The day I met Patrick Edlinger
- Monday 30th March 2020
There are a few iconic images in your life that inspire you to greater things. For me this image was one of the first climbing shots/posters ever I put up on my wall. It was this shot of Patrick Edlinger climbing one of the first hard routes at Ceuse, in France. The clean wall, edge pulling, steep sports route inspired me to climb such routes later in life. It optimized the pureness of climbing chuffin’ hard. At that time Patrick was probably one if the best climbers in the world. Certainly, the most famous climber. The first real cragging books covered him climbing in places like the Verdon, Cimai and across the US.
That very same evening it was shoulder to shoulder standing on the wet grass below the Granny Rock. I’ve never seen so many headbands on British climbers (till the first time I went to Sheffield and partied at the 'Lead Mill'). The excitement was at fever pitch. Every scouser was practising their party pieces and polishing up all the sandbag problems. A chance to outclass the worlds best was on the cards and not to be missed. Unfortunately, Patrick had moved on and didn’t appear at the Breck that evening. Probably on a road trip of the great British bouldering venues we thought. Still he had been to the Breck. Why not!
Folk never believed my story but it’s as true as the Breck is the finest climbing venue on the Wirral!
It was many years later when eventually I went to Buoux to see what all the fuss was about. All the Brits were lined up pulling on the bolts, shitting themselves looking, with binos, at the next huge run-out. I was generally puntering around, like most of the Brits, on some F7c+/8a on the Bout de monde area. Struggling with the steepness, sunburn and heat. Watching the top climbers of the day do amazing things in fairness was pretty impressive. Didier Raboutou, Stefan Glowacz, Marc le Menestrel, Ben ‘go to the’ Moon and the Jerry Moffatt show. All there climbing, posing and pulling like a tractor.
When suddenly, one hot day, Patrick walked around the corner (the real one) and stood next to my knackered old 4Om Blue Water sport rope. He looked at me and with his best Franglase ask if he could use my rope. I almost choked and said of cause mate, but only if he felt he was up to it. I requested 'But please don’t fall off on it as it’s never taken any lobs before'. Anyhow, as expected, Patrick floated up the route I’d been projecting for the last few weeks and with the occasional 'formidarble' and 'Sacre blu’ clipped the chains and casually lowered off. I think we chatted a bit about croissants and how fresh the bananas were that day (the limit of my improved French).
Struck me he was a top chap, who took time to chat to the mere mortals like us, unlike I might say, many of the other superstars of the day. But the thing that struck me was his style on the rock. He looked the part - he just climbed effortlessly.
I used the very same rope as a washing line for many years after. Hoping some of his magic would wash off onto us! Fortunately, his style did but his climbing never made it!
Footnote: I’m told ‘Patrick’ was a student at Liverpool Uni. He apparently looked like PE and often played along!
First published on Mike 'Twid' Turner’s Facebook page here…