Franco Cookson: Chasing the Impossible - Alpkit, Hathersage

Franco Cookson: Chasing the Impossible - Alpkit, Hathersage

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Posted 2023-12-16 by John Burnsfollow

Fri 12 Jan 2024




Image via @Francocookson on Instagram .

What: Leading British climber Franco Cookson brings his lecture tour to Hathersage.
Where: Alpkit, Main Road, Hathersage, Hope Valley, SE32 1BB
When: January 12th, 2024. 7:30pm to 9:30pm.
How: Get your ticket at Eventbrite . General admission is £10.

One of Britain’s top climbers, Franco Cookson, brings his lecture tour to the Alpkit shop in Hathersage. He’ll be talking about his recent adventures, about the very fine line between possible and impossible, and about the lure of the seriously hard.

Spend some time browsing the nails-hard routes of the northeast of England, and you’ll probably start to notice a pattern. Amid the spiralling E-numbers and mind-boggling technical grades (British 7b???), there’s a name that keeps on cropping up among the first ascensionists. That name is Franco Cookson.

Divine Moments of Truth (E10 7a) at Kay Nest in North Yorkshire. Nothing Lasts (E11 7a) at Sandy Crag in Northumberland. Sky Burial (E10 6b) and Immortal (E11 7b) at Maiden’s Bluff on the North Yorks Moors. These are routes that, once upon a time, climbers would have looked up at and said “no chance… impossible”.

But they’re not impossible. They’re just really, really hard. And Franco Cookson has shown us that there’s a big difference.



Image via Eventbrite

Since featuring in the film Fall Theory, part of Alastair Lee’s celebrated BritRock series, Franco’s fame has grown and his scope has expanded. 2023 has seen him putting up an astonishing first ascent on Welsh slate, with The Dewin Stone (French 9a+) at Twll Mawr in Gwynedd. He’s also made an audacious attempt at an unclimbed big wall in Greenland with fellow legends Ben Ditto, Nico Favresse and Sean Villaneuva. The end of the year found Franco in California, with Siebe Vanhee on El Capitan’s monstrous Dawn Wall.

All these expeditions have been radically different, but all share a few crucial elements. Every one of these climbs is an attempt at redefining the boundaries of the possible. With each bolt clipped, each piece of gear placed, each move made, and each fall taken, the aim is to push the envelope on what can be done on rock.

Most of us – basically, all of us – will never come close to making the moves Franco and his ilk make. But anyone who’s ever climbed anything will recognise this feeling – the feeling of “I’ve got no chance here” shifting into “oh, I’m actually doing it”. We’re all experiencing this whenever we climb, it’s just that Franco happens to be doing it on stuff that’s objectively much harder. (If you’re climbing these grades yourself – sorry for making the assumption, and hats off to you).

On January 12th at the Alpkit shop in Hathersage, Franco is going to be talking about this. He’ll explore the dividing line between a stunningly hard route and something that’s just not humanly possible – a line that keeps on moving as the discipline of climbing evolves. He asks: “What does ‘impossible’ even mean these days?”

Don’t expect any definitive answers to this question. That's not really the point. But do expect thrilling discussions of climbing some of the hardest routes in the world, and an inspiring two hours spent in the company of a British climber at the absolute top of his game.

Book your tickets for the talk at Eventbrite .

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273017 - 2023-12-15 23:19:49

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