Talo Martín. ‘Slabucator. Climber, photographer & filmmaker. Pedriza Boulder 1864 author’. This is how the Spaniard describes himself on his Instagram profile.
Talo runs Muerdago Films, and for the past 10 years he’s been doing film and photography projects with and for all kind of outdoor and climbing big brands. One of his objectives is to promote the unseen, unknown Spain.
For us, Talo is one of those who generously helped us in organizing the event with Pete Whittaker in Bucharest – he kindly let us use his photo showing Pete climbing the Black Mamba 8c roof crack in White Rim (U.S.A.) for the event’s poster. So we took the opportunity to speak to him, get to know him and his climbing philosophy a bit.
Hello Talo. First, how are things in Spain now? How is the climbing community coping with the situation?
We’re on lock-down mode as most of the countries in the globe. They closed the border very late and never checked people at airports. Our government is not dealing with the crisis as well as I wanted to, but I guess this is just an opinion. The climbing community is a bit crazy right at the moment as no one can go out of the house and it looks like it will take longer than expected.
Climbing Daily named you ‘the best kept secret of Madrid’. Are you?
Hahaha, I don’t think so. I’m just an unusual climber, as unusual as an off-width climber would have been years ago. I like the pursuit of the perfect move. That dance over a piece of rubber under my toes.
You are a slab climber predominantly. Why?
In La Pedriza (my home-crag) the sectors and the domes formations are mostly slabby. Despite the fact that there’s a lot of face climbing, and trad or overhangs there, I grew up learning slab climbing since I was a kid. I’m the 3rd generation of climbers in my family – my grand dad was a climber, my father too. I started doing a bit of aid, multi-pitch, trad, but I found myself more confident climbing slabs. I also love arêtes and everything that requires balance – no-hand climbing, one-handed games.
What got you into slabs?
I was never too much into hard core climbing until the day I accidentally forgot my shoes in the car. I was 22 that day when I went to belay my brother Palan on an 8a+ slab he had chosen to send and I decided to give it a go too. As I couldn’t find my shoes (they were big anyway), I took my girlfriend’s and they were small enough, suiting me like a glove. I tied the rope to my harness and I flashed the 8a+. I couldn’t believe it! That was the beginning of my ‘disorder’. The balance needed, the precision, the shaky legs heading for the anchors, that’s something I don’t feel when climbing faces or overhangs. I have done 8a+ on limestone, but really it feels soooo boring!!
Also, you’re mostly into bouldering. What does bouldering have, and lead, or multi-pitch climbing don’t have?
Well, nowadays I’m mostly a boulderer because I have two daughters, Dhana (9) and Lluna (5). It is way, way easier to go bouldering than route climbing. I don’t have the psyche to walk 1.30h to my projects as they’re on a South face and I need a cloudy day, cold, my father keeping my daughters, the nails perfectly cut, eyebrows well combed… Bouldering definitely is an easy game. I’m still doing sport and multi-pitch with my partner Roser, but less regularly.
You’ve been putting a lot of work into developing and promoting the climbing areas around Madrid. What’s your favorite one?
To me without any doubt La Pedriza is the best by far, and even one of the best in Europe. It has 4,000 routes and 4,000 boulder problems. It’s a crag just 35min drive from the airport and Madrid city. To be honest the area is like living in Font (n.a Fontainebleu) where you have 250 sectors and 30,000 problems spread out in a forest of 400sqkm. Here we have less, but still there’s a total of 7,000 problems over 10 crags if we count all the climbing crags around La Pedriza. Surrounding Madrid there’re some limestone crags 1h-2h drive from the city like the well-known Cuenca and some others and historical like Patones.
Name two climbing areas in Spain that are a must-try for any foreign climber
I would say (off the beaten track) La Pedriza is big enough to be worth a visit. Also, in Asturias (in the north) there’re many blue limestone crags like Teverga or Quirós. In Pyrenees, there’s one of the best granite crags, Cavallers.
What’s your main project now? Is it a climbing one, or a production one?
I have a few projects in mind, but they’re far away at the moment, as there’re no cold winters anymore and they’re on a south face. Also, they’re around 8c+ slab, so they need a lot of exclusive dedication. I’ve worked on them sporadically during the last 8 years. In terms of filming or shooting, nothing coming up really, as all the market is closed at the moment; but it’ll go back to its way. Now I’m working to finish late spring the second edition of Pedriza Boulder guidebook (80 sectors and 3,000 problems). This is directly connected to my #Slabducation clinics where I teach body movement, slab techniques and climbing games here in La Pedriza. I also run Pedriza Airbnb to host climbers.
How challenging is filming long routes vs. sport climbing/ bouldering ones?
The difference between them is the logistic involved. Long routes require more rope work and many hours a day. Working in easy terrains, like boulders, is more comfortable. But I’m OK with any. I love my job.
How do you choose your crew when filming big projects?
I know people here and I have very good pro-climbers friends which are easy to work with. I like when I have carte blanche to film and edit my way.
What was your favorite project to shoot until now?
I have very good memories with the Wideboyz filming in Utah last year. Myself and Pete trying to teach Tom how to play some music without success… It was very funny. Or when I first worked with James Pearson and Caro Ciavaldini for an Epic TV series, I absolutely freaked seeing how professional they were and how things need to be done to get a good feedback.
‘Talo is great to hang around with. Fun, friendly and easy going on trips, but gets the filming and photography work done professionally and with great results. We always have a good laugh, and the two longer trips we have been on together have been a great success. I’m looking forward to my next trip with him’. (Pete Whittaker, world-class climber)
There are so many new climbing/ outdoor films! As a film creator, what do you think the future of climbing films is?
I see a lot of content out there without any real substance. It’s very hard to tell stories with videos/photography and we got used to consume anything regardless of quality, thinking it’s works. There’re millions of pictures and videos nowadays, just saturating. Sometimes it takes lots of work to make people understand this job. It takes a lot of time to edit, post-production…
How optimistic are you regarding the future of climbing in Spain?
I live in maybe one of the best countries in the world; every pro and every punter just wish to come to Spain and climb any time of the year. But Spain is not only about the Siurana – El Chorro – Albarracín vicious circle. There’s more than 1,200 climbing destinations to get lost in.