Friday, 21 March 2014


I don't know if Eric Hobsbawn ever did some bouldering, I seriously doubt so, though. What I'm sure is that, had he bouldered around here, he'd have written a book entitled "The Short Amiata Bouldering Season". 
For another year the bouldering season, for me, has lasted as much as two days. Two days of good conditions, with a clear sky, Sun and some breeze. Sticky rock. Psyche. Biceps. 
Amiata bouldering is a land of extremes: it's not uncommon to go and try the higher sectors only to find them freezing cold and damp, or dumped with snow, then to check the lower sectors and discover Summer is here. The cold sectors do not get any Sun at all, but they get the Northern icy winds; the warm sectors are in full Sun and get the Southern warm and humid winds.  So basically every different sector has a window of good conditions that is really short.
It took me just 21 years of climbing to understand that in Amiata you either freeze or boil. A good old friend of mine, an American girl named Josie, who I climbed with for a winter while she was here studying, nicknamed me "The Lord of Cold"... If you still read here, Josie, I'm sorry I took you climbing with glacial temps and made you belay me for hours for my route project. The friction was amazing that day, though. 
In one of these days I managed to make some good links on the super low start of my project from a couple of years ago, and did a cool variation. 
Rock climbing is quite fun, I have to say. 
Training wise - let's get to the important things - I had a brief stop due to a small finger injury that luckily passed in a couple of weeks: while doing a dynamic move I smashed my right middle finger in a hold that was in the way. Result, a slight sprain, swelling, pain, and panic. Also, a couple of weeks before I had strained my left hamstring insertion to the pelvis, while training PE on the feet on campusing, with the small foothold and 6 kg on. 
This has also almost healed, but I had to cut the sprints off for a while. 
I'll save them for the late Spring and Summer, when I'll be allowed to sprint barechested in my neighborhood. 
Now normal service is more or less resumed, with good results, especially on the board. I did good on some projects, and repeated an old one that I had only climbed twice in more than two years (still a long way from Malc's twice in five years on his project; also in terms of difficulty: Malc would flash my project in flip flops and my motorbike tied to his back). 
I did not improve my PE, neither on the feet on campusing nor on the circuit test, but I did not lose anything. Not having trained it properly in a lot of time I am happy about that. 
I have to admit that I'm also happy about the short Amiata bouldering season; I have lots of work to do, so going climbing for a full day leaves me feeling guilty. It's not often possible to go for just two or three hours, because after all it's almost a three hours driving there and back, so it's expensive and tiring. Not going climbing on rock except in special occasions (when I really want to put on my Hornets or Team or Dragon, that I don't use on plastic), gives me some peace of mind because in the weekends I have enough time to rest, work and train at home. 


Up here is a project whose first part I climbed last week, with great joy. The following moves mark the start of the hard bit. I tend to think that I'll never do it, but as soon as I keep trying I may as well have a chance. 
And down here there are other training videos: another project, in which again the hard part starts where I fall (latching the purple with left hand and then matching: a move that I did in isolation once in two years...); and some power endurance training on one of my two test problems, using just one foot with 6 kg on. Brutal. Using only one foot means that every foot placement involves cutting loose: this works your abs very hard, plus all the body placements change. Very fun. 



One last note to self: when still not fully recovered from a middle finger strain, it's not advisable to do middle finger mono one arm dead hangs. Strangely it hadn't occurred to me that feeling very strong on two armed hangs isn't enough: when passing to one armed hangs the load kind of... doubles. 

Monday, 24 February 2014


Since the last entry, not much has changed climbing wise, except the fact that I have even less time now, having started accepting work - mainly teaching - also during weekends. 
I do this because despite working full time every day, still I can't have enough to pay the bills. Not that teaching weekends will give me enough, but I have to get a little bit from whatever is possible. My work at the law firm is done gratis et amore, because this is how it works in Italy: you have to practice with a lawyer for one year and half, and this is compulsory, you work for him or her, you go in Court, you write papers, contracts and acts, you study the cases, and you don't get a single Euro for it. Nada. Zero. Niente. 
So, this leaves me with two other jobs: teaching and translating. 
Teaching is poor at the moment, winter means less students and this means working weekends to get some money; translating is kind of right, I'm currently doing a new book, for which I'll be paid probably in 2015. 
I don't regret any of my decisions, this is just how things are at the moment. 
One thing really pisses me off though: when I hear people complaining about having too much work, and having to climb "only in weekends". 
Climbing on rock Saturday and Sunday is something that dates back a lot of time for me, so when I hear this kind of comments I tend to get angry: the last time I went climbing for more than two days is exactly February 2012 (U.K.), and the time before, February 2011 (U.K.). 
Anyway. Enough of this. 
I'm trying to keep my training up despite everything, and in the search of more power I bumped into a couple of articles about the benefits of short sprints: this one and this one.  
So I started doing short sprints (around 15 meters) slightly uphill, in front of my house, before a system or fingerboarding or bouldering session. They're brutal and a total body recruitment which is very nice. I eat like a monster in the following days. 

Jump! The last bit of the warm up before breaking the barrier of sound.

Generally speaking I feel tired from a lot of training but also from recent bad eating habits. Power seems to be fine, but last time on the feet on campusing I was absolutely nothing; I did not panic though: I had just completed 12 sets with the small foothold and 6 kg on, so probably I was not 100% ready for PE... 
Obviously all my climbing plans went out of the window: from February, to Spring, to Autumn, to - hopefully - Christmas. 
I did a comp on Saturday, and climbed nothing. Not even on the Moonboard. 
As soon as possible I want to check my one armers. 
And that's all. 

Wednesday, 29 January 2014


After the holidays, I felt I really needed some rest, and planned a week off after some good training: a friend of mine have built a board in his garage, and I took great pleasure in going there with some friends to pull down hard; those sessions have been really great, not only thanks to the good company and vibes, but also because we were on holidays, and each session saw someone bringing over cakes, Prosecco wine, and the likes. I also had a Champagne fuelled session on my board in which I crushed a project. Yay! All it takes to climb hard is: no work, lots of sleep, food and Champagne. As easy as it gets. 
Unlike my board, my friend's one have normal footholds, and it's allowed to step on the handholds. Despite making things - apparently - easier, I found out that the better footholds allowed for some crazy upper body action and positioning, working my arms, back and fingers in a completely different way than my board. Both overhang 54 degrees. 
So, my week off started quite well: I had climbed on Monday, the last day of the holidays, and spent Tuesday and Wednesday resting. Then I trained or climbed four days in a row. Dammit. Friends are Evil. Now I really needed some rest. This time this was better done thanks to my bread-cutting ability. While preparing a sandwich for the day's climbing, on Sunday I cut through a good 3 mm of my left thumb. I taped it and went climbing, but got home with the tape soaked in blood. 
It took a while to finally heal, but still now after a serious session, some blood can be seen under the skin. 
Letting go of the training for a few days, made my mind strong to start again, but my body had given in. 
I did some excellent fingerboarding to ease myself back in, with a very good session. I tested myself on the monos and pockets, and found good improvements despite not training them for a couple of months if not more, which led me to questioning the misteries of training. 
I also added 2 kg to my one armed hangs on the incut rung of the Beastmaker: +14 for left hand, +18 for right hand. This session was heavy. The following day my arms and back were thrashed, and when I stepped on the board for some bouldering - after a few weeks dedicated to system training - I wad shocked by how hard my problems felt. Like, I couldn't do the moves in isolations: I either was strong when I did them, or weak now. Or both. A rude awakening. Very rude. 
Right now things are going better, and I also retained some Power Endurance. 
Here are some images that sum it all up. 

A good problem that gave my left thumb a hell. 


Some compression on pinches, but no thumbs. 


Some deadhangs on wide slopey pinch/edges.

A good go on the circuit, getting to hold number 23, with only 7 more moves - the hardest part - to do! 

These last months have been very important on many aspects, climbing included: once I realized that I can't project hard things on rock, for the usual reasons that I ignored for the last ten years - filling this blog with utter bullshit, idiotic thoughts and envious ramblings that now make me very ashamed - I started having some fun again. 
My projects are on my board and on the Beastmaker, and they just represent the climbing spin off of the only project I've ever had: being strong. As strong as I can be in that specific moment of life.
Until now it's been climbing, but it could be weights, or something else. 
This is a clarifying vision and a realization.