Alban the Annihilator and How We Found Our Groove
We’re in the city lovingly referred to as Chatty, our final leg of the “True South” bouldering exploration. We had our first day of climbing at Stone Fort yesterday and it, yet again, lived up to all the hype. Met some locals, fell a lot, and even sent a little (highlighted by Byron’s first V6 of the trip, The Wave); we are incredibly psyched to get back on the gritty sandstone tomorrow (as long as the rain subsides). More on Chattanooga soon, but first…Episode 4 is ready for your viewing!
Our newest video is based on a conclusion we came to after leaving Hueco Tanks, Texas: every day in Hueco Tanks, someone you’ve never heard of does something impressive. There’s also usually someone hyper famous doing something along the same caliber, but that’s basic Hueco knowledge. This video is about Alban Besnier, mostly because he climbs strong, has a great attitude, and generally impressed us. The first day we climbed with Alban and his travel companion, Caroline, we went on a tour to East Mountain and he sent Liane, Sunshine, and Mojo – all in his signature shorts. He sent almost everything he touched that day, which was awesome to see, but what impacted the three of us the most was his spotting. Even though he climbed more than the rest of the climbers in the tour group combined, he was still an attentive and good spotter to each of us. That commitment blew us away and we each changed our spotting strategies because of his – you can read more about this in the Hueco Wrap Up blog post.
Without further ado, here is Alban from France crushing! And, after that, the story of how we got our groove. Oh yea.
We meant to start the road trip around January, peak season for climbing. For those of you who have kept up with the blog, you might remember the many setbacks we had before we even got on the road: finding a trailer, multiple car breakdowns, and then top it all off, I got sicker than I have been in many years. Needless to say, we got off to a rocky and late start. We were disappointed that we would not be in Hueco for the top climbing temps, but were excited that we would be there for the Hueco Rock Rodeo.
We arrived in Hueco at the end of February with 4 friends in tow, so even though there weren’t many other people around Hueco Tanks, we had a great first couple weeks (see Worth the Hype blog post for more). Then the Rock Rodeo rolled around and Hueco was packed to the brim with amateur and celebrity climbers and topped off with more sponsors in one place than I’ve ever seen. We were overwhelmed and left close to catatonic; we barely networked and mostly kept to ourselves and the friends we previously knew. We also didn’t have any videos completed yet, so we felt awkward pitching The RV Project when we had nothing of substance to offer. After the Rock Rodeo, the masses left Hueco and we were left to our devices. In the month at the Hueco Rock Ranch, we completed and released a single video.
It’s hard to describe how we felt when we finally left Hueco. Feelings were mixed, but I think I can speak for all of us when I say that many of those feelings were not positive ones (except for that we were happy to be leaving). You could cut the tension with a knife, but we pressed on without acknowledging it. Louisiana was a blur, and we arrived at Horse Pens 40 on April 3rd, emotionally worn and physically tired without understanding why. We had our first blow out that afternoon – looking back, it was predictable as we were all resentful towards each other and the passive-aggressive limit had been reached. Thankfully, we each had enough sense to know that we never wanted to behave like we did that afternoon again, ever. We reconvened that evening after climbing separately and each apologized. We had stopped listening to each other at some point and we were never going to survive this road trip, or make it a successful venture, if that was to continue. Honestly discussing what had been stewing inside of us for the past month brought about a wave of relief to each of us. Yup, that terrifying thing that most of us avoid at all costs – communication.
During that initial conversation, not all of our issues were resolved, but the door was opened. Most importantly, we all realized that we had a lot to learn from each other. We were each an integral part of this and we had to do everything in our power to make this work and to complete this road trip with no regrets. This was going to be more work then we could have ever imagined.
Fast forward to the present. Things are good, real good. HP 40 was exactly what we needed to get us out of our slump. We are finally able to understand what went so wrong with the beginning of our road trip: in Hueco Tanks, we were trying to be something we are not. To wit: we are not climbers that send impressively high V grades, we are not the Lowell brothers, we are not social butterflies all the time. Yet. Conversely, we are three passionate climbers who enjoy meeting people, inspiring them with high quality, professionally produced videos and a positive attitude, and who leave places better then they found them. Additionally, we are three aspiring climbers and filmmakers who are paying their dues. I know it sounds cliché, but we came into our own at HP 40 and I think that truly came through in our last video, The Colorado Boys. As Spenser described in our last blog post, HP40 made us leave our egos at the door and helped us realize that we need to make our own rules for life on the road. It also seems like Byron and I have curbed our punting problem, with his repeated sends of Millipede, Centerpede, and Bum Boy and my first V4 send, Lee’s Problem.
Here’s to new beginnings and a highly, if not fully, functional RV Project. Cheers!