Tuesday, 18 February 2020

IN WHICH THE AUTHOR NARRATES ABOUT KNEES, FINGERS AND IRON

Another year has passed, my dear reader, and I wonder who you could possibly survive the long wait for the - now - yearly Totolore post. 
My last one left you trembling, picturing Totolore waiting to fix his knee, in order to get back to high(est) level bouldering. 
This post finds Totolore again waiting to fix his knee, the only problem is that I already had the other surgery... and now I need another one. 
In June 2019 I had my surgery, which revealed cartilages that seemed having been chewn by a ferocious dog (a nice surprise, innit) and needed sorting out: for this task I had the pleasure to be the first patient to experiment a new tool, aptly named "vaporizer". 
I lay on the slab, watching on a tv screen as this machine ate my broken cartilages with ease. 
My medial meniscus was broken, but the cut didn't reach the surface. 
I was home that very evening, no pain whatsoever, just 30 fucking days on crutches to let the cartilages heal. 
After some time, with a right leg the size of my right forearm, I started training again. 
And the shit hit the fan. 
I might have sligtly overdone it, in any case my knee started aching, swelling and feeling generally tender and unstable. This went on for months, and then I finally had another MR scan, that revealed that now my medial meniscus was broken for good, with a complete tear, needing another surgery.
There you fucking go. 
So, from april 2017, when I climbed my hardest board problem, I basically quit bouldering. 
My elbow injury kept me busy until october 2018, then my knee, now my knee again. Given my rehab times in the past, I feel that I am facing a three years long climbing hiatus, that, at 48 years of age, surely will do me good. I plan to be - somehow - climbing again this coming autumn. 

In the meanwhile, I've hit the weights and the fingerboard. I completely sacked the board, despite a few problems climbed before my first surgery and getting back to a decent level of fitness, namely being able to climb my two reference problems with 8 kg on and using only one foot at a time. 

With my knee even weaker than before the operation, I had to take a completely new approach. I ditched heavy training and focused on longer efforts and complexes. I started training on the pull up bar with some routines that I borrowed from gymnastics. Nice stuff. 
On the fingerboard, I did some half arsed tests on the Lattice Edge, and mainly focused on flat edges and pockets. 
As of late, I sacked the pockets session because it's too long and I don't have enough time. 
I keep training on my 14 mm edge one armed and on the 9 mm edge with back 3 and front 3 hangs. 
With good skin, I can one arm the 9 mm edge taking 7 kg off for my right arm and 12 for my left. Make of that what you wish. 

A friend of mine has opened a big climbing wall close to here, I've been there a couple of times just for a chat while getting back home from a bike ride (motorbike, obviously), but it's too painful to be there, unable to climb. 
In recent weeks I slightly reduced my training volume and it did me good: my muscles are a bit fuller and I feel generally more powerful. 
I am eating like a pig. 

I don't even have anything to complain about the climbing world, because I completely stopped reading any news whatsoever or following what's going on around here. Whenever I check the local climbing news, the level of bullshit goes beyond my imagination. 

On a side note, I spent the last year attending a second level university master in criminology, that I completed last week magna cum laude.
It's finally good to write an entry after so much time, even if with a boring content. I feel very far away from climbing at the moment, both physically and mentally. Little time to train makes it very difficult to have a proper session, it takes too long to warm up for hard finger training or even system climbing, hopefully this will change as I'll get my knee sorted: maybe the feeling of having a functioning knee again will give me the kick in the ass that I need to put in the hours again. 
I would very much to climb a hard route. Boudering, I fear, is too hard on my knees, or just too hard. 

And with this final note, this thrilling post is over. 



Wednesday, 13 February 2019

IN WHICH THE AUTHOR NARRATES ABOUT ELBOWS, KNEES, IRON AND SEQUENCES

First of all, the news. 
One year has passed since my last post, that was about my elbow injury, and my toe injury, but also about The Iron, The System, The One Arm Hangs. 
Things more or less kept going that way for months and months, with the joyous monotony - or monotonous joy - of constant progress through The Grind. 
A sudden change happened under the form of a message from no other than Keith, Unclesomebody himself, announcing his months-long roadtrip with wife, 3 years old daughter, and 4 months old daughter. Priorities, you know. We agreed to meet in Val Daone.
With my medial epicondilitis giving small signs of capitulation, I thought I'd better pull my finger out, if I wanted to keep the slightest form of climbing dignity in front of Keith. The thought that I had been out of the game for almost one year, injured, and with a total of four climbing days in more than two years, remained confined to the deepest recesses of my mind. 
Dedicating myself to front-on lock offs on the system, one day, I felt a sudden blade through the medial side of my right knee. 
I quickly stopped the session. Well I didn't, but I switched to side-on lock offs. My knee swelled a little, and four days later I was climbing - or at least trying to - in Val Daone with Keith. 
I managed to climb something, but the real joy was being in a beautiful place, with beautiful rock, with beautiful people. 
Of course I am kidding. 
It was a nightmare. 
Of course I am kidding again. 
It felt really good to be moving on rock again, despite being taped up and clad in neoprene supports as if we were in one of those XXX movies. 
Keith showed no sign of the 10 years passed since the last time we met, in the Dolomites, with James. 
He flashed everything up to 7c and made well clear that some things and some people never change. 
I came back home to The Iron and The Edges, and my knee started improving. 
On an unforgettable day, months after, I realized that I had started forgetting about my right elbow. Fucking bingo. It was over. For almost one year, every fucking morning, upon washing my face, I would feel a sharp pain going from my elbow down through my forearm. Every fucking morning, as the very first fucking thing in the fucking day. A fucking reminder. Now I could start forgetting.
I could finally answer the board call with a light spirit. And a heavy body...
Fast forward a few weeks and I am at some friends' house, playing on the ground with my girlfriend's niece, Caterina. After kneeling down for a few minutes I stood up, and immediately felt something wrong. The following morning it was still there, that ugly sensation of having a tender, swollen and injured knee. 
You guessed it: I had broken my right medial meniscus. 
This story is quite short, I sacked completely the board (I can't pull with my right leg) and kept ironing things out, with some deadhanging and some system boarding using just my left leg. You gotta do what you gotta do. 
Now I've signed for the surgery and am waiting to be fixed. 

All the above has nothing to do with the real reason of this entry, which is the following. 
A few days ago I watched a video that made my eyes bleed. 
It was about a young hotshot "repeating" one of my problems. 
In order to do this, he used all the holds of my problem, and all the holds of the nearby problem. Then he obviously commented on the grade with smugness. 
Now then. 
Leaving aside all the possible discussion about eliminates, one thing really bothers me. People aren't interested in knowing what happened before them. And they aren't interested in knowing if their opinion could be right or wrong. 
Every problem I've put up in the last 26 years, have independent holds. 
So, my proposed grades takes this factor into accout. 
It's quite natural to me to act like this, because if you use the same holds of another problem, the second one ceases to be a different, independent problem. 
Moreover, I love sequences. 
I love to search the way of getting to the top of a small rock using independent holds, and as few of them as possible. I have applied this principle - of using only independent holds - not only to my first ascents, but to every problem I've ever climbed or tried to. Call me a fanatic bastard, an eliminate lover, call me what you like, because I don't care.

People are obviously free to use whatever they like, to get to the top. In the end, if they're weak it's not my problem. 
But, since they like to comment about grades with the presumptuousness of having The Grading Truth, they should get some info beforehand. 
Si parva licet componere magnis, I would like to tell a story that I think explains my thought. 
Years ago, a young, strong climber, started repeating all the old, hidden problems in the 7c+/8a range, put up by Fred Nicole in his home areas decades before. 
He then started commenting that the grades given by the man himself were soft. "How dare you?" surged a sudden protest from the climbing community.
Informed about the issue, Fred was interviewed about it. Being the person he is, he calmed the fuss and said: "Well it could easily be that my grades feel soft. That's probably because I'm not very good at finding sequences, and because, with those problems, I would simply see them and give them just a quick brush. Then I did them all flash or second go, so probably my sequences weren't very refined." 

Now, I am not Fred. But the principle remains. 
I think that when someone wants to make a statement, they should know what happened before them. 
It's quite easy to find every possible information about everything on the interner nowadays, so the question is: do people really want to know what happened before them? 

















Friday, 12 January 2018

A CLASSIC TALE, OR: WHAT YOU SHOULDN'T DO, OR: WHAT YOU SHOULD DO

Yesterday I received a comment from my friend Martin Keller, a.k.a. The Silent Crusher, a modest - really, not in the hypocritical way of Jens Larssen of 8a.shit - guy with a regular job, who happens to boulder 8c. 
He complained about the lack of updates over here, and he was right. 
So, here's the news: the news are that I spent a lot of time with straight arms.

My last post was a gloomy one, with the black aura of lack of motivation and psyche looming over me. "Could be worse!" I should have thought. "Could be raining!" 
And rain it did. Not in Young Frankenstein's sense, alas I wish it were. 
A few months of weighted pull ups on a 1,5 cm edge suddenly took their toll under the form of a light niggle on my medial left elbow. 
"FUCK YOU LIGHT NIGGLE!" I smartly yelled, and proceeded to put in a good ol' one arm, back3 session on the incut BM rung. Boy did it hurt me. 
"FUCK YOU TOO, TWAT!" the light niggle yelled back at me, only now it wasn't a light niggle anymore, it was a green monster with eyes full of destruction. 
Cutting my losses I decided to avoid one arm sessions for a while, but my board project was waiting, and I thought it was a good idea to stick at it. Beautiful moves on front2 crimps and the compulsory Hubble-style match on a left hand undercling quickly let to big progress, of the green monster. He morphed into something like the Red Hulk, or maybe a cross between The Hulk and Silver Surfer: something everpresent and omnipotent. 
In just a month and a half I understood that board session were to be sacked. I'm surprised it didn't take me longer to get this complex axiom. 
I obviously stuck to the Iron. 

Session after session I learnt what was good and what was bad. Regular curls? Bad. Hammer-grip curls? Good. 
I took out my copy of Jim Wendler's 5-3-1 and applied its principles to my weight training. I bought an Olympic barbell that is a work of beauty. 220 cm and 20,2 kg of pure, shiny steel. I bought some more plates and started snatching and power cleaning. 
This is me repping 66 kg for 8. 




Ugly, I know, but just five minutes earlier, when doing recruitment jumps, forgetting that I had basic, hard soled shoes on, I landed badly on my right toe smashing it on the concrete floor. It hurt. It's now well blue and swollen. Oh well... 
One day I also found out that, if I keep a straight arm, I can also deadhang. FUCKING BINGO! 
So I went back to my trusty edges, the good ol' 9 mm and the freshly made, oldschool 5 mm. 
I found out that I can one arm hang the 1,5 cm edge, just barely with my left hand; with some kilos added (can't remember how much, I think 5) with my right. I set a PB of 5" on the 9 mm edge with 40 kg on, and did 5" on the 5 mm with 10 kg on. 


I aptly bought some Frictionlabs Unicorn Dust chalk.
Of course, I couldn't neglect body tension. I hit the ab-wheel hard, switching from power session to endurance ones with 2 sets of 50 or one monster set of 100. On the system board, I firstly regained confidence, then - with temps dropping - I went back to testing myself again. I worked hard on the full crimp with great benefits. 
Before hurting my toe, I was also doing foot on campusing with front and back3, front2 and mid2. Life is beautiful. 
Of course, my elbow still hurts a bit, but less than before, and in the meanwhile I got stronger. 

There you go. 
Take home lesson: you shouldn't be stupid. You should be smart. You shouldn't injure yourself. You should train around your injury.