Alf Randell is a self-described "dirtbag" who has spent nearly a decade of his life climbing amongst the soaring sandstone cliffs of Indian Creek, Utah. In November, 2011, I spent some time climbing with Alf and documented his life in "The Creek," his love of tall splitter cracks, and his decision to shun city life in favor of a small camper in the middle of the Utah desert.
Filmed in the sumer of 2011 this film follows Neil Gresham, one of the UK's most prominent all round professional rock climbers, as he embarks on one of the most challenging routes of his career, 'Hydrotherapy'.
'Hydrotherapy' takes the line of greatest steepness through the soaring, gothic architecture of Hollow Caves Bay in Pembroke, Wales. Climbing rope-less with only the sea to catch him, Neil could only safely attempt the route during a high, spring tide when the water would sufficiently cover the jagged reefs below. Discovering that the cave would remain wet until an hour before sunset meant that this tide had to rise precisely at the right time. When the sun was low enough in the sky, the face would be bathed in an incredible golden light and the moisture, burnt away.
So, the seas had to be calm, the weather, mild, and he had to have someone on hand to fish him out in case of emergency. Even getting to the base of the route presented problems which required an unusual and creative approach. As if to add insult to injury, the cliff falls within a restricted area of land, controlled by the military. Several attempts were thwarted by the unpredictable closure of this land, exacerbating a sense of frustration, made keener by the wasted 500mile return trips from London.
So when the illusive window of opportunity finally creaked ajar, Neil had to be ready to climb something at his physical limit. The resulting experience surely had to be one of the most cathartic and memorable of his life.
Climbing and parenting: a balance between hanging on and letting go. Climbing seems simple enough: grip too hard and you'll pump out early. If you don't put enough effort into it, you'll never make it to the end. Kate has spent over a decade fine-tuning that balance between holding on and letting go. Now with the birth of her first child Annie, she finds the same lessons in parenthood: Suddenly you are two people, dependent on each other, but each with a lifetime of dreams and aspirations ahead of them. You have to hold on, but not too tight. Seems simple enough.