Friday, 30 January 2009

ITALIAN LEGENDS 4

Alberto Gnerro, I think, needs little introduction. Playing with the top guys from ages, his epic battles on 45 minutes long onsights are part of Italian history. He did sport 8a on sight after three years of climbing!!!
Anyway, a true power monster, he's well renown for locking off crimps at waist level. One famous competitor whose name I won't reveal here, once said "Luckily Alberto can't bear the psychological pressure in comps, otherwise the World Cup would have had one dominator for the last ten years."
One other strong italian climber, once commented "Between me and Aberto there's the same power gap that's between my grandmother and me."
Anyway, he was said to have done one pull up with 100 kilos on. Finally, during an interview, he was asked to clear the gossips. He loudly said "That's absolutely not true, it's completely fake!" Turns out he stopped at 98.

Visit www.doctorgnerro.it!


Tuesday, 27 January 2009

THE THIN LINE

Having to cycle to and from work every day, the journey can become a bit boring, unless you set yourself a few tasks, and no task is better, more fascinating and more enjoyable than speeding.
So, as soon as I leave the 4 lanes rush-hour roads, and put my front wheel in the city center, the stop watch starts counting.
The rules are very simple.
Here's what you can't do:
- you can't use the brakes;
- you can't put foot on the ground;
- you can't run over pedestrians;
- you can't grab a car or motorbike to be pulled;
- you can't use the bikeways, that's cheating.
Here's what you can do:
- you can ride on pavements;
- you can speed through red traffic lights;
- you can ride in the wrong direction on one way roads;
- you can ride on the wrong lane on two ways roads.
Here's what you have to do:
- you have to arrive safe.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

HMMMM...

Well, I feel something different. It's something that is so deeply related to my personal life that I can't talk about it here: the few of you fortunate enough to share some time at the boulders or in the gym with me will hear the full story from my mouth and will understand.
Suffice to say that it's been a very hard period, that challenged me on so many fronts. The fight of life can't be fought alone, and now that I'm again completely sure that I'm not alone, I feel renewed.
I am also ready to completely follow what my shoulder tells me. I know that I'm ok strong, the small vid on the last entry gives me confidence: it starts when I was already hanging, and after some seconds being able to pull and one arm the hold (even if my shoulder told me not to finish it) means something. So as I said some time ago, I (we?) can perform at best when I'm one between my body and my mind, and that's one thing that clearly now I'm not. My shoulders hinders my mind, and my mind affects everything, so I'd better keep my nerves cool and take my time.
I know this entry isn't very clear or interesting, but hey I'm not Tolstoj.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

CURIOSITY

I've had a very strange weekend. I woke up saturday morning feeling more than tired, feeling depressed. I had rested on saturday, after a brief talk with The Guru, for this reason: I was coming from three days on, training hard; there was some chance to go out on saturday, so it was better to rest on friday and boulder on sunday; if I wasn't climbing on saturday, I could have put in a good session after some rest.
Well, I wanted to go climbing, but Sasso was going to be wet, especially the problem I would have gone there for. Amiata and the roof was another chance, but a send was out of sight, because of my shoulder on the first hard move. Luca decided to go for two days, with his van, leaving friday night, that was one thing I couldn't do. For once, I didn't feel like driving two hours on my own to go to Amiata, and moreover I wanted to give a treat to my shoulder.
I didn't do any of the smart things that I could have done. I didn't climb, I didn't rest, I didn't train. I decided to go to the gym, but was tired and absolutely on a very low psyche, so I just climbed a little bit with little success and a final painful and stupid strain on my shoulder.
I should have called a friend, and gone to Amiata for a nice day out, rehearsing the crux moves on the roof and enjoying life.
I managed somehow to do some tests, and I definitely have improved on the fingerboard, so that's good.
What I want to understand now is: why I was that depressed on saturday morning? Probably because on friday night I really reflected on how much I miss climbing more, and in different places. This is one thing that isn't going to be fixed anytime soon, so I'd better get to work to arrange my future without whining, trying to take the best from what I have now.
The idea of being deprived of something in terms of time to be dedicated to climbing is always with me. Because, let's face it, the gym does not count. Not for me. That's training, that's a tool. The aim is another, is out there, is on rock: on sandstone, on granite, on limestone; in Cresciano, in Font, buried under tons of snow in the Dolomites.
Everywhere but here. It's very hard for me now, to keep the focus and the will to go on, waiting for the moment when I'll try to reap my reward. I clearly know that just going climbing somewhere isn't enough for me to be sure that I send one of my projects, but not being able to even try, to fight, is so hard. I lose my focus, everything seems the same, session after session, just very little changes, small feelings: one move particularly well executed; one very powerful lock; one clear sensation of lightness on the problems. I have to chase these feelings, these rapis ghosts that pass in front of my eyes. I have to believe. I have to believe that one day I will have all the time I need, to climb at my best. I have to believe that when that time will come, I WILL climb at my best. Can I be sure about this? No. Only when I'll be there I will know. I'm not a man of sureness. I am a man of doubts, that's why I train so much. I want to have alot in my tank to prevent me from screwing things up when it comes to mind games. I know many things. I feel many other things. All the rest I guess. All the rest I dream. What I can do now is to work hard to get at that moment as prepared as I can be. That's what I do.


video

Friday, 16 January 2009

BUTTERFLY EFFECT

Well, I finally see the end of this first period of training. Eight weeks of hard work, of skin lost on the holds, of shins grated while sliding off from the volumes, of crimping, locking, throwing, falling.
I still am unsure at which level I stand at.
One thing is sure, I made progresses. Wednesday I had another system boarding session, and at the end I compared the feelings with my first sessions of the same type. Well, I failed to have a precise comparison, because I had performed the same excercise, but from worse starting holds and with 6 and then 10 kilos on. This is progress, for sure. Not only in power terms, but, and that's equally important, in terms of the ability of moving well.
Yesterday I was smashed though. I had a brief session, mostly climbing easy stuff and posing for pictures for a photographer that was there, called by I don't know who.
At some poin though, I decided to try one problem, that I had tried a very few times before, and that felt very very hard, and strange. Well, yesterday I cruised all the lower part that I had judged too hard for me, and fell from high when my right heel popped from the placement and sent me on the mats with another open shin.
Well, it' s just a few moves. Just a few moves. But the spin effect is enormous. I did those moves knowing that I wasn't going to come down. I could cut loose on every move, because it felt easier than swapping feet on the same hold. I was climbing effortlessly, gently scrolling each hand before reaching to the next hold. I didn't finish the problem, I didn't need to. The sensation of being very very light will stay with me for long I'm sure.
We have to read between the lines. Whe have to be butterflies: gently moving our wings to cause storms on the other side of the world.

ITALIAN LEGENDS 3

In isolation one day before an international comp, the Italian bouldering team was warming up.
Lucas Preti, strong puller and experienced and successful competitor (top 15 in the bouldering World Cup), asked Cristian Core to set for him a traverse to warm his fingers up. Core set to work, chose the holds and did the traverse. Then came Lucas' turn. He started and failed on every move.
Core looked at him and gently said: "Hey Lucas, are you tired?"

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

ITALIAN LEGENDS 2

This will be a very brief post. Brief but long enough to remind you all that Mauro Calibani, former World Champ and infamous puller, some years ago broke one rib by locking off too much while sport climbing.

Monday, 12 January 2009

SOMETHING NEW


Sunday I wanted to rest. Needless to say, I received a phone call at 10 pm on saturday night from Luca, suggesting we both go to Amiata and the roof.
I resisted for almost 5 seconds before fixing for the next morning. Luca had his eyes on "Il primo dei moicani", the line I sent in january past year, and after a few unsuccessful tried he managed it. Screaming out of his mind he held the cut loose when you go far right, and then worked his way up. His base level is still very high, as he always complains about being over weight!!!
I had my eyes on the direct line, and didn't do it, but I managed all the single moves in the session (never happened before): just getting the crimp from the undercling without cutting loose saw my eyes open up in disbelief, so that I pulled on to continue the rest of the problem, but was so excited that completely missed the feet placements and jumped off.
I had previously tried the last move, a hard slap to the final jug, that goes up and left, so you're basically making a cross through dyno from the undercling pinch. Savage. I set my feet on and went: I didn't get the hold, I went over it ten centimeters. Success!!!
It was on. I started to think I could do it in the session, so I set myself for the KO hit. Well, I went down. The referee counted me up to eight, I managed to stand up again and complete the match with a draw: when I went for the first hard move, the dyno to the big edge from the left hand shitty pinch, I caught it, but my shoulder got really really strained and the acid taste of pain surged to my mouth. Game over for the day. Luckily I managed to execute all the other moves another couple of times, but at this moment my skin, unused to the sharp rock (and to rock in general, sadly), didn't want to cooperate.
A mixture of tiredness, satisfaction and rationality told me to stop, to take it easy and to rejoyce in the sun. It was sunny, it was warm, I was powerful from the morning (warmed up on "Arrostino's Wall" and got to the crimp three times in a row).
So finally I went to have a look at a new problem that Caminati had put up on the opposite face of the roof boulder, a slightly overhanging wall with some crimps and slopey dishes for two fingers. After a first temptative try, a bit scared by falling backwards with a heelhook behind a rock, I set to battle again and squeezed the shit out of those holds until I was on top. I think around 7a+ or 7b.
I really liked how I climbed that one, it's the way I always try to climb now: controlled, precise and definitive. Don't try to execute the move: crush the move. Don't just get the hold how you can and then adjust: lock off until your biceps are so tight that they modify the gravity of the area, and destroy the hold. I'm not good at climbing dynamically, because I feel I lack precision in the movement, so until I work this out (if I care) I'll keep climbing as precisely and powerfully as I can.
It's been a gorgeous sunday, not only for the feats in themselves, but also because they happened while I have seven fucking weeks of training on my body and this is something to reflect about. It's been gorgeous also because I managed to climb hard while being relaxed, because my shoulder is recovering even if I bash it, because Luca sent his project and because we climbed in the full baking sun of southern Tuscany.
I hope all of you have had a similar Sunday.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

ITALIAN LEGENDS 1

Ok, with this post I would like to start a series of tales about italian climbing and climbers that are particularly funny, or notable for some reason.
Disclaimer: the stories I will tell are mostly legends, things heard from 3rd or 4th hand sources, and are meant not to offend the featured climbers or persons, but at the very opposite, to spotlight their climbing ability and, more over, power. Please feel free to point out any offensive aspect and I will be more than happy to remove it, with my anticipate excuses.
These stories, I know, may easily be false, but as climbers need inspiration, I hope they are true.

I will start with something I was told a few weeks ago, while bouldering in Varazze. Many of you may have heard about this place and its strict grading, especially in the higer grades. The local of this climbing area is power monster, twice world champ and national climbing treasure Cristian Core. I have clearly in my mind a video of him walking up "New base line" Font 8b+ like a path.
Anyway, many many years ago, at an international competition, Core was the first one to go out in the finals. He flashed the first problem and headed back into isolation. While there he crossed his eyes with the second competitor who was going in, other Italian Riccardo "Sky" Scarian, sport 9a climber, and Manolo's best disciple, who at the time used to compete.
Core whispered to him: "Easy Sky, it's around 6c+, you do it for sure".
Needless to say, Sky failed, as every other competitor who tried to climb the problem.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

FINGERS

Tonight at the gym I had one of the best sessions of the last weeks. I didn’t even put my shoes on. After many weeks I got back into some fingerboarding. Why? Because The Guru said so. You always follow what The Guru says. Always. Anyway, after a gentle and long warm up, I tried to figure out the right way to test my fingers deeply without deeply detaching my injured shoulder (I’m going to the phisio tomotrrow). I found out that even in this simple game the right technique is essential: I need to have my body perfectly under the hold, to be in balance and not to have any other strain than the one on the fingers. Then, at that moment, I try to pull the hold down as to one arm it. Despite all this demonstration of technique and style, the exercise proved to be a bit too dangerous for my shoulder, so I moved under the magic crimps that I also put on The Mother of All Fingerboards, that are pictured above. I had seldom tried to hang those holds (by the way, they were made as foot holds), but to no avail. Bad skin, humidity and something else didn’t allow my finger to stay where my mind wanted. Today, the gym was freezing cold, as usual, but my skin was far better than lately (I’ve started to use less chalk and to take longer rests) and I found myself weightless. When I was living at the sea I had briefly tested myself on those holds, with a PB of 8 seconds, as Tom and Rich surely will remember, and my few tries as of late were close to that (to be honest under that). Well, my best two efforts today have been 19,8 and 21,7 seconds. Big numbers. I am the greatest.
Then, Cresciano. I have learnt a lot from my infamous weekend in Varazze. I don’t think it’s casual that my climbing days after that have been relaxed and generally laid back. Ok, this is largely due to my injury, but I feel it. I started trying to keep a very low profile, to be humble, with my feet firmly planted on the ground. Then, I unleash everything I have as I leave Mother Earth. Anyway, I went to Cresciano just to exchange the first fists with “Frank’s Wild Years”, one of my ticks for this year, very very high in my priority list. Everything else was thrown away. Ok, so I tried it for just half an hour, in bad conditions, with melting snow everywhere, holds included, but worked my way into it. I found out where exactly to hold the pinch (it makes a lot of difference, as I should have learnt by myself), where to pass my right knee to take off the left heel hook, where to heel hook with the right. I still have to decide which one of the smears to use for the crux moves, the match on the pinch and the dyno to the good edge (was that static to that jug?). I am short, as some of you may know, so I’m very stretched out if I use the same foothold as everyone else (the one further apart), but the closer one (the one just left of where you paste your right shoe to take the left heel off) maybe is a bit too close. Anyway I will sort this out. Later that day I tried “Hannibal Lechter” that is very nice but a little bit too similar to a route: no really hard moves but a lot of them, and also some nasty slaps to pointy holds: one of them obviously, cut a hole in my middle finger dammit. All in all a very nice problem and a very good day. With these small successes in the bag, the following day, with very poor conditions, I tried “La Pioche” and its strangely hard first move, that felt anyway doable. Then I crushed it from one move into it. Twice. The topout is still tricky but I think I was using the wrong foot hold. Same impression as for “Hannibal”, one stopper move and many more easier ones. Too many perhaps, so many that they could easily spoil the rest of a climbing day for my current stamina standards. At the end of the afternoon I tried the famous slopey 7b traverse nearly doing it (just kept sliding off) and then a nice 7c small arĂȘte that’s near “Voci dalla cantina”. I think I can do it and I really want to because I really liked it, short and powerful.
Ok, so that’s all, climbing wise. Seeya.

Monday, 5 January 2009

SEX AND THE PINCHES

Can you distinguish training from making love, just by hear? No, you can't.

video

Sunday, 4 January 2009

SEX AND THE BOULDERS

I just got back from my first sexual bouldering trip.
I went to Cresciano with fellow puller Luca, but don't panic, none of us got into some strange adventure with nor men neither women, but the whole three days of our stay were full of sexual moments.
First of all, at the border the lady who sold us the Swiss autoroutes pass, thought we were going to the Casino and made strange comments. When we replied that we were going climbing, she asked "Where?", I said "Cresciano" and she replied "Oh, that's in Italy, no?" and we left.
Then the search to find a hotel proved to be the best part of the journey. After many unsuccessfull tries, while heading back towards Bellinzona, we bumped in a motel near the outskirts of town. In the parking lot there were a few men talking and smoking (it was - 5°), we parked and went in. A deserted bar with ball room welcomed us. At a table in the middle of the entrance room, a posh lady was casually reading some 1372pages worth of a book, probably Tolkien at first glance. I crossed her eys and felt something. I was about to ask what was she doing there, but resisted. Then came the owner (of both, the place and the girl probably), and we asked for a room. He said "We don't rent rooms. And by the way they are all reserved." I didn't take the time to show him the evident contradiction he'd just fallen into, and after he suggested another hotel, we left again. The parking lot was now full of men with Mercedes, with big smiles on their faces. I will never tell you where this place is.
We got to the second place, the one that the pimp master had suggested, and we were greeted by the concierge, a very polite and elegant guy with a penchant for males. Immediately after giving us the room keys and immediately claiming the money, he told us that we could go, the following morning, to the Lago Maggiore for a nice walk, and also to see all the towns adorned with crystal christmas bells. After watching our puzzled glances, he realized our tastes were different from his, and quickly suggested another destination, pointing out that there we could find "Beautiful girls".
So this were the first hours in the land of bouldering paradise, where, incidentally, prostitution is legal, in care you're interested.
As for me, I shared for three nights small rooms with a guy who's most frequent question are "Could you suck my dick?" and "Could you wank me?".
In between this all, I also managed to climb.