Finally the gym reopened. I have to say they're a bunch of good, dedicated people. If you close your eyes and nose every time you step into the lockers or the bathrooms, if you get there with a first layer, a fleece and a beanie, everything is alright. Ok the holds are greased and they set new problems only for comps, but hey, they are cheap, and most important, they are almost ever open. To say I was excited to get some training again is an understatement. To say that the rest did much to me, is another one. I went saturday and yesterday. Saturday I didn't really know what to do, whether to take another semi-rest day or to give it a go. Obviously I took the second option, and that meant system boarding. New routine: 30° wall; two crimps, feet; double dyno to two pinches (can you tell I'm addressing to some weakness lately?); then double dyno to two jugs (or again two crimps if feeling very good); then double dropdown to two crimps, and up again to the pinches. Three times in a row, 6 sets, the last one with 6 kilos at my waist. Wow! This was great! It's super demanding on coordination, you need to be super fast and super precise, neural activation 100%. It worked me really. Then I set four different two moves problems (symmetrical for left and right hand): on the 30° wall, and ot 45°. Strange moves and holds hard to hold in the first case, simple holds and just plain hard moves in the second. I went home happy. Yesterday, I wanted to just climb a little bit. After a long warm up, not feeling particularly sparky, I decided to take it easy, to try single hard moves and to have long rests. Again, I surprised myself. There's this blue problem from the comp, one I had always avoided because of its strange holds and moves. I saw a young climber trying it, and was shocked to witness his fast progresses. Immediately, I hadn't thought it was doable, I had thought he was a super wad and I wasn't going to do it. Well, yesterday I almost flashed it. I blew my second attempt because of hitting a jug with my elbow (because of poor foot placemente obviously) when dead pointing, and at the third try it was sent, and sent in a world full of intimidating problems destroyed. Happiness. Then it was the time of my problem from past monday, that I had failed to do tuesday (again), and that proved to be hard (at least for me) also yesterday. Two friends quickly dispatched it the other day, and this left me a bit puzzled. Could it be this hard just for me? Well, apparently it could. Maybe the crux move revolving around a... pinch (!!!), maybe the crux revolving also in two consecutive hard shoulder moves for your right shoulder (yes, the one I have injured, smart uh?), but I never had founfd the dynamism for putting all the moves together. I needed two tries yesterday, but always sticking the crux move. Happiness again. Finally, after some more tea and chocolate, full of joy and love for the world, I set my eyes again on another problem I had always avoided. Long, long pulls between fat, fat slopers, then a pinch (yes, again) then some dynoes to poor crimps: Uncle's paradise. Finally, I didn't do it, but I did all the moves and also almost did it from one move into the problem. It's definitely in the aim for today. So, what can I tell. The most important thing is that my shoulder, despite the training, is recovering, cue large quantities of ice at home. Then, something is changing, especially in the movement, how this relates to power levels is still a mystery. Obviously, between being a strong punter or a weak wad, I am choosing the second. I am confident now, as soon as I will be physically recovered from injuries, things will start being very interesting. I crowned the day with a (sadly) brief chat on the phone with Mr. Monolith himself, and with an excellent Dry Martini at the local aperitif bar. Now move on.
P.S. I take this occasion to give The Guru all my congratulations for the recent birth of his son!!! All the best!!!
I hate it. It's a waste of time, it's boring. And not only because God does not exist. Past year I was working in the climbing shop, so, despite being unable to leave for climbing trips, it wasn't that bad, I was earning lots. This year I had finally some holidays. I wanted to leave for Cresciano, then the forecast said it was going to snow. It did, but not exactly where they predicted. So after deciding not to go, I decided to go. But now something else came out and I got pissed off and we won't go. So, as said before, I'm resting. My shouder is getting better but still there's one small point in the cuff and one or two very particular movements that are painful, so I'm still a bit nervous. If I can climb and train on it like these past two sessions it's fine anyway. Resting is useful and a must do definitely, but during these fucking days of fucking christmas it's fucking boring. Cinemas are full of fucking christmas movies, fucking shops are fucking closed so I can't even do some psyco-shopping (going into shops and try on cool stuff without buying, that is), friends are fucking travelling and on the fucking telly they fucking broadcast fucking stupid christmas things and movies from the '40s. If I see another trailer for "Life's wonderful" on some other TV channel I fucking throw the fucking telly out of the fucking window. I'm fucking bored and very pissed. It's fucking cold now, with a cold wind blowing, and probably the rock is dry and sticky. What am I doing here? I don't know. Nothing apart from resting. I hope to get some climbing soon, but I'm not very psyched to go to Sasso on my own for the 132th time, nor to drive two hours to get under the Amiata roof. I want to climb in Swizzy, I'm dying to climb there. I need it. I want it. I deserve it. I've earned that. Then I think that maybe going to Amiata is not a bad option, I know that it could be far worse, but I also know that this definitely isn't what I would like for myself. Dio boia.
Ok, so on sunday I touched some rock with not much psyche but some satisfaction, and then started thinking about the session I was going to have on monday, yesterday that is.It's been an excellent session, totally unexpected, that also made me reflect over the mysteries of power recruitment.I started with the system board excercises: right hand on a crimp, left foot on; pull and lock off the crimp, get a slopey pinch with left hand; raise right foot very high, match on another symmetrical pinch and dyno to the highest hold you can; repeat with other arm, twice per arm, six sets.I came out from this a bit "worked" to say the least.Then I had to set and try for 30-45 minutes each, three short and powerful problems, on the 30°, 45° and 60° walls.I got involved in the first one on fat slopers, that I will send today, then moved to the 60° where I got on a hard problem of the past comp, thinking that the first three moves would have been enough; far from it, I found myself walking up to the last bit, and then I decided to drop it, because it was just a question of power endurance (all comp problems here are quite long, from 10 to 15 moves, to make the competitors very tired) and it wasn't worth the effort. So, with some energy saved, decent rests and my small, battery powered fan to cool down my skin, I tried a crimpy problem (again from the comp) that had scared me when I saw it. There's a hold that I'm not able to hold at all. I hate those holds. It's a pointy, downfacing kind of crimp, that you have to hold crimping with two fingers and kinda pinching with your thumb. I hate it. I also doubted I could do the starting move, a long reach from a pinch (one of my many weaknesses) and a slopey crimp. I got to work, and almost stuck the first move straight away, but the hold you go to split my index finger last week, so I tried to figure out another sequence. Skipping that move I went left, locked off another crimp and heel hooked on the starting pinch, trying to get the crimp from that position. It was strenuous but doable. Then, I found out that, strenuous for strenuous, I could entirely skip that hold and go directly to the good one with right hand instead of left; this enabled me to skip also the hold I can't hold and go directly up for the good holds. Miracle. I tried the moves and they are fine, should do this also today. Finally I had one go on one of the final problems of the comp, deep lockoffs from crimps to crimps, and really climbed it well. On this spree I tried something else and then went home, very very happy.I found out that keeping the stimulus very high is far more important for me than actually completing a 12 move problem: I need to work on moves that are at my limit, rather than linking up 70% moves until failure. I'm not a sport climber. With this in mind I will go again today, then some rest until sunday probably, my shoulder will thank me I'm sure.Ciao for now.
Tonight I had a strange dream. I was visiting my ex colleagues who are still working for the bank I have worked for until 2003. Suddenly, after some joking, one of the directors tells me that they are going to employ me again. This leaves me shocked because I know how much I hated that job, but I also know how much I need some decent income these days. I get home both sad and relieved, with a job I hope not to hate so much and some money getting in every fucking month, sunshine or rain. Not to talk about all the other extras. I woke up and told the dream to my girlfriend, and she said "this is the life we chose to have". It's a life in which we struggle to pay the rent, we have to rely on some money from my parents, we can't travel or spend money without worries. It's definitely the life we chose for ourselves. It's the same choice that leaves "normal" people astonished when, during a walk in the woods on a sunday afternoon, they meet you clinging onto small rocks. They ask you "why don't you walk on top of the rock from the path behind it?". Because this is the life we chose for ourselves.
Today I went climbing in Sasso despite not really liking to. It's rained far too much here and I knew I was going to find poor conditions, but world crusher Michele Caminati was there so I felt I needed to go and throw him at a few unsent lines. Michele tried one of our projects, left behind many years ago, mostly because it's high and you need to be at least three people and have tons of pads to protect it: anyway the top is covered in moss and dirt again, otherwise Michele would have sent. He reckons around Font 8a, which for him is absolutely nothing. "Physical" he reckoned... The ability with which he climbs is amazing. It's very difficult to climb with him, because the difference is so great that one (I, at least) feels out of place. It's very motivating though, because Michele is a modest guy with his feet well planted on the ground, when they aren't high on some hard boulder problem. It's worth reporting that he quickly dispatched the standing version of OOS, that he liked alot, commenting: "This is so much my style of problems, that I can't grade it!". Nice one!!! Anyway, I am obviously tired from four weeks of training hard, but I felt good, considering that I wasn't psyched for climbing today, my shoulder still aches a bit and that conditions were very bad. I am happy because I managed to understand this, and moved according to this feelings, so I played it cool, I stayed relaxed, chilled out, said bullshit. I am also very happy because I literally walked up "Scream", a crimpy, long problem with powerful lock offs that I have always hated. Now I hate it a bit less, but just a little bit.
I am proud to report that this night at the gym I managed to rip a hold from the wall. The bolt and part of the hold remained attached on the wall, the rest exploded in space under my load. I think I must add that it was an open hand sloper on a vertical wall: I really wanted to be sure to lock it off to get the top... The fact that the hold exploded projected myself ground bound, and for a microsecond I watched down and saw the empty, narrow gap between the mats and the wall. Luckily I was so quickly on the mats, that when I was taken by terror about the destiny of my left ankle, I was already safe on the mats. Nonetheless, I started shaknig a bit, especially my legs and hands, and had to lie down for a few minutes. The hold made such a noise that other climbers came to watch what had happened from the other side of the gym. Anyway, trying the vertical stuff at the gym just isn't safe. Not because of the holds ripping, but because you can land in a dangerous place, between mats and wall, that has ruined more than one ankle already. Buona notte.
We are one with body and mind. This is a truth so simple that I am ashamed to have ignored it for years in the past. I remember driving to the crag so sadly and so full of stress for the routes I was going to lead, that I can't believe I just didn't turn the car and head home. I remember thinking "ohhh I hope everything goes right today, I hope I won't be scared on the lead", instead of thinking "ok let's go and see what I'm keen for and have fun!". It's so difficult to perform ar each one's limit, because our entire body has to work perfectly, and to be at its best. Not only this, our mind also has to work accordingly. It has to give us the right tension, the right anxiety, the right relaxation, the right will and desire. We have to be at 100% of our possibilities. I think about top athletes. How many times an athlete can be at his best? I don't mean winning a competition, I mean performing so well that better is just not possible. Usain Bolt won and was at his best probably, and that produced a feat so great that it will be remembered for ages. He could have won witout being at top, but this wouldn't have made history, despite being a great success. Us climbers are less lucky. We can't win without being at top, because we don't compete against others, but against ourselves. So every time that we are not at our best, or at least one step ahead of where we were before, we can't win. We may succeed, but we don't win. There's a big difference, in my mind, between the two: succeeding is achieving a goal; winning is being at top. Lately, I have succeeded on something, but I haven't won anything. Probably I was in better form when I failed five times in a row on OOS sit, than when I crushed at Città dei Sassi. Or maybe not, but this particular aspect isn't very important. In both cases I had great fun, I liked alot how I was climbing, and that's a great thing anyway, but that's not what we're talking about now. My obsession, my target, generally is to go somewhere and climb at my limit. This is the same as if Usain Bolt would run for a world record at every comp. Simply it's not possible. Usain has to be happy, sometimes, with just winning the race. I have to be happy, sometimes, with performing under limit. But I don't like it, because I compete against myself. Then, where's this limit I want to perform at. I mean what grade is my ABSOLUTE LIMIT? What can I climb with perfect skin, form, technique, mind and conditions? I don't know. For sure it's not what I usually try. How can I know? Because if it was, I would succeed very very very rarely. So what I've done until now, is behind my limit, because I can achieve that not often, but with a decent regularity. On a side note: is it worth to go out and climb something that's under the limit? Of course it is, given that what you do is close enough to this limit. How close? As close as it could be. So, I think I'm slowly recovering from last weeks' sadness, and this comes mostly from my mind. Ok, my back is getting better, my shoulder also, but, for example, I tore a gash in my index finger last tuesday, right where the joint of the phalanx is, where the finger flexes. I'm fairly sure it will take time to heal dammit. Finally, how can I act when I know I don't have the oneness of body and mind? I think that if your body isn't on, there's no point in pushing your mind, in forcing yourself into it, because it won't work. Perhaps, if your mind is weak but your body (very) strong, it's worth playing your chances and trying to let your mind take confidence from your body. This is all on paper, on the net. The next task will be to apply it in the real world, the rocks, the only place where you can truly succeed and, in some magic moments of fullfillment, win.
I went to the gym again yesterday, with my back feeling a bit better and my shoulder less achy. All in all a good session although being unable to really push is a bit frustrating. Moreover, I think lately I'm having skin issues. Not that I confronted a group of shaved neo-nazis, but in the sense that my fingertips are always very hot after just a few problems, they become red and start to release a bit of water. I think it's a problem with pulling alot on plastic. I am unable, now more than ever before, to stick on to slopers, I grease off in nanoseconds, and that's why I decided to leave simple bouldering behind, and just focus on training and crimping. So I also think that this will protect a bit more my back and my shoulder, because when system training and setting my own problems I can assess every issue I have, and am less prone to have big swings out and compression moves that excessively bend and compress my spine. I think having steel fingers on crimps and open crimps can never be a harm, strong fingers are strong fingers, and it's easier, I think, to learn how to hang a sloper, than to develop finger strength. Today I should have gone to Luca's greetings lunch, while I'm here waiting to visit one of my best friends who suddenly lost his father tonight. Life can come at us with both fists sometimes and it's shocking.
I feel very sad, almost depressed. Why? I don't know. Probably my inability to talk with my friends, the fact that this caused alot of misunderstanding plays a part in my sadness. I thought they weren't going to climb with me because of my childish, bitter behaviour. They thought I wasn't going to climb with them because I wrote about it on here. Fact is that I spoke with Luca the other night at the gym about climbing together this sunday, one thing that's not going to happen unless indoors. I apologized with him also, for pulling him away from the trip one day earlier, everything is gone now. Filippo made me think alot. He is right to tell that he isn't going to give me a bad reputation in the gym, after my failures in Varazze. Of course he isn't. Why should he? Whould I do a similar thing? No. So why should he behave differently in this case? Again, childish, bitter, envious behaviour from me. I'm sure my back and shoulder troubles are making me sad as well, but I'm absolutely positive that what makes me so sad now is realizing that in the past weekend I lost a great occasion to be happy, relaxed, and to enjoy the company of two sincerely funny guys. One missed happiness is a good reason to be sad and a real shame.
How long should I go on complaining? No longer. For how long have I been going on complaining? For too long. Even one minute would have been too much time to be dedicated to last weekend's unfortunate trip. I also surprise myself for writing down such a whiny post. What was that really pissed me off? I know now. It was not being able to compete on an equal footing. It was being hindered by something on which I had no control. This is what made me lose my calm and, ultimately, my sense of humour. I train alot. I train to be prepared, both technicallyand physically, which leads to being more prepared also mentally. But can I train to face events like the ones that spoilt my weekend? No. You can't train for that, you have to cope. You have to find the right perspective, you have to put things down right again. Ultimately, it's the trust in myself, the lack of that trust, that spoilt my stay in Varazze. My friends play the gave we always play: we look for a weak one, and we bash him. That's the breaks. I was out of the game. I chose to play, though. I had a very bad hand, I bluffed and I lost. Could have it gone differently? Yes, I could have crushed Alfa Centauri and I could have gotten home with a freshly made wad reputation. Would have it meant alot? Yes, because I train to be good, not to be unable to climb. Then what? When I did the first and only repeat to date of OOS this past winter, I came to the gym one day and everyone came and shook my hand, congratulating. I was very happy and very proud. But now no one remembers about that, and it's damn right and obvious, just as no one would have been remembering about Alfa, should I have sent it, after a few days. Everything happens inside of my self. No one can live on single feats, because as I was shown some time ago, you are always questioned, you are always doubted, you are always put under examination. I don't know the reasons of this, I would like to, but finally I don't care. What hurts is that I feel like I betrayed myself, I was hoping to impress my buddies, while the only thing that counts to me is to impress my self. That's why the battle was lost even before the start. Next time.
I think I owe something to all the readers of these pages. It's not polite to simply dispatch the last two days of suffering with just the few words written yesterday night. So here it goes. There was to be a big comp at the gym on saturday, and I didn't care, despite the chance of seeing world class pullers of the likes of Michele Caminati and Gabriele Moroni in action. The forecast was killer for the north west, and it was very easy to decide to go to Varazze. As you all know, I'm not a big fan of the place, mostly because of one single visit many years ago with an injured finger and a very low psyche. Now, I'm still not a great fan of it, but I know that there's at least one problem that will drive me there again: Alfa Centauri, in the standing version, that was the only reason I went there for, this time. Well, I didn't even try it. Just minutes after our arrival, on saturday, while searching for the various sectors, boulders, and namely for Alfa Centauri, I slid on the leafy turf in the wood, compressing again my lower back, already sore since the whole week, as I told here about. Well, from that second I should have held back, understanding that I was otherwise bound for a very, very humbling, disappointing, saddening experience. And that was exactly what I had, at the point that yesterday afternoon I wished I wasn't there, and I therefore spoilt my friends' stay as well. We went to Alfa Centauri roof, after a brief warm up, in which I felt quite good and sparky, despite being unable to bend my back, then it all started to crumble down at full speed. Why? Because, to be honest, in this trip I also wanted to kick my friends' asses so bad that it would have been embarassing. Am I a dirty bastard, because of this? Probably. Am I bored of having to listen to the likes of "take a closer hold if you can't reach this, take a higher foothold if you can't lock off that, why do you always climb hard when you're with others" while we train? Surely. It's normal to shout some abuse at your buddies when training, but it's funny only if 1) you say funny things; 2) it doesn't last for the entire session, every session. Not strangely, I am the main target of said abuse, being the "different one" in the group: short and unable to jump between holds, I am comfortable with being the target, it gives me energy, but only if I don't feel that it's becoming seriously insulting, like it's become lately. The other night one particular comment, from one of the guys, left me quite puzzled, because it was so plainly offensive, not funny, and made to humble, that the other guys asked him "why did you say that?". So, in this weekend, I wanted to be bad, especially towards one of my friends, showing them what I can climb. Oh, the irony of this, would be perfect in a greek tragedy. The tragic irony, I would say, of wanting to prove your value, and not being able to do anything. To add insult (again) to injury, my abusing friend was the crusher of the weekend, and my other friend (but are they really so?) thought it was fair game to point out that "a climber's true value and level come out in brief, two days long trips". "Yes, just like this one" I obviously answered, to let him know that I had perfectly understood what he was meaning. Anyway, while at Alfa Centauri we got involved with an eliminate 7b+ that Luca did with two long dynoes, and that I fell off from, with many short moves. Luca told me that I was climbing so static and controlled that I could have done 8b, and I tried to make him understand that I had to, because my back was hurting and I couldn't do otherwise, but I think they took that as an excuse. Minutes later I found out I had badly strained my right shoulder in the whole process. D'oh. After a big big aperitivo down in town and some pasta in the van, it was time to sleep, and with some antiinflammatories I managed to sleep until 8 am. I woke up feeling good, and eager to take some revenge. Obviously it was a bad choice. I tried some nice problems, but from almost having no problems to being unable to move the step was very very short. I badly tripped and fell on that step. I wanted to show everyone how hard I can pull, I wanted to impress everyone, and obviously I failed in that. Finally, after having to get some help to stand up after sitting on a rock I had had enough and I asked Luca to take me to the train station to get a train home. At that moment the other friend said that he wasn't going to climb on monday anyway, and Luca decided that we all would go home. I had to take the responsibility of it all, including comments about how everyone could have spent their bank holiday weekend in a better way. Fair enough. Did I forcet them to come with me? What's the lesson in this comedy of errors? I don't know. It would be far too easy to think it's to learn to climb for yourself, to let go, not to care about impressing or burning off the others, but it's not so easy. Sometimes you have to impress. Sometimes you have to burn others off. Sometimes you've got to do what you've got to do, you like it or not. The only good thing in this all is that I got back home to my girlfriend one day earlier, I slept in a comfortable big bed, and I can rest now. Probably this has also been the last climbing trip with just the three of us, but I really don't care. Probably now the newsworthy story to be told to everyone in the gym will be how weak I proved to be in this weekend, how poorly I climbed, how I faked injuries to come out of an embarassing position. Still I don't care. As I told my friends yesterday night on the way back, I still am not convinced that I suck at climbing. So that's the story of the worst, or one of the worst ones, climbing weekend of my life. A life whose big part I dedicated to climbing, and more seriously, to being good at climbing. The uselessness of this cause is so clear that I simply can't help to give my whole self to it. Thank you for reading this.
Every morning, when I go out to get to work, I, as every righteous man should, give a kiss to my sleeping girlfriend. She generally says something like "See you later, love", and I go out happy. This morning, though, she said "See you in Lugano". And I got out happy.
I got back from the gym on tuesday night with a very very sore back, due to multiple and violent swings out from a hard move under the 60° wall (that currently is my second home, the third being the 45° wall). Despite the pain, after one rest day I wanted to train, so I went to the gym, that, to make things easier, was closed for the setting of the next comp, to be held this saturday. Luckily, being an abitueè I was let in, with the warning "you can only campus". Just a few months ago this would have meant heaven to me, but in my pursuit of perfection on rock today it wasn't enough.I'm doing lots of specific training on the walls, instead of fingerboarding, one arming, or campusing. I do that all, but while climbing, that is.So tonight I think I touched not more than 15 holds, and still I managed a great, powerful session. Tomorrow I think I will just deadhang briefly, if my fingers allow me, and then saturday morning I will leave with fellow pullers, basketball players sized, Luca and Filippo, towards Varazze, the mythical land of Core's problems. Gabriele Moroni, Font 8b+ and sport 9a climber, commented this way about Core's testpiece "Gioia", Font 8c: "One should need steel fingers for that". Incidentally he's a climber who's said to have steel fingers. Anyway, I'm going, and I'm going, as usual, big. One single target. One single mission. One only satisfying result.
Obviously my target isn't "Gioia" but there are no pictures of it...
I haven't posted much lately, firstly because of my pc failure, and secondly because to be honest I don't have much to say. One thing is that I just started my second load week, so I'm back to the gym four days per week, doing loads of system boarding, which is very strenuous and very pleasing. I am climbing well, and I'm very happy that friends climbers notice it. I wanted to start the new training phase with some success to drive me, so two weeks ago I went to Sasso to give a go to OOS sit start. I gave it five goes in a row, each time getting to the last move, the precarious dyno to the arete. I didn't fall on any other move. Each try I was getting to the last hard move, and I also got the arete, but my right foot slipped from the heel hook placement and I was on the ground. Failure has never had such a sweet taste. Thinking about it, I am often posting about being happy about failing, because I am failing with very good sensations, feeling strong, and such bullshit. Now it's time to be hapy about success. Obviously I need to succeed on something to be happy about success. This weekend there's a big comp at the gym here, but being it also a bank holiday I hope that the weather stops menacing to destroy our planet every day so that I can deliver my white ass on top of some (hopefully hard) boulder problem on real rock. Last but not least, I finally understood why bouldering is so hard: because it's a search for perfection, it's the search to perfectly fit a human being into a medium that's not made for him.
As you may guess, I'm still in a precarious situation, Internet wise. To be honest, even having a decent connection, I wouldn't have posted much more, or at least nothing really interesting.
I finally did some tests and next monday will start a new training program straight from The Guru's lab. Alot of wall and not much fingerboarding. Just that little bit to keep the records.
I'm happy because I found out I didn't lose much from the last tests of the late spring and now. Strangely, I've progressed on some fields. Fingers are still good (nothing exceptional) and the guns are loaded (not as the USS Missouri guns, but decent).
The numbers: one armers on a jug, 4 RH, 3 LH; dead hang on incut 2 cm edge, 13 seconds RH, the half LH; dead hang on 1 cm flat edge, 5 seconds RH, the half LH. Nothing crimped.
What I would like to tell you is the incredible sensation of feeling my body completely different. It's not only because finally my testicles descended and I put up some beard, but also because I move differently on the boulders and on plastic. My friends noticed it and they told me.
I'm happy, also because every morning I wake up and I know that I'm going to work in a room with 10 to 15 young girls eager to learn stuff from me.
"Warren Harding is not coming down." This is how John "Largo" Long describes the first instants of Harding's epic nihgt bolting the Headwall to make the first ascent of El Cap. He wasnt' going to quit, as simple as that. Whit these words deeply carved in my mind, I took my chances, on friday night, and drove 400 kms to the Dolomites to close a problem at the Città dei Sassi area, hoping that the around zero temps would make the previous days' rain dry or freeze. I tell you right now: I failed. I didn't climb the problem, despite, seriously, being able to, and now I will have to wait for the ski season to end, and for the winter snow to melt.
How can I tell I could have done it? Because I feel it. Because I did all the moves many times, and because I only failed on the crux move (that's why it's the crux) cruising the rest of the problem, including the straight exit, which not only is safer than the original, delivering you on the pads, if you screw, instead of in a rocky pit of horror, but, even more importantly, it's also harder, involving a hard cross through and a dropdown move before the topout. It's a hybrid sequence, I know, but since the problem is an eliminate, I can choose to climb it without risking fractures, if it's also harder.
The first move is an easy one, from a good left had edge to a good undercling. Never fallen there. The second one takes you from the undercling, with your left hand to a good, but downfacing edge, with just that small catch on the lip that enables you to cling on. Never fallen on that. Then you have to swap feet, drop your right knee, transform your body in a steel plate and match with right hand on another decent edge, again downfacing. I only fell there once, when my left had ripped from the greased edge and I smashed my right tricep on the boulder underneath. It hurts alot and I've been lucky not to hit my elbow. Then there's the crux. Again swap feet, you take your left foot as high as your left hand on a seam, you bolt it there and you drop down your left knee, with your leg vertically to the ground. You keep your right shoulder in place with some additional power and you go left hand to the last crimp, a good one, luckily almost horizontal. Then, if you want to risk your legs, you dyno to the right, and you better catch the jug, otherwise a heli rescue awaits; if you don't, you do my exit. Right foot on spike, again steel tension and you cross with right had to a good seam, you drop down left hand and match, go to the lip and mantle safely with your body directly over the pads (and a rock, anyway...).
Am I sad? Yes, alot. My girlfriend spotted me in sub zero temps for some hours, and I couldn't reward her with the send.
Am I happy? Yes, I am. I tried this problem in july 07, and man, I was light years far. The only good thing was that I had four pads and two strong spotters (instead of two pads and a girl of this last weekend) and I could do the dangerous exit (and that's why I know mine is harder). One year later I unlocked all the moves in just a couple of hours, and managed to have a few good tries, feeling close to the send.
I can still feel my body in the crux move, I can feel how good it felt to static that move, to static the matching, to dropdown to the seam. These feelings can't lie. So why didn't I do it? Because climbing is no maths. Because cold temps can't make it even with 80% humidity. Because I was feeling guilty watching my girlfiriend freezing between my attempts despite having also a wool blanket. Because I was very sad about being deprived of good friction, and finally, because I couldn't just crush it.
So what now? Nothing, just more hard work. The same hard work that I'd put in with the send under my arm. Yes, just the same. Maybe just that little bit of plus motivation. I tried. It didn't go. That doesn't take anything from the general dignity of the effort.
The important thing is that I didn't come down without knowing that I had given it my whole self, my whole body, my whole mind, my relationship, my left tricep, my righ shin, my cut Solution's velcro lace, my car's stolen stereo, everything that happened during these two days I devoted to the problem: my faillure and my success. My happiness and my sadness. Every moment I spent awake in my bed, every meter I drove with my car. Every thought, every calory, every laugh.
To be fulfilled in a failure, is both a nightmare and a dream come true.
The first one is mine: going bouldering today has been a very stupid choice, despite the initial psyche. Over 20°, again, Goddammit, Godfuckingdammit, I can't stand it no more. Plus clouds and humidity. I didn't do a single problem above 6a, and the only good things were some good chatting with a local, and again climbing without tape. Moreover, a mega traffic jam on the way back, I got stuck and it took me four fucking hours to get back home, double as usual and more or less the same as coming back from Cresciano.
The second one is of one of the locals of where I was today. I already knew his singular grading policy, but today I got some confirmations that he's just a real idiot. The local guy who I was climbing with today is one of his friends, and still he told me "He's paranoid about grades" about him, as we were trying one of his problems: a traverse, that he gave originally 7c after freeing it, that quickly he brought down to 7b/7b+. Now it's given 7a/7a+, with someone already talking about barely 7a. Why, you sure want to know. Because they (he and his band of psychotics) downgrade problems when they are repeated by someone who, in their opinion, is not strong. I couldn't believe what I was being told, literally. A sort of Gill scale, but fifty years later, and with just a subjective, personal and arbitrary perspective.
The third form is again mine. I always pay too much attention to what others think, and often I can never distinguish between the ones who deserve respect and attention, and the ones who are just idiots. I respect the second ones far too much sometimes, instead of just laughing at their stupidity and mala fides. Yes, because now I think that not everyone practice fair play. I don't mean that they don't send the problems, they do, but then they use their ability to confuse the others, instead of to inform them, to humiliate the others, instead of to cheer them. They use their ability and talent, which are big, as a weapon against others, in a battle that's fought to deprive everyone else but them of the search for improvement, for progress. In this battle they fight to steal you your time, the time you put into your training, because you'll never get good, because as soon as you'll climb a grade harder, they will erase that grade, and you will find yourself at the starting point again, having lost your trophy again. I hate him, I hate his comrades, I hate their idiocy and I hate mine, because only now I can see it. Before, I could just see wads crushing big grades, now I can only see poor remainings of humans, deprived of happiness, whose only source of pleasure is in this sadic game, in which, sadly, until today I played a sorry role: the idiot.
I’m very very, but I mean very, tired. In the last ten days I think I only had one or maybe two really good sessions. This means that all the others have been somehow lost. To consider these sessions lost may seem stupid, and to lose a session may seem unimportant. But as I said before, every lost session is a missed opportunity to move forward, and to me now not moving forward, not progressing, isn’t like standing still, it means going back. Every lost session means pushing your fingers so that they are damaged, instead of pushed; it means stealing rest from your muscles; it means burning your tips so that they will be thin on the rock; it means, most of all, getting home from the gym not happy. So now I’m very very low, I feel weak as hell, I climb weakly, I look weak. My body flexes when it should keep my feet on the footholds, my ass is heavy and so is my mind. I don’t think light. My fingertips burn on the holds after few moves. My left pinky and my right ring finger scream at every move. And still I can’t rest. When do I start from now? And even more important, where do I go from here? The only direction is obviously forward. I start from the tests I did last Tuesday, luckily at the end of the session, and they weren’t that bad at all. The main thing for me is to fully recover my fingers, to keep climbing without tape and to keep body and mind fresh. One other issue, lately, is the food. I am perpetually hungry and I am perpetually eating: gone are the days when two cups of yoghurt and muesli used to fuel me until 10 30 pm, now I starve after half an hour, despite eating loads. I really can’t eat much more than this: I lack time, if not physical volume. The funny side of this is that my girlfriend now hates me when I’m eating, and gives me every kind of insult because, as she likes to say, I eat as if it was the last bit of food on the planet. My great friend Eric once told me that when I eat I’m a “Polite Barbarian”, meaning that I am polite and educated, but then I eat the food just like a beast. I hardly breathe. I really like how I eat, it makes me feel very alive in that moment.
The replicant gets to his knees in front of Harrison Ford and pronounces the famous lines. "All these moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain".
As previously told, my hard disk crashed last sunday. I had something backed up, but mainly not. Hundreds of pics, hours of climbing videos, movies, musical rarities like PJ Harvey and Bjork together live, and most of all, hundres of pages straight from the depht of my mind. Articles, reviews, my two final thesis in criminology and forensic medicine, my novel. I lost my novel, for the second time.
Why hadn't I saved everithing on a CD? Because I was going to buy an external hard disk as soon as I had some cash, obviously. Idiot.
Anyway, this kind of tragedy made me think about memory and time. Have I really lost something? And if so, what?
Probably, the first thing I lost is my ability to print things in my mind with burning types. Always trusty in our beloved technology, I could watch myself send the roof with just a couple of clicks, I could recall the exact words of an article in the same way. But do I still have the chance to recall the feelings, the memories, the pounding of my heart, as I was topping out, as I thought "This page is good"? I don't know.
Right now I am just terrified by the idea of putting myself again to rewrite my novel. I was very proud of what I had done, I was satisfied, and now I'm sure I can't get back to it with the same satisfaction.
The lesson is: use technology as a substitute. Use your brain as the main tool.
"Everybody loves you!!!" is what a girl from my classroom told me when we met for a coffee at the bar close to the school. This is really a thing to be happy about.
Then, sunday was horrible. We were expecting clear skies and a NW breeze, and we found everything absolutely dripping. We found out later that it had been raining the whole day before, so maybe the season there is not over yet. Anyway, friend Fabio again tried to make me car-sick, and this time really nearly did it. I felt horrible the whole day, again my breakfast close to coming up at every moment. He's the first person whose driving makes me sick in my life, a nice record. Very nervous, I failed many times on a 7b that I did years ago, trying to link it into a 7a just to its right, and I could have spent even more tries on it hadn't my friends nicely pointed out that it was rain forest climate. The boulders get no more than half an hour of sun in a day, facing north and being in a slope. Anyway.
The only good thing of the day is that I finally managed the first, brutal move of "Cogli l'Attimo", one of Caminati's problems, supposed to be 7c, unrepeated...
I managed to pull off a couple of footholds from the roof, so maybe next tries won't be as good. This is all, I'm postin again from an internet point, my hard disk exploded yesterday and again I fear I lost everything.
First: Eric, you fucking bastard, you are a fucking bastard. I wrote an e-mail to you no longer ago than this morning, full of love, only to find out from your scorecard that you have done lots of 7c's and even a 7c+, and you didn't tell me!!! I want my love e-mail back, now. And for punishing you for your bad behaviour, I will storm over the Ice Pond and The Gunks and will treat your problems as a hydraulic press would; I will reduce them in parts so small and dense that they will cause small black holes around themselves, and in one of these black holes I will deposit the rests of your hardest project, after sending it so hard and high in the athmosphere that at some point it will scream from the depths of the skies as he enters back on planet Earth surrounded by flames and burning carbon. At that moment your project will reflect over its suffering, will know that it's going to burn and burn and be destroyed, and it will think "Thank you god of the projects, this is nothing compared to what Lorenzo did to me".
Then, I recently changed the music on my I-Pod. Out went: Iggy Pop, The Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack, RHCP, PJ Harvey, Crisis, Adam Beyer. Thank you all for making me scream loud at 8 am while cycling to work. In came: Tool, The White Stripes, Faith No More, Deep Purple, Pearl Jam, Tre Allegri Ragazzi Morti, Acid Techno III, Metallica. Make me scream, now.
We all search happiness in our lives. Sometimes we find it, under the most different forms: the birth of a son, winning the lottery, finding the girl of our life.
But the true and only happiness is only when a girl in your class asks you: "Excuse me, are you a climber?" and you say "Yes, how could you tell" and she answers "By your forearms."
This is even better than actually crushing 8b's.
Then, I went to the gym yesterday, to find out that I'm a bit tired, but can do things if I take good rests between attempts. The other night my friend Filippo (one of the tall guys whose problems I struggle with) after one very good attempt on few holds covering a lot of distance under the 60° wall (which I never abandon) told me that I looked like I was taking myorelaxants, because I wasn't shaking as I was usually doing last season.
This was a great compliment, and sounds just the same thing I was talking about with Tom just yesterday. There must be something true in it: it's called Tetrazepam.
Strange few days the last ones. I'm very very busy teaching: mornings at the school, afternoons private classes. It seems like work is packing up very quickly, and it's a very good thing, given that probably in a few weeks foreign students will start to abandon the city, to go back to their native lands, where the girls are fully dressed for the coming winter (it's still 22° here during the day) and the wine isn't neither cheap nor good.
In the last two weeks I was teaching to a class of girls at the first level, chasing with them the other class of the first level which had started two weeks earlier, in order to make them good enough to join the other class. Well, our chase will end with this week, and from the next week, as I have been told by the Director today, I will take the new formed class. This obviously means that the teacher of the other class will lose her class. I don't feel very comfortable in this role of predator, and as I saw her going down the stairs of the building, I couldn't help but stop her and tell her that I was sorry for having caused this chaos with my appearence at the school. Luckily she knows how things go in these cases, we both know that this time is my time, next one will be hers, and everything is fine, but still I feel like an animal at the top of the food chain.
Then, I am a bit tired lately. Sure work plays a big part in this, but it also gives me alot of psyche for doing things, so it's all good. I'm just tired from climbing and training. I am very happy about my recent choice of putting in alot of volume in the gym, because this enabled me to have more juice when on rock, and last sunday proved this again. A 13 moves long traverse on slopey and humid holds, after a nasty two moves sitter, really took alot from me, and nonetheless it went down, leaving me still able to flash a nearby three moves 7a+ and to fall twice on a 6a!!!
Yesterday night, despite high spirits, I wasn't really on: my right ring finger is giving me some trouble, I think I slightly compressed a tendon in a slap on a woody volume, and it's been hurting for the last couple of weeks. I bouldered with my tall friends with a penchant for fully stretched out moves, and I got something done, so it's good. I still forced myself to almost no rests between attempts, so I was rapidly going down but after the good rests I was very on.
This all leads me to thinking that now more than ever it's time to hit the rock. Sadly I don't have much time, because I probably have to work this weekend, but the desire to go hunting is very very high, and I am confident I can follow it where it leads me. I want to get back on my project up in the Dolomites before it gets covered by two meters of snow and people start skiing on it.
I went climbing again on sunday, despite Amazonic Forest humidity. The mountain was deep into the mist, but this didn't stop friend Fabio from pushing on the pedal in the last turns, almost making me exhibit what was remaining of my scarce breakfast on the windshield. We faced conditions as proudly as we could, and we got our reward. You don't know until you go.
I am happy about my climbing: it's really nothing special, and that's why I'm happy. I'm quite constant at an average level, but not much ago, I wasn't even constant at that. Average performances were an issue. Now they are more frequent, and in different places and on different kinds of rock. So I'm happy, because I still haven't begun any specific training, because I think I climb well, and because it would be stupid not to be happy: I'm hansome, I'm a boulderer, and I am a complete fool. I pity the fool, though.
Unlike young student Raskolnikov, I'm not planning to kill a granny, but still something made me reflect over this. The police officer who's investigating on the murder, takes as an example of Raskolnikov guilt an article about how, "extraordinary men" are entitled to put themselves over moral laws, just because of their being "extraordinary".
The Guru, in his infinite knowledge and dedication to the cause of small holds spread far apart on a 60° wall, turned me into a cocky bastard.
That's probably his biggest miracle, given that in my childhood (and maybe still now) I've been a very nerdy type: thin, short, bespectacled boy with some studying interests, I was up for some beatings sometime, and had to often talk my way out of troubled situations with some troglodites of primary school. Always doubtful and unsure, my self confidence would fall, for a philosophe, in the ontologycal category of the "being not".
But some things led me to step up to my responsibilities, not only towards myself, but, for once, towards others: The Guru in this case. I owe him some crushing. Everyone knows he's training me, so if I don't crush, I don't promote his job, and that's unfair.
I often train with two strong friends, who happen to be around 185 cm tall... as you can tell, when they chose the holds, I'm facing big troubles. I take my revenge with nasty foot-hand matches, but that's not enough, what I like to do now is try and send their problems as soon as I can. It rarely happens, but I'm happy nonetheless because it's due to the fact that I often do great progress very rapidly, and quickly lose interest after burnig them off. That's both not fair, not polite, not friendly, but that's how we roll now, and there's no way I'm going to step back from one of their problems, or to "allow me another foothold", as they like to suggest, because I'm too stretched out. No way baby.
Anyway, before this becomes longer than the russian masterpiece of the title, my crime is throwing myself at everything they show me, and trying to vapourize it; my punishment is getting addicted to it.
Yesterday night I had an excellent session at the gym. I did nothing special, core tension, one armers and deadhangs, then bouldering. So, what made a normal session a very good session? Well two things.
The first one is that I had a long chat with strong climber, super modest guy Marco, just back from Chironico with a great "La Soucupe" tick (WAD). We planned a few climbing trips up north, he's psyched to go and try just a few problems, and many of them are also my projects. I was also very pleased becasue he has done two problems that I like alot and that was pleasing because I'm often told that I try crappy problems.
The second thing is that I climbed well. Ok, that's not the real reason. The real reason is that I burned a couple of friends off...
While I was destroying these friends' problem, that anyway I did not send, Marco joined us and he really crushed. Three tries, it was in the bag. In his bag. Waddage.
So, the receipt for a perfect session:
- get a power nap;
- drink lots of tea;
- eat two cups of yoghurt and chocolate muesli;
- at the gym be cool with the girls, this will burst your confidence and will make you feel sexy and therefore powerful;
- do something quick and strong, that could give you an excuse for failing on subsequent bouldering problems;
- join some friend and try to deliver their problems in a dimension where it's darker than in a black hole.
It's monday, so here ends the suspension of judgement. On thursday night, I decided to go to Swizzy with a friend, leaving on friday afternoon, so I didn't want to say anything beforehand, preferring to let the granite speak for me and then, just as I'm going to do now, just translate the granite's words.
But first one thing: Italy is full of fascist sacks of shit. The bastards, young idiots with too much spare time and too little culture and brain cells, are assaulting and beating every kind of immigrants here. Naturally, these modern heroes of the race are clever just enough to chose really well their targets: undernourished slaves from the Far East just out of a 16 hours shift, african sellers of fake Louis Vuitton bags, and the likes. May the day come soon, when these modern Neanderthals will bump into a former Vietnamese MMA champ, or in a retired NFL linebacker with 9 pints of beer into his guts.
The granite words now.
"Hey it's cool to have you here again, long time no see uh? I'm sorry it's hot mate, but hey, in a few weeks I'll be under feet of snow, so please deal with it, relax and do your best.
Now, what have you been doing in the last year? Um, I see, training. Nice, nice. Still you're quite average, but you're improving, I'm happy about that, but you shouldn't try crimpy vertical stuff, it's not your game, go under some roofs and have some more fun!"
I listened to the granite words, and had fun. The granite is always right. I did a couple of 7a's and 7b's very quickly or flashed, and a final nameless 7c. Success.
I tried some problems that I have on my ticklist: Doctor Crimp is super painful, it's crimpy (D'Oh!) and sharp, very painful. But Souvenir is great (Fred Nicole, you are a wad, you were a wad when you did it in 1988, you will be a wad when you'll do laps on it at 76 years old), and the problem on its left (Blochx Addiction) is just amazing. I keep adding names to the ticklist and taking other names off, it's a growing process.
Finally, Ty Landman was there on the very same days. Seeing what he ticked, and having touched a few of those problems, I can tell you are a mutant strong mo fo, and I say it with the deepest respect, even if you are so young that you could be my son.
Last but not least, it's been very good to put in alot of volume, along with the high intensity, because I had alot to give during the whole day for both days.
I just can't wait to go back, hopefully with cool temps this time, and with stronger fingers, fingers so strong that they will lead me to think that "No Mistery" is 7c+...
Mikael and Carolina, it's been super cool to meet you there again!!!
Before hurting my ankle, I had put serious efforts in training, to reap the reward on rock. The immediate effect of my injury has been, so long, a burning desire to train even more. If I can't tick outside now, I think, I must work for when I'll able to.
So in the last month, more or less, I have trained five or six days a week, until yesterday night. A few days ago one finger started telling me "easy man, I'm no titanium tendon"; then it started moaning "well ok, he will stop sooner or later..." and finally "for fucks sake gimme rest dammit!!!".
I'm resting for at least two days so, probably three. I still feel quite good, but clearly I've lost the flow in my climbing, and momentum. I have climbed powerfully in the last sessions, but kind of heavily, really beasting my way up problems more than walking up them. Moreover, I've put in alot of volume and alot of high intensity: due to my appetite and gluttony, and despite going to the gym earlier every night, I still have trained until 10 30 pm every session. My forearms now, ache after three moves. I need rest.
So, some other news are that I've got a new class for the next week in another school, which makes me very happy but makes going to Swizzy far more complicated. We will see.
I want to try some climbing this weekend, but am not very keen about going again to Sasso: I have OOS Sit, of course, but probably the heel hooking is still far too strenuous for my ankle, and moreover, I want to do new problems. I'd like very much to go back to Varazze, home land of power monster Core, where everything is quite hard-core (Ah Ah!!!). I have one problem in mind, that has a stand up start and a sitter. Even getting the stand up would be a great feat and my first Core tick, so I want to go there and start getting to grips with it, I'm sure it will be a long battle. If, then, I go there and crush it, even better.
Three big, beefy sessions in a row made me very tired. My back is stiff, my forearms sore, my fingers scream for justice.
Why? Because I finally could put some decent shoe on my right foot also: a three years old La Sportiva Testarossa, former shoe of The Guru donated to the gym, to give that extra bit to beginners, and in my case to climbers with swollen ankles. Being quite open I can still have it tight in the toes but loose and comfy around my taped ankle. Success.
After the siked and rad session, on friday afternoon I was still feeling eager. I wasn't very sparky, as it came out. Anyway: three sets of four one armers, twisting; then, instead of the front levers, I did swings (as for a high heelhook) from a bad pinch, so that you can't simply let go and take advantage of the swing, but you have to control every inch of the move, otherwise you slip from the pinch, three swings for each side, five sets.
Then, bouldering!!! I found out I can quite load the ankle if I don't twist it, so apart from climbing like a Playmobile toy, it's all good. Sadly I can't complete all of the problems because they end quite high up on the wall and I don't want to risk anything. Anyway I managed to flash e few new problems, and had very good tries on two red problems that I both did yesterday afternoon.
I realized that in the last weeks I've never stepper out of the 45° and 60° walls area.
Then, what's next? Next, there's a month again dedicated to bouldering on rock, as soon as my ankle will be able to take small falls. I have many projects, and many of them are quite low or with very good landings, so something could definitely go. Would really like to join Mikael up in Switz next week, so we'll see.
While I'm typing this, down there in his secluded, dark laboratory miles and miles under the earth surface, The Guru is working for me and for you all who have embraced the Dark Side. He is testing on himself (for a national lead comp) some training methods, that he calls "Functional Power", in which you train every aspect power related, but only on the climbing wall: i.e. no fingerboard, no pull up bar, no campusboard. Everything is a sort of system training, but more specific.
This is clearly what is next for me. This winter will be dedicated mainly to this I'm afraid, so my hopes of yet more records to be set on the smallest holds of the fingerboard are long gone, but if The Guru deposits me on top of what I want, I may even try and not go to the gym at night time to secretly test me on some jibs...
Yesterday I got to the gym a bit unsure about what I should do. The schedule was for fingerboarding, but the temp a bit warm, one finger not feeling good and some fatigue from tuesday made me think more: I thought "I'm not syked!!! Dammit bro, this ain't gonna be rad!!!" Luckily one of my homies, Luca, got in. "Yo bring your fat ass under the 60°, Keyser Soze" he told me; I said "Yo weren't you goin' to get some ink?" "Tomorrow, tomorrow: I'm gettin' a long sleeve man, a Chinese landscape from me shoulder to me wrist!!!" " Fuckin hell man, you're gonna look awesome!!! You'd better look awesome tomorrow, because right now I'm gonna kick your ass with just one shoe on!!!"
Then we proceeded to bust big moves between small, slopey holds, body tension baby, full power baby, full steam baby, screaming and yelling our way up the hardest problems the gym had to offer, that lasted so short under our pressure, that we were settin' new rad stuff in five seconds baby.
"Yo mutants, stop pullin' my holds out of the walls!!!" screamed Cristiano, the gym owner, "Hey stop bitchin' like yo' mama and come pullin baby" we replied. Ahh what a session!!! I feel knackered, worked, beasted, beaten.
Well, it could have gone like this, but it didn't. I taped my ankle like hell and did a couple of long circuits with only my left shoe on, one at 7b, and one at 7c+ (in two parts!!!) and then I finally put a big right shoe on: the other night I had spent the session deadhanging, watching my friends bouldering; I was thinking that the problems they were working were very hard, only one of them did them after many tries, and I was more or less happy of not being able to join them because of my ankle, because I was afraid of not being up to them. Yesterday night I flashed the first and did the second in 15 minutes.
A few weeks ago, I decided not to train for the rest of september, because I was feeling a bit tired and I knew that I have to get to the start of the real training very rested, psyched and with a strong will. So I just tried to focus on climbing, stealing a few sessions out there on the rocks, and just going to the gym to boulder on problems at my limit, as I would do at any bouldering area. I was hoping this method would pay benefits, enabling me to send something hard sooner or later. Well, now I know I was right, because after a few days that were needed to fine tune everything, and make power, finger strength, technique, momentum work together, in the last week I was feeling quite good, and my five minutes of climbing last sunday proved it again.
All this is worthless, if I think about it in terms of going out and sending stuff.
It's useful, if I think about it in terms of the right moment to put some more into it, thinking long term.
So monday I started my "ankle sessions", which is another way to call fingerboarding. It felt strange to take out of the bag the stopwatch again after long long time of just bouldering with no attention to rest times, number of reps, sets and so on. It felt good, though, after a while.
Monday I just did deadhangs on a rounded 1,5 cm edge (much better than the wooden one because you can't use the sharp edge to gain friction so you squeeze more), six sets per arm; then on big slopers, the same I have on The Mother of All Fingerboards (she is still in the house at the sea, but don't worry my dear soon you'll be home again), but these ones at the gym are mounted slightly overhanging so they are hard to hold, unless it's very sticky: six sets again, first without thumb, then with the thumb, pinching and fully locking off to failure; then four sets on the small crimps (again the same of TMoAF), very strenuous at the end of the session. I think that was all, a good test.
Yesterday it was beefy pulling time: I started with five sets of front levers, 10 seconds each; then three sets of four one armers, twisting, for each arm; then other three sets of four, frontal, no twisting. Then five other sets of 10 seconds front levers and I was ready to go home.
It's strange to be sitting on a couch for hours with a bag of ice and one of hot water, doing ten minutes with each one on the ankle, and nonetheless to be feeling strong and powerful.
During the summer I've had little time dedicated to bouldering, I've trained in a different way than usual, doing just weights and some climbing in a hot gym, and in general the few times I've been out on rock I didn't feel very good, just average.
I don't want to adjust my climbing to the weather conditions. In my silly mind I want to boulder even during a 40° summer day as I would on a cool winter session: with this parameter I am often disappointed by my perfs, I get sad, and I get back into even more training. It's hard to verify you progresses on rock, when you can't go somewhere and do something new in good climate.
Anyway yesterday, refusing to stay put even with a smashed ankle, I had a few goes on "Lourdes" and I did quite good. The big big news is that I was able to get the final hold, the one you dyno from, very very well, so well that I could put also my pinkie on it, enabling me to do the drop down moves in a very controlled and precise way. I could reach deeper, I had better core tension, and I could readjust on the hold with four fingers.
The last months of training boil down to making me gain one inch.
Ten minutes into my warmup today, feeling the sticky rock of Sasso under my skin, anticipating the pleasure of getting angry with OOS Sit Start, tasting the power inside myself, I jumped down from a slab on three perfectly placed pads. I jumped very relaxed, I was cool, and as I landed on the mat my right heel rolled and I felt my bones moving. I yelled and said to Luca "I broke everything, Luca", while I didn't dare to look at my leg. I was sure I was going to see fractures everywhere, and my mind formed the image of the Operatory room and of the screws being put into my bones. I almost cried.
Luca took my anke, I was shaking badly, and started feeling my ankle. I saw no bones out, and it still wasn't black. I could move it a little bit. Luca started applying some techniques, and I started to feel better, I started to cancel the image of the screws from my mind. I was very very scared, still. Liga had some quick ice, and smiles appeared in the wood. I taped it and managed to do a few problems on overhanging groud, including a repeat of "Lourdes" (where you almost don't need the right foot) and a tentative try on OOS Sit, but the heel hooks there are too strenuous for a smashed ankle, and I was very scared.
I am still shocked. I was sure I had smashed everything. Luckily not, but I'm badly badly hurt. I have a big swelling coming out, for the moment it's light blue.
Small happinesses: I'm in good, good shape; my foot is still attached to my leg.
Small sadnesses: I can't enjoy my current state of form and good weather; I face a few weeks of fingerboarding.
Oh well, could also put the fingerboarding into the happinesses...
Yesterday night at the gym, after a nice grunting session with friend Luca, one climber came to shake my hand and told me: "You're my idol." Unluckily it was a boy. I pointed out that he had made a very bad choice, and thanked him. Anyway it seems I psyche him up, so this entire thing is going to be filed under "small happinesses".
Yesterday I also got back in touch with many many homicides, rapings, stabbings, and the likes. This is because something clicked in my mind, and I decided to get back into some studying. So I went to the book shop and bought a few things, starting from "Criminal Profiling", a manual. Tomorrow it will be the turn of two others universitary manuals, "Forensic Medicine" and "Criminology". I want to get strong on these subjects after many years of neglecting them, so I'm starting from the basics again.
I think I found out where and when I lost the happiness I had before. I lost it when I tried to be like Michele Caminati, like Keith, like the pullers that pull the big numbers. I can't be like them, because I am different, I am myself. I have to emulate their attitude, to try and climb as hard as they do, but not to be like them.
Yesterday's session at the gym was just great. Full of small happinesses. I started slow, my tips burning from Amiata rock on every plastic hold. The new problems are both undergraded and ugly. Luckily I kept moving, and soon something clicked, and at 10 30 pm I was still enthusiast and pulling, or at least trying to, given that I was thrashed.
All this psyche came from my friend Luca training with me. The two best sessions of the last weeks were those two that I shared with some friend.
The biggest small happiness was thatI destroyed my project on the 60° wall. It was as if someone had changed the holds with jugs. I thought it was still possible to fall on the last move after seeing a friend of mine falling there, but when I got there I cranked so hard that I wouldn't have fallen even with yo' momma dangling from my cock.
Today (it's monday night) Michele Caminati came to Amiata. He quickly worked and dispatched the roof project, giving it a miserable 8a. He said it can't be 8a+ (what I was thinking) because today he was feeling tired and he's not at top form now. Then I took him to "Ossezia" roof, and he did it in three tries, giving it a miserable 8a/+ again (we think benchmark 8a+).
So, now I am in doubt. I think I have never climbed 8a, and probably never will. I don't know, I have no more any certainty. In the moment of doubt, I have to look into myself, I have to refer to myself. I have to find every certainty inside myself.
I know many people don't believe what I do, what I say, and before I used to care alot about it. I was always trying to prove my facts. Then I decided it wasn't worth caring, and I stepped out of the bunch. I said things. I said what I shouldn't have said. I said 8a. Now perhaps it's time to step back into the bunch, to hide, to say nothing. Now perhaps it's time to take that number and letter back. Now perhaps it's time to start caring again about what others say.
I have to stop thinking I'm always right, always honest. I have to concede that I may be wrong, that all the training just isn't enough. I don't have it. So I won't hit it.
I will start again from the basics.
The basics are being happy for the little things. Today I have a few little things to be happy about: I did again the first crux move on the roof; I found a better foot placement for the crimp move; I managed to unlock another move on "Ossezia", so I have only another move to do; I managed to climb a full day without taping my wrist and without major pain.
All these little happinesses, put one on the other, don't make a full happiness. And I don't know where to find a full happiness, regarding climbing of course, now, if not in the fullness of my committment and dedication. But it's like if someone had put my dreams to a stop.
The FASI, italian climbing federation, along with the international CONI, is trying hard to take climbing to the Olympics. I really can't see why, but this doesn't matter. What does matter, though, is the fact that while they want to take climbing to the next level, they still treat climbing as a third world country would. The lack of training facilities, the lack of professional trainers, and therefore of promising youths, are only a few aspects that come to my mind. To my knowledge, many of the most talented italian young climbers, do not have a professional trainer to give them advice, and all of them have to enrol into some kind of military corp (the army, the police, the Carabinieri) to be able to train full time and to earn some money.
This kind of thoughts, also applies to individuals.
Keith clearly wants to take his climbing to the next level (Font 9b+ that is...), and is ready to take upon himself all the responsibilities of this quest. Chapeau.
So, why 99% of the climbers I know don't want to? They just want to improve by some kind of divine miracle. Obviously, going to the gym two hours every tuesday and thursday (the classic days), will take you only to one point. After that point you have to make a decision. You do, or you don't, there's no try.
Not giving themselves completely to the struggle for improvement, clearly leaves them puzzled at everything: they just can't comprehend how the strong ones are so strong. Clearly, the idea that the strong ones train like madmen, isn't part of their brains. Their idea is that they are talented, gifted, lucky, so that they just ARE strong, they didn't BECOME strong. The miracles of life.
This pisses me off, because in this kind of thougts, there's no room for real improvements: they think that if you were crappy one year ago, you're still crappy now and you'll be crappy next year. Sometimes, you may be awarded with the random send, but only on special occasions, on morpho problems, or on something especially chipped for you. You'll never get strong, because they can't see themselves getting strong, and you are just like they are: a human.
And that's true, but the brains are different. My brain now tells me to put into training everything I have, everyday I can. Every skipped session, is a lost occasion to grow and to improve; and if you don't grow and don't improve, in my idea you don't just stay where you are, you go back.
The other night I talked with a guy at the gym, that I hadn't seen in months. He asked me stuff, he told me my problems on the walls are hard, and so on. I thought that past arguments were gone. They weren't. When he asked me if I was climbing much, I said that I wasn't but that I was happy about doing something quite hard once every while. "Of course - I added - it's not that I'm climbing 8b's". "Not even 8a's probably" he quickly said. I replied that yes, I had done a few 8a's and went away.
So the question is: did I tell him to have two sons? No. Did I tell him to move on the opposite side of town from the gym? No. Did I tell him that I never train? No. So, why, oh why can't he understand that some of us want to give everything to improve? I've spent the past winter working all day long, getting to the gym at 8 pm, then training until 11 pm every night, almost losing my relationship. But I struggled and kept things together.
On my fingerboarding sessions, I was pulling almost 1.700 kg on my fingertips. It was painful and boring, but it was something I got to go through to be able to move further and closer to my targets.
So, please everybody, do what you want, but don't try to deprive me, Keith, and all the dedicated ones of our quest. We and you don't think the same, don't want the same, are not the same.
My back hurts, and I have a deep hole in my right index finger.
Yesterday I decided the risk of driving almost 500 kms to get some cool temps and good bouldering on new problems, after the rain, was worth. So I drove, and was awarded with a fresh breeze, dry rock and and a send.
I have a few names on my ticklist, for the place where I was yesterday, but two of them I can't try them on my own, and another one... oh well, I wanted new problems.
I put my eyes on a nice overhanging arete, "Spigolo Gandolfo 7b+", with one clear burly move to get the lip, and then a line of four rounded seams, really beautiful and really finger friendly. All this finger friendlyness was for making it even with the spike on the starting crimp. After my first try (that should have been the only one as I tought I was going to flash it, AH AH) my skin already was rolling; after the second one i had to sandpaper a big chunk of skin that had rolled even more, and after the third try I was proper cut. Deeply cut. A serious flapper. Keith, you know what I'm saying, don't you.
So I thought "What would Keith do?" Obviously the first answer was "He whould of flashed it, so now he would move on". I thought that he would have stayed and he would have thrown everything at that piece of shit of a crimp. So I put 5 millimeters of tape on my finger and proceeded to unlock the rest of the sequence.
Given that there are just four holds left, I wasn't thinking it would have taken me two hours. I need a mathematician to calculate how many tries you have to do to link four holds using two hands in different sequences. Very rounded footholds didn't help much, but I'm very proud of my feet now.
Anyway, I didn't want to leave.
Soon enough, the starting hold began to flex. Yes, to flex, with a big chunk of rock too. There were bits of loose rock inside. I removed them and this made the edge more flat, so that the spike was no longer killing me. Next go I crushed it. I mean, I really did. Once I got properly the first hold, it was just motoring to the top. Nice one.
Then I met power monster Michele Caminati working a project under a big boulder jammed in a gully. Impressive setting and impressive pulling on nothing.
On the drive home, two hours and half, I made a few phone calls to pass time. I called The Guru, a few friends, and my girlfriend. She asked me: "Did you climb something?" I said: "Yes! Spigolo Gandolfo!" She asked: "How hard is it?" "7b+" I said. "Oh you climbed nothing, that is." Was the final answer.