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Jacky Godoffe: Think XXL

Monday, Septembre 10, 2018
Jacky Godoffe needs little introduction. The French boulderer was a true pioneer in the forest of Fontainebleau, ushering in cutting-edge grades with iconic testpieces. However, as his personal climbing goals shifted, Godoffe has continued to influence the global climbing scene—now through his visionary route setting. As the chief setter for bouldering at the IFSC, Godoffe explains how his past has led him to the future of climbing’s progression, and now to the big stage of the World Championships in Innsbruck.

I started climbing very late at 20 years old on the boulders of Fontainebleau and it was a revelation. I had found a playground that perfectly suited my expectations for life ... an open space to reveal many kinds of inspiration through the rock, then plastic competitions all over the world. Just to share emotion with people.

In the beginning, I was a performer, especially in Font. It was inspiring to me, a mix between high performance and a dream being in such a beautiful place. At the same time, soft about the touch and hard about moves.


Image: Scott Noy

I had time, so I spent many hours walking through the forest searching for lines that could allow me to push the limits: mine and the limits of the sport. My obsession was 8a, then 8b, and eventually 8c—which I never reached. It was a way to learn that the process was finally more interesting than the outcome. I do not mean that outcome is not important—it is—but the main change for me after some 10 years of obsession for grades was a new angle of perspective: Starting with a blank piece of rock, playing with doubts, strength and time, and trying to put it all together like a puzzle. And at the end: a feeling of being at ease. The most exciting moment was not the final one but the search.

For the next 20 years I was more focused on the magic and inspiring lines whatever the grade. I also had a time factor to deal with: I became a father of five children and I had less time to spend in this secret garden. So, the last 15 years I would say that I was focused on sharing experiences with others. I was lucky to become a route setter so that I had the opportunity to explore this dimension and the others I've experimented with before.

Now, I still love to climb in the forest as much as the first day I started. Because of this place, because of the sandstone, because of its kind of magic. I still have projects because one thing has never changed for me: Tomorrow will be better than today, and I always need to be surprised by life. So, what could be the next step?

I'll let life decide if my body will continue to follow my crazy aspirations for climbing. Until now, in my early 60's, I was lucky with genetics and did not have any injuries or limitations. I’ll continue to enjoy climbing and hope that it will be like this for longer. If not, I'll be back to music or anything else. Who knows? Life is not a quiet river, but I love it.

My Road to Innsbruck

Innsbruck is a kind of second home where I feel the soul of climbing through the professional and friendly community that lives here. It is a mix of a clever development for the national team with a door open to everyone, whatever his or her nationality. I do not know yet what could be my contribution for this World Championship, but I will find a way to be here for sure, as I feel like a part of the game, and even if I could not be there physically, a part of my soul will be for sure. I've always appreciated visionaries in climbing and Innsbruck was—and still is—a role model in our industry. They dare to think XXL and I love this vision.


My Road to Tokyo

When competition officially started in the middle of the 80s, I already knew deep inside that climbing deserved the highest aspirations.

Thirty years later, on the one hand, it is done and on the second hand, it is a starting point for a new vision adapted to our development and aspirations to grow.

However, it is about having the XXL vision, because I have the feeling that Olympic games are not the ultimate dream. The most important dream is how the climbing community will grow, keeping the values of our sport, and giving a global audience the very best of it. Adaptation, curiosity, and inspiration are probably some of the keywords to never stop enlarging the vision.

--Jacky Godoffe


Check out this video profiling Jacky—The Master of Moves—we released in 2016:

Video: Spindle

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