Monday, 24 November 2014

Redemption: The James Pearson Story

My first reaction on seeing the title of this film was one of hilarity. Basically everybody I talked to about it creased in fits of laughter at what has to be one of the most ridiculous titles ever to grace the box of a climbing film. With a title like that and James Pearson's history of ascents weighed down by heavy North Face stickers, my hopes weren't exactly high as I snuggled into my cinema seat - "This should be a laugh".

It seems to be the season for ultra-personal and uncomfortably revealing stories of climbers as flawed people. Call it negativity or realism, it doesn't really matter. It's a bit weird, but at least it's something a bit new I suppose. Did it work? I really think it did as an explanation of his motives. Personally, I totally agreed with James from the outset -  you should grade things what you think they are and don't worry too much if you inadvertently claim to be the best climber in the world, only later to be proved wrong. This film spelled that out for people who didn't already get it and I think James came across as someone you wanted to give a big hug, seemingly a chap with good motives very deep down, who somehow lost his way in the world of ego and confirmation.

There are some moments of fantastic comedy. Whether it's the revelation that the Pearsons' marriage is based on an error in translation, the hilarious contributions of UKC editor Jack Geldard, or a bizarre moment in which a gremlin-like Dave Macleod appears out of the bushes, there's plenty of comic relief in what is otherwise a fairly serious saga of regret.

Unfortunately for me, the main question surrounding all of this was the one of sponsorship. As the narrative of the film pointed out (with interest), sponsorship isn't cool. Overgrading routes and therefore receiving sponsorship as a result is really not cool and the film did nothing to remedy this. It wasn't the film's fault, but rather the fact that James continues to make money from having overgraded a series of routes - even if that exposure is now coupled with penance. As an armchair pundit it seems quite clear - if he cares enough to make a film about how sorry he is for all his past woes, surely he cares enough to reject his sponsors, putting a bit of soul before dosh.

I'd like to brush this fairly fundamental flaw to one side though. Redemption was really excellent. I think this was a sign that the model of climbing films is changing and the balance between action, humour and story was impeccable.  The story wasn't just about James, but about UK trad as a whole, exploring the motivations of other climbers in contrast to James and with some very funky cinematography to boot.  It would be a fab introduction to British trad for those not au fait with the weird grading and petty squabbles o so rife about and it doesn't bash you over the head with repetitive platitudes.

So aye, it's definitely worth a watch, particularly if you haven't seen all the other Pearson releases. Perhaps next year there could be a film of this build quality coupled with a story of passion - "Enlightenment: The James Pearson Story Of Dropping His Sponsors And Climbing A Death Route In The Moors" ?

Post of the Winter Coming

On the distant spring, I already see fine climbs pierced for the first time through the sharp Moors frost. The spring dew sinks only to burn off in the morning furnace and that fine balance of conditions holds the cold of winter scarce a touch on the skin-maluating summer warmth.

I see the fine eye piece right into the wired hold and a body of pure fragility bounce an inhuman float through the crux. I see the trail of a useless rope kink fore and back, fore and back; a bleak corner of peripheral vision in less focus than the fear raging at the front of my mind. And on that move, the friction alone in what holds you to this world, I feel the rubber peel and the skin roll.

Do you die or do you live? On the move it doesn't matter. As you set out it doesn't matter. The external observer (in this case yourself) sees only a man set out through the black box. Where the man is and whether the man is alive cannot be observed. You're a black cat both alive and dead and to make the decision to go in the black box takes faith.

The faith to step out on the line is the only way that the new wave can be born. There is no trick, no skill, no strength that can save or advance you. All you have is ambivalence.

Sometimes you get a feeling that something spectacular is coming. I feel as if the whole winter is leading up to a point in April time, when the North York Moors will finally get the unrepeatable line it so desperately craves. The Moors is a black sheep of peculiarity, it wants a route of morpho-weirdness to match. Spirit of the Moors comes from the person, not the place.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

The solitude of genius

Genius is the creation of new ides through new eyes. I'd always thought that there would be a certain type of person that would think the same as the Moors does, but even those who have climbed the boldest trad lines seem to still use the lexicon of the "acceptable risk". In the Moors the acceptability comes from the route and it makes any danger, any possibility of death acceptable, regardless of the chance of it happening.

This is not in the vocabulary of anyone outside of the Moors. This is not something that can be tricked or dodged. To climb the most Moors of routes, you have to be willing to die.

The pledge to death has been sniffed at in the past. It's been called naive and disingenuous. But this is real and one day there will be climbs that cannot be repeated by those who are not willing to give this part of themselves. There will be spirit of the Moors so strong that it commands a whole army of chop routes.

And it feeds off its self. For if there is the Moor where this is understood, there is no friendship or comprehension anywhere else. You try to small talk, but all there is is a screaming Moor in your head that nobody understands. It sounds sad, which it isn't really. It's lonely, but then in  lonely reality of purpose; a place of simplicity and beauty.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

How it spins in your hed goes

The world in your hed is the world tht you occupy. wy from the Moors, this mindscpe grows nd the physicl properties of the Moors tke  bck burner. This is how it goes in the Moors. The climbs re wht they re in your hed nd the unclimbed grow nd win in importnce. Tht wht spins in my mind flots to prominence nd routes tht lwys seemed insignificnt now tke centre stge. It is now tht I relise tht route tht I serched for, which I thought might not exist, I lredy know well. It ws merely ctlogued in the mind  wy tht stopped it from reching its pottentil.

The Ky Nest id Route. It ws lwys n H7+1 7 line, protected by uestionble bolts, but then, in  vision, it cme forth tht why not rip the bolts out nd hve n Hten?

The Moors for me hs now become lmost exclusively bout difficulty. The moves my not be the hrdest, but the boldest route in the world shll one dy be in the Moors, or we will die trying to mke tht  relity. Regrdless, the Ky Nest id wll hngs n unbreched pth of purity. It must be climbed.