Triple bill in Darfo: Mick Fowler, Caroline Ciavaldini and James Pearson.

Mick Fowler high on Gave Ding

Mick Fowler high on Gave Ding (Photo M. Fowler archive)


An apparently run-of-the-mill village where you pass by on your way to the spa, the local climbing crag and the many mountains. Or so it would seem… Montagne al Cinema has been running in Darfo Boario Terme for fifteen years and its list of guests is a who’s who in the world of mountaineering: from Patrick Edlinger to Manolo, the Favresse brothers to Christophe Dumarest, Catherine Destivelle to Leo Houlding. Many names, all encompassing exciting, compelling, fascinating stories.

The first two dates in this year’s edition, where I was the translator, presented two different worlds: Himalayan mountaineering with Mick Fowler and “Once upon a climb”, that is the climbing dream lived by Caroline Ciavaldini and James Pearson. – check their website here

It would be far too easy to think that Mick, a taxman in “real life”, and Caroline and James, a former competition champion and a highly accomplished trad climber, all pursue their adventures simply to follow their passion. You’ll need far more that mere fervour to achieve their results. Determination, curiosity, organisation, the willingness to “open your eyes” and embrace other cultures, different habits, unusual customs are all part and parcel of their success.

Although, clearly, success is not what they’re after. “Success” to them is, for instance, raising money for Caroline’s and James’s charity, Spot or opening new lines in Nepal for Mick (Mick’s latest achievement, together with Paul Ramsden, was reaching the summit of Gave Ding (6400 m) on 22 October 2015).

What are we to make of all this? How can we be inspired by them? Surely, setting up a Himalayan expedition, opening a new line on Reunion Island or repeating famously difficult routes in the south of France or risky ones in the UK aren’t for everybody, but this is not the point. The point is that, ultimately, grades do not matter: sharing a passion is, in fact, enough to unite people, and their stories set an example of how dreams can indeed come true, if you put your mind to it.

Caroline’s next project is the repetition of the Voie Petit on the Grand Capucin, opened by Arnaud Petit and Stephanie Bodet in 1997 and freed by Alexander Huber in 2005. Born and bred on the tropical Reunion Island, she will have to come to terms with the cold, ice, climbing at high altitude, using crampons and sleeping in a tent on a glacier. Leaving your comfort zone to find adventure often means tackling unfamiliar terrain, and this is a case in point.

Mick is turning 60 this year, but will not give up his yearly expedition. “I would be a very unhappy person, were I to do so…”, so stay tuned for more exploits.

If you are short of places to stay in the area around Darfo, do not miss this little gem. The B&B La Teiera  is cozy, to say the least. Step back in time and enjoy the marvellous hospitality of the owners, who have recently renovated this house perched on a small river, with all state of the art comforts.

See you all at Darfo for Montagne al Cinema 2017!


Mick Fowler in Darfo


Chatting with Mick during his talk.

Caroline Ciavaldini 002

The magic couple. (Photo The North Face)

_DS_5455 Daddy Cool E8 Pearson

James Pearson on Daddy Cool (E8 6b) on the sandstone cliff of Carreg-y-Barcud in North Pembroke. He flashed the route and made a more direct ascent in the process. (Photo The North Face)



Caroline on Mezzogiorno di Fuoco, Sardinia (Photo Riky Felderer)


Mick Fowler during his Gave Ding Expedition. (Photo Fowler archive)



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