Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cailtin Bradley - American Girl

 I returned to Yangshuo in mid-Winter, with only a brief Facebook message from West Australian climber/adventurer Logan Barber, who I'd never met, as the only lead on people who I might join up with. I met Logan, we crossed over for my first two days, he was awesome, I'm still getting to him.

But the last person I had the privilege of knowing was the extraordinary Caitlin Bradley.
Early twenties, living, working, studying, adventuring and climbing in China.

What's her story?

It seems a young American girl from North Carolina can make a living in China teaching climbing.
See her on the Black Rock Climbing team page.

Ninjas take climbing lessons from Caitlin.

After graduating from UNC Chapel Hill she headed to Yangshuo for a climbing holiday. And never left. She does, however, have intentions of returning to do a masters on anthropogenic activities affecting fish populations in fresh water ecosystems.

I recently caught up with Caitlin by email, after a long pause. She says.
"Sorry for the late response, right now I am traveling in Yunnan mainly climbing and hiking, and my internet access has been limited. I used a friends computer that had a VPN".

It's still a big world out there.
Being between degrees she's studying Calligraphy, Chinese painting and Chinese cooking. Skills!

Who likes biscuits and gravy for breakfast? Must be a North Carolina thing. I had to google it.
Caitlin misses family breakfasts of biscuits and gravy in their forest home, listening to birds and watching the deer. Horse riding through the forest. Helping her Dad in the garden and fishing, and quilting and cooking with her Mom. I try to picture all that, I make it up from American movies.
For now she's working on American home style cooking, as long as it can be done on one burner, in a wok.

Hearing her melodic mastery of Mandarin, coloured with Southern Drawl is completely dreamy.
I've no idea what she's talking about, but could listen happily all day.

It's Christmas day we are crammed in the back of a mini-van, balancing big filthy packs of climbing gear on our knees. The bumpy road and worn seats are hurting my arse as we return from the crag in the dark. It's cold. Every one's got that glazed-eyed silence. Satisfaction, exhaustion. Caitlin is on the phone to her Mom in Nth Carolina, they are obviously close. You can hear the longing. Mothers with young daughters overseas, they are the same everywhere, concerned, needing skillful reassurance, but ultimately full of pride. She should be.

Find Catlin on Facebook at Caitlin Bradley - UNC but don't expect a response from behind the Great Fire Wall of China.
Thanks Caitlin, for your friendship, yours is an amazing story.


PS All the photos disappeared from this post. I have reconstructed it as best I can. I blame Google.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Blue Magic - James Gunn

Beta alert! Look away if you want to onsight Blue Magic 8b. 
Followers of johnjobrien on Instagram will know that I recently returned from another quick Chinese climbing and tofu and photo gathering expedition.
I met some of the finest people. They made me welcome amongst them. They shared their time and their snacks. And they climbed like machines possessed.
Here's James Gunn. One of the finest. 

The day I set up for this shoot it was dull and cold. I got into position, the talent tied in and chalked up.
The second he laid a finger on the stone the sun unexpectedly cracked the gloom, plastering my shadow all over the wall. Not quite the plan.
But the effect was uplifting, one of those magic moments when I know there is no other place in the world I'd rather be. I like to believe that everyone at the crag felt the same euphoria.

James Gunn - on the send.  

James and Tom make ready at Skull Mountain.
I made that up, it's White Mountain.

I love White Mountain. Despite my humble performance there.
It's a humbling and magnificent crag.

 The first couple of moves, watching through the lens, I'm thinking, "I could do that".
At about the second clip I'm thinking, "nah that's me done".

 Lining up the first crux

"Catching the last move of crux #1"

"The rest" James seemed quite relaxed and centred. But in real terms, it not a rest.

James worked the route with Dave Van Den Berg and Tom Allen. He says he was psyched for it right from the start. There was no stopper move to contend with, but it didn't go down easy. Conditions on the first day were exceptional but he never got the same break again.


"Exiting the rest into the final crux sequence"

Sun's out, Gunn's out. 
James reckons his fav route is "Lost in China" at Getu, China.
Note to self: get the booking staff at jjobreinclimbing to schedule me a trip, say it is for photos or something.

He likes Mie Fun. I like Mei Fun. 
He likes Drum and Bass. I like Drum and Bass.
He's a G.I.S. analyst/specialist for an engineering consultancy. 
I like Mie Fun.

James told me what he did for a job, but I didn't understand. Very technical and important.
All I understood was that there are remarkable and surprising people out there. I continue to be amazed.
Talented, friendly, crazy strong and photogenic.

Find James on Facebook - James Gunn Auckland, New Zealand.

Cook your own Mie Fun

200grams rice noodles (thin)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 carrot, julienne cut, 1/2 cup onion, sliced, 1 1/2 cups cabbage, shredded
tofu pieces   2 large eggs
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 cup bean sprouts,  1/4 cup water,  1/4 teaspoon brown sugar,  2 tablespoons soy sauce (to taste)
salt, to taste, fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1. Place the rice noodles in a pot of hot water and allow them to soak for 15 to 20 minutes.
2. While the noodles are soaking, heat the sesame oil in a large wok over high heat.  Fry the tofu pieces. Add the carrot and onion. Cook and stir until crisp tender. Stir in the cabbage, cooking and stirring for 1 minute longer.
3. Stir in the ginger, bean sprouts and eggs. Once the eggs are cooked, stir in the water, brown sugar and soy sauce. Cook and stir
4. Drain the rice noodles and add them to the skillet. Season with salt, pepper or soy sauce, t o taste. Yum


PS this post has been reconstructed after Google lost all the photo links. Sorry if it's a bit different.