Sunday, October 15, 2006

Authentic Desire?


What could possess three otherwise pretty normal English blokes to spend their day at the bottom of various slightly damp, slightly mossy, Southern Finnish cliffs on a cold autumn day...


...wrapped up in duvet jackets, fleeces and woolly hats, to keep out the dank, cold, autumnal air?

Some fat bloke on a rock

We didn't even get to climb that much (although Dave put in a fine lead on a 7a) as good sections of both of the cliffs we visited were seeping after last week's heavy rains. Many holds were covered in soggy leaf-mulch and sopping moss - far from ideal conditions - and fingers quickly numbed pulling on cold holds.

Tony belays as Dave cruises to victory above

I suppose it's because we love it, and even though the seasons are turning against us, we're not quite ready to stop rock climbing yet. And its not even the climbing itself, at least not for me, because otherwise today would have been a total write-off. It's having coffee and donuts with your friends in countryside petrol-station caf├ęs; its watching the yellow leaves swirl down after a gust shakes the trees; it the silent crags looking slightly abandoned after the fine-weather-climbers of summer have retreated back to working out on indoor walls. There's a phrase in climbing literature: "authentic desire" - I'm sure it was either Jim Perrin or John Redhead who used it first (although knowing those two there's a good chance that they had lifted it from Heidegger or Nietzsche) - to describe the urge that creates a climb of beauty at great personal risk. I'm never going to be that strong, or that brave, to do "that" sort of route, and I don't know if standing around on a slick carpet of fallen leaves on a chilly, damp, October sunday to get a few more routes in before winter, really counts as "authentic desire"; but at least for me it will do.


Anonymous said...

Like the contrast between the leaves and your shoes - sort of a gear freaks Andy Goldsworthy!


Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

I had to look Goldsworthy up, but now I have I can only take that as a compliment! I am without a doubt a bit of a gearfreak, so perhaps there is a new artistic sub-genre of gear-porn in attractive natural settings? ;-)