5 Things You Didn't Know: Nico Favresse
From first ascents on massive alpine walls to the podium of the Freeskiing World Tour to the world's hardest onsights, Black Diamond athletes are no strangers to the spotlight. But oftentimes a newsworthy accomplishment, whether it be in the alpine, at a ski resort or at the sport crag, is only half the story behind our world-class team of climbers and skiers. In this ongoing series of posts, we'll chat with Black Diamond athletes to give you an inside glimpse at their lives behind the headlines.
This month we talked with vagabond climber, musician, and adventurer Nico Favresse. When Nico isn't busy putting up hard big-wall first ascents from Venezuela to El Cap, he can be found cranking 5.14 on the world's best sport crags and jamming out on the guitar or the mandolin.
In climbing terms "jamming" means to squeeze your hands into a crack. Well, in music "jamming" means to play together with other musicians without following one song in particular. One musician starts and then others join in as the structure of the music invents itself according to the moment and the dynamic of the musicians. On my first trip to Yosemite, I really had no idea how to jam my hands into the cracks. I would place them perfectly, but they would slip out of the cracks. I have been crack climbing for a while now, and still today it's hard for me to understand why I can do it better now. It's a feeling you have to find but also you have to let your mind be open for it. In music I find the approach to jamming quite similar. Often I meet musicians that have great music skills and knowledge, but when it's about jamming the vibe doesn't go through, the connection can't be made. And my main understanding for this is that too much knowledge kills spontaneous feelings. In order to feel things you need to let yourself be vulnerable. You need to set yourself in a situation where everything is questionable and you have no more references. That's one main reason why I like to go to the other side of the world and be faced with great personal challenges. The reality of the daily routine is set aside in order to find yourself alone, and in its purest form, in front many questions I'd like to find answers. Each expedition is for me first of all a personal research and the greater the adventure is the more it's what I am looking for.
I like to approach my climbing like a musical jam. By this I mean to let a maximum of margin to adapt myself according to my feeling of the moment. If I go somewhere on expedition, for example, I usually prefer to avoid searching for too much information or to look too closely at pictures of the walls. It's important for me not to influence my feeling of the first time I discover the walls with my real eyes. For me this first impression is very important! I like my sight to be the least influenced by theoretical knowledge. Also, if I see a line that attracts me, I try not to analyze it too much with binoculars or to listen to people around me, so that I avoid building things in my mind about the line. With my experience, I know that it's important to give importance to this emotional side and to keep a distance from the rational. But, it's not always easy when the rational opposes itself with the instinct. I do think though, it's the magical key to make the most beautiful and difficult ascents.
Some of the hardest routes I have climbed, I have redpointed them in the dark or when light is setting. For some reason I love it. It's really my preferred time and atmosphere to climb: sometimes with a headlamp, but also with low light and no headlamp. When you can't rely too much on your vision, you have to trust much more your feelings and this seems to help me reaching my limits. Also on a big wall I love it too. You feel the exposure, but you don't see it. All your senses are awake, but very differently than during the day. Probably a bit like an animal hunting by night.
Although I prefer short routes or boulders, my main physical strength in climbing is stamina. Usually, if I can manage to do all moves in a route, I can do it and most likely pretty fast. While drinking water of a river in Spain I got really sick and I had to go through a bunch of tests in order to know what was going on. When the doctor invited me in his office to talk about the results of the blood test, he said, "Everything can be told here. This is completely confidential." I was really worried what was the matter. He continued and asked, "Are you doping yourself? Your level of hemoglobin and hematocrit is unusually high." I had no idea what it meant. When the doctor realized I was not doping myself he said, "Only very few people are like this naturally." From what I understand, it does affect my stamina and my ability to recover faster. Thank you Mother Nature for this gift.
I love animals in general. I must have been one in another life, and if it would be one in particular, it would be probably a feline. Out of all normal jobs out there, being a vet is the only one I could really imagine enjoying having. Being connected with animals or just observing them gives me a lot of peace in myself. I like to see them wild, free and uncontrollable, and learn how to connect with them.