Monday, 31 March 2008


Rock is rock.
Yesterday I managed to get some climbing outside of a plastic and chalk filled gym, and it's been just great.
I had done a small fingerboard session late on saturday night, just to give my body a wake up call, and not to let it forget that this moment of finesse and technique refinement goes along with the search of the ultimate power, like a nuclear plant that regenerates itself.
We were at Chiesina, home of the infamous roof (ex) project, and of some serious pulling on finger eating trachyte.
Ahh, the feeling of the shoes actually sticking on something not polished, the texture of the rock, the wind, the sun, the unimaginable power that comes from having a few nice girls around. Testosterone pulling, that was.
I felt very good, very good. I did the usual circuit with some nice variations without breaking a sweat, and at the end of the day I did the 7b+/7c version of the roof, the easiest line with a left exit. It must get a name, it's getting complicated now...
In the meanwhile I had tried the hardcore line under the roof, the eliminate, the project of a lifetime, and finally with a small foot adjustment I manged to do the only one move that still I hadn't done, from the vertical pinch to the small small crimp. So now I've done all the moves, I just have to put them together. It's worth remembering, to myself mostly, that the first move is still goddamn hard, proof is that yesterday I couldn't do it, although I only had three goes at it and anyway nearly got it.
Thinking again on the grade matter, especially about the two hard lines I sent this winter, Out of Service and The First of the Mohicans, yesterday was a very important day. It confirmed my thoughts, they are both very hard, in the 8a range. Why so? Because I've struggled alot on them, much more than on other problems of slightly lower grade. I've climbed in The Cave of Justice recently, and know what power is, but even if I couldn't climb much, I was able to do Rock Atrocity in two halves after 36 hours of traveling with 3 hours of sleeping. I have done 7b+ and 7b's in Fontainebleau in a few goes, in less than a couple of hours, doing all the moves very quickly and falling off due to bad climbing or just being pumped. I have almost done 7c in Font, and done all the moves bar one on a 8a there.
So if I'm fit, if I'm climbing on my terrain (steep rock with powerful moves), and if conditions are average, if I can't manage a move at least half of the tries it must be hard.
Yesterday proved that these two problems are damn hard.
Another proof is the recent trip to California of a few italian pullers amongst which there was the climber who had climber Out of Service first. Needless to say he quickly dispatched Mandala 8a+, and found many many 8a's there "very very soft". He clearly has no clue about grades and clearly had no clue about Out of Service grade.
Finally, I resolved to sandpaper my gym climbing shoes' soles, let's see if they stick or suck.

Saturday, 22 March 2008


I like campusing. It's a very useful tool, and it can be alot funnier than many other excercises, because the combination of moves is almost endless: going up, pliometrics, jumps, whatever works.

Anyway, I always complain aobut the campusboard we have at the gym, and with good reason I think: they've mounted it very slightly overhanging, almost vertical, and it sits on a thick wooden beam, so that under the first rung you still have a good 15 cm of wood. This, with being not enough overhanging (the good old usual 15°), makes you hit the board when you go for long distances, or hit the lower beam with your hips, or drag your hips on the lower rungs. It sucks.

Moreover, they fucking painted the rungs, with a water based paint, the same paint they used for the walls, where (could this be enlightening for them?) the coloured tape for the problem doesn't stick, because the paint is very slippery and keeps seeping water.

Needless to say, the rungs are very slippery as well. Add to this all the fact that they are just square rungs, simply screwed to the board, so that the contact surface is not incut, not even slightly, but perpendicular to the board, and therefore downfacing.

Downfacing flat hold + slippery paint = impossible to really train.

So, even if this sounds untrue, I have campussed very seldom lately, and that's why yesterday, I wanted to test myself on my good, solid, home board. It is overhanging, it has plenty of space for your legs, wooden, rounded, a bit incut, grippy rungs. Its only drawback is that when I built it I didn't know that in The School Room rungs are 22,5 cm apart. I know that every other campusboard in the world, non UK based, has 20 cm spaced rungs, but if in The School Room it's 22,5 I want 22,5.

All this boring preface, is just to say that I'm still able to campus 148 left hand, 158+ right hand, and 147 (left hand) and 158 (right hand) with 5 kilos on.

Obviously, I campussed very technically also.

Friday, 21 March 2008


Spring is here, with its blossoms, flowers, birds chirping, girls going around semi naked.
It's grim here, it's cold and rainy and I can't climb. In more than one meaning, as you know.
This is my latest obsession: being strong (I started thining I still don't imagine what being really strong means) and unable to climb. I'm sad. Sad.
Should I go with my instinct, I would spend the next months dangling from a campusboard or fingerboard, to attain a level of power that would just be ridiculous. This just to boost my confidence and propel me up on problems.
I don't know if I will regret this choice, but I've chosen not to do this. It's nice to pull on crimps to impress your buddies, but it's much nicer to find yourself on top of boulder problems harder than 6a.
Yesterday, in a massive moment of self consciousness (and crazyness maybe) I wrote to The Guru and asked him to set my next months' training program absolutely leaving behind fingerboard and campusboard sessions, anc concentrating just on climbing. He quickly replied with the usual enthusiasm, already explaining his ideas and general planning, and this made me happy, really happy and eager to start this new thing. I will be less impressive on small wooden holds, but maybe I'll start sending, instead of blogging.




Keith did Partage, 8a+ in Font, quickly.
This is the proof that my previous post was right, I was right, and you should never disagree with what I say.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008


This title may sound strange to many. But it's something I want to tell, and I hope the man won't be disappointed.
Keith is an excellent climber. I don't mean in terms of power and climbing achievements, I mean also in technical terms. I have to say it's been quite inspiring to climb with him in Font, besides all the pressure it put on me: it's hard to climb with someone who will warm up on your projects, and without much hassle, also. I was feeling guilty at times, to keep him hours under problems I was trying after he had quickly dispatched, but I was sure he would have told me if it had been a problem.
Anyway, I was saying he is a very technical climber. I know I've climbing very very poorly lately, mainly due to an enormous gain in power in the winter that left me completely unbalanced, but seeing Keith smoothly finding good foot placement and positions was at the same time humbling and psyching. He could go along easily with just raw power, no doubt about that, but clearly he is not satisfied by that: he wants to be a good climber, and is attaining his goal. I know how he works for that, and yesterday at the gym I started trying to emulate him.
I really want to say this all because it's easy to misjudge him because his display of power. The man works hard, and deserves to be considered for what the really is: a strong, excellent climber.


Sunday, 16 March 2008


It's over. This epic is over.

I'm at home now, sending CV's out to look for a job, thinking about the feeling of that sloper on my hand, of that crimp cutting in between my fingers, of my body in tension.
I will search again for all these feelings in my mind, to recall those exact sensations, waiting for another moment when they will become true part of reality again.
Am I happy? Yes.
Am I satisfied? No.
Should I be satisfied? Yes again.

Self consciousness, I said.

Well, I gained some of that in the last two weeks, really. In terms of climbing, I reckoned that setting hard tasks, unless they are unreal or impossible to gain, is the key. I've sent many hard problems in this trip (because let's face it, 7b's are not world standard at all, but for me they can still be damn hard) while trying harder problems. So probably this is why I can't be completely satisfied, because I've done these problems quite easily, as a distraction, as soon as I was a bit rested, with some sort of climbing technique back, and some average conditions. Because of this, I think that if I had had more time, I could have done Rock Atrocity, Balance, Salle Gosse, and probably Ouzo too.
It's not an excuse, time. It's quite a real fact. It's hard to perform at your maximum level on single day pursuits. On Ouzo, twenty tries to find good beta destroyed me, and I had nothing left when I finally find the good sequence: I'm not Keith. This example works for everything.

Self consciousness.

I have to find a job. In this trip I've understood that if I put everything into climbing, I lost part of the pleasure, because I'm not that good at it to make my life of it. So if I make my life around one single thing I'm not too good at, my life becomes not too good.
As simple as that.

Self consciousness.
I really love my girlfriend.

Thursday, 13 March 2008


Today we had a nice, full climbing day. I did another 7b, but was disappointed by not being able to do a few crucial moves on a 8a I was interested in doing. I spent three hours trying the moves and finally the possible sequence for me came out. In the meanwhile, Keith hicked it: if anynithing, this trip taught me how to climb under pressure. He was very kind anyway, and waited for me to have another 23 goes before finding out said sequence. I think it could be possible for me to do it, no, wait, I'm sure I can do it, I just don't know if I can do it in this trip, a subtle but important difference.
Anyway, after that I moved to Balance and had some nice goes, before starting feeling tired, greasing off the first hold, and being unable to use my right bicep, which seems to be receiving a serious workout in these days: oh well it will flex better on the beach this summer...
Hey, wait a minute, wasn't I going to spend the summer in Magic Wood? Well it will flex good there as well.
So, I have only a few hours of tomorrow (train at 5 pm), and still don't know what to do. Balance or Ouzo or a last minute effort on Fata Morgana? Dammit, five climbing days just aren't enough for me to tick hard stuff.
Then again, I think I'm a stupid bastard not to be jumping around with joy for what I've already climbed. Last time I was here, may 2007 (boiling) I did two or three 7a's. Now I've done at least two 7b's, one 7b+, and something else. Stupid stupid me, rejoice.
I have to tell you something about self consciousness, but not now.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008


Today I found out I have one day less than I remembered. Some bad phone calls from home made me almost go and get the first train home, to put an end to this, but resisted to the assaults and tightened my helmet. During all this thinking, I realized my train back home is on friday night, not saturday. D'ho.
Anyway today I climbed at Cul de Chien, taking a few pics on Le Biboquet boulder, maybe the most famous boulder in the forest. I want loads of pics from this trip. I don't have the courage to try Le toit, it's far too high for me. Maybe one day.
Then we went to Roche au Sabots, where I managed to do one problem I first tried in 2001...
A few burly moves into a delicate mantle for a nice, quite hard tick. I'm glad I was climbing better with each try, and to be honest when I did it I crushed it.
Then it was the time of Salle Gosse, I problem I always had dreamt about trying. I didn't do it, but moved well on it until the jump move to the top. One go too many, and again I ripped the finger I ripped on Blockbuster, so I left and crawled under a half meter tall 7b+ roof, the lowest lowball of the world, just to fall in the heinous topout on rounded nothings.
Huge, excellent dinner at Maisonbleu.
What else? Nothing, apart two more days.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008


Rain on climbing trips is bad, because it keeps you from climbing and gives you too much time for thinking. In my case, thinking about my climbing, especially about how poor it's being: apparently, in the last months, I learnt how to put all my bodyweight, and then more, on one hand's fingers, but I forgot how to put grams on my shoes. It's quite depressing to be honest, but definitely something to work on. Something more to work on. Dammit, it never ends, the learning I mean.
Anyway, yesterday we had a quick go at Cuvier Rempart, and could barely put our shoes on before being washed away. It seems that my cocky finish on the last post brought bad karma. So we had a fingerboarding session, with a few warm up problems on the board. Keith's warm ups turned out to be my next year's projects, so I tried some satisfaction on the fingerboard: I think I'm ok in terms of power, but if I don't start climbing properly, we have a problem.
Today we climbed again at Rempart, for an entire amount of ten minutes, before a very fine rain started to soak the holds and ourselves. Tried an interesting bear hug 7b problem and again NEARLY did it, could have done it and Goddammit should have done it. Many tries in a short time in the rain led to a bad bad wrist that will obvioulsly hinder my climbing tomorrow, with good conditions.
I don't want to be a whiny bastard, but I need to get something done.

Monday, 10 March 2008


I think I have to talk about the climbing, enough with good feelings and friends, let's talk about grades.
I went for the first time to Parisella's Cave and I liked. The climbing is very very physical, to say the least, and I had a grat time trying to pull long distances between bad holds. I wanted to do Rockatrocity, and after warming up I left the ground for a flash attempt. I know it would have been newsworthy, but I tried nonetheless, and surprised myself as I was going through moves. The crux for me was the long reach to the sloper, and I fell there many times. Then I got nervous because I started feeling more and more tired by the minute, and previous night's three hours of sleep didn't help. I had a few good goes, did it in two halves but couldn't complete it. Sad, I was eager for this historical Moffatt tick. We had more climbing on Texas Karaoke Massacre, and after another two more tries on RA at dusk, we went to the pub.
Good, good day.
Caley was brilliant the following day. It was fucking hard to get used to the grit after an entire winter with very very few climbing outdoor. Anyway I did a few cool cool propblems and then tried Blockbuster. It is quite intimidating standing there and seeing the holds up there, but it's been great to work myself into the problem better and better with each go, and I seriously know I could have done it in the session, would I haven't ripped one finger from the sharp crimp. I started bleeding all over the place, on my and Jim's crashpad, on the rag, that now resembles to a butcher's towel, on my pants. I taped and had a few goes on Ju Ju Club. It felt good, I thought I couldn't do the first long reaches, but could, and I got psyched, but darkness came and we had to call it a day.
Climbers' night in Sheffield.
Font now.
Yesterday we managed to have two sessions with a rainy lunch break. I tried Pince Moi with stupid beta, and Biceps Mou, that Keith almost flashed and promptly sent. Strong strong Keith. After lunch he took me to a nice 8a roof, that we really crushed: BRUSHING one hold I realized it was flexing. Trying the moves we realized every single hold was flexing, big chunks of rock could have fallen on the climber's chest and face, in a powerful attempt. We did a 7a problem trying not to rip the holds as well, and went away.
Buthiers was dry, and while driving there I remembered why it was on my mind, because I wanted to try Magic Bus when I was here in may last year. So I got into it, and with Keith's help for beta, and pressure ("you better do it quickly, it's already dark"), in twenty minutes it was mine.
So, success. Success.
Now I go have lunch, because the rain stopped, the sun came out, the wind is blowing and we want to climb.

Sunday, 9 March 2008


In the last days I've moved through north Europe with public transports, starving in 8 hours coach rides across France, sleeping in buses, jogging in train aisles, and hating every second of that.
Then at 6.30 one morning, I got to sleep on a bed in a friend's house, and then I climbed. After one second nothing of the hassle I had gone through was anymore in my mind, I was just happy, and I got happier, as I kept meetind friends, touching new boulders, and feeling part of a climbing community I always loved.
You never know until you go.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008


I'm trying to control my breathing. Without success. I've put so much into this trip: months of training, months of stealing time from my realationship, months of sleep deprivation to go to the gym, kilometers of finger tape, buckets of chalk.
I can really feel I'm going to do something serious.
Maybe there's a point at which you invest so much that everything grows bigger than you, bigger than what you put into it, and acquires its own life. It stands behind you and whispers "you better do well you fucking poser".
I'm ready to give myself.
Will it suffice?
One thing I know is that I'm climbing really bad. My feet are always light, free of wheight.
This is nice on the campusboard, but will it be funny when falling from problems?
We will see.
I'm so happy I will meet my brit friends, in UK or France it doesn't matter. I want to meet my friends, I'm going to meet my friends.

Saturday, 1 March 2008


I was listening to Steppenwolf's "Born to be wild" the other day. At some point it says "fire all of your guns at once, and explode into space".

They don't write lyrics like these nowadays.

Goddammit I'm going to fire them all at once.


Today is my last day at work.
Tuesday I will leave for England first, then Fontainebleau.
This is what I'll bring with me:
- one arm deadhang on 1 cm edge;
- three one armers on 2 cm edge;
- one onearmer on 2 cm edge with 5 kg;
- campus 147 on slopers.
Not much more.