Saturday, 29 June 2013

The undiscovered country

 Brief as the lighting in the collied night, That, in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and earth, And ere a man hath power to say, 'Behold!' The jaws of darkness do devour it up: So quick bright things come to confusion.
Midsummer Night's Dream

The project of making a third attempt this season was mooted immediately on the return of Finch and Geoffrey Bruce to the Base Camp. There in hours of idleness had discussed their prospects and wondered what they would be doing as we gazed at the mountain to make the weather on the great ridge. We were not surprised to learn when they came down that the summit was still unconquered, and we were not yet prepared to accept defeat. The difficulty was to find a party. Of the six who had been already engaged only one was obviously fit for another great effort. Somervell had shown a recuperative capacity beyond the rest of us. After one day at the base had insisted on going up again to Camp 3 in case he might be of use to the others. 

The rest were more or less knocked out.Morshead's frost-bitten fingers and toes, from which he was now suffering constant pain, caused grave anxiety of most serious consequences, and the only plan for him was to go down to a lower elevation as soon as possible. Norton's feet had also been affected; he complained at first only of bruises, but the cold had come through the soles of his boots; his trouble too was frost-bite. In any case he could not have come up again, for the strain had told on his heart and he now found himself left without energy or strength.

Geoffrey Bruce's feet also were so badly frost-bitten that he could not walk. Finch, however, was not yet to be counted out. He was evidently very much exhausted, but an examination of his heart revealed no disorder; it was hoped that in five or six days he would be able to start again. My own case was doubtful. Of my frost-bitten finger-tips only one was giving trouble; the extremity above the first joint was black, but the injury was not very deep. Longstaff, who took an interest which we all appreciated in preventing us from doing ourselves permanent injury, pointed out the probability that fingers already touched and highly suscep­tible to cold would be much more severely injured next time, and was inclined to turn me down, from his medical point of view, on account of my fingers alone.

 A much more serious matter was the condition of my heart. I felt weak and lazy when it was a question of the least physical exertion, and the heart was found to have a "thrill". Though I was prepared to take risks with my fingers I was prepared to take none with my heart, even had General Bruce allowed me. However, I did not abandon hope. My heart was examined again on June 3rd, no thrill was heard, and though my pulse was rapid and accelerated quickly with exertion it was capable of satisfactory recovery. We at once arranged that Somervell, Finch and I, together with Wakefield and Crawford, should set forth the same day.

It was already evident that whatever we were to do would now have to wait for the weather. Though the Lama at the Rongbuk Monastery had told us that the monsoon was usually to be expected about June 10th, and we knew that it was late last year, the signs of its approach were gathering every day. Mount Everest could rarely be seen after 9 or 10 a.m. until the clouds cleared away in the evening; and a storm approaching from the West Rongbuk Glacier would generally sweep down the valley in the afternoon. Though we came to despise this blustering phenomenon — for nothing worse came of it than light hail or snow, either at our camp or higher — we should want much fairer days for climbing, and each storm threatened to be the beginning of something far more serious. 

However, we planned to be on the spot to take any chance that offered. The signs were even more ominous than usual as Finch and I walked up to Camp I on the afternoon of June 3rd; we could hardly feel optimistic; and it was soon apparent that, far from having recovered his strength, my companion was quite unfit for another big expedition. We walked slowly and frequently halted; it was painful to see what efforts it cost him to make any progress. However, he persisted in coming on.

We had not long disposed ourselves comfortably within the four square walls of our "sangar", always a pleasant change from the sloping sides of a tent, when snow began to fall. Released at last by the west wind which had held it back, the monsoon was free to work its will, and we soon understood that the great change of weather had now come. Fine, glistening particles were driven by the wind through the chinks in our walls, to be drifted on the floor or on our coverings where we lay during the night; and as morning grew the snow still fell as thickly as ever. Finch wisely decided to go back, and we charged him with a message to General Bruce, saying that we saw no reason at present to alter our plans. With the whole day to spend confined and inactive we had plenty of time to consider what we ought to do under these conditions.

We went over well-worn argu­ments once more. It would have been an obvious and easy course, for which no one could reproach us, to have said simply: The monsoon has come; this is the end of the climbing season; it is time to go home. But the case, we felt, was not yet hopeless. The monsoon is too variable and uncertain to be so easily admitted as the final arbiter. There might yet be good prospects. ahead of us. It was not unreasonable to expect an interval of fine weather after the first heavy snow, and with eight or ten fair days a third attempt might still be made.. In any case, to retire now if the smallest chance remained to us would be an unworthy end to the expedition. We need not run our heads into obvious danger; but rather than be stopped by a general estimate of conditions we would prefer to retire before some definite risk that we were not prepared to take or simply failed to overcome the difficulties.

After a second night of unremitting snowfall the weather on the morning of June 5th improved and we decided to go on. Low and heavy clouds were still flowing down the East Rongbuk Glacier, but precipitation ceased at an early hour and the sky brightened to the west. It was surprising, after all we had seen of the flakes passing our door, that no great amount of snow was lying on the stones about our camp. But the snow had come on a warm current and melted or evaporated, so that after all the depth was no more than 6 inches at this elevation (17,500 ft). Even on the glacier we went up a long way before noticing a perceptible increase of depth. We passed Camp II, not requiring to halt at this stage, and were well up towards Camp III before the fresh snow became a serious impediment. It was still snowing up here, though not very heavily; there was nothing to cheer the grey scene; the clinging snow about our feet was so wet that even the best of our boots were soaked through, and the last two hours up to Camp III were tiresome enough.

Nor was it a cheering camp when we reached it. The tents had been struck for the safety of the poles, but not packed up. We found them now half-full of snow and ice. The stores were all buried; everything that we wanted had first to be dug out.

The snow up here was so much deeper that we anxiously discussed the possibility of going farther. With 15 to 18 inches of snow to contend with, not counting drifts, the labour would be excessive, and until the snow solidified there would be considerable danger at several points. But the next morning broke fine; we had soon a clear sky and glorious sunshine; it was the warmest day that any of us remembered at Camp III; and as we watched the amazing rapidity with which the snow solidified and the rocks began to appear about our camp, our spirits rose. 

The side of Everest facing us looked white and cold; but we observed a cloud of snow blown from the North Ridge; it would not be long at this rate before it was fit to climb. We had already resolved to use oxygen on the third attempt. It was im­probable that we should beat our own record without it, for the strain of previous efforts would count against us, and we had not the time to improve on our organization by putting a second camp above the North Col. Somervell, after Finch's explanation of the mechanical details, felt perfectly confident that he could manage the oxygen apparatus, and all those who had used oxygen were convinced that they went up more easily with its help than they could expect to go without it. Somervell and I intended to profit by the experience. 

They had discovered that the increased com­bustion in the body required a larger supply of food; we must arrange for a bountiful provision. Their camp at 25,000 ft had been too low; we would try to establish one now, as we had intended before, at 26,000 ft. And we hoped for a further advantage in going higher than Finch and Bruce had done before using oxygen; whereas they had started using it at 21,000 ft, we intended to go up to our old camp at 25,000 ft without it, perhaps use a cylinder each up to 26,000 ft, and at all events start from that height for the summit with a full supply of four cylinders. If this was not the correct policy as laid down by Professor Dryer, it would at least be a valuable experi­ment.

Our chief anxiety under these new conditions was to provide for the safety of our porters. We hoped that after fixing our fifth camp at 26,000 ft, at the earliest three days hence, on the fourth clay of fine weather the porters might be able to go down by themselves to the North Col in easy conditions; to guard against the danger of concealed cre­vasses there Crawford would meet them at the foot of the North Ridge to conduct them properly roped to Camp IV. As the supply officer at this camp he would also be able to superintend the descent over the first steep slope of certain porters who would go down from Camp IV without sleep­ing after carrying up their loads.


But the North Col had first to be reached. With so much new snow to contend with we should hardly get there in one day. If we were to make the most of our chance in the interval of fair weather, we should lose no time in carrying up the loads for some part of the distance. It was decided therefore to begin this work on the following day, June 7th.

In the ascent to the North Col after the recent snowfall we considered that an avalanche was to be feared only in one place, the steep final slope below the shelf. There we could afford to run no risk; we must test the snow and be certain that it was safe before we could cross this slope. Probably we should be obliged to leave our loads below it, having gained, as a result of our day's work, the great advantage of a track. An avalanche might also come down, we thought, on the first steep slope where the ascent began. Here it could do us no harm, and the behavior of the snow on this slope would be a test of its condition.

The party, Somervell, Crawford and I, with fourteen porters (Wakefield was to be supply officer at Camp III), set out at 8 a.m. In spite of the hard frost of the previous night, the crust was far from bearing our weight; we sank up to our knees in almost every step, and two hours were taken in traversing the snowfield. At 10.15 a.m. Somervell, I, a porter, and Crawford, roped up in that order, began to work up the steep ice-slope, now covered with snow. It was clear that the three of us without loads must take the lead in turns stamping out the tracks for our porters. These men, after their immense efforts on the first and second attempts, had all volunteered to "go high", as they said once more, and everything must be done to ease the terrible work of carrying the loads over the soft snow. No trace was found of our previous tracks, and we were soon arguing as to where exactly they might be as we slanted across the slope.

It was remarkable that the snow adhered so well to the ice that we were able to get up without cutting steps. Every­thing was done by trenching the snow to induce it to come down if it would; every test gave a satisfactory result. Once this crucial place was passed, we plodded on without hesitation. If the snow would not come down where we had formerly encountered steep bare ice, a fortiori, above, on the gentler slopes, we had nothing to fear. The thought of an avalanche was dismissed from our minds.

It was necessarily slow work forging our way through the deep snow, but the party was going extraordinarily well, and the porters were evidently determined to get on. Somervell gave us a long lead, and Crawford next, in spite of the handicap of shorter legs, struggled upwards in some of the worst snow we met until I relieved him. I found the effort at each step so great that no method of breathing I had formerly employed was adequate; it was necessary to pause after each lifting movement for a whole series of breaths, rapid at first and gradually slower, before the weight was transferred again to the other foot. About 1.30 p.m. I halted, and the porters, following on three separate ropes, soon came up with the leading party. We should have been glad to stay where we were for a long rest. But the hour was already late, and as Somervell was ready to take the lead again, we decided to push on. We were now about 400 ft below a conspicuous block of ice and 600 ft below Camp IV, still on the gentle slopes of the corridor. Somervell had advanced only 100 ft, rather up the slope than across it, and the last party of porters had barely begun to move up in the steps. The scene was peculiarly bright and windless, and as we rarely spoke, nothing was to be heard but the laboured panting of our lungs. This stillness was suddenly disturbed. We were startled by an ominous sound, sharp, arresting, violent, and yet somehow soft like an explosion of untamped gunpowder.

I had never before on a mountainside heard such a sound; but all of us, I imagine, knew instinctively what it meant, as though we had been accustomed to hear it every day of our lives. In a moment I observed the surface of the snow broken and puckered where it had been even for a few yards to the right of me. I took two steps convulsively in this direction with some quick thought of getting nearer to the edge of the danger that threatened us. And then I began to move slowly downwards, inevitably carried on the whole moving surface by a force I was utterly powerless to resist. Somehow I managed to turn out from the slope so as to avoid being pushed headlong and backwards down it. For a second or two I seemed hardly to be in danger as I went quietly sliding down with the snow. Then the rope at my waist tightened and held me back. A wave of snow came over me and I was buried. I supposed that the matter was settled. However, I called to mind experiences related by other parties; and it had been suggested that the best chance of escape in this situation lay in swimming. I thrust out my arms above my head and actually went through some sort of motions of swimming on my back. Beneath the surface of the snow, with nothing to inform the senses of the world outside it, I had no impression of speed after the first acceleration – I struggled in the tumbling snow, uncon­scious of everything else – until, perhaps only a few seconds later, I knew the pace was easing up. I felt an increasing pressure about my body. I wondered how tightly I should be squeezed, and then the avalanche came to rest.

My arms were free; my legs were near the surface. After a brief struggle, I was standing again, surprised and breath­less, in the motionless snow. But the rope was tight at my waist; the porter tied on next me, I supposed, must be deeply buried. To my further surprise, he quickly emerged, unharmed as myself. Somervell and Crawford too, though they had been above me by the rope's length, were now quite close, and soon extricated themselves. We subse­quently made out that their experiences had been very similar to mine. But where were the rest? Looking down over the foam of snow, we saw one group of porters some little distance, perhaps 150 ft, below us. Presumably the others must be buried somewhere between us and them, and though no sign of these missing men appeared, we at once prepared to find and dig them out. 

The porters we saw still stood their ground instead of coming up to help. We soon made out that they were the party who had been immediately behind us, and they were pointing below them. They had travelled farther than us in the avalanche, presumably because they were nearer the centre, where it was moving more rapidly. The other two parties, one of four and one of five men roped together, must have been carried even farther. We could still hope that they were safe. But as we hurried down we soon saw that beneath the place where the four porters were standing was a formidable drop; it was only too plain that the missing men had been swept over it. We had no difficulty in finding a way round this obstacle; in a very short time we were standing under its shadow. The ice-cliff was from forty to sixty feet high in different places; the crevasse at its foot was more or less filled up with avalanche snow. Our fears were soon con­firmed. One man was quickly uncovered and found to be still breathing; before long we were certain that he would live.

 Another whom we dug out near him had been killed by the fall. He and his party appeared to have struck the hard lower lip of the crevasse, and were lying under the snow on or near the edge of it. The four porters who had escaped soon pulled themselves together after the first shock of the accident, and now worked here with Crawford and did everything they could to extricate the other bodies, while Somervell and I went down into the crevasse. A loop of rope which we pulled up convinced us that the other party must be here. It was slow work loosening the snow with the pick or adze of an ice-axe and shovelling it with the hands. But we were able to fallow the rope to the bodies. One was dug up lifeless; another was found upside down, and when we uncovered his face Somervell thought he was still breathing.

We had the greatest difficulty in extricating this man, so tightly was the snow packed about his limbs; his load, four oxygen cylinders on a steel frame, had to be cut from his back, and eventually he was dragged out. Though buried for about forty minutes, he had survived the fall and the suffocation, and suffered no serious harm. Of the two others in this party of four, we found only one. We had at length to give up a hopeless search with the certain knowl­edge that the first of them to be swept over the cliff, and the most deeply buried, must long ago be dead. Of the other five, all the bodies were recovered, but only one was alive. The two who had so marvellously escaped were able to walk down to Camp III, and were almost perfectly well next day. The other seven were killed.

George Leigh Mallory: First published in The assault on Mount Everest: Gen George Bruce: 1923.


Friday, 21 June 2013

Perillos-Here be Dragons

John Redhead wired for sound in Corbieres'limestone country. 
And there, be Fembots.

So. I ended Colonists Out by ‘emptying’ all that nonsense of material dwellings and allowed the Big Soul to enter. I called it my ‘lie’, as good as it gets for now. The door opened and visitors arrived. ‘Make them welcome, they may have come a long way’, something seemed to say. Pretty much the format for all creativity that is free of a system and one that acknowledges the unknown and unlocks the heart. For me, this process is like a chunk of land uncharted, off the map, full of doubt, but packed solid with mysteries, enchantment, teachings and danger.
It also reinforces the true meaning of dwelling, not in the material but in a poetic sense. Colonists out, as a rough guide to ‘rant’ reconciles the forsaken man in his world to a revealing of the divine. This is to sing and to write and to paint and to promote a haunting feeling of what is concealed, forgotten, vanished, remote…destroyed. I assert that our true home is the language of creativity, designing, making, not regarding work or production, but as in a state of thought and being that dwells with the earth. It is with nature. It seems the rest of the living is packaging, making do with the business of alienation – another cup of tea?

And so to Perillos, and the ‘work’ with unknown visitors, which has become my home. Perillos is the flip-side to the uncharted land. Ancient medieval maps often used the term, ‘here be dragons’ or ‘Terra Pericolosa’ to illustrate land off the grid and unexplored. Land not documented and likely to put the traveller in jeopardy was symbolized by monsters and sea-serpents, expressing the human horror of venturing into the terrain without knowledge and security. The flip side? Perillos is mapped. We can navigate there without compass or a starry night. The roads, villages and towns nearby clearly marked, numbered and colour-coded. 
The snaky contours of the terrain inform the traveller with a ‘vision’ of her body. The cartographers have done their job. They have in their own language, named the land. This language describes and informs. The artist names and informs in his/her own way, and it seems a powerful argument that the nature, that being we call landscape, calls to us to experience a different naming, a different essence altogether. This naming is a belonging and it sings with the land and is revealing and experiential. For some reason Perillos decided to leave the map and try and be forgotten. Almost as if to give it another go in some future, because at some time between the mappers and the dwellers, the naming got personal and serious. The myths, the legends, the folklore and the gossip surrounding Perillos are strange indeed. Mythology has an uncanny knack of entering the soul, perhaps because it contains such intense, compact material, like a stick of seaside rock, its codes deeply enriched within our bodies and bones?

I guess Perillos, as a state of mind, entered my consciousness from a project I started, ‘Walking the Milky Way’. This is a different naming and mapping of the land and one that is connected to the sky above – as above, so below. This was the attempted interaction of Cosmic and telluric energy through planetary oracles across Europe, from Compostella in Spain to Chartres in France and them Rosslyn in Scotland. This is a fairly esoteric journey and one the Druids initiated. The Druids were totally one with the land and we can only guess of the initiations that were commonplace. They dwelled with the hearth of the land. They revealed and reflected and added to the rich bank of experience – they didn’t attempt to contain, commodify or burn it up.

But no, it came before that. From Pic du Bugarach and Montsegur and my Cathare forensic, Remains of Occitania, walking the contours, sweeping the land for sounds, for screams, for tortured fragments, for a soul? From Dinorwic Quarry, Llanberis and the song of slate, the lament of evisceration from the belly of the sacred mountain, Elidir Fawr?  Yes and no. It came from a lifetime of moving on rock. Initially as a climber, whose ego just went up and down, named, graded, commodified, burned it up and sold it on - but later, also as a climber, but a listener, in between, more and more, dwelling in reflection and ritual. There is a simple equation I use, Sound + Intent = Manifestation. Sound can be substituted for Climb. Intent is the key.

Perillos is an abandoned village in the Corbieres region of Roussillon, close to the Mediterranean in the South of France, previously Spain and is very close to home, at the moment. The Corbières are a sparsely populated, mountainous piedmont of rocky escarpments, evergreen oak forest and scrubland. This landscape type is classed as Garrigue, associated with limestone plateaus. It is windswept and relatively arid and a natural wine producing area. Apart from prickly dense thickets containing kermes oak, juniper and stunted holm oaks are the trees in residence. Aromatic lime-tolerant shrubs such as lavender, sage, rosemary, wild thyme and artemesia are its favourite inhabitants. All seems scratchy, spikey-sharp, knotty, dwarfed with attitude and on the defence – heady-perfumed as a hen-night. 

Venturing into the Garrigue for the first time induces an intense feeling of something catastrophic or profound having just happened – as if prominent features have just fled leaving a desolate, ghostly presence. One struggles to find familiarity with its vast open-spacing, its pale glaucous hues, the confusing spread of unsettling panoramics spreading to horizons difficult to judge and cliffs unable to measure. It is surreal in as much as it is impossible to frame. I stare out as if half expecting a repeated pattern to present itself like on a curtain or tablecloth. Or even, in a theophanic sense, I stare out onto something not quite grasping some movement behind what I see.
The sun and the wind predominate this expanse and add to the troubling of the senses and can be savage. The restricted plants have evolved to cope with the intense solar radiation, clothed with leaves of white hairs and blotchy-pebbled surfaces. Their aromatic oils leaching into the rocky Garrigue soil make sure they remain scattered and dominant and ‘unbothered’ by other species. Like a military operation they are protected with an armory of sharps and chemical weapons to warn and harm visiting herbivory. From a distance, Perillos is camouflaged – or so it initially seems. Scouring the tableau of hills, blinking focus, one eventually discerns a subtle, hazy, pinky smudge; so far out-there to beg, ‘why on earth’? A pinky smudge of pale-clay pantiles, put there when land, dwellings and wells were synonymous. So, baked and odd and tussled, a fragrant but troubling start! The land seems to say, ’Speak, why are you here’. 

Just over the hill, dramatic escarpments appear and in Arago Cave, beyond the popular, slabby climbing cliffs of Vingrau, is Tautavel, where Europe’s oldest human remains were discovered. It is here that the morphology of Tautavel Man was reconstructed. Not bad considering his age of 450,000 years – Homo Erectus Tautavelensis, as a French corporate fossil now rubs shoulders with crepe bars and coachloads of old bone tourists.

Not so Perillos, as yet. Its total dearth of signposting is both hostile and interesting. Local gossip has it that Perillos became abandoned when the folk there started having the same dreams. This was apparently a terrible dream. People stopped sleeping for fear of the dreams. Does this amount to the boundaries between reality and illusion being fused – does this beg distrust on our dependency on senses? For sure, what is beauty? What went on with the rock here? ‘If you could see the land as it really is you would freak’. Hmm. Voices were heard underground and angelic murmurings from the church. The last person, a Berger, packed up and scarpered with his tail between his legs after the second world war. The village populace became merged with the village of Opoul, about ten kilometers away down towards the plains of Perpignan. ‘Legend Weekly’ has it that Mary Magdalene and possibly a crucified escapee called Jesus came this way, after fleeing Judea in 33AD. There are many stories of her landing on the coast near Perpignan, and heading for Rennes le Chateau. The sweet water would have been agreeable.

On the ‘Myth Front’, the headliner centres around Babaos, a mythical beast, a winged snake with a human head, who had a penchant, of course, for devouring young girls. Lord of Perillos eventually terminated the beast with a weapon brought back from Palestine. A relic hangs in the church at Prat de Mollo to signify the eternal fight against the malefic animal. Perillos Plateau and the Castle have been suggested as a Grail Plateau, known locally as Terresalvaesche. Salveterra is the name of the chapel translating as Land of Salvation. Mount of Salvation has echoes of the Grail romance, Parsifal and Chapel Perilous echoes of Le Morte d’Arthur. The tomb of God, the Seat of Death, sacred caves of initiation and re-birth from the vulva of Mother earth, legends of doorways to the underworld, a pagan sacralised landscape, shared dreams, ancient apocalyptic processes, om-phallic stones - no wonder Perillos was said to be a place impossible for human beings to inhabit. 

And here enters the demented Dali and his own eternal fight with the supernatural. Apparently he was completely changed by Perillos. He spent the last forty years of his hallucinated life troubled by its realities, dimensions and complexities. He didn’t call it a place but a state of mind that could only be inhabited by the initiated. The region is known for its Revelation’s postcode of 66600. Perhaps the cartographers habit of using the great Beast of a dragon with seven heads was prophetic? Dali called Perpignan railway station the centre of the universe and the location from where the universe would start to converge, with the catastrophic abduction of Europe. Perillos is mentioned in Patrice Chaplin’s book, The Portal. It is noted as an energy point signifying the void. It is here that one works through personal baggage and abandonment, letting go of the past and transcending victim-hood. The Portal takes the form of a vision-quest starting in Girona and is an initiates journey on the so-called Venus Square, following the constellation of the Great Bear – again, as above, so below. In this journey across Catalunya, the initiate travels to eleven sacred locations with certain attributes and performs specific spiritual practice. The journey ends on Pic Du Canigou, apparently a portal, signifying redemption and freedom. 

So the land and the people tell their story. It goes on and on. I overdose and it is time to interact. I am not at all sure what I see and I cannot trust my feelings so I start to listen. I wish to interact in some way, at least to reveal an odd voice! I clutch my zoo-morph box. I set my input to analog, set the phantom power on, set the frequency to 44.1 and the mic set to Pad. Check levels, limiter and margins, and the original analog-animal-wave is laid down on tape. Analog is like messy-trad climbing and digital the equivalent of clinical-sport! I have worked with both. A digital sample is turned into 44,000 numbers stored per second of sound. The numbers are then turned into a voltage wave approximating the original. This recording can be compressed and never degraded. But I like degradation! I like the doubt, the unknown quality of analog. I never know what is collected in the black box until back in the studio - my miniature zoo of sounds. There is a breath and character in the analog sound that cannot be numbered or contained – it is still wild, scratchy-sniffy and breeding! And that’s all I know for now… until the exhibition at Perillos, if it exists at all? Meanwhile, it is said that the military are keeping an eye on it – now why is that?

But, in another dimension, back on earth but still regarding rock… the social-media interface of Twitter engages me back into a present headspace, if such a time-frame exists…? I decide to allow it.

A women’s climbing group objected to my comment on Twitter that muscled women athletes are not at all feminine and are just ‘women competing for death, illness, decline and warring factions - all the fine attributes of the male preserve’.

She replied: ‘Depending on your definition of femininity I guess. I find strength, competitiveness and athleticism very feminine’.

‘Sure but you talk for the attributes of sport and sport denies and represses that which is of nature – should women know better’?

She replied: ‘That which is of nature meaning what exactly? And why do you think sport represses it’?

‘You could say that the female warrior ‘competitor’ has traded her femininity for clean goals not of the natural world and not innate’.

She replied: ‘There is no trade there apart maybe of the attention of men with taste for vulnerable women nothing is lost’.

She replied: ‘You insist on using femininity as hegemonic femininity and that messes everything up in my view’.

‘That’s just cold feminist! In a warm divine sense perhaps she is the rock or something far beyond it. Respect’.

‘I do not talk of domination and sport is not my world - just that muscles male or female have little importance re-serious rock’.

Another reply: ‘Strength and athleticism is feminine and sexy, men need to get confident enough to accept this’.

So, fantastic indeed. At last, there we have it. One cannot expect a healthy discourse in 140 characters, but surely the compression speaks of a resounding war cry from the ‘hurting’ trenches. Nothing is lost? Everything is lost. Nothing and everything. We sit on the shoulders of giants, remembering nothing. From the ancient texts hidden on the Perillos map to the sacred passage of the Magdalene troop, I am brought ‘sexy’, ‘competition’ and ‘athleticism’ into my climbing psyche. Aghhh. My Trickster tells me to be ‘confident’ and not rant about libidinous strumming on the Vector stance! I live at one with the strong ‘feminine principal’, it informs my work, but I find such a defensive war cry so destructive, and anathema to the natural world. Okay, it is interesting for me to comprehend the wider influx attracted to today's climbing community, but why is no one laughing.... Or rather crying?

I detest all groups and associations, especially regarding climbing, which in my mind is ‘free’, but I don’t even know to whom I am talking to here, apart from a ‘dug in’ attitude from an army, so stand up, reveal your weapons and inform me what part ‘sexy’ plays in climbing, and more importantly, sound ‘social change’? What about corporate oppression? Using climbing as a competitive sport, as a sexy sport, as a uni-sex sport, regardless of big-knobs or juicy-twats, it is just so career-corporate-media-money-glory banal!  All sport and athletics are corporate. And so fucking politic, so urban, so ‘of polis’ - of the city. All you do is support industry and psychologists! They love you.
I don’t believe agendas belong in the mountain and your divisions of ‘us and them’ belong in the city. What is sexy about a futile attempt to evade the flow of time and death? Get on a proper ‘messy’ route out of control, scratch and scrape, engage with vital social-change, engage with ‘land-dwelling-well’, grow up and learn something about self-respect and the energy and spirit of the substance you move through. Being in a group, being ‘sexy, athletic or sporty have no part to play in this endeavor.

I had never thought of women climbers climbing because they can be seen as sexy. I just thought they were good. Today, such agenda is so past its sell by date – who gives a flying-fuck if you think you’re sexy or not? For the sake of the Goddess, for Mary, fall off and die in the most un-sexy way possible! And the act of competing is so ‘disillusioned-male’, so full of male-knobsnot-ego! Where is your voice lasses? Stop being victims. Sort your feminine/abuse issues out in private not on the crag. Or come see the girls on the highway near me and talk abuse – at 40 euros ahead, they will show you who is in charge. Climbing can do without this garbage, almost ridiculous, almost criminal in its wet-nurse addiction role. If you can think beyond nail varnish and lip-gloss, improving skills and climbing grades you would understand the ‘nature’ to which I refer. 
Personifying problems on the rock is not spiritual, merely cathartic. It has an energy that sucks. Be free. Don’t copy the lads, ‘chasing their phallus around toy-land in a perpetual neurotic state’. Wake up to the new age and levitate! My own trench of Tricksters suggest you keep your macho-sexy-ego posing on indoor walls and not offend the nature, for, at the end of a top-roping-sexy day, the feminine principal, the She you deny, would take your eye sockets for nests and your shaved, perfumed pudenda to sprout future growth!

‘I hunt for more than the horror of what is apparent. I am not handing out clean needles and doses of methadone… because it is society that is suffering… ‘

Okay, I know; a gentle slope sees me hurtling over a cliff – do I give a falling-fuck?!

I say Perillos and be damned to you all!

A French play on words - La nuit tous les chats sont gris – at night all cunts (cats) are grey.

John Redhead:2013....Photographs JR Collection

John Redhead on Soundcloud