Saturday, 22 November 2008


As you may guess, I'm still in a precarious situation, Internet wise. To be honest, even having a decent connection, I wouldn't have posted much more, or at least nothing really interesting.
I finally did some tests and next monday will start a new training program straight from The Guru's lab. Alot of wall and not much fingerboarding. Just that little bit to keep the records.
I'm happy because I found out I didn't lose much from the last tests of the late spring and now. Strangely, I've progressed on some fields. Fingers are still good (nothing exceptional) and the guns are loaded (not as the USS Missouri guns, but decent).
The numbers: one armers on a jug, 4 RH, 3 LH; dead hang on incut 2 cm edge, 13 seconds RH, the half LH; dead hang on 1 cm flat edge, 5 seconds RH, the half LH. Nothing crimped.
What I would like to tell you is the incredible sensation of feeling my body completely different. It's not only because finally my testicles descended and I put up some beard, but also because I move differently on the boulders and on plastic. My friends noticed it and they told me.
I'm happy, also because every morning I wake up and I know that I'm going to work in a room with 10 to 15 young girls eager to learn stuff from me.

Monday, 10 November 2008


"Warren Harding is not coming down." This is how John "Largo" Long describes the first instants of Harding's epic nihgt bolting the Headwall to make the first ascent of El Cap. He wasnt' going to quit, as simple as that. Whit these words deeply carved in my mind, I took my chances, on friday night, and drove 400 kms to the Dolomites to close a problem at the Città dei Sassi area, hoping that the around zero temps would make the previous days' rain dry or freeze. I tell you right now: I failed. I didn't climb the problem, despite, seriously, being able to, and now I will have to wait for the ski season to end, and for the winter snow to melt.
How can I tell I could have done it? Because I feel it. Because I did all the moves many times, and because I only failed on the crux move (that's why it's the crux) cruising the rest of the problem, including the straight exit, which not only is safer than the original, delivering you on the pads, if you screw, instead of in a rocky pit of horror, but, even more importantly, it's also harder, involving a hard cross through and a dropdown move before the topout. It's a hybrid sequence, I know, but since the problem is an eliminate, I can choose to climb it without risking fractures, if it's also harder.
The first move is an easy one, from a good left had edge to a good undercling. Never fallen there. The second one takes you from the undercling, with your left hand to a good, but downfacing edge, with just that small catch on the lip that enables you to cling on. Never fallen on that. Then you have to swap feet, drop your right knee, transform your body in a steel plate and match with right hand on another decent edge, again downfacing. I only fell there once, when my left had ripped from the greased edge and I smashed my right tricep on the boulder underneath. It hurts alot and I've been lucky not to hit my elbow. Then there's the crux. Again swap feet, you take your left foot as high as your left hand on a seam, you bolt it there and you drop down your left knee, with your leg vertically to the ground. You keep your right shoulder in place with some additional power and you go left hand to the last crimp, a good one, luckily almost horizontal. Then, if you want to risk your legs, you dyno to the right, and you better catch the jug, otherwise a heli rescue awaits; if you don't, you do my exit. Right foot on spike, again steel tension and you cross with right had to a good seam, you drop down left hand and match, go to the lip and mantle safely with your body directly over the pads (and a rock, anyway...).
Am I sad? Yes, alot. My girlfriend spotted me in sub zero temps for some hours, and I couldn't reward her with the send.
Am I happy? Yes, I am. I tried this problem in july 07, and man, I was light years far. The only good thing was that I had four pads and two strong spotters (instead of two pads and a girl of this last weekend) and I could do the dangerous exit (and that's why I know mine is harder). One year later I unlocked all the moves in just a couple of hours, and managed to have a few good tries, feeling close to the send.
I can still feel my body in the crux move, I can feel how good it felt to static that move, to static the matching, to dropdown to the seam. These feelings can't lie. So why didn't I do it? Because climbing is no maths. Because cold temps can't make it even with 80% humidity. Because I was feeling guilty watching my girlfiriend freezing between my attempts despite having also a wool blanket. Because I was very sad about being deprived of good friction, and finally, because I couldn't just crush it.
So what now? Nothing, just more hard work. The same hard work that I'd put in with the send under my arm. Yes, just the same. Maybe just that little bit of plus motivation. I tried. It didn't go. That doesn't take anything from the general dignity of the effort.
The important thing is that I didn't come down without knowing that I had given it my whole self, my whole body, my whole mind, my relationship, my left tricep, my righ shin, my cut Solution's velcro lace, my car's stolen stereo, everything that happened during these two days I devoted to the problem: my faillure and my success. My happiness and my sadness. Every moment I spent awake in my bed, every meter I drove with my car. Every thought, every calory, every laugh.
To be fulfilled in a failure, is both a nightmare and a dream come true.

Sunday, 2 November 2008


The first one is mine: going bouldering today has been a very stupid choice, despite the initial psyche. Over 20°, again, Goddammit, Godfuckingdammit, I can't stand it no more. Plus clouds and humidity. I didn't do a single problem above 6a, and the only good things were some good chatting with a local, and again climbing without tape. Moreover, a mega traffic jam on the way back, I got stuck and it took me four fucking hours to get back home, double as usual and more or less the same as coming back from Cresciano.
The second one is of one of the locals of where I was today. I already knew his singular grading policy, but today I got some confirmations that he's just a real idiot. The local guy who I was climbing with today is one of his friends, and still he told me "He's paranoid about grades" about him, as we were trying one of his problems: a traverse, that he gave originally 7c after freeing it, that quickly he brought down to 7b/7b+. Now it's given 7a/7a+, with someone already talking about barely 7a. Why, you sure want to know. Because they (he and his band of psychotics) downgrade problems when they are repeated by someone who, in their opinion, is not strong. I couldn't believe what I was being told, literally. A sort of Gill scale, but fifty years later, and with just a subjective, personal and arbitrary perspective.
The third form is again mine. I always pay too much attention to what others think, and often I can never distinguish between the ones who deserve respect and attention, and the ones who are just idiots. I respect the second ones far too much sometimes, instead of just laughing at their stupidity and mala fides. Yes, because now I think that not everyone practice fair play. I don't mean that they don't send the problems, they do, but then they use their ability to confuse the others, instead of to inform them, to humiliate the others, instead of to cheer them. They use their ability and talent, which are big, as a weapon against others, in a battle that's fought to deprive everyone else but them of the search for improvement, for progress. In this battle they fight to steal you your time, the time you put into your training, because you'll never get good, because as soon as you'll climb a grade harder, they will erase that grade, and you will find yourself at the starting point again, having lost your trophy again. I hate him, I hate his comrades, I hate their idiocy and I hate mine, because only now I can see it. Before, I could just see wads crushing big grades, now I can only see poor remainings of humans, deprived of happiness, whose only source of pleasure is in this sadic game, in which, sadly, until today I played a sorry role: the idiot.

Saturday, 1 November 2008


I’m very very, but I mean very, tired. In the last ten days I think I only had one or maybe two really good sessions. This means that all the others have been somehow lost. To consider these sessions lost may seem stupid, and to lose a session may seem unimportant. But as I said before, every lost session is a missed opportunity to move forward, and to me now not moving forward, not progressing, isn’t like standing still, it means going back. Every lost session means pushing your fingers so that they are damaged, instead of pushed; it means stealing rest from your muscles; it means burning your tips so that they will be thin on the rock; it means, most of all, getting home from the gym not happy. So now I’m very very low, I feel weak as hell, I climb weakly, I look weak. My body flexes when it should keep my feet on the footholds, my ass is heavy and so is my mind. I don’t think light. My fingertips burn on the holds after few moves. My left pinky and my right ring finger scream at every move. And still I can’t rest. When do I start from now? And even more important, where do I go from here? The only direction is obviously forward. I start from the tests I did last Tuesday, luckily at the end of the session, and they weren’t that bad at all. The main thing for me is to fully recover my fingers, to keep climbing without tape and to keep body and mind fresh. One other issue, lately, is the food. I am perpetually hungry and I am perpetually eating: gone are the days when two cups of yoghurt and muesli used to fuel me until 10 30 pm, now I starve after half an hour, despite eating loads. I really can’t eat much more than this: I lack time, if not physical volume. The funny side of this is that my girlfriend now hates me when I’m eating, and gives me every kind of insult because, as she likes to say, I eat as if it was the last bit of food on the planet. My great friend Eric once told me that when I eat I’m a “Polite Barbarian”, meaning that I am polite and educated, but then I eat the food just like a beast. I hardly breathe. I really like how I eat, it makes me feel very alive in that moment.