Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Italian Job

Coffee in Italy... the morning routine.

I'm back to the USA now, after a whirlwind tour of the Italian bouldering scene. We filmed at a few awesome places... Sassofortino was the first stop. This area hosts large grey boulders in a shady forest. Not a huge area, but it provided our crew with plenty to work on for the five days we spent there. Every day we hung out in the forest, filming and bouldering. Every evening we chose a different pizzaria to feast at. I managed to repeat my proud achievement of sucking out a candle... but the big award goes to Irene who on-sighted the feat. Rumor has it she can suck-start a Harley Davidson.

Sucking out a candle. Photo by Michele Caminati

Before leaving Tuscany we headed down to some natural hot springs called Saturnia. I accidently filmed a topless girl while doing a camera test. Honest. Then we filmed the conclusion of the film, with Cody signing off from Tuscany and making a very surprising announcement.

Hot Springs in Tuscany

Following this, we trucked up to northern Italy in Klemen's van. Klemen is from Slovenia and he owns a hold company called Samsara. He is one of Cody's long time friends and his company on the trip was really great. I'm a big fan of anyone who wakes up early and motivates people to get out to the crag, cause a movie about people sleeping in till noon is not going to be very exciting.

After we drove north from Tuscany, we needed a place to sleep for the night. Under normal conditions I would have just bivied on the ground, but on this night it was raining buckets and the wind was howling. There was - literally - no room at the inn, and so Klemen generously offered that we could all sleep in his van. I added his name onto the long list of people I owe a huge thanks to.

Nelson wakes up and does some break dancing.

Klemen wakes up after a long night in the van.

We went to Ceriola and collected footage of the sandstone blocs there. Ceriola is an area developed in part by Michele Caminati, whose enthusiasm and skill were a true pleasure to record. He is one of the most technically gifted climbers I've ever come across.

Early morning dew in Ceriola.

Stephanie Marvez and Cody warm up in Ceriola.

Great rock at Ceriola.

Over the next few days, we filmed with Lucas Preti, who has been buildering around his home in northern Italy for some time. I'm not going to give too much detail here, but, yes, that is a real Ferrari in Stephanie's glasses.

Lucas Preti

I'm starting to work with the footage now, laying out some rough edits. Still trying to figure out a title for the new video... I have a concept but not the exact word yet. I still have to do a bit of filming around the western US to complete the work, but I definitely feel like I'm on the home stretch now and am getting closer to catching the carrot.



Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Fred Nicole Interview

Today I had the opportunity to interview Fred for my film. I compiled all the questions asked here on my blog and we got through the vast majority of them in the time we had. Thanks to everyone who contributed by asking a question. Overall Fred was very candid and open and I feel like the interview really represents his feelings on all the topics discussed. The place we chose for the interview was quite special, as you can see from the pictures.

My time here in Switzerland is now just one more day, hopefully the weather will be good so I can try to climb.

I'll be speaking soon from Austria, and then shortly later from Italy. Stay tuned because it's about to get a little more hectic.



Friday, November 13, 2009


This is the view from the train as I rode from Lausanne to Zurich. Lac Leman and the Alps....

I'm just back to Zurich now from a few days spent in and around Lausanne. Vernayez was the bouldering area of choice and I came away from the day with a very good feeling about this small, occasionally very noisy, area. The peaceful day was interrupted occasionally by the nearby shooting range, where people discharge weapons that even an American would be proud of. I had a teriffic time shredding myself on the small crimps, and checking out a very difficult project from Reto Hartmann, a very active local developer.

Yet another great day in the forest, just climbing whatever looked good.

On-sighting a 7c boulder problem in Vernayez, CH.

Today Fred and I are heading out once again by train to see if there's some dry rock to climb. I'm slowly learning that perhaps the biggest difference between awesome climbers (Fred) and good climbers (myself) is that the awesome ones feel compelled to head out no matter what... even if it's just to climb a few moves and check on conditions, when the rest of us would be satisfied to surf Facebook and have a quick gym session.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Ask the man.

I'm in Switzerland at the moment, doing some filming and visiting friends. We climbed two days in the boulder wonderland of Chironico and I have to say the place is amazing. This was my fourth visit to Chironico and probably the most enjoyable one yet. We had cool fall temperatures and the forest floor was covered in thick gold leaves. I met Stephanie Marvez here, who is working in Switzerland at the moment, as well as two of her friends Irene and Martin. Our little crew went around climbing anything that looked good and we stayed out till dark on both days. I did tons of problems, one especially cool one called Rain Dogs. Yesterday the fog was rolling in and out as we were climbing, much like the whole valley was breathing slowly.

I filmed Fred Nicole recently on a extremely difficult problem that is a very unique style. Fred discovered the route with his friend Christof and after a very long time was able to send the problem, which is essentially a very long bouldering roof followed by a short sport route. The route moves like a boulder problem but is very long, similar to Witness the Fitness perhaps. Fred of course suggested no grade but when people see the footage I'm sure the speculation will be intense.

I had an idea and Fred agreed that it might be cool. I would like to open up my blog to have people write in and ask a question of Fred Nicole. I need to interview him anyways for the film, so I thought it might be a good opportunity for him to take questions from some other folks at the same time. I think one of the sad things about climbing is that often the leaders of the sport are simply those who make the most noise, not necessarily those who have the most to say. So... if you have a question you would like to ask Fred... now's your chance. I'll compile the questions and edit them for clarity, and then conduct the interview on Thursday or Friday this week. Feel free to reply to this post, or drop me an email at if you have something to ask. I'll include portions of Fred's interview in my next film, and I'll include the entire thing as an extra on the DVD, and then in the future I'll make it available for free on the web. If you ask a question, please include your real name. We'll include as many questions as possible in the time we have.

So ask away!


Monday, November 2, 2009

Heading out!

I'm getting ready to head back to Europe for a few weeks. I've got a massive docket of stuff to shoot, people to meet, and drinks to gedranken. Stay tuned here for some updates as I do my thing filming people doing their thing.