Our Friday Night Video this week is a look at legendary British expat Mike Owen and his life with partner Elaine in the south-east of France. Mike is well known in the UK for some of his ascents in the 80s and 90s, particularly at Gogarth, with routes such as The Bells! The Bells! and The Hollow Man on his CV. In 1999, Mike and Elaine sold their house and moved to France where they continued their jobs as teachers.
Struggling to think of an original present for Mike's 60th, Elaine recalled Mike saying he would love a video of himself climbing one of his favourite 8a+ routes La Queue du Diplodocus. Elaine told UKC: 'I contacted a friend of ours, Mathieu Henneteau of H2M images, to see if he would film Mike on this route. In my naivety, I thought that it would only take Mathieu about an hour or so to do. He'd rig up a rope, jumar up it and film Mike, end of story. But no, Mathieu is a professional and he had ideas which he shared with us. He wanted Mike to write a script about how we arrived down here and our passion for climbing. As a result, one whole day was spent filming in the Gorges du Loup and another chez nous. Last Thursday, we saw the finished result and we were totally gobsmacked. Merci beaucoup Mathieu. Chapeau!'
At Easter 2017, Mike tore two tendons in his right shoulder forcing a break from climbing, although a year later was climbing 8a again. Despite Mike's bionic shoulder and Elaine's arthritis in her fingers and thumb, the pair climb regularly and enjoy visiting new places. Last year they spent 7 weeks in Greece, at which point they had been climbing together for nearly 45 years.
The film manages to convey Mike and Elaine's love of climbing in a heartfelt way. Although Elaine would like to point out that they believe the true star of the film to be Ruff the dog!