Sunday, September 22, 2013

Climbing in France

New country, old sport.  Or maybe not so new country either. Back into the future, back to France, square "0", where I started almost fifteen years ago, where I attempt to continue the journey. Fortunately, rock is abundant in the vicinity to keep me company.

 Beautiful landscape in Gorges de la Cesse

One of my first visits in my new homeland was to the incredibly beautiful Gorges de la Cesse.  Little known outside the local enthusiast circle, the place has an old topo, and kilometers of high-quality routes, to climb and discover.

 Laurent up a 7b in Gorges de la Cesse

Next stop - another Gorges, de l'Aveyron this time. Another huge climbing area I've never heard of before, with at least 300-400 routes, from vertical slabs where feet are hard to trust or find, to unending tufas and bouldery overhangs. More routes to try out and enjoy, more friends to climb with.

Mathieu on a 7c in Couyrac, Gorges de l'Aveyron

Boudjemaa on a 7b+ in Couyrac, Gorges de l'Aveyron

St. Antonin village in the evening sun

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fred Beckey in the Dolomites

I almost met Beckey in 2005, when road-tripping in Red Rocks. He never showed up for that week-end, and instead I listened to some more stories about him during our long nights in the desert, eyeing the lights of Las Vegas somewhere far away out there. He was already old then.  He is older today.

I wonder how many years he has been climbing and how many partners/generations he has seen go by? With my 10 years of climbing anniversary this year, I start noticing all these youngsters, wide-eyed, impressed, and impressive, discovering the beauty of the sport. Time flies, passions remain. To you, Beckey!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Fantastic flying books

Finishing projects and moving on

And it has come to pass: another project is sent, accomplished, finished: a dissertation has been defended, a school has been changed, a city and a country abandoned, exchanged, switched, and forgotten. Time to move on, time to change, time to go. I celebrated, together with Catalunya, my own accomplishments. With confidence and eagerness, I defended my dissertation, the culminating result of the past five years of hard work, perspiration, and learning. 

I dedicated my dissertation to my parents, who opened the doors to education and otherwise inspire me continuously by their courage and commitment to a better life. I hope I have made them proud, at least for a short moment, at least I have tried my best.

Defending my dissertation

 Receiving last comments from the thesis committee

Done: please, call me Doctor!

Running in parallel to my own life events, Catalunya has been voicing its discontent, defending its own statements and desires, louder again during this ironic and iconic day of September 11th, the holiday in the province, celebrating defeat in 1714 of the last Catalan troops by the Spaniards. 

 Human chain in Barcelona

Catalans celebrated by joining hands across the shores of their beautiful homeland, in a movement that reminded me of Ukraine and Baltic states that had their own moment of human chains in the beginning of the 1990s. During those times, people were also full of enthusiasm and optimism in those far-away lands. Some moved west-ward, some...stagnated and turned around in a different direction. Apparently, I was also dragged to the streets by my parents, although I barely remember anything. 

And the big-picture view....

Good? Bad? Flag-waving disturbs me more than anything else, although I do sympathize with this land that has opened its arms and soul to me for a fleeting moment. Thank you for your generosity, Catalunya, and farewell.

Pictures by my mother.