Saturday, 31 December 2011

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!



In the pics, the beasts during a pause. Yes, it was gorgeous.

Today I went there again, and I felt great. Everything was special again, myself included: I have never been so close.
I am happy because I understood why I keep going there: because each time I go there, I have another opportunity to improve and most of all, like today, I have another opportunity to feel happier.
I am happy. I am happy because I believe in myself, and because I want to be pure. As pure as my little dog Phoebe, who knew shit about what was going on around her - me, climbing at my best, like never before -, but who stayed close and calm, never barking, never crying, always ready to give me a lick on my face. I want to be as pure as a shark, or as a crocodile: the two creatures that changed the least during evolution. They are timeless animals: they do what they do since their appearence on Earth, and they do it because it's the only thing they know.
I wonder why I felt so good today.
I was alone, I was full of love.
I had all the sun in me, all the trees, all the air. I was in peace, I was even with the whole planet, nothing more to give, nothing more to have. The act of being there, completely there, was enough: whatever I gave, I had it back in some other form. I wonder what would I be writing, had I had a bad climbing day, but it doesn't matter. As long as I'm happy now, I don't care.
I am ready.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

SOMETHING VERY SPECIAL!

Yesterday was a special day, made of friends that are more like brothers, with me even if far away; a day made of perfection. Today was a normal day again, but nothing will ever be the same, I won't ever be the same: once we've been special, although for a brief moment, we won't turn normal ever again. Once we've loved, in a special way; once we've been loved, in a special way; or in this case once we've climbed, in a special way, we are changed forever. It may sound stupid to give such an importance to a climb, but it's not about the climb, it's about what you do to get that climb; it's about what you go through; it's about what you inflict to yourself and to your close ones; but most of all it's about understanding our deepest recesses; it's about discovering the most horrendous and the most beautiful aspects of ourselves.

Footage from today:


Saturday, 24 December 2011

NOTHING SPECIAL?

I woke up this morning wanting to take advantage of the bad weather to finally catch up with the blogging, then I read the recent entries on Doylo's and Lu's blogs, and I realized that I had nothing worth reading, and I could somehow detract something from them by writing useless shit. Like I am doing right now.
Anyway, stupid thoughts aside, I also felt that I should at least give a decent reason for the absence.
The reason is the one mentioned above, the lack of anything notable.
In the last month, I have been doing nothing special. And that's the important thing. I have worked this past month, in transforming the extraordinary into routine.
My - once - best and rare efforts on my project now are the norm, happening many times each visit, and really something is fading in terms of pure and brutal desire. It's not challenging as it was before, and I am less excited. I am far from my physical limits in terms of power and that's important. It's still very difficult to get it done, but it's not really hard anymore. It's complicated more than hard. I have to have good, hard skin to bear the pain of the sharp holds, but if it's too hard I dryfire off. It's got to be fresh, but not cold, otherwise I get numb fingers and so on with many other variables. Oh well, that's the routine, as routinary became my repeats of the direct line under the roof. I can't remember the last time I fell off that thing. It's mindblowing to me.
Then, on the home front, I reset my Beastmaker on the door frame, and found out that it's not too bad despite my recent finger injury. Despite not being able to really pull on my right ring finger, it's fine while openhanded. I can still one arm dead hang the small pockets front two, I can still hold a front lever on the small monos and also on the small pockets mid two. Medal. Yawn.
I went back to Varazze, home of the world's hardest problem. I found out that in Varazze it's very important to always ask a local, if present, before trying a problem, despite having it all clear in the guide. The pattern on many problems is this: Christian Core cleaned and climbed a problem, giving it a grade which was probably lower than the real one, and that's the one you have in the guide; then the problem loses three or four holds and a few footholds; Christian Core reclimbs the problem, declaring the grade not changed; then the problem remains unrepeated.
So, before spending a day on a problem, get the lowdown.
I treated myself with this beauty:

And this is all.

Extraordinay, isn't it?

Monday, 28 November 2011

INSTANTS AND MEMORIES

Today would be my sixth day on. With two double sessions on Thursday and Friday, my mind screams "Go training!" and my body refuses to. Then my body screams "Go training!" and my mind tells not to. It's like being Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, only with also an insane Dr. Jeckyll.
The weekend before this last one I went climbing in an area I had visited only once, one year ago. It's been very nice to meet friends and finally climb again with Filo, after his spring and summer spent ticking away 8b+'s on a string. Living the dream.
While driving home, a memory from a recent past surfaced again from nowhere, and has been staying with me ever since.
It's a picture I have of myself, sitting on the pavement ouside a Curry shop in Sheffield, eating my chicken curry with my hands, while waiting to be picked up by Dylan at The Works. People stared at me.
During the day I had come back to Sheffield from Liverpool, after realizing a couple of dream projects there, to climb again on gritstone. I had come back with some old and new friends, and again I had ticked my project.
So, there, still chalked up, cold, a bit dizzy from the pints and with the climb in my hands and mind, with no pressure on Earth, no money, no watch, no family, no work, no woman, just me the curry and the climb, I felt truly complete.
In those few minutes, I lived the dream. A small dream for most, not made of 8b's or epic flashes. But it was my dream and now it was reality. I keep going back to this memory, or the memory keeps coming back to me. Maybe it feels alone in my brain and want some company. Why, I wonder, that little one is so powerful? Why is it more powerful than the others, other ones of harder problems, for example? I don't know. It's just the way it is. Maybe in that day I had put something special in my climbing, and my climbing in reward gave me even more than usual.
I live for those moments. I'm sure if anyone could know how happy I am in those moments, how fullfilled, no one would even dare or think about giving me a hard time about my climbing.
Moments.
Moments come and go at their pleasure.
I have many memories closely tied to insignificant moments. For example, there is a particular smell of industrial floor cleaning liquid that, each time I smell it, wherever I am, brings me immediately back to 1984, to the first summer I spent in college, studying English in London. Each morning I would wake up, and go downstairs to the canteen for breakfast, and each morning there would be this smell, of freshly cleaned linoleum floors. I was twelve and did know nothing about nothing. Less than now.
Still, I can hear my steps on the stairs with that smell even now.
And while I'm on this delicate subject, I would like to tell you about the memories of climbing with my best friends: some are long gone, some others are closer. Yet, the most addicting memory is the most recent, as I've said before.
My friend Andrea and I, together again after all these years, under my board, pulling edges as if it were the only thing to do on Earth.
Which, to me, incidentally is.




Friday, 18 November 2011

THANK YOU ALL!!!


I have many other things to write, but for the moment I would like to just thank all those desperate souls that came on this blog, lost in space, for more than 20.000 times, eager to know what's inside an insane mind.
Thank you.


Thursday, 10 November 2011

THREE MONTHS IN TWO DAYS

Last week I mutated.
After months of unstructured training, unexpected results came. Nothing in terms of climbing projects - this mutation dates back to mid October - but in terms of pure power levels.
First, I dominated the 45° on my Beastmaker, setting my PB at 15" (with my previous one being 3"... so five times...); I know that I have done 35" (twice) at The Hangar in Liverpool in February, but on my Beast my PB was 3". Now it's 15".
OK, I had cleaned the holds.

OK, I hadn't gone to work.
Ok, my hands had the perfect mixture of dry and sweaty skin to remain attached to those terrible holds.
Still... I don't get it. Five times better than my previous best attempts is a lot.
Mutation.
Then, just five days later, and on my second day on, I went to Area 51 gym to pass a rainy Sunday. My skin was very thin and I could not boulder everything I wanted, but in the end I had great fun for around 2,5 hours. When I had already stopped climbing, I found myself fondling a flat, 2nd joint wooden edge on the fingerboard. The wooden surface felt fresh and grippy and I gave it a go.
I did the strongest one arm pull up I've ever done. I went up as if I'd been pulled by a giant magnet; I fully locked off in shock for some seconds, then I jumped off.
The world was different then, and I felt it was the right time to get serious. So, with no longer rest than the time to chalk up a little bit (there was no need really but you never know...) I got the hold again and did five one armers. Two on my left arm.
I know that five is not that much compared to the many more of the strong ones (Keith, Paul, Ru, Riccardo are just a few names that come to my mind right now, not to tell about Malc, Rich, Stuart), but I have never been this strong before, not even on a pull up bar, let alone on a flat edge. Plus, in the last years I have trained one armers for one month in total, in August, so a total of 8 sessions in August plus one in spring that fucked my left elbow up.
I wonder where these feats come from. I for sure want to keep them coming. If only I'd trained with a plan, maybe they could be repeatable, but I haven't. I trained each time doing what I felt like doing. Maybe that's the key.
Anyway, for all the OCD maniacs like myself out there, this is, day by day, the training I've done in the last three months, that took me here.
Notes:
- weights were done with low reps, high loads, max 4 sets (more about it here) for back (3 different exercises), shoulders (2 exercises), biceps, triceps;
- easy Beastmaker means going through the main grips doing 6 sets of 10" hangs (two arms) with no extreme pushing (20°, 35°, big rung, mid two small, front two small, back two, middle monos, small rung back three, small rung front three);
- board is my home wall, on which I boulder at max intensity for as long as my skin allows me (1,5 hour generally).
Having said this (boring) all, I go training now.

August: just weights and bouldering outdoor.

September:
3 Beast (easy)
4 system wall (max int. little vol.)
5 weights
7 Sassofortino (weak)
8 weights
10 Chiesina (weak)
11 Amiata Top (strong)
12 System (max int. little vol.)
13 Beast (easy)
15 Beast (easy)
17 board (easy)
18 Amiata Top
19 board
21 board
22 Sassofortino
23 board
25 board
26 board
28 Sassofortino
29 board
30 board

Octobrer
3-14 boulder trip: just rock almost every day
20 Beast (easy) (30" back 2)
22 Sassofortino (weak)
23 Sassofortino (weak)
26 board (strong)
27 AM Beast (easy), PM system (underclings and lock offs)
30 Sassofortino
31 system (as above: strong)

November
1 Beast max int. (15" on 45°, 10" on slopey pockets)
2 gym super session (max int. max vol.)
5 board (strong)
6 gym mutation (5 one armers on 2nd joint flat edge).

Saturday, 29 October 2011

SYSTEM TRAINING

I decided to think a bit more seriously about my training. Bouldering on my board is fantastic, but there's much more I can do on it, as the video shows.
Despite being in decent form as of late, this system session on underclings and crimps (these second ones not in the video) left my biceps and back seriously worked, a clear sign that bouldering isn't enough.
I got back to teaching climbing classes (it seems like that this "teaching" thing appeals me really - maybe some low self esteem problems?) and it's great. It always shocks me when someone tells me "You made it looks easy" because they seem to forget (or they just don't know) that I've been climbing and training for almost nineteen years now, so I don't know what to say.
Rest today, rock and roll tomorrow.
Here's the vid.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

A STORY

Under the grey sky, a man and a woman were sitting on the church stairs, holding each other tight, hand in hand, gently kissing.
They seemed not to care about the wind that was blowing a light rain right against them, or more probably they simply did not notice it, as they probably did not notice that every passer by in the small, ancient square, stopped or slightly slowed his pace down, to have a look at them; because there, in that square and in that moment, they were the image of love and romanticism.
The way the man was rubbing her cold hands, and the kisses she was giving on his right cheek, pictured a happy couple in love, all tenderness, far from every vulgarity.
They were sharing their last moments together.
In a matter of minutes, that very afternoon, they were going to bid farewell.
This separeted them even more from everyone else in the square, in the ancient town and in the vast world: they were feeling as the last survivors, deprived of all hope.
"How are you?" asked the man, moving her hair from her face and discovering her eyes.
"I'm fine, I'm fine. And how are you?"
"I'm sad. I'm very sad. I did not want this to happen. It wasn't my intention."
"Oh, so we can be sincere now? - a quick smile crossed her face, colliding with her expression - So, no, I'm not fine. I don't deserve this. Not again."
His heart sank.
"I am sorry - he tried to say - I didn't want to hurt you. I didn't want to play with you."
"You started it all. Why?"
"I was trying to be happy. I always wanted something to happen between us, only, I didn't expect it to be so out of my control."
He paused, and they became silent for a while. She put her head on his right shoulder, pulling the coat neck tight under her chin, it was very cold, then she put her frozen hands between his thighs, so naturally that it was impossible to consider it sexual or even less, gross. They were perfect.
Three days before, when everything had just begun, the sun shone on their first, innocent date. To be honest, it was innocent only for one of them. The small restaurant remained empty, after the last customer paid and went out in the early afternoon, while they, again unaware of anything else but them, kept talking as if they'd been friends for ages, but at the same time discovering each other as two complete strangers. The owner let them alone. Life was still beautiful when the first sign of the close future made its appearence under the form of a simple, plain, honest question.
"Do you live on your own or with someone?" she asked.
"On my own." he quickly replied.
The sun kept shining, but worriedly now.
Now, under the rain, worry was all that was left.
The square was becoming crowded, despite the bad weather; kids were going to come out of the nearby kindergarten in a few minutes, and parents gathered around the entrance with umbrellas and hats. No one had imagined, that morning, that it would have rained; no one but him. He knew it was going to rain, he always checks the weather forecast.
They still were in the same position, hugging. Not a single person managed to pass in front of them without observing what they were showing. Showing.
A man simply stopped to watch them for a few seconds, shamelessly, but then he smiled. An old couple seemed to have a judging look, but when they passed the old man put his arm around his wife's shoulder.
Then the children came out, yells all around. The man and the woman turned towards the noise and all they could see was a sea of colours, chaotically moving everywhere: red, yellow, brown, black, white, under the forms of jackets, raincoats, light hair, dark hair, eyes, faces. Colours, colours everywhere, moving and screaming. Screaming colours. This time it was their time to look and smile, and they became even more perfect.
The parents started taking the kids home, some by car, some by bike, some by foot. One kid was running on the edge of the church stairs, closely followed by his younger brother; as soon as he noticed the couple, he ran towards them and looking at them directly in the eyes, he asked the man: "What's your name?". In the meanwhile, his mother called him, telling not to disturb. "My name is Francesco." the man replied. "And what's your second name?" "Luca! - the mother yelled - do not disturb them!" "My second name is Lorenzi." "And what's your name?" the kid asked to the woman. "Luca! Stop it". "My name is Veronica." "And your second name?" "Bassi." and she laughed. "My name is Luca Doretti." the kid said. "And my name is Andrea Do-ret-ti." spelled the younger brother. "He is my brother." "And what are you doing here?" he managed to ask, just before his mother took his hand and pulled him away. "Let them, do not disturb! I'm sorry guys, he's shameless!".
"There's no problem, really!" they both said. "Ciao."
Then they remained alone.
"That's an interesting question the boy made. What are we doing here?" she asked.
"I am trying to be happy. As happy as I can, for as long I can, with you."
She did not bear his direct stare, and bent her head down on her knees, her black hair covering her face.
He thought about the previous days.
Despite the initial lie, he didn't manage to keep it to himself, and on their next date he told her everything: he was in a relationship he did not like anymore, yet he didn't know what to do. He knew there was still something between him and his girlfriend, but he feared it was something more like a brother like love, than a consuming passion and desire, as in the first years.
He was desperately searching for some feelings, he was trying to find the prove that he wasn't dead inside. He needed to be happy again, and now he had her, to try to.

He was feeling trapped, and the worst thing was that his indecision was hindering his happiness now, the happiness he knew he could live with her, even there, on those stairs, under that rain.
After the shock, she did not run away. She simply said "So it's over". And then she kissed and hugged him. Then they kissed again and again and they both understood that nothing was over, that nothing could ever be over untill they would have been free to live they happiness together completely.
Above all, he was thinking about the day before, when they met to say goodbye, and they ended up in a nice bar, on a sofa, drinking red wine and staying very close. They'd been talking about their situation for hours, she knew she had to run away from him because she was very fragile in that moment, and he knew he had started something that had escaped his control, and also he had lied to her in the beginning. Still, he didn't manage to keep his lie.
They were calm and sad, and they had agreed not to meet anymore.
They went to the bar to warm up a little bit, they relaxed, and they started a new conversation, not about their problems, but about their lives, cinema, art, music.
All of a sudden everything else disappeared. Homes, relationships, everything vanished in front of their current happiness. They forgot their promise and they kissed again.
Then she brought her legs on the sofa, she put her head on his shoulder, and quietly fell asleep for a few minutes in the bar, hugging him. He caressed her back and not a single thing in the world was wrong. They were the world and they were beautiful and right.
Today, they were almost in the same position, but under a cold windy rain.
Incredibly enough, he still felt they were the world, and they still were beautiful and right.
"You moved something in me, that I thought I had lost." she said. "I'm sorry, I can't stop thinking about you. I can't stop thinking that once we'd say goodbye, you'll get back home and you won't be alone."
"You're right. I won't be alone, but I'll feel alone".
"I will try to forget you if you ask me to."
"I don't know anything anymore. I only know that I feel good and happy with you. The moments we've shared are my belongings now. I will never lose them."
"I don't know if I can forget you."
"I don't want to forget you."
"I would like to just be free to live our story. I don't care for how long, and I don't care about how it could go. I only want to be free to live you."
"I'm sorry - he said - it's my fault. I haven't been fair. I knew I was in a relationship when I first called you. But that seemed right at the moment, and I always wanted something to happen between us. I really really like you."
"Don't say you're sorry. You only lied to me for one afternoon. The following day I knew everything and it did not stop me to call you again and to look for you again."
Now it was almost dark, and the street lights started giving everything an orange tone.
"There's no place for me." she said.
In that moment, he felt as if he'd remained the last man on Earth. He felt all the burden of his behaviour, and he asked himself whether he'd only searched some ego gratification, at her expense. "This is the price to pay for me - he thought - and I'll never be able to fully pay it."
"Let's go away. Go away." she said.
They stood up, trying to loosen their frozen bodies, but still hugging tight.
"Can you belive - she reflected loudly - that we are in this mess, and we've been togheter for only four afternoons? And we didn' even make love! We really didn't do anything wrong!"
"We didn't do anything wrong, no. We had a happy time together, didn't we? I was thinking that it's all or nothing now. I want to stay with you completely and free from everything else, or not at all. I don't want anymore to turn my phone off, for fear of an undesired call from home."
"All or nothing. That's the same for me. Sadly for me it's nothing, as it seems."
He wanted to cry, so he hugged her even tighter.
Then they went down the stairs towards their bikes.
"Isn't this romantic? We meet at the bikes racks!"
She smiled, with her broad smile and her dark eyes. Her light skin, her red lips and her black hair created a contrast so beautiful that she seemed to be constantly changing. Transforming from beauty to a different beauty.
Time seemed to slow down.
Words lacked.
"So..." she said, looking down.
"So..." he said.
Their last hug lasted an eternity and an instant at the same time.
With wet eyes they finally detached: first their heads, then their bodies, then finally their hands.
"So, what's our place in the bigger picture? What's our meaning in the world's history?" she asked.
"Tough one - he paused. Then he asked - have you seen how everyone looked at us?"
"Yes, they seemed nice to us, they seemed to like us."
"That's our place in the bigger picture. That's our meaning. We've been here in these days to make people believe that true love exists."
"Is ours a true love now?" she laughed, maybe a bit bitterly.
"It doesn't matter. But people look at us, and see a true love."
"And that's enough." she ended.
She offered her hand to him. He took it and caressed it. They looked deeply into each other's eyes.
"Ciao Francesco".
"Ciao Ve."
Then they went, and never turned back.





7:13 AM


I really really like to train in the morning. That's something that I'd never thought possible.
As the pics show, skin is a little bit of an issue as of late, that caused me some hard times on rock, but nothing special.
This should have been my second week of complete rest, but I didn't even do the first one. I did a session on the board yesterday, finally managing, on my 7th session on it, to climb my project IN TWO HALVES. Success is closer. I hope it's hard, because it's giving me a hell of a time.
I did a couple of easy morning sessions on the Beast, getting back into it as gently as possible, still trying to keep my right ring finger quiet: I found out that it's safer to push it on the fingerboard than on the wall, on which you can't control how you'll catch a hold on a hard move, and that's dangerous.
The overall feeling is OK, and I managed to set a personal best on the back2 pockets, with some nice 32 seconds.
Beastmaker and home board. Is it the formula for greatness?

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

BLEEDIN' BIVI LEDGES!

In the pic, some bleedin' bivi ledges.

I came out from these two weeks of holidays with a nice feeling of success, but also seriously worked. My last session on the wall, while providing still failure on the plastic project, left me with a very painful right ring finger.
I managed to gently (cough!) climb on it on Saturday, then I followed my previous plan of taking two weeks off, something that my entire body seemed to need.
Unfortunately, my mind needs fun, and as you all know "climbing is fun". So until now I rested but am planning to have a very gentle, introductory Beastmaker session tomorrow.
Meanwhile, I carved some nice (in my opinion) holds to spice up the wall, and provide some crimps that load the fingers evenly, a crucial requisite to keep injuries at bay. I also made a lot of small footholds: they don't make the handholds any smaller, but they make them harder to hang and the problems obviously harder.
The plan is to rest, get gently into training, then start training again in one or two weeks, eyes firmly planted on the prizes.


Thursday, 13 October 2011

TIME

I came back from Swzzy with a mixture of disappointment and fullfillment. A strange way to feel, for sure. Then I found out, in retrospective, that probably I've had a rather successful trip.
After a day off, I went to my project and hiked it to the last move, twice. I climbed as I had never climbed before, I felt like a beast, calm, relaxed, precise.
So I'm thinking a lot, in these days, about time.
Years ago, the future was represented by the first half of the roof line. And that future one day became reality, a reality named "Il Primo dei Moicani". So the line of the horizon shifted further, and another future, this one barely visible, or maybe just imaginable, came along.
One other day in March, with grey clouds hovering, my girlfriend spotting, and the first warm breeze of spring getting closer, I made that future a reality. Again.
So, things settled down for a while, while I imagined other possible futures. Meanwhile, what had previously been a PB became routine: it was time to move on.
When I first started trying the project I was barely able to link two moves in a row. Then I got the first section and got to the crux completely wasted. Then I stuck the move once, then twice, still being unable to move from that.
Now I can get the move, I can cruise further, and I feel strong.
This is the present, not the future.
I don't remember exactly what I did this past summer, but whatever I did, it worked.
In this process of constantly turning future into present, dream into reality, I found myself with something really unexpected: I had never, never imagined that one day, close to my 40s, I would have found myself under my home board, with my friend Andrea, pulling holds as hard as we can, after all these years still psyched, no that's wrong: much more psyched than ever.
It's like turning young again.



Sunday, 9 October 2011

STILL BEING THERE, BEING STILL








Some video stills from the latest trips to the project. Analyze. Repeat. Get perfect.



Friday, 7 October 2011

KNOW YOUR ENEMY






In the pics, some moments of rediscovered joy in the storm of my emotions.

The enemy is insensitiveness.
There I was, in Chironico, seemengly unaffected. I could not understand, at moments, whether I really wanted to be there or not, and I had been waiting for these two weeks off for ages. Why? The excuses I gave myself were many: temps in the high 30° being the first one.
But there's much more. There's what Stu blogs about here, there's the grade chase, and there's my enormous ego, which teamed to a baby, naive mind, generate monsters: one monster, me.
The idea was to go to Swizzy for two weeks to climb an 8b. I had a few ones marked and I wanted to take my time to find the best suited for me.
But then again, something was deeply wrong with me: being there all alone, with boiling temps simply was too much to bear, and I sheltered myself in insensitiveness, acting as if the place was packed with psyched climbers and conditions were pristine.
As you can imagine, the clash between mind and reality has only one possible winner.
At moments I really felt it's time to quit. I'm tired. I feel lonely and I am lonely. I can't bear anymore to be climbing on my own all the time, unable to soak other people's energy and happiness. It's not worth it, if I go to Swizzy and I don't want to be there.
Then something changed. I don't know what. Maybe finally toping out on a problem that had spit me off in previous visits. Maybe finally finding again the joy in the simple fact of being there, doing what I love, in the chase rather than the catch. Because if it's true that not every chase ends with a catch, it's also true that every catch has a chase before. Enjoy the battle.
I really don't know. I really don't understand. The only thing I'm sure of, is that I need others as I need air, and I need emotions in everything that I do. I have to desire a problem to climb it, I can't simply climb it because it's dry or in the shade: I have to somehow see it and get an instant crush for it. Maybe it's going to be a one night stand, or a love story, or a disaster, but emotions have to be in the game. Otherwise it's not a game worth playing.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

PLASTIC SOUL

I am mad for my board. It's mine and it's the best. Most of all, being mine, it has my rules. If you come here, and you want to touch it, you have to follow my rules, you can't do anything about it.
I am training regularly since completing it, the last weeks have seen three sessions on plastic, one easy day on rock mid week, and one "serious" day on rock in the weekend. I have put the Beastmaker aside for the moment, the last sessions on it had been very hard and my back 2 were a bick achey.
My training on the board consists in setting an easy problem, a harder problem to be completed in the session, and a project for the following session; to the present this has worked fine, I stuck to the program and pulled as hard as I could: the texture of the holds is still pretty rough, they have excellent friction but sessions can't last long because of skin. Anyway I can't last long either but I keep intensity quite high.
I keep focusing on core tension as usual, and I alternate shorter snatchy moves and long pulls.
I am satisfied, even not entirely, by the holds selection: I could not see them before, so I had to trust the manufacturer when I gave him the board details, and to be honest he sent me really nice holds, maybe a little bit too good for my likes, but the plan is to soon place 1 cm thick foot jibs and to ban the use of the holds as foot holds. This should sort things out, 1 cm is small, especially if they are perpendicular to a 53° board.
I've been having a project from the last four sessions now and it's hard. Want to climb it tomorrow, today it was simply too hard.
And there you go a little video.


Monday, 19 September 2011

SOME PICS




Here you are a few pictures from a finally cold Amiata top, from the Dolomites, from a day at school, and the first moves on the completed board at home. They pretty much cover the majority of my life.



I rarely have been so happy about the arrival of the fall. I know that when I'll get up in the next months and it will be cold, dark and wet, I'll probably change my mind, but for the moment I enjoy the freshness in the air, that yesterday made me cling to the rock effortlessly.
It's addicting.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

1080 LITTLE SCREWS


The board is almost finished. Yesterday, in an endless afternoon, I put the T-nuts on, with 1080 little screws. I had 360 T-nuts, and each one has three small holes for three little screws. That's why I drove 1080 little screws in, yesterday.
When buying the stuff, a few people, included the guy I bought everything from, told me not to buy and place three screws for each T-nut: after all, it's not going to be reset as often as a public wall, and being private it will suffer less abuse (ahah, they wish...). They said two screws were more than enough.
I refused and bought and put three little screws for each T-nut, because I am sure of few things in my life, but I'm sure that I want to do this job just one time, and the best way to do so, is to do it RIGHT the first time.
I don't want to be driving more little screws anytime soon or not: that's why I wanted all the screws in.
Whatever the task, there are only two ways to complete it: the right one and the wrong one.
I can't be sure that any of the T-nuts won't break or any of the little screws won't move or who knows what.
But the only way to do my best to do it right was to put THREE FUCKING LITTLE SCREWS FOR EACH T-NUT.
And that's what I did.

Friday, 9 September 2011

53 degrees.




In the pics, the Beastmaker on again, the system monster and a phase of the building.

No, it's not the temperature, although it's still over 30°.

53 degrees is how much my board overhangs.
The very day of my last post, after pressing "publish", I went and bought the beams to build the frame, after nights and nights spent sleeplessly obsessed by the thought of the construction details.
The walls of the room cannot bear any weight, they are super thin. So I thought the best way was to take advantage of the little geometry I know and build the frame from the angle formed by the wall and the floor, and the angle formed by the opposite wall and the ceiling: the hypothenuse of a rectangle triangle. I measured the height and the length and found out the beams had to be 5 meters long. So, I thought, I go there, I buy them, then I stuff them in and I'm golden. Hmmm... how do I carry them? All right, I'll spend a few Euros more and I'll get them delivered to my door. Luckily, before doing this, I thought "How do I get them into the room?". A quick round of measuring showed it impossible. Panic. The dream was dead even before starting. So, thinking about all the money I will save from not paying the rent in Florence anymore, I decided to have someone build it. I sent a few emails, but when I got the answers, with prices going from 1.600 Euros up, I had already seen the light. I bought 2,5 meters long beams, with other 2,5 meters long beams to join them together via 10 mm bolts. And that's exactly what I did. After a few more sleepless nights and some long drives to and from Florence spent thinking about what I was going to need and so on, I couldn't resist the tension anymore and went for it.
When I got home with the beams, I drilled and joined together the first three, and I put them in place and they fit, I felt like a god.
In just three afternoons the frame was done, and then I went to buy the panels.
I drilled them, but sadly here, in this remote country abandoned by God and civilization, it's impossible to find T-nuts. After hours of driving around, I found a hardware shop which had... 33 T-nuts. I only needed 327 more. So I have to wait, I can't put the panels up until they are T-nutted. Naturally, I couldn't resist the desire again, so I thought "fuck it" and put two panels on nonetheless, one third of the all board. The rest of the frame is still open, so I will place the T-nuts from behind, without dismounting the panels. I know it will be a pain in the ass but I don't care. I have my 1/3 of board on.
Then I made some holds from small (they seemed big to be honest, when sitting on the chair) wooden beams, I made them as precise and smooth as I could; then I made footholds, from a 1 cm thick beam ("You can't slip off 1 cm footholds!" Unclesomebody once told me), I drew some lines on the panels and screwed everything in place, system like.
The result is a monster.
I just can't stay on.
To put together two moves in a row, I had to TOEHOOK the edge of the panel!!! As the video here clearly shows, there's room for improvement!!!
So, while I wait for the holds to arrive, I have my Beastmaker on again, and the hardest system wall I ever touched.
The future is here.


Tuesday, 30 August 2011

THE THIN RED LINE

The thin red line which separates enthusiasm from idiocy, psyche from obsession, has been crossed again last Sunday.
The previous week had been the hottest of the whole summer, and of the last three decaded, with temps constantly in the 40's: it was quite incredible to read 26° when I got out at 7 AM each morning.
This climate made me feel incredibly weak and lethargic, I could not escape a nap in the afternoon, but miraculously I always found the mental energy to go to the small, cozy gym to push and pull tons of iron: I mean literally tons. Not in one time of course, but if you pause to reflect on it, it's amazing what those small little muscle fibers can do. In my pulley sets, I move more than 2.400 kilos.
Anyway, this was still ok.
Then came the weekend, and a drop in the temps; an increase was very unlikely to be honest. So, I don't know why, I felt incredibly strong all of a sudden, and on Saturday evening I thought that the following day, with the new fresh temps, was going to be the right one to put my project in its place.
I woke up at 8 and drove to the boulders. I got there and failed. I felt weak. I didn't manage to repeat one single problem, despite doing again the first part of the roof direct. But I was dryfiring off holds, and I had to squeeze the shit out of those holds in order to stay put; despite one good go I obviously did not complete my project.
Incredibly disappointed, and close to hang the shoes to the proverbial nail, I drove back home, only to be saved by the sight of a thermometer measuring 34°.
What I had taken for excellent conditions, was just a "normal" August temperature for central Italy, ten degrees less than the previous week, but maybe, only maybe, a little bit too much to climb your hardest problem to date.
So, after the wonderful Dolomites weekend and a boiling week, I am here with my mind completely absorbed by the wall I want to make: I would like to make it fast, but still I have to work everyday, and I can't decide what's best. I have taken the first half of October off, direction Swizzy. So I have five weeks to go. Should I take advantage of these weeks and focus only on weights and fingerboarding to get to the holiday with some juice and build the wall after my return, or should I try to build the wall super fast to try and train on it for at least three weeks, or else should I do half and half, training regularly and fitting in some wall building sessions?
Please advise.


Saturday, 27 August 2011

TWO FINGERS FOR YOU ALL AND FOR ME






From the 7 AM sessions, a few pics I'm quite proud of: they are about progressing. It's all about progressing. If you progress, you are on the right path, and I always want to be on that path.
The different expressions on my face tell a lot.


Tuesday, 23 August 2011

DOLOMITES REPRISE






In the pics, some great moves on great rock in a great setting. They only lack a great climber.

Every time I turn right, at the end of that private road that comes from my friend Filippo's house, I can't help but think that I am going in the wrong direction.
Down right, there is the valley, then the plain, the motorway, work, bills, rent.
Up left, at the end of the road, there are the mountains. A lot of rock.
When I turn right, I keep telling me that there are also a work that I enjoy a lot, and a girl I love (most of the time anyway). That makes the journey home more bearable, but there is always another bastard of a thought that comes in: "Why can't I have a nice job and my girlfriend up here?".
Anyway, after one year I went back to the Dolomites, this time just for bouldering. It's been great, sunny and hot, really hot, but chilly in the nights, so that I had to sleep in my sleeping bag, in the van. Bliss. I mean, really bliss. What's better than crushing (kind of...) all day long in the sun, then eat as much as you want, then get into your van in a nice grass field just beside a house where all your climbing friends are, and sleep for 9 straight hours?
The weather was superb, not even the slightest of afternoon showers. I climbed a lot, a fucking lot, a whole lotta love, too much simply.
DOMS and sunburnt made my back and shoulders painful during the second day, but hey, that's a small price to pay.
I did a few new problems and I repeated a few old ones, adding a super low start to a problem I did years ago: three more moves, now Keith and James have to come back and flash it again ah ah!
I also managed to repeat "Dolomitenmann", a problem that is so evident yet completely unknow to the climbing world. You cannot find anything about it on the Net, except my own blog entry. It's really a brilliant problem, and not easy also: this time I did it at the end of my second day, but I had to fight hard!!! I am doing some comparisons with other problems of mine with confirmed grades, I hope to get a better idea over the weekend.
Checking some guy's guide, I found out that none of the problems I had done had a sitstart, before I did them. I don't really know how people judge lines: they were the most evident sitstarts ever. Kind of...
Finally, a small video of one of the many overhangs I visited in these two days.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

THERE'S A RIGHT TIME FOR EVERYTHING

In the pic, showing who's the real beast.

I am here at home, waiting to go out and join my friends to see the Palio.
I remember that years ago, these days didn't bring anything except tiring days spent together having fun and doing silly things, and endless, sleepless nights of partying.
Now everything is different, I get sick with two drinks, and climbing never leaves my mind: after a night out, the following morning I think about recovering soon and well enough for my next session, and I know that I should be more disciplined, especially when I have so little time to go out. So the other day I got up early and went bouldering. The night before had been very relaxed, and I had a beasty day out. Despite the high temps The Roof was in good nick and a scientific preparation with Antihydral the previous days provided the necessary grip.
I was with my girlfriend and with the dog, and I've had a wonderful time. I repeated the roof direct twice on two attempts, then I repeated "The Green Room..." again twice on three attempts.
Those feelings, especially on the direct, will remain with me for a very long time: feeling the holds as different holds from ever before is a great sensation, and even greater being able to detach and watch oneself going to the next hold in a previous unimagined and unimagnable control.
So, while the nights on the whiskey leave a trace of hangovers, tiredness and waste, the hours on the boulders, sometimes, leave a heritage of joy and power forever.
I don't regret the many nights wasted, because I have great memories, I have met amazing girls and laughed just too much, but now I can't feel completely free when I'm out, I know that my goals are so hard that I have to be serious, disciplined and completely focused.
It's been good until it lasted, but now I'm up for something else, that I feel much more important.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

ON THE DEATH OF AMY WINEHOUSE AND OTHER THINGS NOT RELATED TO DEATH

Amy Winehouse's death is one of the closest things to an ancient Greek tragedy I've ever seen. It could have been written by Sophocles, really.
You have the Hero, and it's a tragic hero, because she obviously dies, and you know she's going to die from the very first moment, from when you hear her sing "No no no" to rehab. The tragic hero is completely alone, yet surrounded by many people: it's the Chorus. In the Greek tragedy the Chorus speaks the voice of wisdom: he knows it all, and is close to the Gods. Everyone knew what she was doing, and sometimes they've tried to help her, but the Hero's will is stronger than anyone else and she keeps her track, believing that she can escape her Fate. She can't, because she's left alone by all her closest ones. How can I tell? Because otherwise she wouldn't be dead. Watch her performance at "Shepherd's Bush Empire" in London in 2007: have you ever seen a star searching for friends, relatives and boyfriend in the public so often? She does it all the time. She feels alone on stage, you know it and you cannot do anything to help her.
Why not every single star's death can resemble a Greek tragedy? Because often the big stars commit the terrible sin of Hubris, the sin against the Gods, the arrogance of the human being refusing to be human and wanting to be god-like. She never seemed, to me, like that. She seemed a little girl, all alone, in desperate search of some joy, unable to keep anyone close, or maybe to little and too fragile to have someone really close. Many other stars live unreal lives. No one can really empathize with them: when they die, it's the death of a myth, maybe, but of an unknow person nonetheless. Someone you'd never get to know really. With Amy I think it's been the opposite: she apparently had a normal life of normal problems. She did not live in a 56 rooms mansion in Santa Monica. She didn't marry five or six multi millionaires. She didn't have secret sons around, and she's never been found buying boats or expensive jewels. In its tragedy, her life was more real than any other star's life. That's why she died. Because in real life, if you have an addiction to drugs and alcohol, you die. In the stars' life, you do go to rehab, you detox, you also get the chance to fix a few imperfections with botox and surgery, and there you go, ready for next year's world tour.
So, if the public didn't empathize with the Hero, if the spectator did not view himself in the hero, the overall aim and reason of the tragedy was lost: this aim was the "kàtharsin ton toioùton pathemàthon" the purification of the viewer's emotions through the act of living those emotions and dying because of those emotions in the person of the Hero. That's why Amy Winehouse's death, in my opinion, is a Greek tragedy. Because everyone could empathize with her. She could be one friend of yours. One friend you cannot help enough. Or a friend's daughter, or yours. You want to help her, you try to, you think you've made it, then you turn around (by accident or willingly?) for a second and she's gone.
I think her only sin has been to sometimes waste her enormous talent. But that's typical of a tragic hero.
On another subject, I keep beasting my elbow as much as I can. I keep moving weights in the gym and I keep dangling from the Beastmaker and I keep going to the boulders despite the +30°.
I made progresses on the Beast, hanging for the first time the small monos with my ring fingers, and doing front levers on back two on the deep pockets. On the real thing I repeated my very own "La Stanzina Verde...", which to me is hard.
Keep the faith and hug the big monkey man.






Friday, 29 July 2011

A LIGHT

Sometimes I find myself wondering, à la Chatwin, "What am I doing here?". I mean, how can we find in ourselves the truth that our path is the right one? We can try to, but sometimes we just cannot be sure. Sometimes we realize that our path is not the right one, but obviously this is of little help: there is often only one way to do a thing right, and many ways to do it wrong.
"Notre vie est un voyage dans l'hiver et dans la nuit, nous cherchons notre passage dans le ciel où rien ne luit" is the epigraph at the beginning of the famous novel "Voyage au bout de la nuit", and it is something I deeply believe in.
Today the light in the sky, to help me find my way, and to help me know I'm on the right path, came under the form of a picture, shot by one of my students, a very bright one, a week ago. On the back, she thanked me for what I'd taught her: "something I'd have never learnt otherwise".
It's a light, and now I can put my head down and start walking again with renewed enthusiasm and energy.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

MORNINGS, WOOD AND IRON

We all know that sometimes what others think about us is not true: for instance, and that's strange and probably the only case in climbing history, I have discovered more than once that people say that I have climbed routes or problems that in fact I haven't done. How this happens is impossible to understand to me, but given that life imitates art, it does happen.
What I found out recently, on the other hand, is much more important: I found out that some other times what we think about ourselves is not true. And I found it from nowhere.
I am lazy. I like to sleep a lot, and to concentrate all my energies in just what I like. If I could get a taxi right to the boulders, I would. This is what I thought, and it's not true. I found out that I like the walk to the blocs. What I dislike is, in reality, having to do that walk after hours driving on my own, and carrying four pads. Anyway, I'm digressing.
I don't like mornings and early starts. I have had to get up early in the past to go to work, when I was living in Rome, or in the Notary firm in Grosseto, and I hated it. Wrong again. I didn't hate the early start, I hated all that came afer that, the traffic, the jobs, the people. I hated getting back home so late that I ended my training session at 10,45 PM and I hated never having the time for anything.
It's not when you get up, it's what you get up for, that really matters.
A month ago, my girlfriend started her 5 years residency at Siena hospital, and one day, all of a sudden, I found myself wondering "What am I doing here in Florence?".
The answer was simple, I am here for work, I work here therefore I live here. Hmm, that's right but maybe a little bit too rational. What do I have in my life, beside a job that I love? I have my best friends. Most of them are in Siena, and the ones that live in Florence, I seldom meet them. Then I have my climbing. Is it easy to get to climb in Florence? No. Do I like the gyms in Florence? No. Hmmm... Reflect. Then I obviously have my girlfriend. Do I like seeing here just in the weekends? No. Do I like having to fit love and rock all in the small time of a weekend? Not at all.
What do I do in Florence, so? I wake up. I have breakfast, and I go to school. I work, I get back home and I do some kind of training. Then I have dinner, I watch some TV or kill it on the Net, then it's bed time.
Wow, what a life. It's really unbelievable, I know, but right now that I only do weights and fingerboarding, if I don't go sport climbing with someone, I can spend an entire week without talking to anyone, except my students or collegues. My human relationships are at an all time low.
So probably until now I hadn't ever felt the need to give my life a change, but the other day it dawned to me: I have to move back to Siena and to start commuting to work every morning.
WHAT? An early start. Yes, an early start. But this time for a job I love, not hate. For spending more time with my girlfriend. For building my own board, and starting again teaching climbing classes. For being able to meet a friend in the afternoon if I like. For being closer to the boulders.
I feel this is the right thing to do, because it goes against every logic: it will make things more difficult and less comfy, but I know that I have to try.
So with this idea in my mind, I have started the early wake up in the past week, while still leaving in Florence, to get used to it. I didn't even think that 6,30 exist also in the AM, but I found out not only this hour does exist in the mornings also, it can actually be a nice moment.
There is definitely something strange in the air when you start your first dead hang set and the clock says 6,59. I had never done it before, but I thought that the best use of these freshly gained hours in the morning, before using them to commute, was to put in some Beastmaker sessions. It felt great to be honest, it's a shame my left elbow does not allow me to push as I'd like.
Going to bed very early has been crucial. I never had to take a nap in the afternoon in the whole week, despite packing in quite a lot of hours of hours of work too: I have trained at will, following the program with no problems and also managing a couple of double sessions, Beast in the morning, weights in the afternoon. On this matter, I am currently doing weights twice a week, short sessions of 15x4 to sort my elbow out and staying fit. Kilograms keep adding up and I am satisfied. It's not how long you are in the gym, it's what you do in the gym, and I want to do it right. I hope to recover from my elbow problems and to start moving big piles of iron plates soon.
On rock I feel as weak as a kitten. I can't lock off, I can't pull and my body tension is non existant.
I have taken many wrong decisions in my life. This one can be just another wrong one, and in this case it won't make any difference, or the right one, making all the difference. We will see.
Everything is very confused and very simple: keep the fucking faith up and the fucking head down.

Monday, 18 July 2011

INJURY IS HERE

I think, I almost sure that I am really injured. My left elbow had been on and off in the last weeks, but after Saturday night it's quite sore.
I am trying to understand what went wrong, not to repeat the error in the future (ahah, if only that could be possible!!!): I think that the first sign of serious fatigue was after an assisted one armers session on the Beastmaker. I simply did too much: two one armers for each arm on various types of holds. At that point everything was under control really, and the first bad hit came from a PE session: I felt it achey before even starting, nonetheless I went through the sets, one after the other. Is the mind stronger than the body? Yes and no...
Anyway, the Siena comp also played its role, the overhanging holdless dihedrals smashed my shoulders and for sure compressed again my elbows.
So up to this point I was still confident: pulling up on the Beast was out of question, but on the rock I felt at ease and the post session icing was doing its little miracle each time. I have woken up a couple of times thinking that it had passed really.
Then came Saturday night, and its fever. The program for the night was a party at the gym at the sea, then straight to Tartana Club, Marco Bresciani spinning and mixing for us.
The night involved a large amount of the following ingredients: pulling on plastic holds; alcohol consumpion; loud music; barely dressed girls in high heels.
As you can imagine, it's been absolutely fantastic, but my elbow was fried yesterday and is still sore. I will do weights today, let's see how it goes under the lat machine...
In case you don't believe that I had great fun the other night, these small videos from my phone could convince you.