Friday, November 20, 2015

On the road again 2015

Ewoolution is back on the road after a summer of settling down in a house in Switzerland. Tara is now 1 year old, she has her own bedroom in the driving cubicle of the van and we are ready for living on the road again.
The house was a big change for us ; going from 10m2 to over 300m2 was a new world for us to adapt to and returning to the van felt like going back home.
We started with Finale Ligure, part of our heart lays there, we always look forward to going back and meeting our old friends and making new ones. Tara felt very free and explored the town with or without us and she figured out very fast that Toni's cafe was the daily stop and where she could always get cookies !
Next stop was Ulassai, Sardinia. We were already there on a bolting trip last may with Tara in my tummy, good friends, good food, great fun and alot of bolting !
This year I want to climb what I was not able to do when I was pregnant last year so I am really motivated to get back in shape and enjoy climbing again. Raf is organising the first highline event in Ulassai called "Sardinia Highline Halloween". The idea is a meeting to discover the area, everyone brings their own gear and we see what happens ! The Halloween theme must have brought us bad luck because Ulassai got trapped in a creepy thick fog that lasted the whole weekend of the meeting, everyone always hoped for the next day to be better but the humidity stuck around, the wind was crazy and the highlines were not so appealing anymore but the group gathered some motivation and walked some lines to the great excitement of the school kids who were watching from the bottom of the canyon. As a highline meeting can never be without a party, the locals made sure everyone forgot about the weather by bringing their homemade liquors and cooked hunted meat and freshly picked porcini mushrooms. Thanks to the support of the town of Ulassai, Nannai, AustriAlpin and Landcruising we will for sure have a second round next year and hope to meet our friends there again, more people from sardinia and of course some sun !

This year in Ulassai, we are like a circus family, 2 families, one child/adult (we are not sure he is even potty trained yet) living in a van (his name is Klaas), a couple of italian hippies (one of them says he's a mountain guide in chamonix but considering his balance issues around the campsite, we are having doubts on his honesty..), a malgach franco tcheque couple whom found a new career in the music industry thanks to the « kaosilator », and the francision crew who surprised us with their arrival for the highline meeting. We are like family after 2 weeks living in a square of vans on the heights of Ulassai's « campo sportivo » and we seem to all check on each other and the kids love it ! We cannot speak of family without mentionning the guardians Molly and Sbam who feel their biggest responsibility is watching out for the kids and caring for their bones.
We have now moved onto some vacational, family beachy time on the coast of sardinia and we are really enjoying letting the babies take in some vitamin D, running around butt naked, and our morning jump into the sea!
We feel really lucky to be living this life, and though the world is constantly going through horrible events, we are hoping by living the way we do, we support as little as possible the geopolitical decision being made and which we feel so detached from. What I say may not make much sense but it reflects the unsensible meaning of all that is going on in the middle east, Europe, Russia, and which actually touches the whole world. Trying to make a difference in a local setting is all I feel we can do... treating our neighbor as our equal and standing up for ourselves as human, not as french, american, syrian, arabic, musulman, christian or other... the art of living being oneself without dictation from others seems to be the most problematic task of being human on earth.
Keep it slack !

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ulassai, Sardinia

3 weeks, 300 bolts, a drill in one hand, a slice of pizza in the other. Here we are in Ulassai, let the bolting begin !

This was our first time in Ulassai, Sardinia, we had heard from our friend Klaas Willems, that the place had a lot of potential for new routes but needed some motivated people to develop the area. A group of friends were already there and we joined them on a perfect sunny day for a barbecue on the beach. What better way to start a trip and meet the crew...
 The village of Ulassai is perched up on the hills in the South Western part of the island, surrounded by rock and an unmistakeable canyon where climbers can already find a good selection of routes ideal for hot spring and summer days.

Our friend Matteo Cappa, a motivated climber from Torino, putting energy into developing the area, had discovered a new possible sector close to the canyon with a slightly overhanging wall with pockets. We checked it out and discovered besides the overhang wall, really nice vertical routes on the wall around the corner. The first tower block offered some nice easy lines and following the ledge brought us to an obvious vertical wall with orange streaks Raf could not wait to start bolting ! Klaas was already in the overhanging wall bolting a line, Rueben was opening a path, the motivation was so strong we set up fixed ropes that day and started drilling. We had ordered 200 bolts from Austrialpine and got 100 extra for good behavior so we felt unstoppable. Others of us had also brought more bolts so there we were ; 4 guys and one pregnant girl, hammering, drilling, tightening, and cleaning. It was pure fun and excitement to see the transformation, cleaning off the ledges and creating access to the walls with ropes, bridges and stairs. The girls also got hooked and bolted their first routes in this sector called Marosini : the village near it which always gave us a traditional bell session at the end of the day. After work, the reward of climbing the routes, naming them, estimating the grade and watching others inside giving their feedback is the best pay back.

The locals from Ulassai showed their appreciation for bringing new possibilities to this small village by inviting us to the traditional Santa Barbara gathering. A day of cooking and eating in the neighboring village of Santa Barbara where friends, cousins, aunts and uncles meet once a year in one of their country side houses. The men take care of roasting the game while the women and young girls work on preparing dishes. A long feasting table sitting maybe 40 people was set up and when it was finally time to start eating, we did not expect we would be sitting around the table all day getting served pig, goat, fresh prawns, fish, potato cakes, salads, cheeses, cakes, and sweet pastries ! The dishes never stopped coming, served with wine made by them, and fruit schnapps to digest a little and then eat more ! One day full of indulging that many suffered for days feeling really heavy at the crag ! Good thing Santa Barbara is only once a year !
Our bolting mission was soon coming to an end, the group would separate and everyone would go back to where they came from, leaving behind us a playground for next time... We bolted 22 routes in the Marosini sector grading from 5c to 8a with a range of styles for everyone to find their fit ! We plan to pursue our work in this area, keep on developing more routes, set up highlines for a future event coming soon...

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Our 2nd year on the road...

We had just spent one year living in the van, traveling around Europe for rock climbing, highlining, biking, all supported by our wool hats handmade wherever we traveled. We have no flat or permanent address apart from our respective families and friends and the plan was to travel one year and go back to a « normal » life, but we decided that living on the road suited us and was possible so we opted for being homeless by choice : slacklife.
Climbing and highline events are an essential part of our travels because not only do we meet up with friends, and make new ones, but we also spread out the idea of Ewoolution « handmade on the road » with our hats and earn the means to continue the simple life we choose. 
After visiting the 2nd Monte Piana Highline Meeting, we spent some time in the Dolomites before heading to Finale Ligure to participate in the Finale for Nepal ; a boulder event raising funds for schools in Nepal. We helped and sold our hats donating a percentage of what we made towards Nepal.We really enjoyed the people and this area filled with climbing spots, highlines and high class biking trails ; we stayed two months...
Leaving Italy was hard but we had eaten enough pizza and we were ready for some fresh greek salads and some tuffa climbing in Kalymnos. Our van decided otherwise and showed signs of weakness on the way to the ferry until it blew its last breath on the pass above La Spezia, at midnight, 150km from our departure point. After being a kick start on our new adventures, Italy was starting to be our worst nightmare. Our van was towed to two different mechanics in the area, no solution except for a new and expensive engine, so we decided that the Citroen Jumper would have better luck in its home country : France. We couldn't believe the turn of events when we were given the French bill of repair that was higher and higher everywhere we searched. We also kept hearing from everyone that we had better just get a new van, that it wasn't worth it. We persisted thinking that it was, it couldn't end like that.
We were then living with friends, winter was knocking on the door with very cold fingers, so we were making hats. Decisions needed to be made and at this point nothing felt right anymore : physically, mentally, environmentally, and when you least expect it, things can take a whole new turn ; I was pregnant !

night at the airport
I believe that in this chain of events and situation, most would have panicked and maybe seen it as the icing on the cake, but somehow, we reacted calmly as a reason to change our view on everything that had happened. Of course, the « normal » way of life would have pushed us to settle somewhere and prepare for the new coming life, but we felt the need to continue with our travels and get back into our familiar rocky surroundings ; we flew to Turkey.

Arriving to Geyikbayiri is like coming home after a long holiday, we feel at home, we meet our friends, and find our bearings and habits. We were breathing new air, the sun was shining and our motivation was back. We were quite out of shape but we quickly started climbing strong again and though being two and a half months pregnant I was climbing strong but mostly on top rope. Raf had the project to bolt new lines and along with our friend Klaas Willems, they found new possibilities in an already popular sector. I baptized Raf's first route in that sector called « Passenger » 6b with a tricky crux by first ascending it on lead, excited and nervous to be carrying my passenger with me on this new experience ! The next line he bolted in the same sector: "Daddy Cool", first ascent from Klaas Willems.

Allison in "Passenger" 6b, pic K. Willems
Raffa in "Daddy Cool" 8a, pic K.Willems
 Rest days started to turn into bolting days for the guys and I got curious to try it also. With Klaas Willems, we decided to bolt a birthday route for Raf in the most popular sector of the area, a major line : 35meters long, crimpy and technical on slight overhang ; a 7c+ we called Rafsta Games in between Geyikbayiri Games and Olympos Games in the famous and impressive sector Sarkit. 
Raffa in "Daddy Cool" 8a Pic K.Willems
Allison in "Passenger" 6b Pic K.Willems

Raffa in "Rafsta Games" 7c+, pic K.Willems
"Rafsta Games", pic K.Willems

Pic. Klaas Willems
When he was not bolting or climbing new lines, Raf was bolting for the highline festival which expected 18 highline set ups. A whole new sector was equipped giving a large range of possibilities for all levels ; it turned out to be the most popular place to be during the event. We were trying to prepare for a larger amount of participants considering the success o f the previous year and we were pleasantly surprised by 150 slackliners doubling last years' already considerable group. 

Jumpline session at Rido's, pic Bulut Sahin                                 Neco impressing the crowd for opening night, pic K. Willems

Danny Mensik in Anatolia sector, pic K.Willems

cooking at Rido's, pic K. Willems
The vibe and energy of the opening night was so exciting it set the tone for the rest of the festival. Everyday was a mix of highlining, slacklining, singing, eating, dancing, chilling, juggling, giving the area a real festival feeling and intriguing the local Turkish climbers whom really enjoyed participating in the event and giving all of their support for next years' event. We had managed to bring alot of people together which created one of the biggest highline festivals in the world.

Fire balloons exploding for the opening night, pic K.Willems
SlackPro Calm Line Contest in the new sector: Riverside,  pic M. Reza Abaee
Dj Stretch Flo Hansen, pic M. Reza Abaee
Raffa in Canyon sector, pic M. Reza Abaee

"THC" special edition hats, photo by Klaas Willems

Pic M. Reza Abaee

We had two more weeks left in Turkey ; we drove West to a new area called Datca being developed by a friend of ours. During one week Raf and our friend had a bolting festival setting on average two new lines each per day. The excitement is obvious for a climber when he sees so much virgin rock and so many possible lines. I was in my fifth month and wanted to mark the territory also so I bolted my first line alone, which made me want to do more !
We really enjoyed participating in the creation if a new place, putting our mark into the wall to benefit the pleasure for others to ascend new routes and to give the locals a new perspectives on the environment surrounding them.

We had heard of a new area in Sardinia where a group of our friends had a plan to go spend a month in May for bolting and developing the place.
We needed to get our van up and running again to take us there and get Ewoolution back on the road.

old engine out

Raf remodeling the van in Annecy while Allison's making hats..
New engine, new organizing, new interior, the van is ready and we are realizing that it has been a half a year since we've lived in the van. Thanks to our friends and family we've always had a place to stay and feel at home during this time but we are really happy to be back to what we call Home.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


It´s time for an update!
The blog has been feeling a little left out I think, and though I´ve been thinking alot about it, the posts just don't write themselves!
I want to change the style a little though because I just can´t keep up by posting about every place we have been since Bulgaria which is alot so I prefer to start fresh from where we are and for sure stories of the other places we've been all of this year will come up!
I would rather also just pick topics I feel like writing about and sharing, the stories we have, and also the experiences we´ve made in different areas.
Right now our main focus has been EWOOLUTION and our hats, we´ve been making so many hats since we´ve been in Italy its insane but it´s really cool to see how much everyone is enthused about our work and how much they appreciate it and want to support this way we have of making hats on the road, and traveling to do the things we love to do.
We have been in Finale Ligure for the past month and came to participate in the Finale for Nepal event which organises bouldering competitions from amateurs to pros, slackline shows, and the brands come and set up stands all around the village of FINALBORGO. The profits are used to help build a school in a mountain village for the kids to have access to education and also promoting the development of climbing areas and more.
We had our first real stand at this event and we kept busy all day making special orders. Its really cool how everyone is interested; alot of elder people love seeing us crochetting, it either reminds them of their mother doing it or gives them inspiration on their own handmade work. They also get a kick out of seeing Raffi making hats and impressed at the speed we make them!

After the event, while helping to clean up the village, we got asked if we would be available to help on the next event which would be the SUPER ENDURO world series final in Finale Ligure 2 weeks later.. We said yes for sure why not, if we can sell our hats during the event in exchange... We have never been in a biking event so the idea was fun and bikers also need hats when they take their helmets off!
Turns out this event was a great success! we actually SOLD OUT of the hats we had made, and had so many special orders we actually ran out of wool! We were actually working nearly 8hour days just crocheting and I can tell you it is work! But its such a nice work and the result gives a unique product that someone then wears and as we continue to travel the hat travels too..

 There were times where the stand was full of people trying hats, looking through the wool for colors they wanted while we tried to keep a rhythm to make the orders we already had! The kids are so cool; they come to the stand in groups, try on all the hats, and they get so excited and are also really interested in watching how we make...

So here we go for Round 2 of EWOOLUTION´s tour around Europe: thanks to Italy for the great kickoff!
 In Hats we Trust!