The final step in Joe's long journey to travel from the lowest point of the UK to the highest is drawing to a close and next Tuesday he will make the attempt to close this particular chapter of his life. It's still not a simple walk in the park, but a potentially gruelling ascent of Tower Ridge to reach the summit of Ben Nevis.
You can recap on the first part of the journey and how Joe travelled from Cambridgeshire up to the base of Ben Nevis in the initial In The Frame Trip Report.
Tired times resting in the van on the first week of In The Frame
AK. So Joe/Dom, with the original attempt to reach the top of Ben Nevis being thwarted at the last minute after that long journey by bike, it's given you almost a year of reflection. So let's try an recap what's happened over the past months. At the time many believed that you (Joe) made the right decision to hold off on the attempt to reach the highest point of your journey, so on reflection and having put your body through that initial arduous bike journey do you both still think it was the right choice?
JB. Absolutely the right decision. Given how I feel about making the ascent this time. Which is still truly terrifying. To think back to that time completing this mammoth bike ride and then to climb Ben Nevis whilst I could barely walk and not at all without crutches. Surely that's borderline insanity. More than that though, it's like when you've got the bit between your teeth and nothing else can stop you.
It's important to note that I do feel good in myself, I'm fit and ready. I haven't climbed on rock since Little Chamonix almost a year ago.
I now walk without crutches but with little to no cartilage in my ankle, every step is painful which has hindered walking any great distance.But you see, once a challenge is presented to you, you can achieve incredible things!
Back on the bike, without the frame.
AK. It's obviously given your body much needed recovery time. Soon afterwards you had your frame removed, how was that?
JB. The relief and effect of the frame being removed was instant. The lack of that constant gnawing pain was incredible. Only when it stopped I truly noticed what I was putting up with for those long 10 months.
I was given the option to have the removal under general or local anaesthetic. I chose Local so I could be part of my recovery. So much so I pulled out the last of the 16 rods out!
Joe's very own In The Frame merchandise doll. "Is this the creepiest thing a house mate could do?" and the frame is off!
AK. Whilst you didn't finish the project there and then, it has meant that this chapter has been extended a bit longer. Have you gained from this, or do you wish you had managed to finish it there and then?
JB. There are positives in everything.The Little Chamonix film was born out from this. A film I'm very proud of and which has taken me many places, to speak at events and show this film. Just a hint of perhaps what's to come?Sure I wish I could have done it, and things were different but it would have been reckless to have done it then.My metaphor for In The Frame was to take me from the lowest to highest, and I wasn't at my highest point then, with the frame off and fitness and happiness I'll get to the top.
AK. Do you still have the same drive to get to the top, or are you just getting impatient to finish it now.
JB. I want it done! I'd be lying if I said I was as psyched. It bares down on me and the Ben is in my thoughts everyday!It'll be a relief to get to the top, and back down.Perhaps once this is done it will free some space to think about the next 'challenge'
AK. We've seen that you've been keeping busy over the last few months, including competing in the paraclimbing series. How's your body been coping? Have you had much more 'work' done, or has it been much more physio based?
JB. I can not sit idle and watch life pass me by!I needed focus, a short term goal to occupy my mind and body. The BMC paraclimbing comps allowed me to think about be a climber once more, in any capacity.It may have also opened a fee more doors of opportunity too!Despite proposed surgery in the near future I am on the road to new heights.
ShAFF Sheffield Hospitals Charity night with the 'Limbless Mountaineer' Jamie Andrews. I was fortunate to be involved in the Q and A on Risk and Reward. A fascinating night with a lot of new ideas.
A wonderful time had at the festival of cycling and whilst I may have broken the rules a little with the 6 minute talk slot... theNight of Adventure
AK. The whole journey was being filmed and documented by yourself Dom. So whilst it meant that you couldn't complete the film for your initial goal of Kendal 2013, you did release a short film (Little Chamonix) which received plenty of acclaim. Does this give you the added confidence that the final film will be to the high level and have the emotional connection that you originally envisaged?
DB. This has been the biggest film project I have ever organised.......and I haven't really started editing yet! It's been quite a roller coaster in many ways and has certainly challenged me.I have made a name for myself creating short films and the short documentary format is something I really enjoy working with, but it's easy to get lazy and stick to what you know so I took this on knowing that it would be much more substantial. As soon as I heard Joe's story I knew I couldn't condense it down in to a short film, there was just too much story to tell.
AK. With all the changes and it taking longer than initially planned, I can certainly see that there's almost a stronger story to tell now but have you managed to retain the same passion for the project as you did when you first met Joe?
DB.Like anything that is long running, it ebbs and flows and there have certainly been times I have been less excited about the whole thing. The expedition was super tiring and took it out of all of us mentally and physically, I guess I hit a bit of a wall after that. But I took some much needed time away and then looked back through the footage and reminded myself how much fun we had and that re-energised me. It was certainly never our plan to have the project extend for a year but I am 100% sure it will be a much better film for it. We have had time to ruminate, reflect, Joe has had more time to heal and we have managed to get all those little sequences filmed that would have been missing from a rushed edit, so ultimately it has worked out well. I'm much more of a short term goals man so it has driven me a little round the bend at times but I like a challenge!
Tentatively embarking on the In the Frame edit. Needless to say, I don't know where to start!
AK. The initial plan was to climb Ben Nevis via Tower Ridge, this then got cancelled in favour of the main path up and now you're back to Tower Ridge. Does it give you a certain level of satisfaction that you are now going to complete the project as originally planned, or now does the way in which you reach the final high point not matter so much?
JB. My dream was to climb Tower Ridge and that is now a real option. It never felt right not to at least try to climb it.To give it a true style.
I am/ I was a mountain climber and never a mountain walker.Being on the summit will be a special moment no matter how I get there.With friends and family with beside me.
AK. I'm guessing it will give a much more dramatic feature for the film?
JB. I hope it'll be dramatic in a sense but really the film is a product of my dream. First and foremost it's about the challenge and how I got there.
AK. Knowing you and what's been going on getting to this point (it's been a long time coming) I should imagine that it's going to be quite emotional at the summit of Ben Nevis. Got a good supply of tissues?
JB. I wear my heart on my sleeve. no doubt pain, fatigue and fear will get the better of me.I'll be putting myself through some arduous times but this bares no consequence with the rewards.
AK. Is the plan still to release the completed film at Kendal 2014 in November?
JB. It will have to pass the selection process, but with Dom's reputation and Little Chamonix premiering last year at Kmf. I am hopeful.I believe the premier will be on the 21st November(the Rap party will be held directly after the screening)
Off to see if anything further can be done about this right arm...Driving to the hospital is always shite, anticipation of the outcome which either way will not be good news.
To operate or not?
AK. We of course wish you well for your time on The Ben and look forward to reporting back on how you get on.
JB. Keep following on Facebook and Twitter!We will try and report as it happens!Thank you, and I'd like to say that without Alpkit and folk that gave to the Kickstarter project, this would be have been possible
You can pick up the last remaining Men's and Women's In The Frame t-shirts, at the same time helping support Mountain Rescue.