Next in our interview series we travelled to Briançon in the southern French Alps to meet with Anthony Franklin, a British rock climber and ski instructor, to find out how he likes to unwind and relax.
1. When did you first get into rock climbing?
I got into rock climbing when I was about 14 or 15 years old. My uncle took me to the Lake District and I really liked it so I started climbing indoor walls in London regularly. Then I was on a skiing holiday with my dad and we took a mountain guide with us to do some off piste skiing when I was about 18 years old. I loved it and thought it would be a really good thing to do for a living so I decided to make it happen. Before that I was working with racehorses and had the intention of becoming a trainer. I moved out to France and got hooked up with a long-term girlfriend of nine years, which is about how long it took me to become a mountain guide.
2. What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day in the summer involves waking up at about 2 or 3am and then a brief breakfast. You walk out across a glacier with your head torch on in the dark then you start climbing the mountain at around daylight. The climbs are either a bit of mixed snow/ice/rock or a rock ridge as a typical climb we do. We reach the summit at around 10am and then abseil down or we down climb from the summit back to the refuge and then normally a long walk back to the car and back into town.
A typical day in the winter after the morning routine of meditation and archery is you have breakfast with about four or five skiers, then we'd most likely be taking a helicopter at about 8.30am in the morning which is about a five minute flight. We'd get dropped off on the top of the mountain in Switzerland or Italy. We do about three drops in a day with some skinning and mountaineering and normally end up somewhere really nice for lunch in a village with some very good wine. Everything finishes around 4pm or 5pm.
3. How do you balance work and downtime?
The balance that I try to get is to not work too much! That way it remains fun and something I really love doing. I mix up the rock climbing with the mountain climbing and the skiing so I don't do too much of one and keep it varied and I always go to different places. I try to keep out of my comfort zone which is something I find important. I get a kick out of it and it just keeps me more awake and more aware. What I’m really trying to achieve is to do less the older I get. I’ve realised that the less you do the better it is in family life.
4. What's your ideal evening in?
Cooking and drinking good wine. My favourite feature of the house that we just built is the wine cellar.
Great for evening downtime...
5. What achievement are you most proud of?
The achievement I'm most proud of is climbing and skiing with people who are really good friends of mine and the relationship I have with them now. And also having four children that are more or less sane...
6. Have you had any close calls whilst climbing?
My hairiest mountain experience is rather long story: We were coming down off the top of the mountain and started sliding down this slope and the slide turned into a little avalanche. The avalanche threw us over a Sirach (which is basically an ice cliff), luckily one of the guys fell into a crevasse. Otherwise we'd be sliding all the way down to our death - instead we just smashed against the snow slope and I broke my femur, several broken ribs, a broken back and punctured lung. The guy who fell into the crevasse had absolutely nothing broken, he just got sucked into the crevasse by the pressure of the avalanche. The boots and the crampons stayed in the ice in the crevasse so he was just in his socks. I managed to get hold of the rescue with my radio but I didn't explain the situation very well so they came in and rescued the guy in the crevasse who had nothing wrong with him and dropped off a couple of medics, then they just flew off again as it clouded over. Obviously I was losing a lot of blood at this time and heard the medics say if you don't get this guy out quick he's going to be brown bread! Luckily another friend of mine was coming in a helicopter across the other side of Chamonix Valley and he heard the rescue on the radio and they manage to swoop in and pick us up just-in-time because helicopters can't rescue in cloud. He came in from underneath and they got me to the hospital. I was operated on and luckily made a full recovery..
7. What are the most important attributes to being a climber?
The most important attributes and skills for being a mountain climber is to be calm, relaxed, determined, disciplined, strong and flexible - basically a warrior in the martial arts sense of the word!
8. Is it important to have good climbing attire?
How important it is having the right kit for climbing in terms of clothing all depends on who you are. It's more about comfort and how light things are. Climbing gear has become really lightweight now so that's helped a lot. Otherwise just as long as you've got something comfortable, windproof and warm you're fine. But it doesn't have to be light - people have done the most incredible things with far out clothes..
13. And finally, what’s your favourite Hamilton and Hare piece of clothing?
My favourite Hamilton and Hare piece is The Journeyman Jacket with the nehru collar I was rock climbing in. Also and shirts the polo shirts.
Winter collection coming soon...