Friday, 22 May 2015

TWO DAYS

It's raining and I don't care. It will rain for a good ten days, and I don't care. I'm at work, and I don't care. I've just had two fastastic afternoons climbin on rock, and I am happy. I am ready to lock myself in my cellar, trying my impossible projects; I am ready to swear and do yet another fingerboarding session; I am ready to do my weights finishers and my uphill sprints. I am ready to do it all again. I've hit an unexpected peak of form and, equally unexpectedly, I took advantage of it on the real thing. A friend of mine had reclimbed an old problem of mine, giving it a new, harder finish, and this motivated me to go and try it again. Fact is, when I did the old version, I also tried to give it a new, harder start... but never completed it. So, after almost ten years, I found myself with my old project and a harder finish! Oh yes! When my girlfriend asked me if I wanted to take an afternoon off from work and go climbing, I couldn't resist. With days of rain ahead, I wanted to climb! So we went, we were all alone in a fantastic setting, it was sunny and windy and I was happy. I tried to remember the sequence of my old project and it was easy, given that there are only those holds. Linking them was another thing. I had gone there to climb my friend's problem, but instead I tried the longer start and after some playing around I gave it a go. And I crushed it. I found myself on top with bulging forearms and I was happy and sad at the same time. Happy, because it had gone down; sad, because it was all over so fast. I always joke saying "The less I climb, the better!" this meaning that the perfect session is the one in which I get there, I warm up, I climb my project and I am free to annoy all the other climbers for the rest of the day, or be back home super early ready for some Gin and Tonic. But then, I really like to climb! And it was over already! After some hugs and kisses and coffee I did it again in bits to film it, and then I decided to take the monster 8 minutes walk to another sector to try another line I'd spotted years ago. It's the usual link of two existing problems, and I got there telling my girlfriend "Nevermind, I'll do it first go and then it's pizza time!" Ahahahahahah! Rude awakening motherfucker. I couldn't do any of the new moves. It took me a good hour and half only to manage three moves, and all of a sudden I found myself with a new project!!! Great, great day out! What my girlfriend didn't know, when she asked me to go climbing, was that I had already taken the following day off to go climbing with a friend! Oh yes. So, after my brilliant previous day, I found myseld in another sector, in which I had a project. The day didn't start very well, and it reminded me that I live in a place with little rock. Before heading to my project, we wanted to try two lines on a boulder I'd never seen before. What a piece of shit. It's in a steep part of the wood, so whenever you sit or step on the mat, you start sliding down surfing the wood; the rock is super aggressive and crumbly and I ripped off two big chunks. The problems seemed impossible despite their accessible grade. "Goddamn I should have stayed at home!" Then, we went to the project. Before hauling the pads, I checked if, for once, it was dry. Fuck, it was. And so I found myself there again, with my super sequence and all my fears. Obviously, this project is a harder start of an existing problem that I did three years ago. I had tried it on and off along the years, and often came back really not satisfied about the sequence: basically, to make the new start you could simply add one single move. I didn't like this, I wanted a line that was as independent as possible, but struggled to find a sequence. When I found it, the results were these: It was nasty and hard. Really hard. Like, barely doing single moves in isolation. Plus, I had basically already done it a couple of months ago, only with a very ugly pad dab (the start is very low), so I found myself there asking myself what was I doing there. The answer was that I was there to properly crush that shit. Dry holds make a big difference, blimey. I started, and everything felt easy. Well, not easy, it felt hard, but in control. The sequence is very simple, you either hang the holds, and if so it's ok, or you don't, and if so there are no tricks. After a false start, on my second go I found myself going through the moves steadily, and getting to the crux. I switched my right hand from a bad two fingers lock to the undercling, got it but not perfectly, kept going and missed the high pinch. Dammit. It was nearly over. I had crushed all the new start, that used to give me hell, and I'd fallen on the crux of the original 8a problem that I've done numerous times. Shit. I was under pressure. I rested, drank more coffee, and really, everything was perfect. It was sunny, windy and cool. I was having fun and I was full of joy. Only one question mark was left. The foot swap. The original problem, for me, is a bit morpho. You have to reach very high to this pinch, and I am fully extended on my left foot. Then you have to match feet, swap right for left, and move on. Well, on the reach I am so stretched that I can't match the right foot, because with the hips rotation I can't reach the foothold. It's the crux for me, and I can really barely do it. In fact, I've done many times, but one thing is coming from two easy moves, another thing is coming from five hard ones. While trying this feet swap in isolation, suddenly I felt particularly strong on the holds, and instead of the usual sequence, I just squeezed hard, high stepped with my right foot just under my right hand, pulled really hard on the pinch and I had bypassed the morpho bit and was eyeing the top. It was a brutal sequence, but at least it was only a matter of power! And power, is not a problem. I sat down, I went through the routine that makes me climb perfectly, and then I just performed. I motored through the lower moves and got to the undercling. I didn't get it right, and there I made the difference. I paused, locked myself in position like a steel beam and adjusted the right hand hold. When I got it right, fuck me it felt like a path. The high pinch move was just a gentle, slow reach, and then I was there, at the feet swap. I knew I could bypass it with the new sequence, but I also knew that it was hard. My friend yelled "Vai! Vai!" and I went. I high stepped, right foot under right hand, I pushed myself away from the pinch and it became good, put the left foot on the small edge, moved my right foot again and I was at the right hand gaston and the top. I came down and I was out of myself. In a few tries I had climbed my three years long project. I was happy, surprised and exhausted. In my memory it was easy, but in my emotions I know it was not. I climbed perfectly, physically and mentally, and performed almost at my limit. I did it again in bits to film it, and then all I had to do was spot my friend on the original 8a. He did good links and he will do it in the future. And my two afternoons of newly found climbing youth were over. I couldn't stop talking about how I'd adjusted the undercling, how I had high stepped, this and that. It was pure pure joy. So, in a moment in which I find myself disgusted by what happens around here in the climbing community; in a moment in which I feel completely out of it, and proudly so; in a moment in which all I read on climbing websites and magazines are bullshit and lies; in a moment in which I ask myself why I don't speak out the truth and put them to shame; in a moment in which I hate what they're doing to our beautiful discipline; in this moment I realized that for me nothing has changed. I can work and still train. I can love and still train. I can ride my motorcycles and still train. There's a life beyond climbing, and this makes climbing even better. Thanks for your time. And now some video stills.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

BLACK INK

As you all know, it's not uncommon for me to write personal things on this blog, that are not specifically related to climbing. Because, as you may not remember, this blog was born as a climbing blog... 
Anyway, a few weeks ago I got a new tattoo. This one: 

I have a few tattoos, and while I tend to keep their meaning and their reasons private, this time it's different. I made this last tattoo because I wanted people to see it, to read it and to know its meaning, because it's very important. 
Some time ago I read the story of Eric Garner, the innocent man who was killed by some bastards who happened to be Police officers. No. They were just mentally ill dirty motherfuckers, not worth the uniform they were wearing. 
There was a video and I made the error of watching it: it's terrifying. It caused in me profound sadness, rage and disgust. 
That poor man kept saying "I can't breathe!", and still those bastards chocked him to death. To fucking death. 
Young kids and innocent people killed by "policemen" is an issue. All over what we call the civilized world. We've had our share in Italy as well: Stefano Cucchi, Federico Aldrovandi, Riccardo Magherini, only to name a few. You can find everything about them on the Net. Riccardo, while two or three "policemen" were standing on his torso, while he was laying on the ground of a street in Florence, handcuffed, kept yelling "Don't kill me, I have a little son!" and yet they killed him. He could not breathe either. 
Well, as you all know, after Garner's killing, many sport stars and celebrities wore t-shirts with Garner's last words printed on them, to show their support to his family, to show that that they knew. 
Well, that's why I got this tattoo. Because I know. I know that there are some bastards out there, that are criminal dressed as policemen. I don't buy the stories you all sell, motherfuckers. 
The late Italian actor Antonio DeCurtis, a.k.a. Totò, was a man of incredible class and culture. He once publically challenged to duel a man, who had behaved rudely with a woman in a restaurant. The man was later to become President of the Italian Republic. Another motherfucker. 
Totò once said that the only way to know the real nature of a man, is to give him a uniform and some power. The way he'll behave when wearing a uniform and having some power over someone else, will show his true nature. 
These bastards that kill helpless people are a shame to the uniforms they wear. Uniforms that have been worn by real heroes, like Salvo D'Acquisto, a Carabiniere who gave his life to save civilians from a Nazi firing squad. 
So, this is the story behind my tattoo, and this is why I want everyone to know it. Because I hate those motherfuckers, I hate everyone who uses a uniform to hurt, kill and break the law. 



























Monday, 5 January 2015

THE STORY OF TWO WORLDS

First things first: I did not climb "The Story of Two Worlds". I could have, but I didn't want to ruin my skin before projecting a nearby 6b+ with a better looking line. Priorities. 
The story is about the two worlds that I've seen in the last months. 
The first one, is a world made of work, papers, books to be studied and the most important exam of my life. I simply could not pass a single day without studying or writing papers for the exam, I felt such a need to get there as perfectly prepared as I humanly could. It's been very very strange because it's been the first time in my life in which I felt such a need for perfect knowlegde. After just working as a teacher for a few years, I was feeling that my brain was struggling a little bit to grasp all the familiar concepts and principles of civil and criminal law, when I needed to use them. Now, I feel that I master those concepts and principles, and I see my brain as a laser sharp razor that would make Occam's one pale in comparison. 
I don't know if I've done enough to pass - not true. I know that I've done more than enough, I don't know how I will be judged. In Italy they are two very different things: how you've done and how you're judged - but I do know that I gave my best, and when on the third day of the written essays everyone, myself included, was almost panicking before a case that was seemingly impossible to solve, after three hours of head-scratching, searching for a norm that could suit this situation, I finally repeated to myself the mantra that I had prepared for the exam, I went to the restrooms ignoring all the comments that everyone was making about how and what to write, washed my face, got back to my desk and wrote head down for the following three hours. Then I copied everything in good calligraphy and gave everything to the examinators. The agony was over. Three days of toil and torture, alone in another town, spending days at the exams and nights in a hotel room studying for the next day, without talking to anyone. 
I got out of the hall - where 1.700 of us were having the exam - took a deep breath and broke down in tears when noone could see me. The last written essay had drained every energy from my mind and body, and I felt betrayed. I knew that these exams could be unpredictable at least, passing from easy ones one year, to absurd ones the year after. Well, I had picked the year after. After two essays that I think I did well, the third one was the one for which I felt more prepared, and it's been the one in which I've struggled the most, in which I could make the littlest display of my legal knowledge. I got out sure that I'm going to fail the exam because of this third essay. I felt betrayed and hated Italy for how it's run and organized. 
Now I only have to wait six months to have the results, then we'll see. 
Be sure that passed these holidays, I'm going back to studying no matter what. A sharp mind is a sharp body. 
The climbing, as you can imagine, took a very little back seat. Luckily for me, I don't need climbing anymore to have fun, I only need training. So, I kept doing frequent, short, intense system sessions on my board, focusing on body tension and crimp strength; and some fingerboarding not to lose the love. I had good results and found out that somehow I retained some of my ridiculous endurance for the project circuit. 
On the board, when I tried some of my projects or old problems, though, I could barely do the moves in isolation... 
During these months of this first world, I also got my knee surgery. It's been far worse than expected. When they got in to cut the broken part of my meniscus, they found out that I also had a badly torn cruciatus ligament, and my knee was full of scar tissue and debris, making it impossible to even see the meniscus. So, they had to clean and grate and scratch lots of stuff out before even starting what they had to do, and this resulted in a much heavier operation than planned. 
This was followed by weeks of sleep deprived nights due to the pain. I also lost 4 kilos, for fucks sake. Two months later, I still have to regain proper muscle mass and sports functionality. Not pleased. 
Then, after that day spent doing the last written essay, I got home and was barely able to speak with humans. My mind was elsewhere, and I could not stop thinking about what I'd been doing in those days. I could not sleep for a few nights, waking up three or four times with obsessive thoughts about what I could have or should have written. I was exhausted and only wanted to cry and pity myself. 
It took me a good ten days and many dinners, gin tonics and lie-ins, to finally see the dawn of the second world. A world in which the desie to climb on rock made its presence strongly felt. I went climbing two days in the same week, and opened two new lines in an area that I've been climbing at for ages... Seeing with new eyes, isn't it? 
Then, I booked an hotel and went to Ticino. Sun, freezing temps, perfect friction. Only my lack of climbing ability (and my terror for knee injuries) hindered me from climbing 8b+ as I was normally expecting with my usual laid back attitude. 
It's been great. I also climbed something, with an achievement that, had it happened a few years ago, would have seen me bragging about it for the whole year, and now is passing almost unnoticed and almost already forgotten. Am I finally free from climbing? Am I finally free from myself? Am I finally free from my ego? 
This second world is about to leave room to the routine of work and study, but I've planned to keep climbing a little bit. The spark is still there and my project as well. 
It's been good to finally let go of some tension, and I fear the first world. 
But as some climbers put themselves in hard and dangerous situations, and then have to deal with it, I put myself in this hard and dangerous (for my ego) situation of becoming a fully certified lawyer, and now I have to deal with it. 
I cannot wait to meet in Court that asshole of a lawyer that was doing surveillance at the exam: that useless presumptuous bastard, always arrogant and lookind down on us; I'll kick his fat ass like he's never been kicked before. 
Motherfucker.