Thursday, 31 December 2009

CRUSHING NEW YEAR!!!


This is the last post of this year. But this is a climbing blog, so this last post will also be a climbing post.
I want to thank you all readers, because every minute you spend reading what I write, is a minute that you're not using in a better way, and a minute that you gift to me.
In the past year I have sacrificed alot to climbing: I have burnt on its altar everything I could, in terms of money, time and loves. I have left my girlfriend alot of times alone when she wanted to stay with me; I have not bought things because I had to put petrol to go climbing; I had spoilt many friends' time making them spot me in impossible projects.
In this, I have been as selfish as a man can be. And despite dedicating every problem that I've climbed to the few ones I truly love, in the beginning, in the dephts of myself, I do this all for myself.
Because this pursuit is so beautifully useless.
I will go to bed tonight, hopefully full of food, alcohol and love, and I will close my eyes and I will start picturing all the moments of bouldering I've lived in this past year. All the falls, the failures, the long drives. But also all the sends, the sensations of my fingers clinging to a hold in an undestructable union, or of my body being made only of some iron and a heart. I will picture all these images while waiting for the sleep to come, just like I do every night.
But tonight I will also picture having all my friends close, those who are far away, those who have, for the moment, disappeared from my life. I miss you all.
My friends, I wish you all the best for this new year.
Buon anno bestie, ovunque voi siate.


Wednesday, 30 December 2009

???

I am here at home, sipping Bowmore Single Malt 8 years and eating chocolate. This is a very difficult post to write. Maybe the hardest I have ever written, because I am not even capable of giving it a decent, appropriate title. A few options running through my mind were "Cresciano", "YYFY", "Success" and the likes, but still I think that three question marks represent at best my thoughts and my mind now.
I am in Chaos. I am speechless and I am disappointed because of this, given that I make myself proud of being able to express everything with appropriate words. The problem is that I don't know what is inside my mind.
I decided to go to Cresciano suddenly, after seeing a three days clear window between two storms of rain; needless to say, my girlfriend put up a hell of a fight that ended when I took my bags and went.
A hassle free journey brought me and my friend Nick to Cresciano, where the new hostel "1101 BLOC" was waiting for us: clean, cozy, warm and with a well furnished climbing shop it's just what was needed right there.
Day one.
We went climbing and I crushed.
Day two.
We went climbing and I crushed.
Day three.
We went climbing and I crushed.
Is this enough to give you the idea? Sadly not. It's surely not enough to express my feelings as I crushed "La Pioche" in a handful of tries, with the original 7c beta. Surely it's not enough to express the joy of sharing the sun, the friction, the joy with some best friends. I would like to really be able to give you the right idea: maybe the only way is by suggesting you to remember some of your best, more powerful days out and put them in a row. Add to this the happiness of sharing dinners and beers with the nicest persons around, and I'm sure you're closer.
Now let's stop this tears filled post and let's get back to reality. Reality is that after doing "La Pioche" we went on to try some other stuff, and I did that DG's traverse that is under "Kirk Windstein", really hard for 7a+!!! We then moved under "Frank's Wild Years" and I had a few goes. "Frank" has been in my mind since the first time I saw it many years ago. I had always dubbed it as too hard and too strange for me, and with all these doubts I approached it for the first time. I had all beta given, but I still was thinking that the two crucial smears on the left were too spread to be used by a shortie. "Frank" almost went out of my mind. Then, at some point, I told Nick "Yo, spot me well, I'm going for it" and I went. I got the pinch, and felt my body raising, and the going left towards the smears. I was solid. In went the heel hook and I matched the pinch. So static. The surprise pushed me back the ground. Shock. I had done the previously impossible. I had no escape now. I had to do it. For myself, for my girlfriend and for The Guru. For my spotting friends also. Back to reality, I still didn't know how the two slaps for the crimps would feel. Soon enough I found out: they felt very hard. Bye bye Frank. Time to go back.
The second day dawned a bit cloudy. With three other friends we started the tour of the sectors, walking around and stopping by every line that looked nice. Plenty. I wanted to do "Ci Credo o Non Ci Credo", the 7a+ traverse of "Stonelove": "This is a good one to flash" (R. Patterson). So classic. I wanted to really flash it. So I checked all the holds and I thought that I only had one go to flash it. Genius. After a three minutes battle I was on top with a flash. I was as happy as pumped. I hardly recovered for a few tries on "Toccami Tutta" but the left hand dyno grated my skin a bit and I quit. On the way back we again did some other stuff, and suddenly I found myself under Frank. Hello Frank, nice to see you're alone.
I was only with Nick, the others still climbing. I padded it. I cleaned it. I thought that I had no idea of how to get the crimps. Nick told me to give it a rehearsal go. I told him to watch me close because I was going for it. I told him "I will see when I'm there". I left the ground, feelings Nick's hands close and safe, and felt magic. Everything went smooth and strong, I found a mysterious way to match the undercling pinch and I got the first edge, then the second. Then the first good hold, then the top ones. All of a sudded I was there, dangling from the holds. I jumped down, and I said "What the fuck have I done?". Nick was smiling, I had to sit down, then I tried to stand up and nearly tripped and fell. The others arrived, I was happy and the world was a perfect place.
The last day I had nothing to do but enjoy it even more. We climbed in the sun, and I finished the day with a fast ascent of "Hannibal Lecter" sit start. On the way back I stopped by to have some pics and a video taken on "Frank's", but obviously could not do it again. I will do it again I think, because I liked it so much.
So these are the mere facts and some of the emotions. I really missed Andrea, Eric and Vale there. Maybe one day again.
I thank Nick, Cristiano, Chiara and Raff for being there with me. Surely one day again.
Thanks for sharing.
Over and out now.


Friday, 25 December 2009

1-5-8

I almost did 1-5-8 the other night in the gym. I can really say I felt really really good on it and I was quite sure to nail it in the session. Sadly I couldn't, for a number of reasons, ranging from 1) not being strong enough; 2) not being technical enough; to 3) the campusboard being too vertical, a thing that seems to have little importance for the non-dedicated, but it's clearly crucial for anyone who really wants to test his strength on this modern torture machine that the one and only Wolfi concieved and realized. The board being too vertical means that when you go for long distance you can't avoid to drag your body on the board, hitting the rungs with hips and thighs. One other thing is that I only added one rung, leaving all the other ones in place. This means that my rung n°8 is 2,5 cm higher than on a British board. I'm sure you all understand what I mean. Oh well.
Anyway, many gifts were exchanged yesterday night, one being a train ticket for two, for Font. Maisonbleau is booked, psyche is at stratosphere high levels, just as I feel my power is (maybe it's just a sugar induced high...), now I only have to insert these new data into The Guru's hard disk (his mind), and he will elaborate and print out a new cycle to deliver my good self in the Forest at full power.
I don't want to enjoy Font, I want to destroy it. Après moi le déluge.

One last note: is there a real meaning in Christmas? No, for me there's not. For me it's only a vacation that comes good for climbing, a moment to rest and to focus my mind on how much, how fucking much I love training and climbing. It's scary and encouraging at the same time. It's liberating.

Monday, 21 December 2009

SNOW AND CRUSHING

I dont' know whether a team of three could be considered a "team of epic proportions", fact is that we stormed over Amiata nonetheless yesterday. Filo, Tommy and I were the ones who took the chance to boulder in a peaceful, wonderful, sticky setting. Beware: if you live in Tuscany and you weren't bouldering yesterday, you're not a boulderer.
A crisp layer of snow welcomed us when we arrived at Chiesina, the sun was shining and the light was amazing. As usual none of us had brought a camera. Anyway, fueled by the good conditions, good company and good weather, good form followed. We crushed. I felt very good, made quick repeats of a few problems and had my moment of glory with a nearly retro flash of the roof direct. I sat there, put my feet on, pulled and got the good hold, so I proceeded, got the undercling, swapped feet and went for the small crimp: as I set my body for the move, I felt a new sensation, a sensation of steadiness and power on that move. My body was as solid as the roof itself (maybe my back was just frozen), so I got the crimp with all the calm of the world. Filo and Tommy started shouting at me "Vai Lore! Vai Lore!", I set my feet again for the final dyno and was quite sure to make it, but when I charged the move, my right hand all of a sudden ripped from the crimp and the magic disappeared, to leave room only to my screams of pain. My right hand fingers was numb and aching at the same time. I think I have never experienced that kind of pain before. I think I ripped because my skin was too cold.
When I recovered from the shock of this unexpected pain, I tried a few moves on Caminati's 8b/+ project under the same roof, a terribly hard sequence with a long, long, neverending dyno to a good edge and then a full body compression exit. He nearly did it the last time he was here, and I think he'll do it next time. In any case he need not rush, I'm not going to steal him this first ascent!
Filo and Tommy both put together good links on the respective projects, and when the sun began to be very low, we called it a day and shook hands, big smiles everywhere.
Walking away, the snow was still very crispy despite having been all day in the sun. Every step reminded me of how much I love this.
Stay strong my friends.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

SNOW AND...





A team of epic proportions will storm over Amiata tomorrow.
It's cold. Valentina's pics.


Thursday, 17 December 2009

TRAINING AND SNOW

It's baltic right now. It's around 3°, with a nice NE wind that gives a wind chill of around minus 5° as the actually perceived temp. Given that in this climate I cycle to and from work for an hour every day, I work, I train, and also given my usual eating habits, it's not hard for anyone to imagine how much I need to eat to keep breathing. Today's 8 am breakfast was the usual 4 cup moka, and a honey filled croissant. At 11 I had to have another coffee and two more croissants. Two ham sandwiches at lunch and right now I'm starving. Luckily on the way home I will find a patisserie for a slice or two of cake.
So I have done two sessions right now of what is my 6th week of the new cycle. I feel very very good. I am now doing the "static" part of the training, to improve my lock off ability, both on the system wall and on the boudering wall. A particular exercise that I couldn't complete in early october was performed yesterday with 5 kg on. I like how I climb and I like the good vibes that are in the gym right now.
Tomorrow will be my last work day for the year, and I'm very very happy to have some well deserved R&R (Rest and Recreation). It will be my aim to transform it into a C&C (Crushing and Crushing).
Now the cake awaits: apple strudel or Sacher? Probably both.

Monday, 14 December 2009

ROCK!

Finally managed to climb both days on the weekend, propelled by a moment of good form and by some good weather conditions, at least on saturday.
My original plan of crushing Ticino had to be changed due to snow up there, so I took the chance of climbing in a newly (and currently) developed area south of Tuscany.
It's so beautiful. The boulders sit on a small hill, in a private chestnut wood. Bliss. Cold wind and sunny skies pushed me up a series of very good problems, with the leit motif of the day being doing things fast.
So I climbed for a few hours doing easy and moderate problems, with the last minutes of the remaining daylight trying to unlock a hard sequence on a very beautiful roof/arete problem that I really want to do now. At Font 8a it could require a few visits though, but regardless of it I will surely be going back there, because I have seen nothing but a small part of the boulders ans I am very keen to climb new problems.
The highlight of my day was a lightning fast ascent of a very short problem up a small overhang on sidepulls and slopey edges at 7b+.
Sunday afternoon was spent at the base of the Amiata mountain. Despite being overcast conditions were good, not too cold and good to have some grip on the slopers of the "Mefisto" traverse, that I retroflashed after many years (@ Tom and Rich: it's the traverse on the same boulder of the rising crack that you both did on your first visit here, you'll like it!). It's a strenuous problems again in the 7b/+ range. It really worked my biceps. After that, and with the first drops of rain coming down, I went to try the real goal of the day, that was to complete the traverse that I blogged about a few posts ago. Sadly, when we got there the top was already soaked, and despite my good efforts it rapidly became impossible to climb. I'm pissed because I got to the final dyno every try, dammit. Again it's encouraging, being the last problem after two days on. I'll do it next time.
I start training today again after these two weeks of supercompensation. I just did some bouldering and a few tests on the fingers. I had an excellent test on the 2 cm edge, that I one armed with ease, locking it off for what seemed an eternity. Today I'm tired but The Guru provided me with the right things to do. The man is a genius.
Sadly my back is hurting again due to the morning cold, but some pills should sort it out. Many things run through my mind and they all deal with climbing. I am experiencing very good vibes on the rock and in the gym. I think that raising the intensity of my training and cutting off one session is really giving good results. Now I train three times a week, climbing one or two days on the weekend. I only hope that the dreaded bad weather won't spoil my much needed, hard earned holidays. I am very very eager to test myself on new problems. OK, I'll stop it here now, I'm getting too excited about climbing. Finally: after years and years I bought myself a down jacket and I understood why everyone has one in Uk. Because they are fucking warm and comfy.


Wednesday, 9 December 2009

STILLS FROM THE PAST





Feel a bit nostalgic right now.
Happy moments.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

SUNDAY AFTERNOON

The plan was to touch some rock, and I had already fixed to do that thing with the rope. The top rope in my case. Anyway, waking up and finding every street still completely wet from the night didn't do much to psyche me up.
My friend Fabio then called to say he wasn't going, so I lifted a bit the foot from the gas pedal and relaxed myself before heading to the gym. My skin is still shit, dammit, and now I have completely peeled pads, as red as a baby's.
Despite the coffee and cookies I was feeling a bit heavy to say the least, probably due to the two Negroni's and bottle of wine of the saturday night... but maybe not.
This is my fourth week of the new training plan, and I have a bit of a rest week, only two sessions of just bouldering, so I got involved into setting a new problem under the 60° wall. I tweaked and tweaked it until it became very hard but not impossible, and I kept well in my mind all the possible variations, to use them as references for the future. The problem came out pretty good, sustained and fun to climb. Sadly I didn't do it despite doing all the moves and putting together good links. It's also quite long, around 12-13 moves so it's a good training: not only because many of my projects are a bit long, but also because if I can link hard moves after more hard moves it means I'm stronger.
On the training side, monday or wednesday I should mount the new rungs on the campusboard, to train the 1-5-8 with the british spacings. Today I tried to get some distance and I managed to flash 1-6 leading with both arms, and that's very encouraging. I know that sticking a rung and pulling on it are two different affairs, but it's a good start.
I may rest for good this week to head north in the weekend.


Wednesday, 2 December 2009

GOOD VIBRATIONS

I had really good sensations tonight in the gym, despite the back still not fully healed and despite horrible skin. It started peeling as soon as I started my warmup, clearly not using my secret cream for two days had its drawbacks. Anyway I am satisfied about this session.
P.E.A.C.E. and D.E.S.T.R.O.Y
Peace and destroy.
Peace and destroy.
Peace and fuckin destroy.
A small memory from a torrid Font, "Le cul du souris", when I still had some hair left.

Monday, 30 November 2009

BLOCKED

I wanted to go and support The Guru, saturday, at the Nationals for lead climbing. The plan was for him to destroy the qualifiers and then give his best in the finals; for me to transform the bouldering area of the gym in a sad desert of broken holds and crushed problems.
I couldn't go in the end, and that's a shame because during the whole week I've had excellent sensations. I did a brief one week campusing recruitment and to my surprise, despite not campusing seriously for ages now, I was still quite good. I would really like to build a new campus board with 22,5 cm intervals. The English way. The Strong Ones' way.
Well, having spent the saturday not crushing but couching (four movies: "The Boat that Rocked", "In the Valley of Elah", "Vincere" and "Survive with the Wolves" - the lady's choice), on sunday I was on fire for the gym. Unluckily, after not more than one hour I got a really bad strain at my lower back which refused to move from then on. I'm blocked. I've been very stupid, I had only a very warm thermal shirt that was too warm, so I was sweating, then climbing barechested, and thats why my back got hurt.
I am addressing some weaknesses, namely fingers. I started working on two fingers at a time. Front two are fine, middle are very very dangerous for me because of many ring finger injuries and back two are weak as a baby's. We will see.
Then: this week my students have their official Italian language exam and I'm nervous.
I have my eyes fixed on the prize: holidays.
Peace peace peace, destroy destroy destroy.

Friday, 27 November 2009

BETWEEN THE TREES, BETWEEN THE DREAMS

I feel and I know that my friendship with Keith is special, from when he dreamt about the two of us having a threesome with a girl, to when I got a private message on UKB saying “Yo! I want to come to Sassofortino”. We had never spoken before. And he came, he kindly accepted my hospitality, and he appreciated “my” boulders, giving them all himself and planting in me the seed of future hard ascents, one for all “Caminati’s Problem The English Way”. We didn’t meet for a bit then, but when it happened it was in Font. I kindly accepted his (and Neil’s) hospitality, having the best from Font. I had been in Font only in summer before, and finding myself there with temps below the 20’s was a big change for me. It was also the first time I really felt it very difficult to climb with Keith, because he’s so much stronger than myself. I got home from Font with a smashed ankle and a renewed love for the place. Now, writing this just after watching Keith’s “Between The Trees”, I feel both happy and sad. Happy because the film is a joy for the eyes and the soul. I won’t even spend a word about the technical details, neither will I talk about Tyler. I only want to join Keith in his final thanks to Tyler. But I feel also a bit sad because I’m here in Florence, because tomorrow I can’t drive to Font, and also because even if I could, I couldn’t climb like Keith or Ty. But if I could drive to Font, I would try to climb like Keith and Ty. So this is the gift of this film. Go to a place and give it everything. That’s why I feel and I know that my friendship with Keith is special, because he goes to places and he gives them everything, and that’s a thing I both like and do. He came to the Dolomites with maybe some prejudices about limestone bouldering, but for sure his heart was open, and when he felt in peace with the mountains he just crushed (I won’t talk about what James did). So that was a big sign of trust and respect to me, and I really appreciated it. I also appreciated when he got worried about me, and he sent me an email, that I read at 8 in the morning just before going to Sasso to climb OOS Assis, the past winter. A great day and another gift from Keith. I hope to climb soon again with Keith, I need to feel his energy propel me on top of problems. I also want to go back to Font soon, in winter this time, to give it my best and to take the best of it for me. Peace my friends, and destruction.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

APPETIZERS

Just like when I leave the bar, with my dear Martini Cocktail (Montgomery, s'il vous plait) going down my body and soul, I got home from Chironico quite hungry.
I spent two days there, completely on my own again, thanks to my cell phone dying right after crossing the border. I had plans to meet a few friends there, but technology decided for me. Being alone gave me the good chance of trying stuff I've never tried before, with absolutely no pressure: I wanted to set some priorities, and that's something you can do if you're comfortable. I had a very long ticklist of possible problems, but still I didn't know whether they were worth the dedication. I mean, I know they are worth, but I also have to take well present in my mind that I live five hours south of those problems: this puts things into perspective.
So I've spent saturday and sunday morning trying to figure out sequences on two problems that I will probably drop: "Dr. Pinch" and "The Scent of Snow". Both sequences were wrong. I also tried "Blochx Addiction" and managed to do all the first bit bar the hard move right to the good edge. Did all the rest, excellent problem but needs really good friction or being really strong. I will need really good friction! Finally I fondled the holds of my main target of the season "The Great Shark Hunt". I've always loved that problem and I want to do it and I will do it. How can I tell? It's simple, I will try it until I do it.
I read the question in your mind: did I actually climb something? Yes, I did. I am very happy of two particular problems, that are "Power Ranger" and "Autopilot" that I both destroyed in two tries and flash. I also got involved into some traverses (the horror... the horror...) that were really nice but really long. One is just under "Dr. Multifit" and features one thousand moves on sharp crimps, it's been a very clever idea of mine to try it as the warm up of the first day. After that I could have easily left and gone home hadn't I been in Ticino. An idiot in Ticino. Then at the end of that day I also tried "Bella Gnocca" (unsure of the name), the traverse just behind the "Komilator" boulder. I feel at the last hard move on the flash and then my power was gone, I was pumped and got worse every subsequent try. I will do it, and I will also put into the ticklist "Komilator" if the first move isn't too reachy.
I also decided to quit "Les Vent Nous Portera" because it's too damn reachy. Pity because it's a wonderful problem and I did it three years ago starting from the span. Oh well...
So all in all I think I have to be very happy, and I am. Doing those problems quickly is well encouraging. I was comfortable.
Finally some thoughts.
Being alone at the boulders gave me also time to think and to focus on small details. I noticed that it's quite easy to find genuine assholes at big boulders with many hard lines on, and that are in very accessible areas. People that do not respond to your salute, that give you the eye when you get there, but they are not shy to cheat in the most shameless ways to get a problem done. Like skipping the mono on "Souvenir", which is an eliminate, i.e. you have to use the mono with your right hand. Hey, you do what you like, but if you act like that, you make me want to put my shoes on and start working "Souvenir" properly. I just went away a bit sad.
Other detail: I get loads of energy from friendly people. I met a big group of guys at a problem, and at first I was shy to ask them the permission to try the problem with them, but I did and they replied in a very gentle way "Yes, come on, maybe you can help us!". Well, I did. I managed to find a good sequence and we all fired the problem. Happiness. One good moment was when they moved to try a highball and I obviously bailed, saying that I wanted to try "Blochx Addiction", and one guy looked very puzzled and said "...but it's 8a...". Clearly he hadn't been very impressed by my climbing!!!
One other detail is that I felt very very dedicated and pure and focused by doing all this on my own, but I missed my best friends and my girlfriend alot. After doing a problem that had made me happy all I could do was silently compliment myself, but I missed the joy in my girlfriend eyes that make me feel very macho and the beers with my friends before dinner. That's all for now. Thanks for sharing.


Tuesday, 17 November 2009

MOVING NORTH

The plan is to go North and destroy Chironico. As simple as that.
Costo
87.01 EUR
Pedaggio 21.50 EUR | Carburante 38.51 EUR | Bollino autostradale 27.00 EUR
Tempo
03h55 di cui 03h34 su strade a scorrimento veloce
Distanza
396 km di cui 384 km su strade a scorrimento veloce
I must be fucking nuts. As simple as that.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

MOVING SIDEWAYS

Today I stole a few hours on rock. Despite the cloudy sky, I drove and got the reward, in terms of a very good afternoon of pulling on small, nasty holds at a small area in the Amiata range.
I only did traverses!
After a brief warmup that involved two problems that I seriously doubt pass the 6a mark, I saw a couple of holds under the moss, that could have been a nice exit for an already existing traverse. After some dirt scrubbing, other two holds appeared and I was ready for a go. One go was all I needed: I got to the mantle pumped (25 ish moves...) but I topped out, happy to be alone again in a red, yellow, green, brown wood. It's incredible how noisy can the falling leaves be. It's incredible how little I need to feel happy.
Full of glory for this new link, that I have obviously dubbed "The Full Monty", I decided I would give a go to a problem I did many years ago. Well, I didn't leave the ground. Given that the problem involves just one move, I failed miserably. Ah! I wonder how I managed to do it that day! That's brilliant and one of the hardest moves I've ever done. Maybe I failed because it wasn't a traverse.
Last but not least I worked the hard hard exit of yet another traverse that I have sent during the summer on holds that would make Keith scream in terror just by looking at them: edges that we call "dog's teeth". 'nuff said.
Anyway this traverse is BRILLIANT. There is a very very hard move, to get a poor edge far right, then somehow you have to stay there, bring the left foot high up and then somehow gain the lip. It's amazing. I am so happy. I still haven't done the last two moves, but I have done all the rest and am confident to do it in the next ten years ;-).
My fingers are eaten, my body is worked and my mind is free.
Beastie Boys live.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

BACK TO SCHOOL

The only holidays I've had this year, are represented by these last four months, in which I didn't do any specifically climbing related training. During the summer, as you may remember, I just moved iron around in a boiling, sweaty, deserted gym. At mid august I hit my lowest by doing two hours long fingerboard sessions in a small, boiling, sweaty, deserted house. Every fucking day.
Then, came september, and finally temps dropped below the 35° mark. It was time to hit the gym again, but my mental energy levels were at around minus 273° so I decided to just let it go and simply boulder without any plan.
It's been fun, but as usual I didn't realize that pulling on plastic four days a week as hard as I could, would have led me to overtraining...
Anyway, after almost one week off (just two sessions), school is on again. The Guru's mind gave birth to another training plan, aimed to mutation. I already feel my DNA changing, it started from the haircut.


Friday, 6 November 2009

UNDERSTAND THE PAST, PLAN THE FUTURE

One week ago, at this exact time, I was again driving on my own to the Dolomites to climb a small boulder before the snow covers it for months. So many things has changed from that lonely drive north, and I don't want to get into the details, I think my previous post gives a clear idea of what happened, the rest is not important.
So now I would like to look back at that days and understand them. Why in a matter of seconds everything seemed different from before, I don't know. Maybe we are truly incomplete without others. Maybe we are really not made to be on our own, but to always share. Sharing is everything. There are many ways of sharing, and not all of them mean being with someone else in the same place at the same moment, even if it's the most common way of sharing. But it's not enough, because I know that we can be with someone else in the same place at the same moment and nonetheless feeling alone.
One thing that I really want to make public is my thanks to the two beasts who came north. I think they come to share something and I'm sure we did. For sure they shared with me their joy of living the dream, and that's priceless for me. They turned a lonely weekend into a mini super holiday, in which there were no responsibilities, no work, no troubles, no bills to pay and no rent. Just climbing, eating and laughing.
Now tell me if this isn't the biggest of gifts.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

FIVE DAYS TO JUNE?

Pressure, pressure, pressure and more pressure.
In many ways. I'm under pressure at work. I wanted to take this friday off, but to the contrary I have been given another class for that day.
I'm under pressure with my girlfriend, I want to climb hard shit without losing her. I don't know what's going to be the harder task.
Pressure is very high also on the weather matter. Incredibly high. One of the best weeks of the season so far. Sunny skies all over, especially in the Dolomites, with gentle winds blowing gently on my Nemesis. I am stuck at work and I deeply envy all the lucky unemployed ones cranking their asses off.
Finally, I am under pressure climbing wise. If I can't go to the Dolomites this weekend, or if I go and can't climb the problem, I will have to start waiting for June again, because next week the snow will come once and for long.
It's a threatening thought. That's why I'll go and I'll do the problem.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

JAPANESE LIFESTYLE

I have been chosen to prepare two students of the school for the 6th and highest level of Italian, so that they will firstly take the school's degree, and then they will have the exam of Italian as Second Language, that is called CILS, which is the official degree for foreigners regarding Italian language, being held in Siena by the Università per Stranieri. It's a tough exam, including many different tasks, from usual grammar tests, to written essays, to different tests of listening, comprehension, and so on.
Naturally, I am happy they asked me to prepare the girls for this exam, but there's, as usual, a price to pay.
First, to teach this class I have lost my conversation class, this meaning that now I teach four hours of grammar every day. Second, I've never prepared the students for this exam, so I feel pretty under pressure, a bit like having to pass the exam myself. Finally, the exam is held in December, and this means that I won't be able to have any holiday from now until the end of the year. I never thought about refusing the teaching opportunity, but then I realized this drawback and and well, it didn't make me very happy. In 2009 I've taken an amazing total of four days off, enabling me to ask for Japanese citizenship.
Say goodbye to my Uk trip, say goodbye to my Swizzy trip. Say hello to rushing weekends to the boulders, long drives on Friday nights, long drives on Sunday nights, two raging days of pulling.
Still I don't feel ready to start a structured training plan, I keep pulling in the gym, but I started feeling the magic fading. I am running low on setting creativity, until now I have set many problems, nothing particularly hard, that I have been able to climb in one or two sessions. I feel my arms and core quite strong, again nothing special, but decent. I feel my fingers weak, not in an absolute way, but not as strong as I'd like them to be, especially when full crimped. I want them to be so strong that no hold will ever be too small.
Last, but definitely not least, I hope I can steal another Dolomites trip before General Winter comes; chances are low, but who knows.
This makes me a bit sad now.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

ON MY OWN

I didn't do the problem. This is the fact. Now if you like, you can stop reading, because after the facts, there will be the thoughts. If you're interested into knowing my thoughts on the facts, go on.

I wrote it was time to deeply look inside myself. I've done it, and despite feeling very sad at the moment because I couldn't climb the problem I wanted to climb, I think I have to be happy about what I found in the dephts of my person.
I found out, once again and for sure, that I am dedicated. I drove 419 kms all alone on a friday night, in a small car filled with crashpads and with no car stereo, to go to the Dolomites, to climb a boulder problem that I have tried once one year ago. I've experienced many different feelings. During the drive, I surprised myself because I wasn't bored, I wasn't tired, I was sure abouth the choice. I was happy, I had raised the bet and put everything I had on the table, and I was confident of the victory. Well, I can't find my victory in the climbing, but I can find it in my attitude.
Yesterday morning, when I was carrying three pads to the boulder, in a freezing wind, without a single soul in sight in the whole mountain, there wasn't another place in the world where I'd rather had been. I was there with my whole body and mind, and I was very very happy. The rock was frozen, dry as hell, my skin was perfect, my form was perfect, my mindset was perfect. I was happy because I was feeling the purity of what I was doing.
I encountered a number of problems though.
First of all, one session a year before is not enough to perfectly memorize a sequence, especially for the footholds and the body positions. I had to do it all again. Then, it was so cold that the rubber didn't stick well to the rock, so I needed to have a few warm up laps to get the wheels on temperature. Then, the two crux moves are damn hard: I am happy though, because this time I could do them with different, more basic sequences, namely just putting my feet on very low and distant footholds and using alot of body tension, and this is something that I couldn't do last year, meaning that I had to use two horrible, contrieved and dangerous drop knees. Simply put, I just felt stronger. Finally, the wind dropped and it started snowing. It was so beautiful.
Then, here it came my mistake.
I tried another sequence. Tsk tsk, amateur. To get a better hold with my right hand, I had one go using another starting sequence, and I nearly did the problem, but on a hard right hand crimp that I didn't use with the normal sequence, I just ripped my index finger. My skin was so dry that it ripped just where it plies, on the first pad. I knew it was all over, so I instead of taping it I decided to go for broke, and had my last go. I fell and my finger was deepley cut. I started packing, and with the snow quickly covering the boulders, the trees and the road, I decided that I was leaving the mountains again to their winter, in peace for another year.
My finger was unable to climb, I was afraid of getting stuck in the snow with my small car, and I wanted to get back to my girlfriend at home. After just a couple of hours, my proud adventure, my moment of glory and happyness had already ended. I drove down the pass in the snow, then in a second it was the motorway, then home.
I'll never stop saying it: the dedication is a reward in itself.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

THE LORD OF COLD

It's currently freezing here. Clear, blue, sunny skies, cold air. I will go to the Dolomites. More than 150 days have passed, not it's time to look inside myself. Deeply.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

I will follow the lines that both Stu and Chris have written and I will try to understand why I don't want to diet.
The thought of dieting has crossed my mind many times since when I started climbing, and from one of these times it stayed in my mind for a few years, sadly accompanied by a very unpleasant friend, an alimentary disorder. For some years in the past I have been obsessed by food and body fat percentages. It's been a dark, dark period and I have suffered alot.
Well this is one of the reasons why I don't want to diet now, even if just for short periods. For the same reason, and its name is fear, I don't want to start running or jogging again. I don't want to get sucked back into troubles. I tend to extremes.
Then, the other reason is that I want to climb harder permanently. I can't diet permanently, but I want to improve permanently. When I will feel that I can't improve anymore just by training, maybe I will start dieting, but I don't see this happening soon. So I want my arms and my fingers to become stronger not because they have to bear less weight, but because they can bear more weight.
I respect those dedicated ones that choose to diet, some of them even permanently, but it's something that I don't dare to do.
I want it to be clear that this is my personal point of view, and that in no way I judge others' behaviour. I thank Stu and Chris for helping me clarify this with myself.
Ciao.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

MY SEPTEMBER EARNINGS

Thank you, Giulio. Good luck my friend.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

MISCELLANEA

Tome came and went away. I am happy that this time the weather was very good, enabling us to pull on rock for three days in a row, probably even a bit too much for the skin, especially with a fourth added day on plastic at the beginning of his stay, a four hours session in the gym, both of us fueled by protein bars and the students from my school on a free practice day.
I have to say that the monday morning, alone again in Florence, I was very sad. Luckily the students made me smile.They are a blessing: whenever I speak about work with my father, his only concern is about how much do I earn. Well, this week I earnt a letter from one student, plied as an Origami. I obviously won't go into the details of the content because it's very personal, it's enough to say that I know that I've helped a young guy in his stay in Italy, and that I have a new good friend. This is more than a big cheque, but I know my father won't understand. Sometimes we tend to forget that especially with young students we are not only teachers, but educators. I wonder what they will keep of their Italian stay in many many years. Will it be the verbs conjugations or will it be a friendly look from their teacher? And what will I keep of their stay? Will it be the red errors marked in their final tests, or will it be the feelings while reading a text message sent before boarding on a plane? We all know the answer and I feel lucky.
Climbing wise, I am very sad because all my plans of going climbing in the next weekends seem to have to be postponed again and this pisses me off. On the good news front, I have spent many good sessions in the gym pulling holds, and the last two days filming the exercises that will be feature in a DVD that will come soon with a new training manual. Stay tuned and book the seats for future slideshows around Europe.
Last but not least a big waddage to Donato Lella for being a true monster and a very funny guy.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

ALL QUIET... BEFORE THE STORM!

Just a few hours after writing the last entry, under the sign of quietness, Mr. Long Moves Between Small Crimps, a.k.a. Tom, called to make the official announcement of his presence in Italy from early next week.
Needless to say, the quietness ended simultaneously, and despite being sorry and worried for not having enough time to pack in a few sessions in order to gain some power, not to be blown away by the man on home turf, the joy was bigger. The weather is unpredictable right now, but we have many options covered: I will work in the mornings, while Tom will seduce beautiful girls while doing sketches of Florence; then in the afternoons we can either try and crush the gym to small small bits, or, even better, we could steal a couple of top ropes (for me) at a very very close crag (let's say 20 mins from my house) with super short, bouldery routes. The evenings will be spent in long aperitivos and dinners. I will take friday off and we will climb on rock. Uncle Bruno awaits us. Whaddayathink Tom?

Friday, 18 September 2009

ALL QUIET...

The gym is now fully running, with some decently clean holds that are rapidly turning black as usual. The use of liquid chalk is probably the biggest problem humanity has to face: the way it fills up every pore of every hold is hard to believe; add to that sweat and rubber and you'll understand why our planet is so under menace.
Anyway...
I am generally tired, despite working less. I think that it's due to finally having the chance to relax and kick back a little bit. It happens to me: as long as I know I have to face hard times, I tighten my fists and I go on blindly; when I finally can relax, all of a sudden all the efforts come at me with both fists and I start feeling the fatigue that I haven't felt before. Moreover, the mere thought of a structured training makes me shiver, and that's why I've spent the last two weeks just bouldering in the gym with no strict plan other than trying to either rip the holds from the walls or to link the most far apart holds. I have set a few very nice problems, and have then climbed them all, so they must be not very hard, but they climb well and provide what I look for: long moves, body tension and some fingery moves. I try to climb them as smoothly and controlled as I can and am quite happy about that. I am not strong and that's a fact: despite a general training during the summer, I haven't done anything very specific, just some weights and a little fingerboarding, but nothing that resembles a seriously specific and dedicated training.
Yesterday, feeling weak, I resolved to do a couple of circuits. As soon as I tied my chalkbag around my waist and started figuring out moves after moves, I heard some hidden talking in the gym "What's happening?... Is he really going for a circuit?..." After seeing me doing circuits, people in the gym could expect everything to happen, even donkeys to fly. Anyway I give my best as usual, and managed to flash a 25 moves long 7a on the 60° wall. Psyched out of my mind I set off on the 7c, same number of moves, same wall. On the flash I brilliantly fell on move number three. Tricky, I thought. Luckily The Guru himself was there, and with his aura of stamina permeating the air I was breathing, plus being showed the correct way to perform the move, I found inspiration again. On my second go I destroyed the circuit... until move 22. Then my forearms were so pumped and swollen that they started developing their own gravity force, attracting the walls of the gym... Well not really but that's how I felt.
So I left and ate a bowl of chicken salad, like almost every night.
Last sunday I scored a very brief session in a warm and humid Sasso. I did nothing, unable to stick on any slopey hold, but managed to cancel every dynamic move from "Scream" the wonderful arete right of "Spigolo Calibani". As static as it gets.
No climbing this weekend due to a conference in Rome about brain functions of the foetus (yes, you read correctly), and to bad weather.
I want to go to the Dolomites to climb the problem I tried last year. I can't think of having to wait another year.
Then, UK. It's always on my mind. I want to go, I need to go. I have never felt so good in any climbing area like I have felt at Plantation. Make whatever you want of this. Now go, love and destroy.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

FAME DI STELLE

As promised, this is the video of one of my recent problems "Fame di Stelle" at Amiata top. Get the sequence in mind Tom, because I ain't going to tell you.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

FEED THE BEAST

My yell is a bullet that flies through the valley, to an invisible target.
My yell is a razorblade that cuts the valley in two.
After a long time I am again on top of a problem. After a long time my mini fan pushed me up a problem.
I had tried this new line for a few times, finding it difficult, because it's not only quite hard, but also very precarious, involving a couple of very dynamic moves aiming for a mono and for a two finger pocket. Last weekend I went there to do it, but I went nowhere on it, fighting with the first move and being unable to use a decent feet sequence for the crux: I didn't want to use a very off line heel hook that's close to another rock, with the risk of a constant dab. At some point, blinded by the pain in my fingers, I left. Anyway, I was tempted to blame my soft skin and the poor conditions, but I didn't want to sleep in this comfortable bed, so I chose to blame myself for being a weak mofo, and got back to the gym with renewed anger. The weights are going very well, and thursday I also managed to destroy two problems on the 45° and 60° walls.
Today has been a very strange day. I felt tired for so long. I didn't even manage to finish my usual warm up, and suddenly it all felt useless and I almost left, but then I thought I may have eaten too little again, so tried my chances with a few cookies (let's say a dozen). I started trying my other project and was again feeling weak, but suddenly I found out a lower start that involves a completely different sequence: before it was a very morpho problem, much easier for the very tall; now it's still very morpho, much easier for the very strong. Anyway this all thing woke me up and after a few tries I felt happy and decided, being a complete idiot, to go and try that other beast. I felt secure. I chose to stick to a sequence and stop messing around. Then I sat down and for the first time I went to do the problem, instead of just trying the moves. On the first go I didn't get the two finger pocket right and fell. I rested, then I prepared myself again: my hands were super dry from the fan (it seems like cheating sometimes) and I perfectly hit the pocket. At that point I forgot the sequence from the surprise, but got back into this world and kept moving, readjusting the hold and making sure that I wasn't going to risk a very bad fall all on myself.
Then my yell cut the valley in two.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

WAS IT WORTH?

This past month has been very hard and very challenging, under many circumstances, and I will briefly try and explain what happened under the surface. Suddenly I had to face many different problems involving every single aspect of my life: work, climbing, relationship, friendships. Wherever I looked, I could not find shelter from problems.
At the beginning of august, I started an individual class with one Turkish businessman, scheduled to be every day from 4 to 6 pm. Sometimes I had other lessons before that, sometimes I just had two or three hours to kill while waiting for him. No problem I thought, I can handle this, even if the gym was closing at 9 pm instead of 11 pm, I could still get there at 6 30, warm up, and pack in a decent session. The classes started well, but many many jokes about my teaching ability from the man, day after day, started to make me feel a bit nervous, so one day I took my courage and spoke with the school's director, telling him that probably the man was going to ask him to change me for someone else, and even if this would have given me more time to train, of course it wasn't good news on the working front.
One day, the man told me: "Lorenzo, I need to tell you something." That's it, I thought, evening sessions at the crag here I come! "I would like to spend more time with you." he added.
Dammit, this was a shocker. Briefly, he asked me to substitue the 2 to 4 pm teacher, and to have a monster 4 hours individual class every day. I spoke again with the director, because I was basically kicking out my collegue, but it wasn't my request, and I felt at ease with it. So, in a split second I found myself with 8 full hours of teaching every day, and the afternoon class just simply terrified me. I was to take the major role in this man's entire course, doing on my own more than half of his teaching. The sunday night before our first new class I was just terrified: how can I go on for four hours without being boring or useless? Well, I thought I should prepare lots of material, readings, excercises, conversation subjects and so on. Well, I made it. It's been very tough, because every day I would get home at 6 30 pm completely smashed and, obviously almost without any voice left. Then I would gulp something and try to wake me up from a semi coma and crank a fingerboard session.
Then, my relationship. We've been through a big big turmoil recently, and it took all our energies to keep our eyes on the prize and go on without fear. I can't say more here.
Training wise, I think I've already said everything. 2 hours sessions on the fingerboard were hard and even a bit boring, but I just couldn't do without. I had been lucky enough to share a couple of sessions with friends, and that is obviously a very good thing, especially when you are told: "Well Lore if you crank like this at mid august, what will you do after training seriously?"
Then finally the gym reopened and I started throwing iron plates everywhere. I am very happy. I didn't lose any power in two weeks, and my routines has already improved in just two sessions of the last week.
On the friendships side, it's been a very lonely month. To be honest, I didn't talk to anyone apart from my students. Florence was deserted, everyone was away climbing and my girlfriend wasn't at home.
So, was it worth it?
Yes, for sure.
This month taught me alot. It taught me that I can do serious work, and that I am far more dedicated and responsible than I thought. Not for one moment did I think "No, I don't want to take the whole four hours", and for sure I didn't just do it for the money (a nice down jacket is on the way anyway...). It's just been something that I felt I had to do. But it also taught me that I need to know that there's more in my life than just work, because this makes me happy. When I know that I have some time to do everything, to train, to rest, to make love, to cook, everything is easier and tastes nicely.
Now I am very happy to think that I am going to work a bit less, probably six hours, which is absolutely perfect because I can earn good money and still have alot of time. I feel good times ahead. I feel free and even a bit powerful.
I feel my girlfriend close again and we make love like two teenagers.
Tomorrow I will go to Amiata top with the van for a couple of days (I took monday off...) and I am sure I will enjoy fresh air again.
I realize now that I couldn't have written this before. I needed to close the circle, I needed to be able to draw a line to look back and try to understand what this month meant. I'm happy of what I found out.
Thanks for finding the time to read this.

Friday, 28 August 2009

ONE GIANT STEP

This hard hard month has ended, working wise.
More to come.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

JESUS FUCKING CHRIST

Everything is getting a little bit too much on my nerves lately.
Temps steadily on the 40 degrees mark and getting home very late smashed from work isn't the perfect situation for psyching on the fingerboard.
On the matter, The Mother of All Fingerboards is a nasty whore in reality. The best hold to be held is a nice 1,5 cm edge. Then everything is either alot smaller or alot more slopey, or both. I've started to do pseudo problems on it, footless, trying to create the hardest combinations, that are still possible in the current heat. The other day I took a nasty fall slipping off from a sloper, I flew in the air backwards, my flip flops projected high in the air and the in the middle of the room, which is my living room, now completely covered in chalk..., and I landed on my bum, and ultimately on my right hand, the one I injured last summer. Anyway I shook it off and fired the problem next try, not without a serious committment.
I am deadly tired. Both physically and mentally. I fall asleep at night imagining myself on Rock Atrocity and wake up in the morning swearing against all know divinities because I feel smashed and have to get up and go to work. Luckily, the work, despite being very very hard at 8 hours a day, 4 of which in a single individual class, is absolutely great. Monday morning, for example I was feeling very sad and tired, but when the new student, a blond girl from Swizzy, came in, my life felt much much better. Still, I need more spare time. I decided that with this month's decent earnings, I will buy something nice for me for the next winter, possibly a down jacket. I thought that I could save this money and use it in a smarter way, but then I thought that if I work hard and I don't enjoy the money I earn, that's absolutely useless.
Anyway, it's now more than a month since I last climbed and I have no words to explain how much I miss it. I simply can't live without climbing. Big Malc once said that he could go on just with training, but I can't. I need to see myself floating on 8a's to stay truly motivated, because when I get home at night I am thrashed, but still I think that the best part of the day is about to start, the moment when I'll begin dangling and swinging from small pieces of wood. One day I will say what Jerry once said "I had done that month of training". If I won't do my next project I know that it won't be because of my lack of dedication and committment.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

ICE ICE BABY...

On the way home, there's a fine Sicilian bar, patisserie and ice cream shop. Sometimes I stop by to have a taste of some of the best ice creams I can find in town. As of late, my preferencies go to Modica chocolate, which is made without the cocoa butter, so that it's less sweet and tastes more like... chocholate.
There, they use to make it in a special kind, so it's Modica chocolate, with some hot chili spice, and rhum.
A simple 2 euros ice cream allows you two flavours, and nothing sits better with that chocolate than a cream made with orange, lemon and lime.
Then I go and crush the gym.


Monday, 3 August 2009

BATTLEFIELD

My life is a battlefield. I want to go bouldering, and others try to hinder me.
I am prepared, I have grown up facing this everyday battle.
Yesterday I was asking myself why some people seem to hate climbing this much, then I realized it's not the climbing discipline itself. People hate the commitment. People hate to see someone who gives himself entirely to a foolish, useless pursuit like climbing a small bit of rock. People hate this because they are envious, envious that someone can be so happy in doing something.
Anyway.
The fragility of a climber's mind is the epitome of fragility, is the Platonic idea of fragility. A climber's mind, my mind, is the most fragile thing on earth, the one that walks on the thinnest, most delicate of lines.
The idea of facing an entire month without serious training possibilities has crashed on me with its heavy load of terror. Visions of a fat myself that can't pull on shit for the end of august appear in my nightmares.
Gyms are closed in august. My only chance is to, once again, turn myself towards the only sureness I have. A sureness that I made myself, with my own hands, just one year ago.
That's why today The Mother of All Fingerboards will rise again its beautiful shape in my bedroom. Ok, it will make that room completely impossible to use, give its dimensions, but that's a minor issue.
Jerry lived three years in a cave, I can spend one month sleeping in a chalk filled bedroom.
I NEED MORE POWER.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

YOU'RE HOT AND YOU'RE COLD...

Living in Florence right now is a matter of surviving. And it will only get worse. Current temps are steady around 38° in the shade, with a boiling hot wind from somewhere.
On monday I will start my new classes as well, and the program is as follows: four hours in class, lunchbreak from 13 to 14, then one hour individual, one other break and a final two hours individual from 16 to 18. Seven hours a day teaching is a whole lot of teaching and it will be bloody hard. Plus, the gym will close soon, so my fear is also about being forced to put training on a hold. I don't want to, because in the last week my weights routines just went over the roof. Something definitely clicked, as I cut everything down to 4-5 reps per set, I have started to add weight to every excercise. I am well pleased, I dropped the one armed lat machine to get back to normal one armers and they are coming. I tested again the 1,5 cm edge, and I one armed it very powerfully, quickly and strongly.
One concern is about air conditioning. I have to get asleep with it on, in my bedroom, then during the night I switch it off, but despite allowing me to sleep quite well, it's a tragedy for my neck. Coupled with hard sessions in the gym, the air conditioning makes my neck stiff and achey. Plus, I think I developed some kind of nose problem, because every time I spend some time driving with a/c on, at night I have terrible headhaches, just over my nose. Yesterday night it happened for the second time in a row, both times I had driven from Florence to Siena feeling cool.
Now I'll have another sandwich and then I'll try and go to Amiata top, to try and leave the ground on one of my projects.
The Guru gave me a brand new pair of Sportiva's Solution. On the box he wrote "You can abuse" and that's exactly what I want to do today. Boom!

Monday, 27 July 2009

THE OTHER IRON ROAD

Goddammit I felt strong in the gym today!!! I'm psyched. Last week I felt good, but today I just kicked the shit out of those weights. Power power power is the way forward, the only way. It's also more fun to train.
Then, "Fame di stelle" was born last saturday at Amiata top. It kicked my ass. I got there thinking "Ok, I send it first try and then I'll dedicate myself to harder stuff". Well, I didn't do it on my first try, nor on my second, or third, or fourth. The crux move proved to be the long reach to the starting hold of "Mai dire male" which is a nasty two finger pocket (the name of the problem could be translated into "Never say it hurts") that you can't dyno into, you have to catch it just as precisely as it gets. Anyway, the problem is great in my opinion, requiring lots of feet movements, with the added spice that you climb 20 cm off the ground, so if you cut loose you hit the gound and you have to start it all over. It also has a very tight heel hook that could require some more stretching from Keith!!! Sadly it's not 8b+ like "Geko assis" but I wish it were.
I highly recommend you to read the novel wich I got the problem's name from, "Vol de nuit" by Saint-Exupery. It's beautiful, romantic and tragic.
I have to say that I've been quite lucky to do it after a while, just after finding a harder but more steady beta for the pocket move, beacause once again I had been very very amateurish, not in my climbing (I'm used to that...) but in my nourishment, and that's the second time in the last two weeks. I hadn't eaten enough, and when I got there to do the problem I was trembling, starving, I was feeling dizzy and I had already eaten all my food for the day. I found some cookies in my climbing bag, and despite the fact that I couldn't remember when I'd put them there, I devoured them and managed to stay alive. Stupidly enough, while on a sugar induced high, I decided I could level out the landing of another dangerous problem, so having watched the Netherlands leg of the European Strongman Championship the night before, I started moving big long fallen trees around to put them across the nasty gully that is under the overhang. Naturally, as I dropped the last piece of wood, I found myself trembling again, cold sweating, so I rushed down to the car and drove one km lower to the hut, to eat some cereal bars. When I got back to the boulders I was completely spent and had to left my project without a try. It will be hard, adding a proper sitter to another existing problem which is already hard.
I have to remember this very well, it could have spoiled my only weekly climbing day. It nearly did.
I found out that the amount of time spent training is inversely proportional to the time actually spent on ze rock.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

REVELATIONS

I'm reading Jerry's book, and it's being a true revelation. I've always been a true fan of Ben Moon, maybe because he sported the dreadlocks, or maybe I just don't know why. I knew Jerry was just as good, but somehow I've always overlooked his figure.
What I've learnt from the book is very very simple: Jerry has been there and done that.
We all have desires, or maybe even dreams. Well, our desires, our dreams, are Jerry's life.
We can only try and follow his example.
Jerry on "Psycho".
Jerry wins Leeds '89.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

S'IO FOSSI FOCO...

A few days ago I had the chance to talk about Cecco Angiolieri to my grammar class. As you may know, one of the most important currents of Italian classical literature during the early middle age, has been the "Dolce stilnovo". These poets were pursuing the greek ideal of being "kalòs kai agathòs", founding the soon to come Rinascimento in an era still deep into war, violence and ignorance. One of the most characteristic traits of this current was the idealization of the female figure. If you read Dante's "La vita nova" or Petrarca's poems, you will read some of the most touching love lines, culminating in a true adoration of the chosen woman, which becomes a real gift from God, came on Earth "a miracol mostrare".
The center of this new literary era was naturally Florence. Few kilometers south of this paradise on Earth, in Siena, probably just a couple of days on a horse's back away (if you didn't want to travel by night...) a quite unique poet was writing some very different lines.
Cecco Angiolieri was a young poet from Siena, which represent the dark side of the Stilnovo. His destructive charge comes out every rhyme, and his poems talks about gambles, wine and women. There is no room for romanticism here. One of his most famous poems is the one that gives the title to this entry, and that I highly recommend that you read in Italian.

Its rough translation says:
"If I were fire, I'd burn the world.
If I were wind, I'd storm over it.
If I were water, I'd drawn it.
If I were God, I'd throw it in depths.
If I were Pope, I'd be rather happy,
because I'd cause trouble to every Christian.
If I were Emperor, you know what I'd do?
I'd chop everyone's head off.
If I were Death, I'd go to my father,
if I were life, I'd go away from him.
The same I'd do with my mother.
If I were Cecco, as I am and was,
I'd take the young and pretty women,
and leave the old and ugly to others."


Saturday, 18 July 2009

CHANGES

This climbing day at Amiata top has been under the sing of changement. First of all, all of a sudden during the night the weather turned baltic. Today it was around 14°, friday it was 39° in the fucking shade. Modern thermometers aren't powerful enough to measure Florence temps in the sun, that's why they always put them in the shade. It's been so good to boulder with a nice fresh breeze, I had taken my UKB hoodie out for the first time, and even if I took my girlfriend's one instead of mine, it's been excellent to climb in it. I hope that the psyche I transmitted to the hoodie will push my girl back into some bouldering.
Before going to the top, I wanted to do one problem that I had seen a few weeks ago in another area in the valley. It's a small face, with a good arete and a crimp and nothing more. It's very small, but the last time I tried in vain to do the sitter as I wanted, having to be content with the stand up start, from the crimp and the arete, a heelhook, a slap and a rockover. I judged it 7a. The sitter looked impossible. Then today I got there, I cleaned the leaves a bit better and hey! a new excellent foothold materialized from nowhere. This made the sitter super doable, and in fact I did it second go, judging it... 6c. I named it "Mutation", because either the rock created a new foothold in the last month, or I turned into a strong mofo. I think the first option is correct.
The topout isn't difficult, but it's a bit scrambly, it's dirty with moss and leaves and for a second I thought I was in a dangerous situation, also because the landing, although very close, hosts some rocks and pieces of fallen trees. In that moment, the image of Jerry soloing in Wales the day after completing Master's Wall, came to mind, just as I watched left, I chose a spot for my left foot and securely topped out. I may say I've bouldered with Jerry today, so much I've thought about him. Legend.
So with this quick success under my belt I proceeded towards Amiata top, where I immediately got to grips with my roof project. Blimey it's hard. I can do the first move, a long reach from a good undercling to a small crimp with bad feet. Then I can do the third move, a dyno from a bulge for the right hand to a good hold and the top. But the second move, to bring the right hand from the undercling to the bulge on the lip of the roof is absolutely nails. There could be another sequence, using the undercling left hand and dynoing right hand directly to the bulge, it's at my physical limit in terms of reach, dammit, otherwise it would have been almost perfect. I spent alot of time under that small roof, trying hard, but to no avail. It's very very hard, I think it's hard even for a tall guy with the dyno sequence, feet are terrible. I'll go back, but I definitely improved. At some point I realized I might have eaten not enough, because I started feeling a bit dizzy. Once my body started eating itself to get some calories, everything got fine again.
On my infamous bad bad day, two or three weeks ago, I had tried to do a traverse that ends in another established problem, a nasty sitstart to an arete (again). I couldn't do it that day, and I couldn't do it today, but today I was damn close, but had absolutely nothing left after trying too many sequences to gain the crimpy three finger pocket with the left hand as it's necessary to do. Next time I'll do it and I will name it "Fame di stelle" (Hunger for stars), a quote from a novel by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
So that's it, my weekly day out has gone, I am a bit sad because I wanted to stay but couldn't. Can't wait to be back out bouldering.
Here are two pics from past year, showing the higher moves of "Mai dire male" which is the arete joined by "Fame di stelle" traverse.


Friday, 17 July 2009

Sunday, 12 July 2009

'TIL YOU GO YOU NEVER KNOW

I went there and did it.
I did the sitstart that was supposed impossible. It seemed impossible because I hadn't understood the right sequence, despite Caminati's informations: when a local came along to say ciao and clearly explained where to put my feet (I had them switched in my sequence), I did the problem on my second go. Second fucking go. I have spent at least two good sessions trying to make my beta work.
Well, my name is now beside only three other names, as far as that problem goes. All the others are mega wads, so I'm pretty well chuffed. Noone thinks Caminati's grade is correct, and that made me a bit less paranoid. Anyway, the grade does not matter anymore, now it's just another red pen mark in my ticklist.
I went there all fucking alone, in my van, driving three hours just for that problem. It rained on the way, and for a few kilometers I thought about going back to the motorway and speed to the Dolomites for a foolish meeting with my friends, but then I kept going. I arrived only to find the forest soaked, but my problem was ust humid. I dried it with all the attention I could, the rock was fresh and I could feel all the small grains under my fingers. I had arrived there confident of the send, but then my beta was nearly impossible without good conditions, my right toe hook regularly slipping off. I was sad and disappointem but I kept thinking that I had another day, and that the forecast was good. So, when the two guys stopped by for a chat, I was shocked in discovering I had completely missed the sequence, making the proper sitter almost impossible. One of my friends told me that he had done the problem third try, and I thought "Yes, that's because you're fucking strong and tall you motherfucker!". Then you already know what happened. Sadly no camera was rolling, so you'll have to be happy with just today's footage put together (today it was boiling, btw). I can clearly recall the surprise of hitting perfectly the horrible undercling with the left hand; I can recall how hard it's been to cut loose and get my left foot far left on a very small spike. I can recall the sensation of still being there, and thinking "Ok let's try it" charging the dyno to the right. I got the arete and held it, and then I thought "Ok now it's time to see if you're a man or if you manage to screw this beautiful thing you've just done". I went for the lip with calm and power, and I knew I wasn't going to miss it. I screamed and screamed and swore from the top, and I heard, after a while, my voice echoing towards the lake. I was spent and happy. Thanks to Matteo an Alberto for the right sequence, but the rest goes to me, only to me, because I was there alone, because I train alone, because I am alone on this path.


Friday, 10 July 2009

WTF?

I had an excellent session at the gym today.
Why? I really don't know. There was nothing different from other sessions that went bad, I had worked today, my back was a bit achey, in the gym it was 29° and 60% humidity, but somehow I felt good.
I was scheduled to do the second fingerboard session of this new cycle, but it lasted short, because I felt the urge to climb. I just did some one arm deadhangs, and a couple of one armers, then I put my shoes on.
One problem with a nasty move that I had never
done saw me sticking the move three times in a row and proceeding at full speed ahead. One other under the 60° wall (my home away from home) gave me a great sensation of control of my body and that made me happy again, excellent body tension (well, excellent for me at least), precise movements.
So the first week is over, two weights sessions and two fingerboarding sessions. I'm tired, but less tired than at the beginning of the week: for the first session of weights I chose to play it safe, with good volume and many reps to have some muscle conditioning, but alot of excercises and 4 sets of 12 moves each rewarded me with a full 48
hours of DOMS. It felt much better yesterday, even if a bit tired at the lat machine, which I am using with one arm, with a handle.
Anyway, tomorrow it seems I'm going bouldering. My friends went to taste Dolomites for the first time in the summer (crazy fucking rainy summer so far up there), but I didn't feel like going 100%. Yesterday it had rained again, so the boulders are going to be wet, and I didn't want to just do long routes, plus the day my girlfriend will graduate is rapidly approaching and her final thesis is being finished, so I chose to go a little bit closer.
The goal of the weekend is to climb "Cogli l'attimo", a problem at Lagoni area, put up by power monster Caminati hims
elf and graded 7c. Ah ah, 7c my ass.
This problem is tricky. It's supposed to be a sitter, but if I sit start I can't reach any foothold (it's a roof), so last year I tried it and almost did it starting from the pads: Michele told me the sequence, so I know that it's definitely ok to start like that, a sort of crouching start, but I would like to do a proper sitter tomorrow, even if I know it will be excruciatingly, horribly, annoyingly hard. I will hate it.
You are under a roof, you have a one tip downfacing hold with a razor lip. If you crouch start, you throw your right foot far right, to toe hook the arete of the roof, and you paste your left fo
ot under the roof, on the softest footholds ever found. They break as you brush them (damn sanstone!). So, from this very uncomfy position, you have to pull really hard (but not so hard that you cut loose) to get a horrible undercling, then you keep yourself tight and go for the arete, which happens to be quite slopey, you switch toe for heel hook, you brace yourself and then you dyno with your right hand to the goodish bit, then to the jug. Four moves in total, really really brutal.
To explain how hard it felt to me last year, I can only tell you that I was worried for my right bicep to explode when holding the arete (touching wood) so strenuous a move it was.

So tomorrow I want to sit start this nightmare, and that means just pulling footless on the edge and try to grab the arete with your right foot, then do all the above.
Finally, my thoughts today went to the problem up at Città dei Sassi I wrote about past november (150 days until June), and to how much I want to do it.