Sharma in the Tepuys
Our March film shoot in Venezuela was an old fashioned adventure with a ragtag crew, unclear objective, and no film permits. 35 hours of travel landed Brett Lowell and I in a dingy hotel room in 95 degrees Ciudad Bolivar, where we met up with Sharma, Jorge Visser and Lev Pinter, who were tan and relaxed from the last month of deep water soloing + salsa on the spicy Veno-Carribean coast. Also there was our motley Venezuelan crew, a trio of die hard climbers; the gorgeous Gabriella, the skinny, tall health freak Igor and the once and future trouble maker Oliver – Las Panas.
4 hours to buy food and pack our bags. 8 of us plus 20 bags in the back of the truck to the bus station. 12 hours all night on the bus that played Fat Sister on TV…twice – 2 nights now with no sleep. Sunrise drop at a one-horse town in the Gran Sabana. The next 3 weeks would be in the jungle and mountains.
Our goal – to explore the “alucinante” tepuys for their climbing, especially for the bouldering on top. I’d been to the tepuys on a y2k expedition and wandered around the dinosaur-shaped rocks on top of the table mtns too lost to climb, but dreaming of coming back. I didn’t know it would be filming Chris.
The summit landscape is a dark, cavernous, harsh world. Vegetation is tropical tundra – small flowers and edible plants. Wind is in your face, clouds are beneath you, rain falls sideways and up. A land of vivid dreams. Sex with Martha Stewart, memories from childhood, running glaciers with a wild pack of huskies. Vivid dreams.
Everyday we walked for hours from our camp in the sky. SW 2 miles, another field of boulders, black grit bullet rock, pinches, perfect slopers. Everywhere lines. No one would dare dream such perfect boulders. In a sea of 500 problems, each day we’d climb and shoot maybe 3.. The best 3, but just 3. And leave the rest. On our way back to camp we’d walk by 200 more perfect lines that we’d never touch.
Drinkable rivers, sun like a hug from grandma, then days of wicked storms. The shit would be ripped sideways out of your ass and torn to shreds before it hit the ground. A 1 minute walk for water could be hours lost, not sure which way back to camp – no visibility only clouds in your eyes, no sound only wind driving down into your ear drums. But then the sun again, and never have you seen such beauty. Sit for hours, unable to comprehend such beauty.
Hours of footage in the can, one plane crash, an ascent of a tepuy, and the privilege to play on 3 billion year old virgin boulders. It was a good trip.