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.