Friday, 31 December 2010
Friday, 24 December 2010
Then, I don't know why, some old reminiscence from my high school studies came to my mind, and I realized that the best thing to do is to simply point you at a couple of classics for you enjoy.
Fragment 58 from Alcmane, the so called "Nocturnal":
"They sleep, the mountain crags and gullies,
headlands and brooks, and the whole race
of footed creatures and black earth pulls from
mountain beasts and the republic of bees,
and vast fish looming in hollows
of purple sea: they sleep,
too, birds with wide, cloud-tipped wings..."
Sappho, fragment 182:
"I have a beautiful child who looks like golden flowers, my darling Cleis, for whom I would not take all Lydia or lovely..."
Alcaeus of Mytilene:
"Now we must get drunk and drink whether we want to or not. Myrsilus is dead."
It's all been said and done.
Sunday, 28 November 2010
Am I a complete fool? Fo' sho'.
Because friday night I drove five hours on my own to go to Brione and try "Amber"; because saturday, midway in the valley, it was already -6°; because I wandered in the snow for two and half hours to find that little motherfucker of a problem; because the bottom of my trousers froze; because in putting on a shoe, my skin was so cold that I ripped a 2x2 cm hole in my right heel; and finally because I failed on the problem in the most spectacular way. To really give the idea of how epically I failed, one single language is not enough: I should use all the four languages I know, to give you all a pale idea of my failure, but now don't have enough time. In a few weeks I wil start a Chinese language course, maybe a fifth language will help.
And you know what? I don't fucking care. It's been great.
I have learnt so much from this story, but now I don't want to tell anything more. I just want to glow in the blinding light of my failure.
Sunday, 21 November 2010
I've got mixed feelings about climbing and climbers as of late. I'm losing interest for most things related to climbing, and when I happen to read something, it pisses me off.
One of the things that makes me furious, is the hypocrisy that permeates the climbing environment, especially at the high levels of those who are the hot shots of the moment. When the shit hits the fan, the shit is often provided by climbers, but the fan is often provided by 8a.idiots.nu. I hate them, sad, poor people who try to cause a stir between climbers whenever they can, I can't think about sadder people.
The hypocrisy I talk about, often involves grading. I hate how those who declare to care the less about grades, in reality show their obsession about grades.
I hate the way they try to make grades universal, the way they try to get a general consensus: in this, they show the desire to incapsulate climbing into precise boundaries and classifications, and I hate them both.
In nature, there is nothing such a rock climb, or a boulder problem, or a marble statue: there is only rock, boulders, and marble. The climb, the problem and the statue are just human creations. So, there are no grades in themselves, there are only climbers, and each climber is an individual who can only experience one experience at a time, therefore, even inside each climber's experience, everything is subjective.
One thing that almost makes me want to get hold of an axe and start swinging it around, is their cry: "ohhh, my god, where will our sport go, with this foolish grading inflation?". Fucking idiots. They should thank their god or who the fuck they believe in, because they are talented and can go around and just climb the whole time. "ohhh, my god where is our fucking WORLD going?" should be the only question for each one of us.
In his book "I Promessi Sposi", Alessandro Manzoni uses the metaphor of two cocks that are tied together and are being brought to the market to be sold, killed and cooked, and still they fight and they hurt each other. This is what I see happening now: individuals that try to prevail on each other, despite having no future in the long run. Climbing is one of the most individualistic activities a man can perform. A man is always alone on the wall, even when roped up: I like to use the image of the tail gunner on the old IIWW bombers. Unluckily, this individualism, can team, sometimes, with selfishness and egotism. Fair enough. But for fucks sake, man up and take the courage to show your true nature.
You think you're the strongest? Well, do like Jerry and tell it to everyone. He had the balls and that's why he'll be always remembered as one of the great ones.
But not many ones want to show some meat, so they adopt this false modest attitude and they say: "ohh, I can't climb that grade that fast, so it must be alot easier". Fuck off. Man up and take the courage to say "I destroyed that shit, that's why it's soft".
I hate this yoga-driven, hugs and kisses, xmas feelings filled climbing.
You think that grade is soft? Who the fuck cares. You think an entire area is under-graded? Who the fuck cares. You are pissed because by calling a 7c 8b+ someone got a sponsorship? Who the fuck cares. Did he steal that from you? Who the fuck cares. Didn't he? Even better, who the fuck cares.
You can either: shut the fuck up and keep it to yourself (always the best idead); or take the courage to be honest.
One thing is for sure. If I were one of the strong ones, I'd be the baddest motherfucker around. I'd make kids cry and climbers go away. Then I'd crush the hardest thing around and fucking leave. Why? because it'd be fun.
Tuesday, 16 November 2010
I hadn't climbed on Sunday, as said I just started fixing the landing on the project, and knowing that I would not climb today, I decided to go for a little bit of power AND volume: pull ups, that is.
I did my routine of 5 pull ups in 10 seconds for 6 sets for each hold type. I did the first three sets with my legs in an L-seat, to give my belly a good beasting.
Then I started working my way through the harder holds, and with some surprise I found myself completing all the pull ups on holds I previously found very hard, like the back 2 and the mid 2 on the small pockets. I also completed again all the hangs on the small monos, and started working them on index fingers also.
I finished the session (and my muscle fibers) with a generous set on the small rungs: 10 seconds hang back 3 immediately followed by 5 pull ups with a normal 4 fingers half crimp.
By the end of that last set my forearms were sweating lactic acid and I was the strongest man on Earth (in my mind), with a total of 240 pull ups. Not much, if compared to the true monsters, but hey, you have to start somewhere.
So I'm happy, especially for the back 2, but also for the volume, which, on the moment, I handled quite well; now, though, I feel the bastard evil monsters called DOMS creep up my back and arms. Aminoacid pills and some huge sandwiches should address them right, waiting for dinner.
Now I will start splitting these sessions into pulling sessions and hanging sessions: this way I should be able to start working other grip types without having to take a day off from work to have the necessary time. Yesterday it all took more than two hours.
The future will see adding some weights to both my Beast sessions and on the wall, because I bought a weight vest (thanks to Paul's suggestions); then I will start doing maximal hangs, two armed, on the holds I find the hardest to manage, like small monos (middle and index fingers), 45°, slopey pockets front 2, small rungs back 3 and front 3.
This should keep me busy for a while. The sky's the limit, and the aim is to tick my first Font 8b ON THE BEASTMAKER, following the Beasts' charts (I accept suggestions for short, 2/3 moves routines of that overall grade to be done footless - and yes, I am DEAD SERIOUS and also completely nuts).
So now I have some good sessions quite refined: volume sessions, two armed maximal hangs sessions and one armed maximal hangs sessions. It feels as some kind of training porn.
What else? Oh, yes, these next weeks should see the birth of the first hard core, old school wall in town: courtesy of fellow crusher, one arm 90° lock off record holder (55 seconds, blimey!) Cristiano, "The Wailing Wall" is nearly there, in his garage.
This will bring new psyche and power, beyond the imaginable. According to Jerrys's suggestions and inspiration, we chose the holds so that "for the first month we must not be able to link more than one move". The plan is to complete the first problem five months from now.
And that's entertainment.
Sunday, 14 November 2010
Today, after thinking about it and talking about it far too much, I finally pulled the proverbial finger out, and with fellow crusher Nicco I went to Sasso, just to start building a decent landing under the infamous overhang project.
This is a stellar line, found many years ago, when the idea of the perfect bouldering day was still to climb as many problems as possible. Another era.
Now the idea is to climb the hardest problems. This is one of those. The breakage of a crucial hold moved the grade up that little bit that can make all the difference.
Unluckily it has, or should I say "it had", a terrible landing of jagged rocks. One of these little bastards, together with my idiocy, manged to snap my right ankle two weeks ago, and I wasn't even climbing... Today I tried to beast that small rock into submission only to find out that it's a very big rock whose top only is visible. Despite managing to shift it a little bit I wasn't able to turn it on its flat side, so I decided to fill it all around with logs: one must know when to change his mind.
Then we patioed most of the rest of the landing, and we reckon that with another visit it will be done.
So, after fixing the landing, I will start working the problem and then I will do it. As simple as it gets.
Is this interesting to read? No, but it's important. Ciao.
Sunday, 7 November 2010
At the time, all I could do to move up in the sport climbing scale, was to hang and pull small bits of wood in my parents' house cellar, surrounded by spiderwebs covering old and precious wine bottles, while listening to heavy metal audio tapes.
On friday, when at the phone with my climbing friends to arrange the weekend, each one of us would ask the others the same question: "did you train this week?" and each one of us, each time, would give the same answer: "not at all. I was too busy.".
The following day, you could see people lock down small crimps to the hips with a huge grin.
This went on for 8 years. 8 years of fingerboarding in a cellar. Then came the campus board, and it felt like having the greatest training facility in the world. Then, three years ago, I finally knew what's like to have a climbing wall in your own town, when I moved to Florence.
Now I am back to 1993.
The wall is no longer there and what is available for the moment is not enough to satisfy my Wille Zur Macht. Slightly overhanging walls with big holds are NOT the way forward.
So it's back to the future for me: back to the fingerboard to get to the future of my climbing. And I fucking love it. I really do love this shit. The harder it gets to move forward, the harder I push, the stronger I get, both physically and mentally. The more I put into it, the more I get back. So, each one of you, please, take a look into yourselves, see your future and do everything you can to get there. You'll love it.
Tuesday, 19 October 2010
Monday, 11 October 2010
It's been no gimmie. I was sure I was going to do it, but I must admit that at times doubt creeped into my fragile mind.
I also made a few schoolboy errors. I decided to warm up on easy problems, and that's what I did, but that warm up turned to be many problems long. I also managed to get me a microscopic but incredibly deep slice in my right ring finger; the idea of having to tape it up wasn't very appealing, given that "Islero" only offers slopers to be compressed, but I had to. Then, somehow in Chironico I managed to lose both my brushes, and I didn't have my brush stick. My friend neither, so I didn't know how to brush the holds from the patina of humidity first, and from the excess chalk later. I resolved firstly to brush them using a chestnut shell but it proved to be painful, so I used my metal brushes with all the needed delicacy. I can be delicate at times.
Anyway, it was time. I had the sequence in my mind, and I executed. I felt strong on all the moves up to the last tricky move, where I missed the hold and fell. Then I fell again on the following try, but on the fucking second move. I had gone from almost doing the problem first go, to being unable to stick two moves in a row. "This shit is hard!" I thought.
In just two goes the problem had take its toll out of me. I tried again the second move and was able to do it in isolation, but not on every go. Shocking. Doubts. Fear. I wanted to get it done on that session.
I found out a slightly different option for my left foot, and there I went again. And again I fell on the high move of the first try. "This shit is definitely hard".
This move is a bit precarious: you have a good hold on the arete for your right hand, and a decent pinch for the left hand; you have a left drop knee, right foot on a bad foothold, and you have to bump again your left hand to a higher pinch, but you have to get into it, precisely, you can't overshoot and fall onto it.
I decided to see if I could skip this tricky move, moving out from a hold that is easily 20 cm below with a harder but less tricky move. It worked. It was on, but the phantom of the second move was hanging around.
I set off, and the moves started coming. I flew past the second move not without a serious effort, and I found myself at the higher part; I had my new sequence and despite feeling a bit of grease on a hold (I can't even recall which one), I kept going and found myself with my right hand on the jug. I matched, and then I decided to cut loose: for a nanosecond I though about the possibility of falling off, but when I realized my though I was already good on the jug, and at that moment, I don't know why instead of heelhooking again on the arete with my right foot, I just campused to the final jugs and toped out.
My friend told me that when I held the (minimal, to be honest) swing, a huge smile appeared on my face, and I believe him.
I let go a scream of joy and a horrible swear, then I got down. It was done. I had a plan and I had stuck to it.
On the way home, we found a terrible queue to get into Florence, so I got a bit angry on the phone with the girl, and she told me "Hey don't spoil your great day, think about the problem!" and time passed easily while I was reliving those moments.
Minutes later, I saw a beautiful girl at the wheel of a car to our right in the queue. I smiled at her when we moved forward, and when they caught us I was surprised to see her smile back to me. So this nice flirt went on for a few times as we moved forward and then she followed, until we got to the motorway and she disappeared. It's been very very nice.
Today I stuck to the second part of the plan, with a good Beastmaker session on one armed dead hangs.
KEEEP THAT FUCKING FAITH.
Sunday, 10 October 2010
I have a plan.
Today I go to Amiata new sector, where I climb "Islero sit start".
Tomorrow I will leave everything else in terms of climbing behind, and I will only be thinking, breathing, eating, dreaming my two projects.
I think this is the first time I speak so openly about them, and somehow it's liberating. The fact that my projects could be a strong climber's warmup is of no importance: those are projects for me, so I have to prepare for them as they require. The other fact, that I no longer have a wall to train and climb at, is again of no importance: I will do the best that I can with what I have, and that must do. How can I tell? It's very simple: because I will keep doing it until it will do.
I have a bouldering project, which is climbing Font 8b.
And for the first time in a decade, I have a sport climbing project, which is climbing an 8c.
These two dreams will come into reality under the gentle forms of "Amber" in Brione, and "Sanjski Par" in Misja Pec.
There are many reasons for my choice of these two fine pieces of climbing. For "Amber", it's because it's beautiful, and although maybe a bit complex on the logistics, it's perfect for me because I can climb it on my own, without having to search for a spotter, a thing that I require very often and for sure I will need for my other projects that are close to where I live. It may sound as a paradox, but it's easier for me to drive 400 kms on my own only to go and do "Amber", than to find two spotters for a boulder that is one hour away. I know there are friends who would come, but climbing Font 8b will be hard on its own, I don't need the extra pressure of always finding a partner.
Then, "Sanjski Par". Another project that is hours and hours away. I don't care. I spent one of my best climbing weekends there with Tadej this past winter, and I just fell in love with the route. It's everything I search in a route: short, powerful, low to the ground and historical.
Now it's time. Oh yeah it's time.
Saturday, 9 October 2010
Sunday, 3 October 2010
Testing testing 1,2,3...
A new problem on "Souvenir" boulder.
An excellent 7a and an excellent pic from Fede.Filo spotting.
I didn't try anything for more than 5 minutes, despite feeling very strong especially the saturday morning, before skin loss and lactic acid made a strong couple. In hindsight I think I sould have tried "Komilator" because it was early morning and cool, and I fondled the holds and felt really really strong. It's all in the mind, so I think I could have followed the call. Anyway.
Everyone ticked for two days, with an impressively fast ascent of "Birds" from Filo. I got home smashed with a big bunch of 7's flashed. It's been good and relaxing to release the pressure of projects for once, and just enjoy the volume, which luckily always teamed with quality.
This pressure will come back for sure very soon, and I will be comfortable with it.
So after this trip I took four days off to recover skin and muscle fibers, and went back to the Beast for some quick recruitment.
It was a long time since the last time, especially the one arm dead hangs, so I was eager to test my strength loss.
Surprise surprise: I found strength gains. I held the 45° slopers three times, even if for just two or three seconds and with a slight nestle, but it's been a huge huge step forward. Then I managed to hang the back two pockets for what seemed an eternity, easily in the 30 seconds range. I held the 35° slopers one armed with some ease and also the small three finger pockets. The way is clearly this one.
I went on rock yesterday, in humid, terrible conditions, but again with good friends Mark and Bengio, pullers of Amiata rock. Spirits were high, fingers were strong and despite not being able to repeat the sitter of "Mind the Gap" (7c?), I beasted into submission the proper sitter to "Islero". The original problem started from a rock, because I wanted to get it done and because it's logical, but it's also logical not to sit on the rock and grab the lowest holds. At the end of the day, frustrated (nomen omen? surely not) from the other problem, I thought "let's try it" and magically did all the moves, quickly linking them from the sitter to the last third of the problem. Now I cant' wait to get back on it to give it full birth. "Islero" will become a perfect sitter and probably an easy 8a.
Next weekend I will go to Rome for "U2" in concert, then probably Amiata sunday for some bullfighting.
Sunday, 12 September 2010
I have sport climbed. That's interesting, because I enjoyed it alot again and also got good results, in terms of a nice 7c+ done second go.
Then I have trained more.
The reason I am posting now, is because, not finding a partner to go sport climbing today, I am here at home, reflecting over what happened yesterday.
Briefly, I climbed to new problems that I had spotted months ago. The first one is a powerful arete under a 50° overhang, that I called "Islero".
The other one is a cool eliminate traverse on slopey crimps that I called "Love and Peace da Isa B.".
I am sad I don't have video footage of "Islero" because it's one of the best problems I've ever done. The wind was blowing from NE, and despite the wood being humid, I couldn't complain about conditions. Success, once again, happened because of the presence of friend Giulio, who had already spotted me on "Tailgunner" in march, giving me the needed confidence to slap for the jug, with the rocks below menacing my ass in case of a miss.
It's hard to describe the happiness I felt after the ascent. I woke up knowing I was going to do it, but as usual when I actually tried the moves, reality kicked in. I kept the fucking faith and kept myself at it, and before I could reflect over it, it was done and I was screaming on top of the boulder. It's a drug. But much more powerful.
I named the problem after the 495 kilos Miura bull that killed Manolete, Spain's greatest torero of all time. With this name I don't want to celebrate the death of a man, but simply pay my respects to the huge display of power and agility that Islero was.
Not much later I had done also the traverse, and all I could think about was the great day I had just had.
Those two problems may not be hard, but they meant something for me. The first time I tried the traverse I was shouting at every move. Yesterday I almost flashed it and did it second go, a perfect silent strike.
I realizied that, despite being at a deserted crag, I was not alone. My girlfriend was there, with the flask. My friend Andrea had given me the whisky for Xmas. I had my number 8 arm band from Tom and Rich, and in my mind "it tastes like victory" from Keith was resounding loudly.
I was on top. I was so fucking proud of myself. I gave everything I had in terms of commitment, and I got the prize.
The more I put into climbing, the more I get from it.
Oh yes, I've grown a beard.
Wednesday, 25 August 2010
As you know, I came back from the Dolomites with a mixture of satisfaction, surprise and emptyness. In my mind, I have a whole lot of quite obsessive thoughts, the main one being that the problem I have climbed cannot be 8a+. I don't know why I bother, but I simply think that I can't climb that grade that way, because it's bloody hard, and on that problem I didn't have such a hard time. I was alone, also, as I am when I train. I don't know anyone who's climbed the problem and the only other reference that I have is that James didn't flash it. This being alone, leaves a lot of room, in my mind, the mind of a man who's never sure about himself, for many doubts. Sometimes these doubts must leave room to facts: for instance, when I can hang a hold that a friend can't. I know I am not weak, but one thing is to hang a hold and a completely different thing is getting a problem done.
I say it again, I don't even understand why I bother. I think it could be that I don't want to be too happy for something that could be not worth it. Again, happiness is happiness and it's always worth it. I found the answer, this time, in thinking that that problem was something I liked, something I wanted to climb, and that I did it, while previously I couldn't. The grade should lose importance, under this perspective; sadly it does not. Grades are important for me because they are a measure of improvement: I am happy to add a rung to my campusing; I am happy to add 5 seconds to a deadhang; but I am far happier to climb a problem that everyone else find hard, or to jump up a grade in the Font scale.
In all this process of self questioning, suddenly something put me on the right path to make some progress into this labyrinth of my mind: in the last few days, I've been feeling completely spent, empty. The sense of satisfaction is still there, but emptyness is much more.
I must have done something really important and big for myself, if now I feel so empty, I could almost say depressed.
Again, this is a very incomplete answer. I think the only useful answer is to move on to the next goal. This time, maybe, it coud be smart to be ready to accept success. Because success is what I'll have.
Monday, 23 August 2010
When the alarm went off at 5 am, I felt sure I was going to make it, and I got up ready for the task. How far from reality I was. The offer of the day was the "Dimai Route" on the Punta Grohman, 3156 meters. Two hours approach on a 45° slope and ridge; then a 150 easy terrain to be climbed unroped (a climber died here in July); then 13 pitches; then 7 abseils, with downclimbing up to III; then another hour down the talus.
My mind was producing images of the long horrible way down, and they were terrifying images. I knew I wasn't going to make it, and I told my friends. They looked at me and understood. No one complained, although they could have, because now they were a party of three, so slower and less enjoyable. But my friends are real friends, and the first thing they asked me was: "can you make it to the car on your own?". I said yes, and sat down. I cheered them as they disappeared on the exposed ridge and, taking all the concentration I was capable of, I started the way down. On the grassy slope, after the ridge, I lay down, and with the sun now fully out of the mountain, I fell asleep. There wasn't a single sound in the whole valley, and I started to compose myself.
I knew the epic was nearly over, but I also knew that another epic was just about to start: I wanted to go bouldering now, but the few hours of sleep, and the effort of the walk in had left me knackered. I knew that despite it being only 8.30 am, my day was already over.
I got to the car park and tried to sleep in the car. It was too hot already and too noisy, the first trekkers arriving. So I pulled my finger out and went to the hut. I ordered a double, long coffee in a big cup and a slice of Strudel. I gulped everything down then had another long coffee. I packed my shit and went to the boulders, prepared to have a nap on the crashpads and then play my cards on my project, the famous traverse that I have been wanting to do since last year, when I also watched James try it.
I had tried it in early June, but was unable to put together its 18 moves. You first have to do "Mecca" a hard 7c, then keep going right on far apart edges. Brilliant climbing.
I got there and my first thought wasn't about sleeping, but about cleaning the holds and drying out the many wet ones. My head still a bit of a haze, I touched the rock and felt a strange, pleasant sensation. I found a better sequence on two movements and soon after all I could think about was giving it a go. I tried to sleep a bit, but I felt a urge to climb it. I just couldn't rest, and it wasnt' because of the coffee, because my heart was slow and I was relaxed. I was feeling something. Minutes later, after a couple of fumbled attempts and finally finding the right footholds for the lower part, I had crushed it. Easily. Well not easily, but I had climbed very well, aggressively and precisely. It was over. Another one.
Now I have climbed all the problems I wanted to do there, and this incredible feeling has been with me for the whole Sunday, the day originally planned for the assault. A mixture of satisfaction, joy and emptyness.
Despite feeling very bad in the morning, I went there, I kept the fucking faith and I got it. Needless to say, I couldn't sleep for the rest of the day, and my head really started to hurt, I think the pressure released and my body finally allowed itself to be sick.
My friends had an 11 hours marathon on the route, with a 5 hours long descent. The route was dangerous with rockfall, and Andrea had a close one exploding right to his side.
Just as I was starting to worry, I saw them sliding down the talus. Minutes later we were at the hut, gulping down beers and Radler. Miraculously, the alcohol released my excruciating headhache, and I finally felt good.
At night I slept like a baby.
I have so many thoughts in my mind right now. I wanted to do the problem, but maybe I wasn't ready to do it so quickly. I wasn't prepared. Now I think about what I've done, and cannot fit in the bigger picture, unless I think back to all the time I've dedicated to it in one way or another. I have done hundreds of pullups, hours of deadhangs, and even the odd route. I haven't stopped thinking about the goal for a second. Progressing, progressing, progressing.
My progression had crossed again the path of my projects and I have ticked. Now it's time to move on, even though I have to say that I feel very very empty now.
The problem is given 8a+. Is it? Before doing it, it was. Now, I dont' know. Did it seem easy? I don't know. I just did it: it's transformed now, it became just a thing that I wanted to do and I have done.
So in my personal grading scale, it gets the "F" grade: "fatto" - "done". Again, I want to think in terms of progression instead of in terms of reaching a specific goal: I was impressed, a few weeks back, when I found myself reading these same words on Dave MacLeod's book (page 119, just in case you want to check).
Fuck me, I really really don't understand this all: it's got no sense at all. I shouldn't have done it this way. It's a nonsense.
Saturday, 14 August 2010
These two problems, that together pack in the mindblowing amount of nine moves, are snatchy and painful, and overall hard. I have some grades in my mind, but due to the particular nature of the problems, I will keep them in my mind for a while.
They don't count anyway: they could also be Font 6a, the fact is that I found them hard, I tried them without doing them for a while, and then I did them. That's a personal progress with no doubt.
So, what's the point?
As you do know, I am a bit obsessed by the power aspect of climbing. I know I'm not exactly weak, but for sure I don't feel strong, when I compare myself to the true strong ones.
So, right now, I am in a precarious situation: I feel weak but I know I have ticked. Hmm... should I resist the call of the sirens flattering my ego, chanting that I am a strong one, and inducing me to go straight to my projects; or shouldn't I?
You already know. I will resist.
Between "to Malc" or "not to Malc" I will always choose "to Malc". Because Malc not only is a beast and a lifetime hero of mine, but because he is always ticking, also.
So, he embodies the two aspects. Not only he's the creator of "Malc's One Armer", a footless one armer on a non existant hold - a feat that some may dismiss as trivial - but he's also the one that tore Cresciano apart. He's the one who chalked up mid-crux on "Hubble". He's the one. Full stop.
As for the one armer, it's a matter of potential: being able to perform one single move at Font 8a, opens up a new world of opportunities, and if you don't understand this, close this blog and don't come back, because you won't find anything for you here.
The world has a limited number of problems. The current grading scale stops at around Font 8c. But our own possibilities, in our minds, are endless. So, I don't want to simply climb the hardest boulder on Earth (Keith, you bastard made me change my mind, do you still remember our conversation in Font?), I want to endlessly progress. And progress can be infinite if we understand it as a goal in itself, rather than a mean to reach a certain grade. That’s why, despite being happy, very happy for the last lines I climbed, I want to concentrate on how weak I feel, on how bad I climb, and on how far away from my goals I am. Because my goals are very hard. But my goals push me forward, bring me under the fingerboard, or in the gym, or doing laps on a toprope. My goals drive me to progress, and my progresses, physical or even just mental ones, take me closer and closer to my goals: so close that at a given point my progresses will cross their path with the path of my goals and I will reach those goals. Luckily, at that moment, my breathing will slow down again, my yells will disappear, and I will picture in my mind a new target, a new goal. This new goal will be the same as ever, the only true goal that I have: progressing.
Saturday, 7 August 2010
I am so deeply tied to this movie and its soundtrack: two years ago, when I made the move of moving to the sea to keep my Public Notary career, a move that later proved itself to be a humoungus error, that move meant also saying goodbye to the wall, the campusboard and all the gym's crew, to start training again all alone on a small fingerboard. At the time, I still hadn't seen the light under the form of a Beastmaker, so everything was even more difficult, but that fingerboard helped me to stay sane inside insanity. In the rainiest spring of the century, as both Tom and Rich, who later came to visit me, can testify, every night I would come home at 8.30 pm after 11 hours working, I would change into shorts and tanktop, would put on that soundtrack and would pull wooden edges or plastic slopers until failure, something that would happen sooner in my fingers and muscles than in my mind.
Now I have a Beastmaker, and again I often find myself breathing under it, eyes glued on the stopwatch, curious to see if I'll manage to see another set of hangs or pulls. I try to stay sane inside insanity again, but now I want to do more.
I want to stop dreaming it, I want to be it.
If I want to climb my projects, and I want to, I think I have to put in more effort. That's what makes me going now. The more I struggle, the happier I am.
I was reading Dave MacLeod's book the other day, and I stumbled on these lines "The best athletes often have something that 99% of everyone else doesn't. They love the 'grind'. They love the long, repetitive, drawn out and seemingly unrewarding years between the excitement of the novice and the success of being at the pinnacle of performance".
That's true, at least for me. Of course I am not a top athlete as far as objective performances go, but I feel I am a true athlete in my mind. I love to train. I love to fail and to feel weak because it pushes me on. I love being challenged and feeling everyone is against me (bear in mind, it's not true at all, I have many people around who love me), I love feeling alone (which sometimes is all true).
So at the venerable age of 38 and half, I am certain that I am still far from reaching my true potential, and I am certain that sooner or later I will clip that chain and I will top out on that boulder.
So my friends, dont' dream it, be it. I wish you to succeed easily on your projects. I wish you to find yourselves on top of that boulder, or clipping that chain, as if you'd done nothing, easily, with no training or suffering.
But I still wish myself to succeed after a long and hard fight, because I know that if I do so, I'll never stop.
Sunday, 1 August 2010
As soon as I sat down again and took off my shoes, I thought about how much I was missing my girlfriend in that moment.
Then it was time to climb more, but my skin was hurting, so I decided to skip the volume and just try the eliminate that Tom had created and left for me to try, last september when he came here. I had given it a few tried without sticking the third move, to a bad crimp, so when I didn't even stick the first move I was a bit shocked. Instead of crying, I took my time to analyze the hold carefully to understand the perfect finger placement: it's an index finger mono with a little bit for middle and ring finger on some kind of slopey dish. Nasty.
The study worked and I did the move next try, going on to the crimp and almost latching the final move to the jug. I fell on the last move another two or three times, but at that point my skin was too poor and I was very tired. The problem, despite being very short, squeezes quite a lot of core tension from your body and I was done.
So, finally a good day out and some smiles on my face and on Fabio's face, who ticked his first 6c+/7a.
Tom, you'll never have your pants back, they're cool, they're comfy and they're stylish, so now they're also mine.
Here's a small video, sadly from phone camera. Keep the faith.
Friday, 30 July 2010
My weekend plans are for Amiata top tomorrow and wasting time on sunday, it will be going to a pool to be more precise, but still a waste of time to me.
So, with a long part of the summer still to go, poor skin and feeling weak, my evening has not been very nice. After dinner, though, I took my laptop, put on my headphones and listened to a couple of dozens songs from The Clash and The Who, and I have to say that now I feel happy.
Because while listening to those beats, I still felt the same energy inside, the same bomb going off, the same gigantic "Fuck off you all!" that I had inside when I was 17, and I understood, once again, that I won't change for fuck, I will always be the same asshole despite age and work and everything, and that noone will ever make me do something I don't want to do.
I know they'll never catch me, and I am free again.
Thursday, 22 July 2010
I was thinking that maybe it's been a very bad idea to write about such private issues, maybe a true gentleman would have sacked it and kept going. Maybe.
For sure I was feeling very bad when I wrote the entry, and I was feeling very very lonely. After all, I think that it was just a way to be hugged by friends. I think I have stolen you your time, do I really have the right to whine on here, and to make poor Unai waste his time in NZ thinking about me? No, I don't have this right, but I'm a very selfish person and when I need something I try to get it.
I needed attention and support, and I got them both, and also a bit of a crack in the back of my head (thanks Unai!).
Things didn't change much in the last week, but some tension released for sure. I won't give up easily, my relationship is fundamental for me: I was with my girlfriend when I topped out on my first Font 8a, and this means something.
Over and out for the moment, but really thank you all.
Monday, 19 July 2010
You sure? Ok, so here you go.
I am both sad and angry. My relationship is falling apart, and despite all the efforts I put in, nothing seems to work. Every argument, whatever its origin, ends up the same way: climbing is the enemy and it has to be slaughtered and sacrificet on the altar of love.
Simply, this will never, never, never fucking never happen. I will sacrifice everythying to my climbing, because, as I have said one million times, I AM MY CLIMBING.
The roots of this situation are lost in time, and despite our efforts to find a fil rouge that could help us understand things better, things are really at the end right now. I have found myself in the same situation before, and with the same girl, but now hope escapes me, I feel I am being forced to renounce to things I love, and I simply don't want it anymore.
Obviously, this is my point of view. If you want to hear her version to be fair, ask her to write a blog.
And now fuck off you all.
Wednesday, 14 July 2010
This is obviously not to discourage them, but only to avoid the spamming that I was receiving recently.
So please my friends, feel free to comment more than ever. Thank you.
Saturday, 10 July 2010
So I can see someone asking for a coffee at 8 pm, which is a legitimate thing, but then I can see the same person eating tons of peanuts, chips and everything's on the bar. And that is NOT legitimate. No finger food with coffee. We are civilized people.
Or I can see the fat girl who, after three dishes full of sandwiches, omelette and pasta, is shy to have another drink, because "cocktails contain too much sugar". But I can also see nice couples, or beautiful ladies, well dressed and polite.
So, my friends, go to your local bar, and don't be shy to ask for something a bit particular (maybe not a Singapore Sling when the barman is busy with dozens of customers, or he will hate you forever. The Singapore Sling, however, should only be sipped while in Singapore, with a perfectly shaped 18 year old prostitute to your side), because your barman will be happy to make you your favourite cocktail, will be happy to be doing not the usual gin-and-vodka-and-amaretto-shit, or whatever the tosser wants, to reach unconsciousness as fast as possible.
Remember, when at the bar, be cool, be stilish and be polite, because I could be there, right elbow on the bar, judging humanity.
Monday, 5 July 2010
I can more or less do the first thing, at least with the weights, but I can't really do the second, or at least I can't do anything else than the Beastmaker (which is, anyway, a great thing).
The wall closed last weekend, and now they are dismantling everything. Noone really knows when and where they will reopen; rumors are that they will build a mega wall and everything, but also that they will move away from town: given that the wall was two minutes on bike from my house, that's no wonder.
I keep moving weights in the sweaty, filthy gym and can see some progress. After a short week, with one day dedicated to weights, one to toproping and the rest to drinking with my friends for the Palio, yesterday I hit the weights again and found myself in good power regime. On the bench press, I jumped from 6 to 10 reps of my previously usual weight, then I added 5 more kilos and could still do 2 reps, after just a 3 minutes rest.
I think I have refined my session. Bench press, then 2 exercises to work the triceps in super sets, then back and biceps with various techniques. Yesterday I did the pulley machine one handed, four sets, and then 7 sets of bicep curls, using two different grips. Unluckily my elbow is still achey if I do the normal curl, with palms pointing up. Finally, shoulder and abs.
Today the menu offers back again, probably lat machine one handed and biceps again, still don't know whether in super sets or not.
Then, I am trying to get into better eating habits, this meaning I'm trying to eat a bit less. Not to lose weight, that is one thing that I don't want to do, but to feel better, and not like a T-Rex after eating 1/4 of his bodyweight in one meal.
My sunday Beastmaker session was very good. I am still doing sets of 10" for 6 times for many different holds; currently:
- big rungs;
- mid two, good;
- slopey mono;
- front two, small;
- back two;
- mid two, small;
- small rung;
- back three, small rung;
- small rung.
Last sunday I changed things a bit, to fight a climbing-deprived weekend. On the bigger holds and on those on which I'm stronger, instead of deadhanging 10" I do 5 pull ups, going up and down by the second. On harder holds, I do one set deadhanging and one pulling, and on the hardest ones (monos and back two) I just try to do as many pulls as I can and then I deadhang to complete the 10".
I liked this session and will keep it; it's both fingery and physical (d'oh! could you guess it?) and left me pleasantly worked. It was nice, on monday, to feel my back a bit achey.
So, everything is NOT lost. The summer is long, the gym is closed and I am super eager to step it up. I wonder how the others will survive the period without the gym, then I think that mostly they won't care. The idea of training as hell to boulder 8b is not shared by many, or simply they have less mind issues than me.
My goal is to get out of this summer stronger than ever. The lack of training facilities only makes my will stronger. Strong mind and strong body. Is there anything else?
Tuesday, 29 June 2010
Predictably, she had more success, but despite a months long layoff due to the elbow, the lack of specific training, baby skin and hot, aggressive rock, I definitely pulled.
At first, I was feeling very nervous; it was as if everything was new. I felt unsure about doing moves that didn't seem that hard; I felt unsure to be able to actually complete a problem without screwing something; I felt unsure if it was a good idea to really give it a serious try, or if it could have been better for me to hide in the shadow of my elbow injury and step back from stage.
Predictably again, I decided to give it a go. On the first problem, I was very tense. The move off the pinch seemed hard and as I tried the topout I immediately started to have problems, until I found a sequence to the right side of the boulder. So I took my chances, stepped under the small overhang and concentrated. Then I pulled on, and I felt everything easy as it once was. Despite this, I did manage to screw it on the topout, due to not being used anymore to climbing. I was tempted to take the tick nonetheless, the move that I fumbled is easy and I was scared to try again the bottom move, the slap to the sloper. Then I thought that I had to get used again to the pressure, that I had to get confident again, to see myself doing every move and to believe. So I did it again and crushed it.
This brought great joy and satisfaction. I had previously cleaned another line to the right, dynamic slaps and compressions between the arete and some pinches, but the rock had already taken its toll from my fingertips and my body was tired, I didn't have much core tension and could barely figure out the bottom moves. The top ones will be hard, but I will do them and it will be a great problem.
I walked back down to another small overhang.
Months ago I had been there, and I had done the problem, but I couldn't complete the sitter I wanted to add. So I set to work, but every hold was too painful, and despite getting the last crimp twice, I had to admit defeat.
It was time to get back to the pool.
Sunday, with my already acheing tips, I found myself again there. I warmed up, and felt comfortable under the pressure of wanting to do the sitter first go. It wasn't a flash, in my mind it was even harder than a flash attempt. On a flash, you can blame everything for blowing it: a wrong sequence, a suddenly greasy hold, or whatever. I couldn't. I knew exactly what I had to do, how every move and every hold would feel, how hard. So it was with great joy that I did it first go, cutting loose even if I didn't want to, but climbing it well.
I went back to the problem of the saturday, and added a sitter to that also.
Finally, I went back to another sector to give a try to another project of mine, a traverse on slopey holds. I made progress and I felt happy and grateful. I felt grateful to myself, because I never let go and kept my faith in a better future, even when I was feeling sad and I found everything unfair.
So I came home with new problems done, and, which is even better, new projects to bash my head against.
My elbow was tired but fine, so maybe that better future has finally arrived and I am ready to welcome it.
Monday, 21 June 2010
I have trimmed the session in this month, cutting off useless exercises (useless in terms of climbing training) and adding some others. In particular, I started training my back, and recently my triceps, with super sets.
So I first do parallel dips and then cable extensions for the triceps, and I do bicep curls with a dumbbell followed by one armed pulley machine or one armed lat machine. It's strenuous but effective. I hadn't felt my biceps and back this worked in a lot of time. I still am very very cautious with my right arm, I try to pull down but avoid the fully locked position due to my elbow, which, despite the repeated beatings I give it, is getting slowly better. The combined one armed sessions at the fingerboard I did all April, also gave some results. My left arm is definitely overally stronger and more stable, and my bicep has changed its shape, which is a clearly good sign.
Yesterday I did my second Beastmaker session of the past week. Progress. I am currently training with 6 sets of 10" hangs for each chosen hold and grip. Still refining the session to obtain the most from power and skin, yesterday was a good one. I did:
warm up; big rungs; 20°; 30°; middle two; slopey monos; front two on small ones; back two; back two on small ones; small rungs; back three small rungs; small rungs again. Felt good and satisfied at the end, with a decent volume of 11 clean minutes of deadhangs, and also a quite high intensity, working two fingers at a time is hard for me, almost never done it before. It's good to train this way because you can go at the limit without having to add weight or go one armed, two things that I don't want to do anymore (the frist one), and for the moment (the latter).
One other good (or bad, depending on your opinion) thing about the Beastmaker, is that it's widely popular among strong climbers, this allowing everyone to share data. Speaking with Tom the other day I realized (once more), how weak my fingers are. Seeing footage of Ned campusing between the 30° and the small monos in the Climbing Works video tour, made me realize how weak I am. Reading the Beasts' feats, made me realize how weak I am. The road is so long, steep and difficult, and it's so easy to get overwhelmed by other people's power. But, despite being so depressing, playing with the big boys is the only way to grow up stronger. I don't want to be the king of the gym, I want to go around and touch many different kinds of rock and climb many different, hard problems. I go to the gym to fail, to be shit and to feel shit. Not to succeed. Or not mainly.
Sometimes I am a bit sad because I feel the need to put more effor into my climbing: recently I feel like I've been a bit slack, not traininfgproperly or seriously, even though I know that this wouldn't be fair to say. I have trained as hard as I could with my injury, but this thought lets me not satisfied. I would like to dedicate my entire day to climbing and training, doing more and more, but sadly it's not possible.
Even having the time needed, I don't know if my body would allow me, but for sure I would try.
Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Monday, 7 June 2010
The imposing Catinaccio.
Andrea leading the third pitch.
Yours truly at the top.
I spent the following day all alone at Città dei Sassi, getting back in touch with bouldering. I tried "Dolomitenmann" 8a+, a left to right traverse out from "Mecca" 7c. I had pictures of James trying it last november, almost doing it in a few tries: well, came out that his sequence skipped at least three good holds and was plain brutal. I spent a long time finding my own sequence and managed to do all the moves quickly, but I hadn't enough in my tank to complete the whole long problem (20ish moves). I did it in two halves and in the doing also repeated "Mecca"; sadly, baby soft skin, temps in the high 20° and general lack of climbing fitness all together were too powerful enemies for me to defeat.
I had moments of rage and disappointment, but then realized I was in an amazing place, doing what I love, and my elbow was also feeling quite good. I kept on climbing on the problem until I couldn't do more than one move in a row, then with a monster grin of satisfaction, packed and left.
As the last mountains disappeared in the rearviewmirror, and I had only flatlands in front of me, I started reliving all the moments of these two days, and suddenly I found myself there in the mountains again, with the rough grey and orange rock under my fingers. And this is just magic.
Sunday, 30 May 2010
In the last week I had been fooled that my elbow injury, maybe, was really healing: tuesday I had a poweful session with weights, in which I had no pain or discomfort, and I didn't even need to ice the elbow, afterwards, nor to use anti-inflammatory patches. I was happy and I started picturing myself cranking.
After a couple of days off, I had another session on friday, and despite some discomfort I was still feeling good, maybe I started picturing myself not cranking, but definitely enjoying climbing.
Yesterday I went climbnig. No, wait, I went bouldering. My goodness. I felt as weak as a man can feel, and after a while my elbow was fucking sore. I did nothing hard, I tried to slowly get into the moves, but as soon as something harder than climbing with a straight arm was needed, I felt a sharp pain that stayed with me for the rest of the (brief) session.
It felt horrible. I don't even know if I enjoyed the climbing I did. I am scared to say that I didn't. My friend Bengio was on fire (pretty much as usual), and not being able to take his energy and to climb at full power has been very very depressing. Sad but true, I don't enjoy doing easy stuff. Whatever the grade may be, I enjoy being at my limit, but not for an injury. I may have fun, and I did many times, doing a delicate traverse on a featureless slab, and I have fun fighting my way up powerful overhangs, but only because this is what I WANT to do, rather than what I HAVE to do because I'm injured.
So, how poor my condition is? Not only I can't climb, but when I get to climb I don't even enjoy it. Wow, to even write it, it sounds horrible.
"You have to be very disciplined" says Ben in "Stonelove". He also says "I don't like being weak".
Looking back at it, it's really been a hard day out. There were rays of light sometimes, but they were cancelled by an acheing elbow. I really really don't know what to do. I was hoping to enjoy climbing. I had waited for this day since weeks. I had planned a weekend in the Dolomites. I had dreams to fulfill, I had problems to crush and routes to try.
As some of you may have understood, I am sad. It's not uncommon, you know it if you are a regular here, to read sad lines. But one thing is being sad because you failed on something you should have done, one other very different thing is being sad because you couldn't even try.
My hope is time. Time and weather. It's already +30° here. 22° yesterday night at 10. Not exactly crushing conditions... and the summer hasn't even officially started. I have long boiling weeks ahead, alot of work and different things to do, that I will talk about sooner or later.
The climbing gym is going to be closed in a few weeks. The owners are going to split and noone knows when and where a new gym will open, if it will. I feel at Ground Zero again. Maybe even lower, because I still can't start over again until properly recovered. In this pitch black night I will center my vision on weights and fingerboarding. I need to move. I need to do something. I need to become strong. I need to crush hard things. I need a mental asylum.