Fred Nicole, seek and you shall find
Two beautiful boulder problems, Mandragore and Portici, established by the Swiss climber Fred Nicole close to Domodossola and Cresciano.
Seek and you shall find. This is the motto of Fred Nicole who - armed with just a brush and crashpad - for more than a quarter of a century has searched and uneartherd beautiful boulder problems in every corner of the world. What stands out first and foremost is obviously Dreamtime, the problem which perhaps more than any other has fuelled the dreams of an entire generation. A bit like Midnight Lightening in Yosemite's Camp Four, established by Ron Kauk back in 1978. But apart from this famous Cresciano testpiece, Nicole has obviously created a myriad of other problems, less difficult but equally beautiful.
What renders Nicole's problems special is there's no point denying it the grade, but also and perhaps above all their beauty. A beauty which doesn't come stem from nowhere, seeing that his vision and quest has been orientated towards a certain degree of "purity". This search has recently reaped two interesting rewards: I Portici at Cresciano and Mandragore close to Domodossola in Northern Italy, on a boulder discovered by cult climber Roberto Fioravanti circa 15 years ago
I Portici was established at Cresciano on New Year trip, during which Nicole admitted "I was astonished by the amount of climbers on the rocks. Its crazy to see the development of this area during the past 15 years! From a few lost souls in the woods back in time it became the winter mecca for dozens if not hundreds of people. Im not a misanthrope but sometimes I appreciate the possibility of trying a boulder by myself at my own pace. It didnt seem the right place for it so I continued my quest. I saw many possibilities during the following hours but its only at the end of the day that I found the perfect line. A beautiful steep arête going to a nice overhanging face and a real top out. A subtle mix of difficulty, technique and endurance!"
With regards to his recent Mandragore, Nicole wrote "It is one of the very beautiful lines I climbed in the last few years. I have to admit that after "Lisola che non ce" I have a preference for steep climbing. A pure line not contrived. Beautiful slopers and pinches all the way up. A high top out without being dangerous with a nice landing. What could I ask more?" Nothing. It's true. Seek and you shall find.
A Portrait of Fred Nicole