Thursday, 28 August 2008

THE GYM

While in the gym, alone, with a few neon lights broken, fallen leaves everywhere on the mats (in summer?) and even some pigeon feathers, I couldn't help but notice every single wrong thing. The dust, the holds covered with grease and rubber. The same holds that have been on the walls since last october. The same holds that are marked by the same problems of last march. At some point it all seemed worthless.
This moment lasted so short.
I love this gym: it resembles alot my vision of bouldering. Stripped to its minimal terms. No room for bells and whistles here. Here, you come for training. If you search for cute girls, you're in the wrong place: the cute girls are here to get strong, mate, get a clue. If you search for bouldering partners, you're in the wrong place again: unless you want to come with me, you're bound to bolt clipping. If you search for quick ticks, ohh, how in the wrong place you are. The problem setters are three individuals (The Guru, Gianni and Damiano) that basically were born hanging small holds, and grew up locking them holds lower and lower.
I love the gym.
Despite having toil and torture in it, despite hating it. Despite being unable to climb at the other climbers' level, despite doing awful at the comps. Despite everything. Maybe it's just because it's a place for failing for me, rather than a place for succeeding. I go there for feeling weak and crap, and I do, goddammit if I do.
The gym is my place. The gym is the dirt where I deposit the seeds of my desires, of my fears, of the ever growing hunger of the demon. The gym is what will deposit me on top of my projects: every gram of chalk, every drop of sweat will deposit me on top of my projects for a single instant of satisfaction. Then I will think about going to a further hold, to a worse pinch, from a smaller crimp, from a slopier bulge. And I will start again. I will plant another seed. I will give birth to another demon. I will raise another snake.
I am flesh. I am heart. I am steel.



video

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

MEDIA, CRIMPS AND COMPRESSIONS

The last weekend, a strong team of pullers came along for a few days to taste some of the finest lines we have to offer. The chief is a very very talented climber, solidly placed in the top 15 of National Bouldering League, and he was already here last year, when he tried the main lines he was seeking, i.e. "Ossezia", the 8a+ compression roof, and the recently dubbed "Il Primo dei Moicani". He sent both in his three days visit, confirming the suggested grades.
The immediate result, apart from happiness in seeing our boulders getting the attention they deserve, has been a very very big hype about these small, private areas where the big numbers lie.
After a winter of solitary trips, carrying four pads to try the roof on my own, after begging for spotters for "Out of Service", after cleaning "Ossezia"from one year's worth of cobwebs, now everyone wants to come down and score. I'm receiving phone calls even from people I don't know, or I haven't climbed with, and they all want to get the tick.
This is nice but not only nice. It shows also how selfish we are. It shows how easy is for this fast food mentality to spread also in bouldering. You go there, you get the beta from a local, and you send. Or at least you try to.
Anyway, this also shows how little credit some of us get from other climbers. It took a strong climber from another region to come here to start people's interest in our boulders, when for years everyone's judged them poor, not tall enough, not hard enough.
Believe me, they can be not tall enough, but they are hard enough.
A friend called me to ask me if it was true about these first repeats, and was curious to know whether the direct line under the roof had been sent, saying that is what he's interested in. Oh well, that's too easy buddy. You can't come along from nowhere and go straight to the buffet.
I had decided to take it easy on the roof project.
Now they got me a bit pissed.
I'll trow everything I've got to that problem and I'll send it and I'll send it so hard they can't even imagine.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

PRO TIPS #3

Girls, you are the greatest blessing a righteous boulderer could find at the crag.
The increase in power one experiments if bouldering surrounded by bouldering girls is something worth ligthing up a Las Vegas casino for a night.
But I'm going off track.
The Pro Tip is: get serious about your bouldering and get strong, because nothing is sexier than a nice girl getting angry and beasting a boulder problem into submission. Can you see some resemblance? Dress sexy at the crag, please, because you'll get the power burst also, when dozens of male eyes are watching you locking off a crimp. There's no need for Gucci shoes and Louis Vuitton bags, and there's no need for me to tell you how to be sexy: you have an art there. Just use it, it will make your bouldering day nicer, and mine as well.
On a side note, since the summer is almost over and maybe a few of you got some nice tanning, please, please (and I know I speak for millions of men) don't go to tanning centers to cover the part of your breast that's still white. And please, don't tan topless. A half tanned, half white breast, clearly showing the sign, the size, the shape of the top, is one of the sexiest things in this world. It is, because it involves imagination, it's like having in front of you a naked but dressed girl. So please, make all your boyfriends happy, and keep that white on!

Sunday, 24 August 2008

IDIOTS!!!

Fuking idiots. The gym was closed again today, despite the big sign on the front door, saying "Sunday 10 - 18".
Fucking idiots.
It's a filthy, dirty gym, the showers are beyond your worst nightmares, the holds are black with grase and rubber, the mats are completely covered in dust and chalk.
And they dare to fuck with the opening hours.
Fucking idiots.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

TOMATO SAUCE

I went out this morning, to buy some glass cans where my girlfriend could store the 10 kilos of tomato sauce she's been preparing with sweet, fresh tomatoes we bought at the supermarket. While out, I noticed the dark clouds hanging over our neighborhood, and the heavy wind. Despite a few grades more in the last days, it felt fresh. The air has definitely changed. Some cooler temps are finally close. This makes me happy.
I've finished yesterday a four days on training week: two sessions of iron, two sessions of fingerboarding and climbing, with good vibes especially (sadly) surrounded by weights. It seems my muscles are very very reactive to lifting, so that I can make some quick progress, and this is clearly motivating. After the last excercise of the session a few days ago, a friend climber told me: "Hey, you are well pumped! Are you engaged?" I don't know what was on his mind, maybe I will have to play the gigolo.
The climbing walls are still very hot, it seems climbers don't pay enough rent to the gym owners to have the fans on. I've started fingerboarding again. It's never enough.
Yesterday I finally resolved to set some new problems, and after a few tries I had something. I had something hard, for me at least, that kicked my ass. Badly. It also kicked my left heel, as I slipped from the first hard move and fell directly on the wooden beams that keep the matting to the floor. Ouch! Now I have a black and purple stain coming out and it hurts. Maybe I won't climb tomorrow.
The most interesting thing is that after a few tries, something clicked in my mind: while locking off a right hand crimp, flagging the left leg deep under the roof, I realized I had set a problem that resembles alot "The Great Shark Hunt" in Chironico, which is one of my targets for next season. Our minds ofter work on their own, without our conciences knowing, and in these cases they do their best.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

ANOTHER ONE ON THE TICKLIST


RED WINE

The gym reopened. Since I just got back from a dinner with the students of the class and I'm quite drunk, this will be brief.
I felt really really strong at the gym today despite feeling like a bag of shit in the past weeks. I added ten kilos to my seated rows and bench presses. I decided to skip the lat machine to simply do one armers on some jugs. I did five series of three with a progressively increasing help with the other hand. Felt good.
I am puzzled about my finger strength now. I want to check it out and have to. Fingers, fingers, fingers.
I also weighted myself at the gym: that scale set me at 70 kilos, while two days ago at home my scale said 65. Mistery. I think I am the same weight of last week, months, and years, but really I don't know. I don't think I put up much, no, I have not, because the scale at home says the same of last winter, so right now the only thing that matters is to get back some serious finger strength that I think I lack.
The weekend has seen the first repeat of "Il Primo dei Moicani", my infamous roof, by a local strongman, who confirmed Font 8a, and tasted Font 8b for the direct line under the roof. I'm still very far from it, but the winter is long, my ego is big and the gym is close.
Rejoice all of you.

Monday, 18 August 2008

PSYCHE KILLER

Why does everything seem to be so complicated and difficult? I got back to Florence today, despite facing two weeks without work, just to stay with my girlfriend, who's starting again her practice at the hospital and another exams session.
Today, after two days of pulling I was feeling very good. Sore, but good: it was the pride of having used some of the muscles present in my body, a thing that hadn't happened in the last ten days, with the only exception of the muscles that action the jaw and the ones who permit the "Valsalva Manouver". So today I was feeling as if I still have some muscle and some power, and I was ready to start again something.
Naturally, the gym was unespectedly closed. Not only they've been closed for ten days, not only all the other gyms in town were closed too, not only the only open gym asked me 30 euros for my first single entry and then 10 euros each single entry afterwards (going there the usual five times a week would have costed me some 70 euros, easily a full tank to go and crush - or at least try to - in Varazze or Ticino), not only this. They were closed today.
Obviously this is not a great issue, but it had the effect of making me sad: having a nice snack, preparing the bag and finding a closed door and an empty building is not nice.
Things like this really make me think about throwing everything out of the window. I hate when people don't take seriously what I take seriously: this is also why I finally understood that I can't climb with everyone. Yesterday I had some other confirmation to this: I don't want friends laughing and yelling bullshit when I try something hard.
So this is just another sad post, but that's how I feel now and it would be stupid to pretend something else.
Now: I read Keith's posts from Magic Wood. It seems it's not a great trip for him, at least for his usual standards. I've been checking the weather forecast everyday, and it looks like it's been very poor. I have to face this terrible, morbid sense of pleasure in reading that someone is having a bad trip. Why this? I don't know, probably because in reading that someone else is not happy I feel less lonely. Yes, it's definitely this, feeling less lonely. Ahh, I feel better now. I'm sad for what I thought, but that's it. Now that I have no longer that shit into me, now that I threw that shit here, on the net where it belongs, I can again send to Keith all my positive thoughts and joy for his crushing. Not that he needs it.
Finally: those who know me also know that I'm not a particular fan of Magic Wood. Firstly because I got shut down on my first visit there, secondly because I got shut down on my second visit there. I really don't understand why, but the reason is probably that I don't have any real project there, I've never had. I went there and I go there without anything in mind, just because I see others go there and have fun, but still I haven't made up my mind on trying something I really want to climb. Obviously, with this state of mind you can enjoy yourself only if you keep a low profile, climbing stuff well within your abilities, but for sure you're facing some big trouble if you want to crank something hard that you don't want, desire, love and hate at the deepest of your soul.
This is why I still have to enjoy Magic Wood, because I went there without loving it, without a precise desire, but just with some uncoloured sense of will. This is much more confirmed by the fact that right now I would rather leave for Gottardo Pass or Chironico than to Magic. Oh well, noone forces me to go there. Also, I think summer is definitely not the right moment to go there. So, now that I know why I haven't enjoyed Magic wood, I can seriously think about going there.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

ON TALENT AND DEDICATION

Today I almost did the first move on the roof project three times in a row. This is exactly like saying that today I missed the first move on the roof project three times in a row. But as a friend once wrote, "Failure is not always failure". The failed attempts of today gave me some confidence about the whole thing, because in boiling temps I almost did this very very precarious move and felt good. I also tried the other moves with maybe a new foot placement that could make some difference. As usual though, after four tries my left pinkie was split. Fairer times.
Then I discovered I may have some chances to do a hard problem that really doesn't suit me at all, a roof that has to be climbed just in compression with hands on both sides. We will see.
One thing really pisses me off: I am fat. I feel fat and weak and this doesn't give me confidence in climbing: I like to have an excess of power, and I like to put it to work. This is not the moment. Luckily the wrist is not going bad and the gym will re-open in two days. Back to work, loser.
Finally, I often think in these days of Olympics about talent. There are a few ones who seem to be on this heart just to do one thing: winning. I ask myself whether those who are blessed with an extraordinary talent feel the same joy, in the victory, as the average ones who just work harder than anyone else. Who knows.
For sure, I will never have the sensation of succeeding in something for my talent, but I know very well the joy of succeeding with just dedication.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

A MIDSUMMER DAY'S DREAM

I am a daydreamer, I've always been and I probably will always be.
Daydreaming is beautiful, perhaps even more than just dreaming, because when asleep we can't control our minds and our dreams, while if we daydream we can project ourselves into a world in which everything could happend, and accordingly to our plans and desires, too!!!
I'm teaching at the school, which is one of the best things I've always done in my life, and I really hope this could continue in a more constant way; I seriously think I want to do this as my job.
Then, my daydreams take me to chilly mountain valleys, or forests, or sea cliffs, scattered with boulders with hard lines and beautiful moves, that I obviously crush, not without a serious effort and battle.
From there, I find myself, once or twice every month, surrounded by calm waters, with distant bulges forming under the surface and creating glassy lines as they come closer to my red longboard. Then I'm on the nose, my back slightly bent backwards, my shoulders behind my hips, my arms vertically dangling, letting small drops of saltwater fall on the wax.
From the mist of the dawn session, to the mist of the chalk filled gym the step is already made. I am with friends, strong climbers who push me over my previous limits, they encourage me to do more and to put more effort into it. Among these friends, I can see Tom and Rich, setting long moves between bad crimps on the 45° wall, I can see Eric, pretending he's not strong and flashing one project of mine, I can see Andrea, completely recovered from 10 years of injuries and already better than he's ever been, I can see Keith, just pinching his way out of the 60° wall, his body horizontal, his feet pasted to terrible, slopey footholds. I watch them all, I envy them all because I can't be them and myself all at the same time, I secretly thank them all because my life is richer with them, I am happier. We all go for a beer.
At home, my girlfriend has had a great day at work, she's grabbing finally what she's been after for so many years, she can finally say "thankyou everybody, but now I'm on my own."
In between all these dreams I stand, and I am a better person, I don't disappoint my love, I understand her and I show it. I am proud of what I do and I'm not afraid to tell it to my parents, because they won't be disappointed with me.
Reality is another thing. I am a mediocre climber who trains on his own and I don't travel much. I don't know if I could make my living on teaching, I disappoint my girlfriend, I am selfish and I don't know how to speak to my parents because they are disappointed with me.

But hey, it could be worse. It could be raining.


Sunday, 10 August 2008

NEW TREASURES

So yesterday I went again to Amiata top to climb. I did the routine warmup, not feeling particularly good: a bit too much alcohol and food the night before didn't make me feel 100%, plus I was on my own again, and this usually means business, no talking, no smiling, no resting. I did again "Il Motorino di Mario" just to make sure it's a static move now. It is. Then I went to try "Il Traverso del Cinghiale" (The Boar Traverse), which I sent, but at a much lower difficulty than expected and hoped, a long move out of a sloper cut off some tricky bits, and made for a quick send. Then I did one new problem that Luca and Filippo, two other Projectzero sponsored, cleaned a few weeks ago: I left the ground for the flash, but it wasn't to be, it took me four or five tries just to figure out the right sequence, then I did it, with painful holds and precarious moves, but very beautiful despite the dirty last holds and the lack of topout. Being alone means that you can thrash yourself without hearing voices suggesting you to take it easy, so I did thrashed myself, going again to do "Donnie Darko" a sharp 7b on a slightly overhanging wall with one painful hold and a long dyno. This will always be a dyno, blimey. Anyway, with my fingers already screaming I decided to try another sequence that I had tried to use on this problem some time ago, and surprisingly two tries later "Donnie Darko right hand" was born.
Just another new problem on the way to the van and it was time to go.
Ok, these were the facts.
The feelings now.
I'm happy, I don't think I managed anything hard but I managed a few new problems in good style. The place is amazing. There's an enormous potential that calls for a bouldering/cleaning meeting.
Oh, I almost forgot: I didn't try my project, but found two new ones. Imagine a big boulder with a steep face that has only just a few holds, and that bulges out into a slab with long moves between bad holds. Then on the right hand side there's an arete with good holds (for what I could see) and a very bad landing. One thing you don't want to fall from: I need some proper padding for that then I'll have to flash it. I will try it only because I think it should be easy. Anyway, this new project is absoultely stunning: unlike the other one I have there, that's intriguing just because plain hard, this one is also very beautiful. I am very very happy, can't wait to get there again and try it. Spotting and padding required here as well.
So it's not very common to climb three or four new problems in one afternoon at your local area, and discover two new lines, and that's why I'm very satisfied.
It seems that my wrist is slowly but steadily healing despite all the (at times very serious) beating I give it. May the god of wrists reward it for its duties.
Ciao.

Friday, 8 August 2008

JUST TEACHING

As the saying goes "Beware of what you want, because you will surely get it!". It's also in a movie whose title I can't recall now.
Anyway, my plans of crushing hard problems in Switz for a few days will have to wait. It seems like I didn't manage to do bad enough at my teaching exam, and next monday I will have to start working, to cover a colleague's holidays. Just one week, the week I had planned to spend vapourizing boulders, but I can't let this chance pass. I really like teaching, so I'd better get on the bus as soon as I can. I'll have the grammar course in the first level class where I taught grammar for my exam, and conversation in the fifth level class (the second highest level). Of course I have to customize very well especially the conversation, because I will deal with students who speak an almost perfect italian. I think I will print a few newspapers' articles, and will try to focus their attention to something new, but I still don't know them, so I will have to decide after monday's lesson.
I am eating tons of fish. Tomorrow I will go again to Amiata top. The Boar Traverse must fall. I must not. Looking forward to clean a few lines and then hopefully do one move on my project. I wish you all could see it to have your impressions. I'll take pics tomorrow. Life is good. It could be better only having nice girls at the boulders. Not to climb with, just there watching and falling in love with me. Who could blame them for that?

Thursday, 7 August 2008

PRO TIPS # 2

Recently it's been my girlfriend's birthday. I didn't really know what to buy for her, among the many ideas I had, until last second, when in a moment of clarity I decided to buy "Sex and The City - The essentials collection".
It's a special edition, featuring cut scenes, three different endings, interviews and so on, naturally not speaking about having every episode of the whole series.
She was very pleased and surprised, being a big fan of that (I like it alot also), and was so enthusiastic that she told me: "With these now you can go away climbing and I won't feel lonely". Obviously this sentence doesn't need any comment.
The Pro Tip of today is: buy her something that will please her, but also that will keep her occupied. A jewel will do the first but not the latter, the opera omnia of Marcel Proust will do the latter but not the first, a dildo will do both. But I still recommend DVD's.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

WHISKY TEMPS, EXAMS AND CARICATURES.

Today in Florence the temperature was 43,5°, the same of a good whisky. The air was similar too, so humid that breathing resembled to drinking.
Today, I also had my final teaching exam: two lessons of one hour and half each in two different classes, grammar first in a first level class, then conversation in a second level. I am pleased with how I did, will get my diploma in a few days and have to contact the director of the school tomorrow morning so that she can let me know if and when I can do some work, and therefor earn some cash. I'm torn between the desire of getting some work and money, and the call of the boulders, whether they are in Ticino, Dolomites or Varazze. Anyway, since I've told the director that I want to work as soon as I can, the situation is already out of my control, so I think I'd better relax and enjoy the moment.
On another note, you have surely noticed the new picture that adorns this blog. Well, I asked a friend from UKB to draw something for me, and he's been so gentle to do that cool caricature. While this is largely to please my ego, I take the chance to officially thank Richard, and I suggest you to check his talent on his website in the links section.
And, before you ask, yes, I look like that and I'm proud of it!!!

Monday, 4 August 2008

SOME CLIMBING

At the top of Amiata this afternoon it was 19°, some 14° less than here at the sea. I only had a couple of hours of gentle pulling, and am glad to report that I'm quite happy. I did the usual circuit of very easy stuff, then had a go at "Il Motorino di Mario" ( http://bouldr.net/climbs/378/Il%20motorino%20di%20Mario ) that I and Eric opened last year at Fb 7a. It's one of the loveliest problems I've done, small dishes and a final slap to a blind crimp. Well, it was a blind slap: today it was a static reach far past the hold. I was quite shocked, I had to concentrate and search for the hold actually under my palm. I thought I had used some banned foothold, but there are no banned footoholds, if I remember correctly (Eric was it an eliminate?). Anyway.
Then, my project. Ahh, my lovely project. My super hard project. It's proper pulling, of the finest quality. I still haven't done the first move, the second one, and am close to doing the third move. I think I will try first to do it one move into it, because it's still as solid as Gibraltar Rock and perhaps features the two hardest moves I have ever tried, because the holds are there, small and wrong facing, they are definitely there, but they are so difficult to put together. It's seriously burly, fingery, needs flexibility, precision, focus, timing.
Briefly, I don't think I'm capable of doing it, but this doesn't mean that I can't become capable.
So at last I put up a new problem on a nearby boulder where I had already done one new line and finally fell a few times trying the full traverse while a big grey boar was running around.
I hope I'll have many more days like this, at Amiata or, even better in Switz if we manage to find someone to keep Arrostino. Damn cat.

Friday, 1 August 2008

I HATE SUMMER

It's official: I hate summer. There's no need for it. It's just boiling, the sea is flat, the boulders are sweaty and the mountains are stormy. I can't wait to be wearing again heavy clothes while at the boulders, I can't wait not to weak up in a pool of sweat in the morning.
38 degrees on wednesday. The gym has no air conditioning. So the question is: why do I go there? Because it's still better than to try and climb, dammit.
Anyway, I climbed quite well lately at the gym, so I'm happy about that. Sadly most of the hard gained power from the winter and spring is gone, sigh. I'm sure I won't start again from square one, but I was hoping I would keep more of it. Who knows, maybe I'm just too tired or too destroyed by the climate.
Oh well, we will see. This post is boring, the sea is boring, the summer is boring and I want to climb somewhere cold.