After a Spring made of good climbing on rock (yes, rock, that thing that you find outside instead of plastic and wooden holds), with Summer closing in and temps in the high 30's for weeks on end, my dreams of glory were truly shattered.
I didn't admit defeat, though, before being seriously and utterly defeated.
I went to the Dolomites again with a bunch of friends for a stag do, and once the effects of the first night on the cocktails were over, I managed to touch some rock.
I had my sight aimed at a longstanding project whose line I had finally discovered. I thought I'd done it years ago, but it turned out that the true line was a few meters on the left, completely independent from what I'd done and completely unknown to me.
To cut a long story short, it's hard and I didn't do it. In my opinion it could be around 8a+ or 8b. It's a traverse on the lip of a roof, whose first half is all the hard climbing of the 8a I did in June, and whose second half is probably from 7c up. Brilliant, totally brilliant climbing with edges, slopers and a sequence on right hand underclings that left me completely destroyed. With 25 degrees at the boulders, I couldn't do the middle moves of the 8a anymore, involving a slopey dish, so after refining my sequence I started trying the project from a few moves in. Blimey, despite bone dry holds and good form, I couldn't do it!!! It's hard!
I left emptyhanded, apart from finally repeating a 7a+ that I never found dry in 15 years of bouldering in the Dolomites!
I didn't really leave emptyhanded, because I gained a nice shoulder strain from spending a day on a hard gaston move and behind the head underclings. Obviously, I immediately tried to iron the injury out. Bad choice. On my first set of behind the neck press the sound of a packet of crackers cracking woke me up from my dreams of glory and my right shoulder was useless. Theraband weeks followed. Theraband and weights. Theraband and sprints. Theraband and everything. I managed to train around my injury, tweaked some excercises like the ab wheel and the barbell carry walk. I'd like to share what I found out, training wise, during these weeks of training and healing my shoulder, but I'm a selfish bastard and I won't. You aren't going to try them anyway, so why spend time and types? Fast forward a few more weeks, in which I found out I had progressed on every aspect of my training, from crimp strength, to openhanding strength, to body tension and pulling power, I finally made it back to the Dollys. Three days of climbing, a long weekend to tick my project and finally leave rock for the Winter. No way. Weeks and weeks of rain had done the damage. First day, the roof was dripping. I tried to repeat the 8a and obviously couldn't despite being now able to repeat the part that I couldn'd do in the hot in July. I tried a one move 8a and couldn't do it because of the wet holds. Pads soaked and muddy, clothes soaked and muddy. I ate a lot. Second day, we played around for a while, I napped in the sun, then didn't resist the urge to repeat a problem that I'd done many many years ago. A roofy 7b meant a sure retroflash while waving at the crowd of hikers. No. Four fucking goes were fucking needed. I waved at the hikers though. I wanted to climb a bit more in a nice, sunny, dry spot but I was sure the roof was in good nick, so I resisted. We got to the roof. It wasn't dripping anymore, it was soaked by streaks of water running down and condensation. Got the pad again, walked to the car then I remembered of the sunny spot and headed there (another 15 minutes walking with two pads among the boulders. In flip flops.). Got there. The sunny, dry boulder was sunny and dry at two p.m., now at six it was gloomy, humid and useless as everything else. But I was there. I tried the project. Didn't even find the line or the holds. So I tried to repeat a 7c that I'd flashed in June, and of which I thought I had surely used banned holds or an easy sequence because I really pissed it (pulling very hard). Could barely do the moves in isolation. Oh well at least I cancelled my doubts about my flash. Finally did a nasty 7a+ that I'd equally done in June, only, this time I didn't bother neither matching any of the holds nor putting any weight on my feet.
Third day dawned cloudy and rainy. Drove home stopping by at King Rock for a bouldering session. Tired, bad skin, torrid temps inside. Brilliant. Climbed until nauseated. Lesson to be learnt: bad bad planning for this last trip. Got there still tired from the week's training, I wouldn't have climbed the project anyway, probably, even if dry. Now I only have to train, stay in shape for some nine months, and then it will be mine. Do not expect, dear reader, to find much rock climbing on Totolore for the months to come: it's time. The time is almost here to dedicate all my efforts to the only thing that matters: my board. Home of the hardest things I've ever tried, this Winter will be the Winter of Glory. The Winter of the Beast. The Winter that will shatter the climbing world forever.
Wednesday, 24 June 2015
Photo courtesy of Pietro Mittica
To say I'm pleasantly perplexed is an understatement. And this blog entry could stop here. But it would be very unfair. After my brilliant weekend bouldering in the Dolomites, glowing in the golden light of my successes, I took the courage to do a few things that I hadn't done in a while. The first one, that took a lot of courage, was taking a week off. I mean, really off. Like, no board climbing, no fingerboarding, no sprints, no weights, no nothing. Not really, but I managed to do only one session, a weights and bodyweight excercises complex that left me in agony for a good couple of days. Hitting the same muscle groups with two bodyweight routines, namely front levers and paused reps ab rolls, isn't exactly a smart idea, but it was worth the risk. I felt like a Hulk. Anyway, this week off also coincided with ten days in which I never had dinner at home, resulting in lots of tasty food and wine gulped down... So, when finally Monday came, it was with terror that I slipped what I thought was my overweight frame into my training pants and top. I was training with my good friend Pietro, and fuelled by the usual dose of caffeine and protein shakes, it turned out that I wasn't exactly out of shape, at least in climbing terms. I obviously climbed a project that I'd been trying for a while, linking single moves and short bits but never coming close to success. Lesson to be learnt: train like a headless chicken for a good twenty years, then take a week off to eat and drink, then climb your latest board project. Given that I wanted to go back to the Dolomites that coming weekend, I made a good plan to be sure that I was going to get there properly overtrained and undercompensated.
This time I was going to be going with my girlfriend, so the weather was going to play a big role in making everything perfect: sunny days and glowing sunsets in the mountains are a good thing for a couple.
Saturday morning dawned a bit cloudy, but it was promising.
It was promising rain.
It turned out that the promise was wrong: it was going to be snow.
3 degrees, sleet and snow, what more could you ask for?
But I'm not the one who's easily deceived, and I knew that in a couple of hours it was going to stop. After a good dose of kaiserschmarren and coffee, it was time to get our feet soaked to get some bouldering.
There is this roof up there, that keeps attracting me and keeps giving problems (you see what I did there?).
I had little info, in German, and I only knew that there was a big cross through move. Everything was wet, but with the precious experience gained during my visits at Parisella's Cave, I started to dry out bits here and there, fill the seams that were pouring, and assuring some chance for success.
Then I started to figure out the moves, and everything started to crumble. The starting holds seemed to open up only to mysterious levitations to far away holds, and nothing seemed possible. The sequence that I was sure was going to earn me my first 8a flash proved to be 8c and I didn't flash it.
Then the miracle.
I kept my cool, stayed there, dried more footholds, kept trying and refining, and after a while, make it two hours - make it three - I had a sequence.
I also had a soaking, trembling girlfriend.
Being the old romantic that I am, I knew that it was time to leave, but I didn't leave. Instead, I took off my fleece, my t-shirt and my thermal and proceeded to reward my girlfriend with my bulging muscles beating down the problem into submission. I am the greatest. No, really. You can't imagine it.
Half an hour later we were drinking spritz and eating mortadella and cheese in Campitello as if there were no tomorrow.
While I was walking in Canazei, that was full of people fully clad in Montura, Mammut, The North Face apparel, I thought about Jerry, and started moaning to myself: "Wherever I watch, there's noone stronger than me. I am the strongest one."
After this glorious day, I decided to take my girlfriend to get some more cold at Falzarego, where the meadow was lashed by a freezing wind that made everything a bit tricky and made me search for shelted in a nearby shithole that hosts two 8a's and an 8b+ in three meters of stone. Unfortunately being less than 45° overhanging, I didn't even manage to pull on.
More spritz and mortadella.
I had taken Monday off, so I was ready for the final sunny day. That never came. Clouds and wind, but a generous temp of 7°. Happiness all around. My girlfriend climbed a bit and got her battle scars, and I tried another problem in the same roof, getting as close as possible to doing it without actually doing it.
A gigantic portion of potatoes, eggs and speck marked the end of the climbing trip and left room only for a brief stop at LaSportiva factory. I bought a pair of undersized Cobra for 59 Euros and everything was over.
But I am still the greatest. I am still the strongest, and you all know it.
Tuesday, 9 June 2015
I had thought that my moment of top form was going to vanish, and I had thought that I was going to run out of projects. I was wrong on both.
The two days of the last post became more days, in which I found myself miraculously glued to ze rock, sticking move after move.
I found myself stronger, also, adding kilos to all my previous personal bests and that's the only thing that counts, to be honest.
I ask myself why now and not before.
The answer is that it's happening now because now I am an overally better person than before. And I am a better person because I am a more complete person: my mind is as fast as a speeding bullet and as sharp as a laser beam. It's not hazy and lazy, incapable of thinking to anything that's not grades and moves. OK, it's never really been that lazy, but you get what I mean.
Better mind, better body. I'm free. Free from others, but mostly free from myself and from my demons and ego.
I know what I am and I know what I can do.
The thing that strikes me most, to be honest, is that I became less shit at flashing problems. It all started in December 2014, and I suspended my judgement waiting for some more info. Then it happened again, but on first ascents, so again I suspended my judgement. But it happened again and again. So, finally, I must think that somehow I became better at flashing problems.
I spent this last weekend in one of the places that I love the most, and in which I feel more at home: the Dolomites.
Steep boulders on pockets and edges made for testosterone bouldering with bulging muscles and veins, fuelled by all sorts of natural and artificial food, from buckets of hyperproteic yogurt with honey and hazelnuts, to protein shakes, to honey and peanut butter sandwiches, to hamburgers and pasta.
I flashed basically everything, including two 7c's (one was a retroflash of a problem I climbed ages ago). I was also very close to doing an 8a that I smartly tried at the end of the second day. Punter.
OK, OK, I know what you purists are going to say about bouldering on dolomia: it's choss, they're eliminates, it's nasty, etc. I could finely discuss our diverging opinions about this subject, using my rhetoric to convince you about the quality of the bouldering there, but I won't do it. If you don't like it, you don't deserve it. Which is better for me also, because I like my boulders quite and private.
Unfortunately, this moment of splendid form coincided with a certain Chzech climber flashing 8b and 8b+ and climbing 8c in a day, so I am not surprised that neither LaSportiva nor Black Diamond called me to ask me if I'd like to be paid by them to just keep climbing and being so awesome.