Tiny Ascents: Fontainebleau and Beyond
It had been about 9 months since I'd last seen my dad, saying goodbye to him at the Denver International Airport before leaving home. It's been over 15 years since he had made it to the European corner of the world and finally he, Europe and I were able to reunite. Adventure runs in my genes, a trait passed down by his side. At my age, he was exploring the world and attending a Chinese medicine school in London before moving to Switzerland to pursue massage, where destiny brought him to meet my Milanese mother.
But the adventure gene goes further than just traveling. Part of it is the hunger of ascending. Finding things that stand in our way and overcoming them. This means also knowing what scares you, understanding your limits and climbing beyond the gravity that tells you that you're not strong enough. Acrophobia (the fear of heights) is a common human fear, as it's natural to freak out both when you're contemplating how to get to the top and when you're on the top of a peak looking down far beyond your own body height and your potential end. But if you don't take the risk to see the world from up high, then you will only continue to see the same limited perspective and you will continue to feel inferior to your obstacles.
So that's what led us to the most famous bouldering area in Europe- Fontainebleau, France. The hundreds of tiny ascents, sitting like little deformed monsters in the mossy forest, teasing anyone who dares to conquer its short but challenging routes. Frozen fingers squeeze into the rocky cracks as you pull your weight up with one hand in a pocket full of rain water.
"Climbing is all about freedom, the freedom to go beyond all the rules and take a chance, to experience something new, to gain insight into human nature… For me, imagination is more important in climbing than muscle or daredevil antics,” said legendary 70 year old mountaineer Reinhold Messner in his book My Life at the Limit. A man of adventurous solitude, he understands the concept that everything begins with an idea.
It is up to us to be strong enough to manifest it.