Short CV: Philippe Bugada, a person of low profile, runs his own business in France («La Corditelle»), taking people for climbing in the Gorge of Verdon and the island of Crete. He is the author of climbing guide books and at his free time bolts routes in Verdon and Crete. He is one the main persons responsible for the development of sport climbing in Crete. He has published 2 guidebooks about Crete and an article in “VERTICAL” magazine (No 23 May – June 2010).
• Tell us something about your self Philippe.
You know my name and where I come from, I live in Gorge du Verdon, in a little village called Aiguines and I am a climbing instructor for maybe… a long time…
• When and how did you start climbing?
I started climbing very late, 30 years old. Until then, I was into the Enduro motorcycle racing for 10 years. I stopped because I felt that I had done what I had to do with that. I had plenty of free time so I had an opportunity to start mountaineering again, like I used to do as a child with my father, but this time through the sport climbing activity. I friend of mine taught me the basic safety techniques and I started spending most of my free time on the rock.
• When did this become your profession?
At that time, I was working as a school teacher and I could see that children were attracted by climbing so I bolted some easy routes, to teach climbing to my little students. Later, the mayor of my village, asked me to do something more. We founded an association and started bolting on the left bank of Verdon. During this time I got my diploma as a climbing instructor and in 2000 I started my own business (“La Corditelle”).
• How many books have you published?
Five books. Aigine, Chateauverde, Chateaudouble and the two about Crete. I have also helped the French Federation to complete and publish Toulon and the Massif de l’ Esterel.
• When was the first time you visited Crete?
It was in 2005. My friend Sbynek Capela, who I met while I was working on my guidebook for Château Double, ask me to visit him in Crete, to do a guidebook about “Kapetaniana”, the area he was bolting and he wanted to develop. I stayed there for two weeks, mainly climbing the routes bolted by Sbynek and taking photos to have as many data as I could for the book. This was the first time I met Greek people, Manoli Kampouraki, Aki from Agio Nikolao (not sure he is from Ag. Nikolaos)… I was ready to go back to France but the last day, Sbynek took me to Agiofarago and that was something… special! It was totally wild. Only 8 routes at that time, with big potential and the ambient you have in this gorge… made me decide to visit Crete again. I finished the first guidebook about Kapetaniana and I returned in September 2006. I visited Plakias, I discovered Trafoulas and I made some new friends (e.g. Katerina). That was the beginning of a long story, with a lot of traveling between France and Greece… During these trips, I had the pleasure to share with Aurélia, my daughter, my passion for climbing and route opening: wonderful memories!
• How many routes have you bolted in Crete?
I don’t know, I don’t count the routes I bolt. When I see a nice line, I bolt… If I don’t have the bolts to do it, I must find them to do it…
• Have you had any help from local climbers?
Yes! Impossible not to mention Katerinas Mastoraki friendly help as well as Aris Mavromatis role. At first he offered me some bolts and shared information of the difficult routes which I was not able to climb. I was really happy for this! Vaggelis Floros was also very supportive and helpful, as well as the Spinthakis brothers. I will not forget either Kampourakis Manolis, who often kept my equipment box at his house between trips…
• Why are you bolting?
Good question! I have no answer… For the pleasure of doing something useful for other climbers or just being alone in the nature maybe? I can not say exactly why…
• You told me that you did the first guidebook to help your friend. Why did you publish the second one?
The first one was about Kapetaniana. After that I bolted many routes in Agios Ioannis and Agiofarago. I met other Greek climbers who showed me Skotino, Malia, Tris Eklisies and Plakias. So I wanted to present these areas and give information to climbers. I don’t know why… It is a part of my job… A part of me.
• Is it a well paid job?
For sure it is not a lot of money but it is an additional income. It’s enough to cover the publishing expenses, and slowly I have begun to make some money for my time and effort to do this job. But money is not my main interest… I like doing this, that’s all… and that despair my accountant!
• How do you feel about people who use your work without respecting copyrights and not asking your permission?
It is the same in France and the rest of the world. It is not something I enjoy but it is not my problem. The people who are doing this should have a problem with their consciousness…
• Do you have any regrets about all these things you have done here in Crete?
No! Not at all. It was a pleaser coming here for climbing, bolting and working on the guidebook. If something bothers me, is the tension that appeared after publishing the guide-book. That is not a good memory…But it actually helped me to understand human nature more!
• Are there any potentials for sport climbing in Crete? Could it be an international climbing destination?
Yes, there are a lot of potentials! But you must have in mind that you can find cliffs all over the world. You must consider the local climbers first, try to bring more people to the cliffs, organize climbing schools and bolt easy routes to start with… It can be an international destination but lots of things must be developed… Rebolting is one of these! Keep in mind that bolting a route is one thing, maintenance is another! Organizing more the activity is the job of the Federation.
• Did you have any help from the local mountaineering club (EOS)?
Yes. Three years ago I had the surprise to receive first 50 Euros from Dimitris Titopoulos, then 200 from Fondas Spinthakis, a substantial assistance for buying bolts, chains for the belay and glue. I really was surprised. This disconcerted me a little, but beyond the money it represents, (especially in a country that is not spared by the economic difficulties) it is a recognition that I appreciated . But the help that I most appreciated was every time that friends came to open with me or to make photos, often until night and sometimes …during the night. People who care will recognize. Is not it, Kostas?
• Are you planning to visit Crete again?
I make no plans but I have many friends here now, I still like climbing and bolting so I have many reasons to visit Crete again and again…
• Are there some thoughts you would like to share with us?
Climbing communities, clubs and federations around the world should try to find funds to bolt new routes, maintain the old and protect the climbing areas. Publishing guide books, is one way to get money and it is not bad for someone to make some profit one the way, as long as you give some back for the development of the sport. My point of view is that we should make sure that internet and all that free information on it, does not kill this process… In an ideal world, the roles of guidebook publisher and climbing sites developer should be vested with federations, selfless, open-minded and with a sense of consensus, capable to uniting climbing communities and clubs as well as to discuss with authorities. But I am perhaps a little too idealistic.