Monday, 29 September 2008

ONE INCH

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.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

MIXED EMOTIONS

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...
Grazie ragazzi.

Friday, 26 September 2008

ONE SMALL HAPPINESS AND MANY HOMICIDES

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 bored even myself in writing this.
Blargh.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

SMALL HAPPINESS IS STILL HAPPINESS

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 that I 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.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

LATE BIOSAS

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.

Friday, 19 September 2008

THE NEXT LEVEL

Keith's latest blog entry (http://www.unclesomebody.com/blog/?p=61 ) made me think about many things.
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.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW

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.
Really, you reap what you sow.
video

Monday, 15 September 2008

SCAR TISSUE

I have two scars in the inside of my left elbow. When I actually got the wound, I didn't think it would last forever as a thick layer of skin shaped as two small holes in the flesh. My body seems to overcompensate, so many of my scars are keloids.
Anyway, these two scars are what I brought back, physically I mean, from my first Font 8a problem.
They will walways be with me. Maybe in getting them, I also forever got something planted deeply into my body, and that's what drives me.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

WATER!!!

Ahhh, water.
Water coming down from the sky, water in the air, water running down the small river behind my house. Finally, even spoiling a climbing weekend (the third in a row in the dolomites), the rain is very welcome. The air feels fresh, and despite the humidity close to 100%, this makes me happier. Finally some major change in the weather, a few days of rain and then cool winds from NE next week.
I still haven't any work planned for next week, so maybe some boulder problem could go down.
Water is also something I desperately need to get into my body: yesterday night I went out for an aperitivo and dinner with friends, and despite not drinking much, I clearly drank a bit too much, given that I don't feel very sparky today. I definitely have to take note of the fact that if I want to be fine the next day, I have to drink no more than one aperitivo and little wine for dinner. As far as beer goes, one pint is all what my body allows, not more. Deadly headhaches coming, otherwise.
Anyway, that's all good.
Weights tomorrow, bouldering today.
Thursday night at the gym I had one of the highs of the season: master puller, power monster, sport 8a onsighter and super modest guy Damiano told me that the new problems I had set under the 60° wall were hard, and one very hard. I kept my usual calm, and showed him the new ones, then proceeded to take the car, go a few miles into the countryside out of town, and screm my lungs out with joy.
One last note: Andy, if you ever read this, thank you, really.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

DESTRUCTION


I need to contact some Iranian or Pakistan terrorist, or maybe some ex-director of a Russian nuclear plant, to get me some radioactive stuff.
Then I will deposit the thing over the Etna volcano, in Sicily, that is still active. Then I will blow the damn thing up, after hiding in a deep hole in the ground or behing a blackened glass, protected also by the energy of my rage. The explosion will propel millions of tons of debris up in the sky, and the sun will be obscured. The temperature will suddenly drop, the winds will blow, the ice age will be close again.
At that moment, I will put my beanie on, will pack the car and will go bouldering, finally with good conditions.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

THE ENDLESS SUMMER


Far, oh so far, from being an ode ot Brown's surf movie, this title just wants to show you how incredibly long this summer is being for me. Not only in terms of a long series of happenings that are related by this context, but also in terms of the unusual temps we are blessed with. I am talking 33° now. Summer storms in the Alps as well, so that it's too hot to climb here and too wet to climb there. It's too hot in the gym also, but that doesn't hinder me from cycling three minutes to go there and move irons around until I faint, and then going on a bit more.
Anyway, the climbing gym is nearly fully ready again, with many of the holds cleaned and on again, and the problems being set again. Yesterday the guys made me try two new circuits of around 26 holds, free feet, to test the grades. At a given french 7a+ and 7b I flashed the first and did the latter second go, at the end of the session. Naturally it took years for my forearms to recover, and they are pleasantly sore even today. Not bad at all.
I also retro flashed two of the problems I had set the in past weeks, and started working at a futuristic (supposedly) project to keep my motivation high during the season. A little time into it it didn't seem that futuristic, just hard, but sports nice moves with body tension galore, and I hope to finish it and send it next session.
I have to rest today.
Finally, a friend of mine really left me puzzled yesterday at the gym, making a few statements about some problems I've done outdoors recently, that sounded very challenging, and later saying that he "will wait for me to get injured again to catch up with my level". To a climber who's had every kind of injury and recently broke a wrist, this doesn's sound good at all. I said nothing special, because I was feeling very uncomfy, I just draw his attention to my taped fingers and wrist, but definitley felt something that resembled alot, alot to envy.
So I asked myself why?
I don't know.
Later I tried to make him try my problems, but he preferred to do long circuits because he's going sport climbing again now. He seemed to me very low in motivation and psyche. I am really sad for that, and I don't know how to make him feel better. Obviously I won't go bolt clipping. I think I'll try to remind him that he does not like sport climbing, he likes bouldering, and the simple fact of being out of shape for bouldering doens't mean he can't enjoy it. Or maybe now he can't just enjoy it with me. I don't think so, though, because he actually asked me to go to Switz together.
So, who knows, maybe we climbers are more fragile than other athletes. Maybe acting in a medium in which there are no real rules, no real measures, in which everything is subjective, makes us less secure of our feats, more dependant on others' judgement and opinion.
So how can we be sure of the real value of what we do? We can't. We just have to be honest and true to ourlselves. In the movie "Gattaca" when the "normal" brother defeats the genetically modified brother in swimming in the cold ocean at night, the second asks him how he's done that. The answer is (more or less) "never thinking about how to get back to the beach".
So the only truth is in the future, is in setting goals and achieving them because that has a dignity in itself that is far more important than the objective value of the achievement.

Monday, 8 September 2008

TICKLIST NIGHTMARE

Saturday I wrote down my winter ticklist, or, as I should say, my life's ticklist. In reading it, I got shocked by my desire: just from the tips of my hands I wrote more than 40 problems, from Sassofortino to Swizzy to Font, up to 8a+.
To get just one quarter of them would be a great success. But I want to think about devouring them all.
The other day I was thinking about what I've done lately, in terms of training: weights and fingerboard, weights and bouldering wall. I recently read an entry from Big Malc's blog on the Scarpa website, and at the end it read, more or less, "after all weights and fingerboard could be the best training". So I'm very very curious to test myself on some rock in good weather conditions, to then set the fil rouge of this winter's training. Oh well, I already have the fil rouge for this winter's training, and it's "BECOMING A BEAST".
Anyway, I think that, after all, to spend the hot summer months training, instead of chasing fresh air and stickiness, and to be ready and powered up for the early autumn weeks could pay out. It could be nice to be already at a semi-peak just at the beginning of the season, when the first cool temps burst the psyche.
I also found out some more info (thanks to weights living encyclopedia Paul B) about the paused routines. It came out that in doing a pause at the end of the negative phase of the movement, the muscle dissipates its elastic energy, that is accumulated during the excentric phase. By losing this elastic energy the effort of the positive phase of the movement (the lift, or push) becomes entirely dependant on muscular (not elastic) effort, i.e. it's performed by the muscle without any aid from the elastic energy. That's why it's so strenuous. More to come.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

RAW POWER

As I came back from the gym I found out that I had left my cell phone in the car, and this doesn't matter, but I also found out that my girlfriend's parents had given us some food. Some good food. Some sea food. To be eaten raw.
So we had many kinds of sushi, some spaghetti with raw sea urchins (the interior, d'oh!) and one kilo of raw tuna. I could have eaten this shit for hours and hours no problem.
Then, at the gym I got very sad. I got there very very psyched to send my last creation on the 60° wall, to discover that, yes, they did strip the walls. What the fuck. I was very very disappointed: good move, really. Fucking hell, they stripped all my new problems so that now I can't sandbag anyone on them. What did I set them for so?
Anyway I pushed myself to the other room, in the cozy company of many many iron plates. I finally got to the point of trying the last stage of my weights program: keeping the same number of reps and raising the weight, doing one move every ten seconds.
It's strange to tell how it feels when you're doing it, it sure felt hard, but those ten seconds give you that something that allows you to complete the task.
The thing I can tell you for sure is that now I feel destroyed. I feel knackered. I feel punished. It must work.
Fo' shizzle my nizzle.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

STILL VERY SUMMER!!!

This fucking summer never ends. 32° yesterday evening at 7 pm. 40° forecasted for the weekend. How am I supposed to destroy hard boulders in this climate?
Anyway. Good friend Luca came back from NZ and Castle Hill, confirming the ideas of the place I got from a few videos. He won't go back there, he's had enough of desperate mantles and topouts. Aside of bouldering, the country must be absolutely amazing. A must see me thinks.
I am absolutely tired today. Maybe even a bit depressed, dunno why. No training this evening, despite wanting to go. Be patient, it will pay out.
I'm very happy I kept going to the gym in the last weeks. Yesterday, after months, the two guys that run it came back from their holidays. While they were sweeping the floor (Herculean task) I heard bits of conversation about stripping the walls to clean the holds and bullshit like that. What the fuck? What the fucking fuck? You spend three months away and you close the gym when everyone's back and starts to train again? What the fuck I say.
Anyway they can do what they like, I'm fully loaded now with weeks of iron and pulling plastic. It could be time for climbing.
I still hope they don't strip the walls, also because in the last weeks I set a few nice problems, quite challenging even if not very hard, but they require precise climbing, good body positioning, and yes, the usual brutal move.
Setting new problems is the way forward. I do like this: I choose two averagely bad starting holds, one bad foot. Then I try to link all the most distant holds, or those who face the wrong direction.
Pull on, have fun.
Last, but not least, I'm doing private italian lessons and it's damn good, even if very very tiring. I'd better go and prepare tomorrow's lesson now.
A couple of moves:


Monday, 1 September 2008

STILL SUMMER!!!

Despite the calendar shifted into september, it's still very very hot here. I had planned a quick trip to dispatch OOS sit start, but had to think better with a 32° temperature. I spent half an hour cleaning the boulder from recent moss, and it felt gruesome. Then I set the camera and sat on the mat, chalked my hands and proceeded to give the sitter a go, while waiting for my spotters to join me.
Ah, ah! If I ever link the video here, you will se how puzzled I am, trying to figure out how I could have left the ground when I first tried it in early may. You will see me changing handholds, then footholds, then choosing a heelhook, then ridiculously slap to nothing, then fall heavily.
Surprise!!! A big chunk of rock separated itself from the boulder, and where there was a deep foothold now there's nothing.
After a few tries, I realized again that it's more position dependant than really pulling dependant. Curiously, the more you lock off, the more you crunch yourself under the boulder, the further you are from the hold. You have to keep your right arm straight and to push you off the rock to be able to twist your shoulders and get the hold. Sadly, or luckily, this move is that little bit harder than before, just to make it very difficult to get the right hold. The result is two more moves to switch hands, or a very very precarious slap to avoid that. Anyway, I had a few goes and apart from the blinding pain in my fingers (Keith, I know what you're talking about) it wasn't too bad, also given the heat. It's definitely on, but with this added difficulty I feel it a bit harder than I did in may.
Note to self: six training days in a week is prolly too much.
Today I drove alot, to go south to close the business with the firm, gather all the stuff I had left there, say hello and go away. Everyone found me in very good shape: the woman that used to give me a hard time when I was there told me "I had never seen you with that face". Guess why.
So I came out with a pleasant feeling, all my things and a last final check of 1.400 Euros. Result.
So, here you go the non quality vids.
What's missing: the starting foothold.
video

What's still there: the crux hold.

video