by Brittany Griffith
I don’t have many heroes – Julia Child, Nakano Takedo, Florence Nightingale… and Arnaud Petit and Stéph Bodet. If you haven’t heard of Arnaud and Stéph, just Google, “World’s Most Adventurous Climbing Couple.” From Morocco to Algeria to Venezuela to the climbs of Ceüse above their self-built house, they’ve done first ascents in more countries than states I’ve been to in America (I still haven’t ticked New Mexico). They’ve traveled the world together, doing their climbs with style, with commitment, with an eye for the absolute best line. They are my climbing heroes.
[Stéph Bodet floats a 7c+ slab arête just before sunset. Photo: Arnaud Petit]
I met Stéph and Arnaud 15 years ago in Rifle, Colorado; they were French World Cup competition climbers at the time and I was an aspiring dirtbag. I thought I was pretty cool at the time—they were cooler. They were French, climbed 5.14 and radiated confidence. As it so happens in chance climbing encounters, I had loosely stayed in touch with Aranud and Stéph via email over the years and our friendship grew as we shared birthday wishes, stories of climbing adventures and recipes from the kitchen.
I had been home almost a month straight and I was itching to go on a trip. JT had to work so I was planning on going somewhere alone. Arnaud had always been gracious when it came to climbing trip beta, and so I wrote him to see if he had any good ideas for a solo climbing trip for me. I was seconds from hitting the little red “Confirm purchase” box on a Delta flight to Istanbul when an email titled “Climbing slab trip” from Arnaud appeared in my inbox. Arnaud sometimes wrote to me in English and at times there were some typos and misspellings that come with writing in a second language, but his enthusiasm translated perfectly. “Hello brittany,” the email started. “Did you find a trip for february ? Otherwise, we wanted to tell you we finally decided to go in la Pedriza in Spain, a paradise of granit and a historic place for hoorible slabs and good bouldering also. We plan to stay from 15 to 29 of february. Sure it's very different than tufa holydays, but If you want to join us , it will be a pleasure! Let us know. It's close to Madrid. We are looking for an appartement.”
Slabs are definitely not my favorite, but I would rather go climbing with Arnaud and Stéph than go to the Seychelles with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. I quickly changed the airport code from IST to MAD on the Delta website. It wouldn’t matter how much the ticket cost. I was going.
[My first day at the historic climbing area, La Pedriza, on a 7a slab. Terrifying but beautiful. Photo: Aitor Bárez]
While you’re waiting for part two of this story to drop, watch Arnaud Petit climb Black Bean (5.13d) in Céüse on gear. The whipper after the credits is nuts!