after some 300 tries, in a last lucky punch.
I had turned 30 and I had to believe that this was the end of progression. (Science says so.) We passed seven months in Patagonia, sending the first 9a of the continent, but I was only slightly stronger than before. The next 10 months in Bavaria were filled by bouldering a lot in my garden, beginning a lot of projects in Kochel and Charmey and coming really close to La cène du lézard (9b) in Jansegg but then we left for a second tour in South America with our bus, that had stayed in Uruguay.
During the trip I turned 32 and normally four months on 4000m with intense climbing would more or less kill you. But they didn’t. I played the Altiplano game with extreme success and pushed myself to not only one 8c+, three more 9a and the first 9a+ of Latin America (all in between 3600m and 4300m). But realised that with four kilos less after the extremely intense living and climbing in the harsh conditions of the high altitude, I was hiking in my projects back home. A new level again 🙂 And a lot of things to do!