The story of a man + interviewby Björn Pohl - UKC Jun/2010
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In 1994, Philippe Ribiére discovered climbing. Born with the Rubinstein-Taby syndrome this was even more of a challenge than for the rest of us, but he discovered that climbing could turn his disability into an asset and that it could pave the road toward complete social integration and recognition.
For one year, he travelled through Europe in his van, climbing with the best of the best and giving lectures at embassies as well as kindergartens. This was the Evolution tour.
What were the best/worst/most memorable episode from the Evolution tour? Why?
It's a really difficult question but I remember two bad things. When I have been in Czech republic, I checked my email at an internet café. I was there for maybe 15 min, and during this time, some one broke a window of my car and to took my GPS which was on the dash board and my camera where there were some sequences of my day with Adam Ondra. It was bull shit cause it was late and I didn't know where I was in the town and had to buy a new GPS. Finally, at the last moment Imanaged to get a new one and then I drove for 2h to Bratislava (Slovakia) with an open window and then I went to sleep around 2 o'clock am in the icy cold...
The second story happened iat Kjugekull in Sweden, when I bought a pesto sauce for the pasta. Right! After two days, I felt something strange in my stomach like an appendicitis and I couldn't stand up, walk, eat, drink... and all my actions were horrible! One time, some guys looked me and to joked because I always played the fool and made fun. They thought that I played but in reality, I suffered like Chris Mc Andless in the "Into the wild" movie. Something real! After in the evening, I couldn't eat, and I decided to sleep and to hope for the next day to be better. At 5 o'clock am, a German friend came to visit me and we decided to go in the hospital. Finally, the answer was inside the sauce: toxic mushrooms. I was afraid to die: seriously!
The best moment is difficult to decide because there were a lot of meetings in the different worlds like with the French ambassador in Hungary, in the primary schools, on the highway, at the climbing places... everywhere. The results are that I found a really nice person like Natalija Gros who are very special for myself, or like Fred Nicole who represent the simple life. Well! It's complicated to answer because I enjoyed the "Evolution Tour" as my son as I will have one day.
Did the tour go according to plan?
My luck changed when I went in the eastern countries when all the French embassies called me to organize some lectures for them. It represents the consideration of your country which proves that when you want somethings in your life; all things of the universe can help you. I was proud of that! Then when I did it, I enjoyed the journey more and more because I reached the hearts of men, who liked my energy. It's weird but true!
You know? When you think, during 25 years, that you are disabled and after all your sponsors work to give you the stuff and some consideration, I think : "Wow, I live the life that I dreamed and now, never stop exploring". Sometimes, people say that I'm lucky to be a "professional climber" but they don't know that I worked 15 years to have that. It's not an accident or luck!
To answer your question, the weather changed my plans sometimes, but it's the game! Or when I went to the climbing gyms sometimes, not a lot of climbers were interested in my lecture and continued climbing when I spoke. I was disappointed by that but immediatly I thought "the difference is difficult to accept and then...the wheel turned". Sorry it's true but it represents the difficulty to open the mind and the heart. Nobody is stronger and nobody is less! Look in the nature, nobody judges anyone, but we humans do it !
You have met and climbed with many of the best rock climbers on the planet. What have you learned from this?
Yes, I climbed with the best climbers in this world like Chris Sharma, Dave Graham, Daniel Woods, Joey Kinder, Natalija Gros, Adam Ondra, Lynn Hill, Fred Nicole, Bernd Zangerl, Nalle Hukkataival, Sean McColl and... the list is long. It's not relly important to climb with them.
You know why? Because they are simply men and women. They don't look at my handicap as a weakness but more like a strenght. If I wanted to climb with them, it's because to prove again that I can climb 6a or 7a and to enjoy the climbing. It's the similar passion!
Look, we have all different bodies and we live on this planet. I repeat again, we are the children of the nature and our duty is to respect her and not change her because we love to eat the junk food, to destroy the forest...many examples. If I change my body : Am I the strongest or more respected ? I don't think so.
Can you tell me something about your plans for the future? In climbing and in life.
Maybe... I have many projects on my mind like to go to the US with the crazy Timmy O'Neill who is the "godfather" of the Paradox Sports, an association that helps the amputated climbers to climb with the best gear. I can't say more than that, because we're organizing something interesting. We'll see if the stars and the Indian chiefs can help me. Wishes...
In climbing, I would like to push my limits to 7A+ bouldering this year, but it's a little bit complicated to find my style. If you remember in the last interview for the LowDown, I said that my problems are the no-flexibel wrists, making the muscles of my arms unusable in certain positions...small points which make the difference for the slabs and the overhangs. But I wish that I can do it with all the training with the best climbers. I wish....
To finish, I hope that the climbers will like the short movie because it's complicated to do everything alone like the production: filming, making the movie, and the music. The movie is simple and made without the best cameras like HD. I had a small camera and I wanted to keep the "amateur" footage style, like to show a road trip journal.
Here's the teaser.