The adventure continues:- Southern Style, Southern Comforts and Southern Pump…………….

This is our first day without power and there is a chill in the air as I walk out to the kitchen from my sensational sleeping bag, Sea to Summit have excelled making me comfortable in this dark house that is powerless to warm even its exterior at the moment. I light the gas burners on the cooktop and hope that they will take the edge off this cold Kentucky morning and help raise my enthusiasm.

Chilly Kentucky morning
Chilly Kentucky morning

Oh well today is a rest day and we are happy that its Wednesday, it means the Rockhouse opens at 12pm and lunch will be burritos and Kale salad Barbacoa, life is truly good in the gorge and we are settling into a great rhythm. We even have our own little nuances for our morning ritual. I have my black coffee and Monique has her cups of tea and then off to do our washing.

The laundromat provides an insight into life in Stanton Kentucky and allows us to find out from the locals where the “best” coffee in town is. with a thick southern accent “Bruen’s Restaurant down back yonder, “best in town!” We put on our washing and head straight down back yonder to find a cream brick building that looks like closed down ten years ago with a faded memory of Bruen’s Restaurant on the exterior wall. This is where we are going for breakfast and Monique and I put on our sceptics hats and head towards the door.

Bruen’s is old Kentucky at its finest. I feel like I have walked in to the opening scene of a movie and I am about to these famous words “ya ain’t from round here, are ya? But it didn’t come. Its awesome,… the old men are sitting with their gaudy cowboy shirts on and baseball caps and their wives are sitting silently beside them. The men exchange pleasantries while the women just nod……..I find this very amusing, yet somewhat sad that life in Stanton is like this. Ironically these people all seem really happy. They are interacting as they have for decades and there is a contentment I feel as I watch this scene.

Hmmmmm........Pancakes and bacon!
Hmmmmm……..Pancakes and bacon!

Monique and I both order the Pancakes. Mon’s plain as they are with maple syrup and butter and I dive in and get bacon as well. Looking forward to a good hearty meal, Monique says surprisingly “Look at  the price! We figured we would pay about ten bucks for our breakfast combined including bottomless coffee. In Australia we would pay thirty five dollars for a breakfast like this, but given the socio economic situation in Stanton and the surrounding areas, ten bucks is reasonable I guess.

We head back to the Laundromat to check on our washing and it is almost dry, Mon did a dryer run to put our clothes in the spin dryer while her second coffee was cooling and posted a letter. We had about ten minutes to go before our clothes were ready and we were the only people in the place.

Monique eyeing off the washing trolley.
Monique eyeing off the washing trolley, whilst texting.

All of a sudden I see Monique trying to figure out how she can jump in the washing trolley and proceed to ride it down the main floor. This had to be done and we decided to put one foot in the trolley and ride it. It is on video and may well be available to view, pending Monique agreeing to post it. I realise at this point in time my climbing partner is as cheeky as she is strong and wants to play. So from this day forward we are in silly mode where we can be and have as much fun as possible when possible. We then head up to Lexington for some supplies and to kill a couple of hours in our rest day.

Yep!........somethings just have to be done!
Yep!……..somethings just have to be done!

We head to the Rockhouse for a relaxing afternoon and chill before going over to Olivia’s for dinner and to farewell our Spanish friends as they journey home to continue on another wonderful life adventures. Dani and Marionna have been a delight to spend time with. They are fun and willing to get involved in whatever is happening. Twice during this week we have been at Joel and Mel’s place and Dani has walked outside after dinner with a big smile, looked at Joel and I and said in this excited voice “Jacuzzi Time!” and it was strip down to your underwear and in the hot tub we go. Apart from it simply being fun it was a great way to unwind after solid days of climbing.

I have felt very humbled to be in this situation and this place with such an amazing array of vertically impressive talent. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would climb with, be inspired, coached and motivated by such great people. I was gob-smacked to belay Dani on a suspected first ascent; Southern Pump 5.14c (8c+) was a link up of the classics Southern Smoke and Fifty Words for Pump both 5.14c . This was a sensational ascent by an incredible athlete.

First ascent of Southern Pump 5.14c (8c+)
Suspected first ascent of Southern Pump 5.14c (8c+)

When Dani showed me this line he said “Craig, its logical no?” I never thought I would hang out with this guy and his gorgeous partner Marionna Marti; also an incredible climber who made me smile and laugh a lot during our first week in Kentucky. So amazingly accepting and accommodating of the newbie in the ranks.


The adventure continues:- Reflections in “The Red” and BEAR up head!

Since landing in the US and living in Austin I have been waking up with a sore back and having to stretch it out everyday just to really get moving, but not in Kentucky. I have no idea what changed apart from the bed I am sleeping in. I know I feel the same. I am doing a bit more hiking about but all in all nothing majorly different. I will not draw conclusion on the change, however it is a wonderful thing not to have back pain for the first time in months.

Monique has been a wonderful tour guide during the first few days and I have been in the navigators seat; not that Mon required any assistance with directions as her comfort with where we were headed each day was exceptional. I decide its time to suck it up and take the drivers seat, there is a tentativeness that I have not experienced for a while, however I figure it can’t be that difficult to drive on the wrong side of the car, and on the wrong side of the road.

Driving north today for the first time to check out Military Wall I now understand my tentativeness. Its not the driving that gets you, its the cars coming the other way. It totally freaks you out initially. Arriving at the car park and ready for another new crag and a new walk in. We cross the road to the trailhead and there it is! A big yellow sign that I did not want to see. Clearly stated in black paint as to not miss the message are the words “Beware: Bears frequent this area.” I’m stoic on the outside and the inside is going “are you fucking serious!!!” As we walk through the forest feeling hyper-vigilant, I notice just how truly stunning it is. The moss covered rotting tree trunks, the massive lichen covered boulders, wild iris’s growing on the trail edge and hanging moss (like santa’s beard) I think its called father christmas or something like that.

As we enter the cliff-line there are a couple of guys who I recognise from the day before. We have a quick look up at Military Wall and there are multiple parties already very much coveting every line on it. We head back to the smaller wall and do a couple of 5.9 (18) classics of the crag. We wander up to the main wall again and I politely ask the guys on the 5.11 (22) if they will be on the route for long and if it was possible to do a quick layoff it if they were staying on it.

The route was called “Fuzzy Undercling” and it looked great. The leader of the pack, who’s name unfortunately escapes me right now seemed a really decent fellow and was happy for us to jump in. Even offered us their rope to use to save time and hassle. so I tie in and look at the start of this route. I am little perplexed at the start as it does not look anything like 5.11a moves. This bouldery little event ended up throwing me back to the ground with a disrespect that I had only received working on a project back in Oz with a business colleague. I try again and I can’t see it……shut down before getting off the ground…….humbled and shitty I jump on again and pull the first three moves and then say “TAKE!”

I really wanted to spend sometime on this route, but as the gents who’s gear we were using had been so polite I thought otherwise and just pulled through and sent the rest of the route and came down. Monique pulled on and found it a little harder than 5.11a and she sent the route in good style and we packed up and trundled back to the car. on the way back Monique was telling me that the guys had informed her about a route that we should go and do a little farther north called “Twinkie” a five star 5.12a (24).

The name of the sector and crag didn’t sink in to my overloaded mind when talking about it, however I now recall Phantasia Wall clearly. The cliff is visible from the road and I spy a very cute bottom hanging from a rope and hear the words “I cant pull this move, its too long for me.” As we approach the young lady gets back on the wall and pulls through what seems to be a fairly simple move for her. I smile to myself remembering that we all started somewhere and its sometimes the mental game that is the greatest limiter. It has caused me a slow progression in many pursuits for many years. Realisation is the key of change, you just need to start the engine and put your foot down.

We ask a couple of people if they can point us to where “Twinkie” is located and they respond with “Just follow the cliff-line down to the right.” As we walk down and around a corner we both see a belayer standing on this ledge about 8 metres off the deck and he is firing words of encouragement up at his partner who is sending the route. As Monique and I survey the wall in unison we look at each other and smile. We are standing underneath a twenty eight metre high wall with approximately eight to ten metres of 5.10b (21) slab climbing and the rest of the wall is pocketed jug haul at thirty degrees. This route looks like so much fun and fortunately for us the guys on it were just finishing up and said that we could use the draws on it if we cleaned it.

Monique tied in and smiled at me as she took off up the slab, excited to be on such an amusement park of a line. All the way through she was just stating the level of excitement and how much fun she was having and this was awesome to hear. She cruised the route but she was working a little for it and as I lowered her off she was grinning from ear to ear saying “You are going to love this!”. I love that she gets that excited about routes like this. Its awesome.

Monique on Twinkie 5.12a and a man on a ledge.
Monique on Twinkie 5.12a and a man on a ledge.

We headed back to the house to do something. Its not important right now. As we drove back down from the north gorge it became apparent that I had taken a wrong turn and we were headed through the back roads of The Daniel Boone Reserve in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountain range. This half an hour detour was one of the most beautiful drives I have ever experienced. This place is truly beautiful and in the spring it is so green and lush with colour you don’t need your sexy polarised sunglasses, but if you do happen to have them, put them on its like being in a surreal scene in James Cameron movie. I cant wait to return here in the fall (autumn) to see the trees change and spread their red and orange glow through the gorge.

Oh yeah, when we arrive back at the house there are a couple of boxes that have arrive for Monique and she is really excited. Her new sponsor has excelled and delivered some awesome apparel for her to wear whilst we are here in Kentucky. I hear her sing out to me saying the fridge light isn’t working. I check the light switch in the living room and nothing. The power is gone….where the hell is the switchboard and will I be able to recognise anything on it.

Finding the board and surveying its layout i reset the switches and hope that it will work. No such luck. The power company have turned the power off and we are in the dark….literally. There is only one thing to do. Lets go climbing!  Drive-by Crag is the destination and the route is “Spank” aka “Ticka Monster” 5.13a (28) and the belayer is me.

This is how it all started.
This is how it all started.

Monique wanted to get on this and I was fried. I had been feeling a little out of sorts all day so I said “Lets go and do it.” She tied in and off she went up through the spoogy undercut to the ledge rested for a few minutes and then out to clip the fourth and up. Monique’s skin was pretty mashed on her fingers and she had taped up where she could without it impacting her contact points.

The humidity in the afternoon at Drive-by is pretty bad in the spring But Mon sent the route second shot and in stunning form. I did a route called “Make a Wish” 5.10b (20) and dedicated the send to a rescue worker who was known to a guy I know in Austin and had died doing her job. It was the least I could do when he asked me to dedicate a climb to her. Another great day in “The Red” with the exception of no power at the house. I laugh as I write this and recall the thought of squatting in a house that has no power. We do however have gas and an open fire place. We decide to spend another rest day at the Rockhouse tomorrow and head into Stanton to grab some candles and a few boxes of matches to get us through the next few days.

It is important for me to remember that I am climbing a lot in the next twelve months or so and I should climb some crag classics and not spend the two weeks we have had currently, trying to tick a single project. We are in “The Red” and there are thousands of routes to get on.

We’ll be wonkered at The Chocolate Factory

Heading off to yet another new crag called The Chocolate Factory. There are two routes there I have decided to do and now is the time. We walk through the beautiful smelling forest on a cool morning, a little fresh but pleasing as the friction on rock will be stellar and after all my hands still feel a little tender. On the way in we pass other humans warming up and a dog barks incessantly notifying its boss of our presence. Monique and I both comment on the barking and hope it does not continue. Makes me think of how obedient my little mutt is and just how much I miss Molly.

Molly - The coolest dog in the world!
Molly – The coolest dog in the world!

Standing at the base of a crag classic “Hip to the Jive” 5.11b (22) I look up at this great looking stemming problem that leans out over my head and this is the warm up. Its an old skool outing for the first five bolts and then its into the pockets on a slightly over-hanging face to the anchors. I don’t remember who put the draws on, but I fall off at the crux first shot.

We leave the draws on and wander around to another sector to locate the routes Monique wants to warm up on. A route called “Hookah” 5.12a (24) if memory serves correctly. After Mon come back to earth I wander over to “One Side Makes you Taller” 5.11a (22) and put the draws on and at the top find out that the anchors have been placed in the most ridiculous place possible and I take the fall. Monique comments that the crux should not be clipping the anchors as I lower off, a little disappointed that I sent the route bar clipping badly placed anchors. I was also as pumped as all hell….hahahaha….rather soft really, next time suck it up ya’ pussy. Monique jumps on “Malice” 5.12c (25) and a five star classic for her next warm up. It is really wonderful to be able to watch how Monique does what she does and have the conversations we do about the process of improving what we do. The reoccurring theme is body position…..body position.

We have a bite to eat and then we are off down the trail to a line called “Pure Imagination” 5.14c (34) and Monique’s fun for the day. She was super psyched to get on this line and check it out. She was talking about it regularly on our rest days. Its great to see the same excitement in her eyes is how I feel about the routes I choose to get on. I am stoked to be able to belay her on such a classic route. It is all about the process again and I am on belay watching one of the worlds best sports climbers execute her craft, truly inspiring to say the least.

We are told about a newly developed sector further to the right of where we are and we head round to run into Nick Duttle a pro climber from Colorado and a his buddy Brandon a local tobacco-chewing vertical beast. Monique susses out a route there and seems really keen to try it; “Silky Smooth” 5.13c (30) a steep over-hanging face on some incredible rock with solid technical moves. She works the route and figures out her sequences through the crux and pushes through to the anchors. Lowering off I see Monique is suitably impressed with the line and she smiles as she touches down, only to be warned by Nick that there is a Copperhead snake living near where she is…..not too thrilled to hear this, Monique scampers up to the belay ledge and feels a little relieved that she didn’t meet it.

Returning to the first route of the day to collect my quick-draws and have another shot, I tie in and focus on my red-point attempt, thinking through the crux visualising how I need to move to tick this great line. As I move up I feel my body clearly kicking into the movement I require to be graceful and still remain solid. I love this style of climbing and it makes me smile as I continue up. Getting a good rest before hitting the crux is key and I find a reasonable rest to shake my hands out and get my breathing to slow. Monique is being encouraging and sprouting words of support. Moving into the first pocket on the steep face my body responds and my core locks off trying to get me closer to the wall. I feel the pump start to kick in again. Seeing the anchors looking down at you two bolts away is a real motivator when you are starting to feel lactic acid burn all the way through your arms and into your shoulders. I am going and I have six moves to pull through. Fighting all the way to the anchors I tick my second project for the day.

Hip to the Jive 5.11a and crag classic at the grade.
Hip to the Jive 5.11b and crag classic at the grade.

Very happy………………….. I need burgers and beer.

We head over to the cabin where Olivia, Melissa, Joel and the kids are staying and hangout for a while and abuse the hell out of their free WiFi, eat Tim Tams and generally have a lovely time with these really awesome people. I can’t say it enough, they are some of the world’s “good humans”.

My own private tour of the best crags in “The Red”

Off to a new crag again. Monique was definitely giving me the guided tour of the best crags in the gorge and we were at Drive-by crag for the day. In very capable hands I jump on the 5.10a crag classic Breakfast Burrito and get the on-sight as the warm up. Next is a relatively new line called Brave New World, to the right of the burrito. It goes 5.10b and as I investigate it appears to be a very “Old Skool” line and I am excited about this as its not really my style. I jump on and within the first ten moves am sitting on the rope thinking “what just happened and where do I go?”

The Author on the "Old Skool" Brave New World at Drive-by Crag.
The Author on the “Old Skool” Brave New World at Drive-by Crag.

After looking around a bit more I jump back on and send the route…….its a fine addition to the wall according to the locals and I tend to agree; really stylised climbing on great rock. Next is Whip Stocking 5.11a at Monique’s recommendation and I look up at this beautiful slightly overhanging 22 metre face and it looks bloody sensational….now I am excited and intimidated all at once, this is what I like. The climbing was steep, pumpy goodness on vertical plates and Hueco style pockets and buckets. I did not expect to on-sight this route and I was ecstatic, this was a great way to build my confidence and get my motivation back…….I think Monique knew I was excited on the trip home in the car. The last route of the day was Naked Lunch 5.12a (24), this was a glorious route and as I got to the crux my hands just opened up and there I was sliding off, what fresh would have been bomber…..not so today.

So we had planned to have two rest days to recover from the initial onslaught of crags and routes that we had hit in the first four days of our journey and this was indeed the super smart thing to do. Monique and I seemed pretty happy to go up to Lexington and hit up Whole Food Markets for some rations and have a look around a little bit……but not too much.

We seemed keen to get to the Rockhouse and just hangout, as there was work and emails to be taken care of. The people working there have realised we are going to be regulars by this stage and when we walk in they are so incredibly welcoming and really interested it seems in how our day was and whether or not we are enjoying our time. There is only so much coffee you can drink and so much food you can eat sitting in one place for hours, but the staff just seem happy that we are there and are great fun to talk to and interact with.

The Rockhouse Crew..........that is all!
The Rockhouse Crew……….that is all!

Lila is a fresh-faced natural beauty, blue-eyed blonde southern gal and with a drawl that just makes your heart soar, she is the first person I meet going through the door on our first night there and her first words are “Hello Darrrrlin!”. She is Kentucky born and raised, hails from Georgetown and she is in the gorge climbing and working. Initially living out of her truck with her dog Boomer like a good dirtbag climber does.

Lila living the awesome dirtbag life..........she now lives in a house.......Wow!
Lila living the awesome dirtbag life……….she now lives in a house…….Wow!

Monique and I are loving the food they serve and I begin devouring two burgers a night and a plate of fries; however my dislike of pickles on burgers is welcomed by Monique as she quickly absorbs them. The amount of climbing we are doing makes my appetite rage into the night.

You really do just have to put it out there – Good Humans!

We went over to catch up with Olivia Hsu, a friend of Monique’s and a lady I had heard wonderful things about; she was staying with some friends of hers at a cabin nearby us. I have to say I have not been greeted with such open arms into peoples lives. Joel and Melissa are two of the good people in the world and Olivia is just lovely. So open and accommodating and totally welcoming in every way. We dropped off the delivery of Tim Tams for Liv and were on our way to the Sanctuary in the Muir Valley. We were meeting up with the crew to climb there but we got out earlier than they did and warmed up on Indy Wall, a beautiful vertical/slightly overhanging face of crimps and pockets from 10a to 12c.

Once the crew had arrived it was game on for these truly strong creatures. It was great to watch and learn and see how they worked the routes and remembered sequences that I couldn’t quite see. The day was filled with laughter and shouts of “Venga!!……VENGA!!!” as everyone inspired, perspired and aspired to ticking their chosen line. Monique was keen to get on a great looking route called “Prometheus Unbound” 5.13a. From memory the crux was about halfway up the route and was a technical sequence through a series of pockets (I remember Monique saying “Pockets aren’t my favourite thing”) and then more hard climbing to the anchors. It was awesome to watch as this powerful athlete goes through the process and dig deep to get the send. I learned a lot from this lady. I am so pleased I made the original phone call asking if she would come climbing with me. You really do just have to put it out there.

This is the day I met Brent Bishop, Olivia’s friend and climbing buddy. He was just a great bloke from the outset……funny, confident and with an unusually un-american shit-stirring nature. The guy impressed me, not only because he could take shit, but he could give shit! He was hilariously dry and great to be around. Brent and I wandered back to the “easy” part of the crag to knock off an 11c (23) that I wanted to red-point and he was keen to get on it for a lap. Brent hadn’t climbed much sport before being a “Trad Lad” was more his bag from what he said and he wasn’t a blouse wearing nancy sports climber……this made me laugh and I responded with “so you only climb 10’s then right?” and we both just laughed and it was on from there. Great day indeed hanging with “Good Humans”.

Good Humans!
Good Humans and I (left) – Brent you were sorely missed this night.

We were having dinner at the Rockhouse diner; this place is a bastion of solitude on a quiet night after a big day of climbing and Monique and I tucked into our respective meals with great enthusiasm, devouring every morsel of the plate of “fries” and a grass-fed burger and Mon’s kale salad with Barbacoa (marinated pulled beef). Brent and Olivia appear outside the window and came in and join us for dinner and a great night of chit-chat about generally cool life stuff and our experiences.

When we arrived home Dani and Marionna had just arrived home and were playing this “Gin-rummy” type game they had brought with them, so we hangout and Monique and Marionna teamed up and played down the challenge……..I will say clearly that I was a passive participant initially just getting my head around the idea of the game, not being a card game player at all. Monique jumped right in and it was on…I was absolutely no help to Dani as he was copping it from the girls.

Good night Kentucky!

Turning to the Dark Side – An incredible wall of pockets and crappy edges (some say they are great!)!

“The Solar Collector”. This crag is a stunning 80 foot long 50 foot high wall of late 10’s (20/21), 11’s (22-23) and 12’s (24-27). bouldery, sloppy, pocketed steepness that will love you until you fall.

Solar Collector - Great climbing all the way along this steep wall.
Solar Collector – Great climbing all the way along this steep wall.
RRG Green horn red-pointing the 3 star classic Green Horn 5.11a.
RRG Green horn red-pointing the 3 star classic Green Horn 5.11a.

We wandered over to the Dark Side to check out a route Mon was interested in trying called “The Return of Darth Maul”. When we got there I was totally convinced that this was the steepest thing I had ever seen……..this was the shit!

Nick Duttle on
Nick Duttle on “The Unknown Route.” – The Dark Side, RRG.

Ignore anything you have dreamed of and stare up at this absolutely incredible wall of pockets and crappy edges (some say they’re good). The warm up is 12a (24) and then its game on. It is truly insane watching so many people climb so hard all the time. They just keep coming and keep climbing all day. I feel weak and unmotivated, although I am not.

Ominous and beautiful, the Red is an ever-changing spectacle.
Ominous and beautiful, the Red is an ever-changing spectacle.

As I top off another double bourbon during the “waiting period” in Lexington’s Bluegrass Airport, I wonder what will the fall season be like if I go back to the gorge and really give it some serious stick. I feel 5.12c is soooooo close regardless of my first visits outcomes. The psyche I am feeling is wonderful and my hands are fatigued but feel stronger for being there.

Hey Monique! Its Craig. Do you want to go climbing with me in The Red? One phone call was all it took.

I have just said goodbye to my climbing partner of two weeks; Monique Forestier, yep I have been climbing with one of the worlds best female sports climbers in the Red River Gorge in Kentucky. Saying goodbye brought tears to my eyes as the good times over the last fort-night flooded back as she walked away to board her flight back to her husband and daughter in Australia who have been missing her dearly.

Day one in the gorge began with a serious introduction to the area with a quick trip to the house that we were staying at; to find out that the house keys were not where they were supposed to be. So we got in touch with a friend of Monique’s to find out where the keys were and discovered that they were with the other people staying in the house… a crag known as “The Motherlode”. Monique says “lets go climbing” I’m saying “Hell Yeah!!”

So off we trundle to the crag…..We walk for a good ten or fifteen minutes and all of a sudden I walk into the most amazing natural amphitheatre that I have ever seen….this place is intimidating and beautiful. It is immense. Monique says “Lets warm up on this!” I’m like yep sure thing; I am in your hands. So my initiation to the Motherlode was a 5.12a route called Chainsaw Massacre; ironic given that I had just flown in from Texas. I have never “warmed up” on 7a+ (24) in my life. Welcome to “The Red” Craig. Monique put the draws on and I got on this beast with a view to warming up…………well guess what buddy, you only need the first four draws to do that. 70ft of climbing, six bolts, 35 degree overhanging face……….get your game on mate or you’ll be fucked.

Monique harnessing up at the base of Chainsaw Massacre 5.12a.
Monique harnessing up at the base of Chainsaw Massacre 5.12a.
The Beast in all its glory - Chainsaw Massacre......the warm up.
The Beast in all its glory – Chainsaw Massacre……the warm up.

After taking a whipper at the fifth that pulled Monique almost through the first draw, I continued up through the next two draws and I was so absolutely flamed. I came down and rested and Monique did another lap. In the meantime we caught up with Monique’s friends Marionna and Dani. I was standing in the presence of one of the worlds great modern sports climbers and one of my climbing heroes. I had never ever contemplated even meeting Dani Andrada; it wasn’t on the radar. But here we were at a crag in the gorge talking about what the moves on the route he was trying may look like and what I thought of it………WTF!!!!!

Dani Andrada cruising up a 8a+ (5.13c) at the Motherlode in RRG, KY.
Dani Andrada cruising up a 8a+ (5.13c) at the Motherlode in RRG, KY.

I gave  Chainsaw another shot and got all the moves second shot with one rest only to be denied the anchors and take a 8 metre whipper as I reached them. Monique ended up in the first draw again……….this was not the way forward and anchoring becoming the practice for the rest of our trip.

As I sit in Lexington’s Bluegrass Airport reflecting on this initiation to “The Red” there is a sense of achievement rushing through my veins and a smile of contentment. I have done something that I had dreamed of doing for a few years now. I think about a quote from a Dan Millman book “The Way of the Peaceful Warrior”……….what time is it? Now!!! Where are you? Here!!! For the first time in a long time I was exactly where I wanted to be. I was travelling…….Living a life less ordinary. This realisation is overwhelming and humbling all at once; I AM HERE!! and it is NOW!!!

Our first night at the house was settling in and getting to know each other and how it was all going to work. The Spaniards were already settled and had things sorted….Mon and I were the new crew and needed to find our spots and feet. The house we were staying in was owned by one of the climbing worlds great photographers, no not Simon Carter…….the other guy…..what’s his name Keith Ladzinski…..yeah thats it! Fuck old age is a curse……LMFAO. I am so not old at all. The night was filled with laughs and silliness and I thought if this is night one; we are on a good thing.