Tuesday, 30 March 2010


This is a small vademecum for the beginner, especially, but it may result useful for many. It comes from years and years of observations and reflections, it's a simple list of -hopefully- clever advices not to be labelled as an idiot after your first step in the gym.
1) Camouflage. Try to look as others look. Do not wear stupid clothes or funky hats. You're not worth it. When you'll be strong you can wear all you want, but for the moment, please pass unnoticed. '60s style Tie and Dye pants straight from an LDS trip are banned even if you flash Font 8c.
2) We don't give a fuck. Do not wear, in the climbing gym, t-shirts of some other discipline, especially from competions you may or may not have attended or won. Just because we don't give a fuck if you are an Olympic gold medalist of some sort, in the climbing gym you are just another fucking punter greasing our favourite holds, so please, at least don't try to look cool.
3) Emulate, but do not replicate. Just because the gym's owner does some campusing, you're not supposed to campus. The simple thing that he climbs 8b and you climb 5b should suggest you something. Use your training time wisely because you're not immortal.
4) The walking advert. Please, please, do not wear a single brand from head to socks, or you'll be forever known as "Mr. E9" or "Lady Sportiva". Reflect: no one is going to think that you may be sponsored, so, unless you want to raise the Bloomberg rating of your favourite climbing brand, buy from different brands or at least wear only one garment at a time.
5) Try to understand what you do. Why, please tell us why you come into the gym fully dressed in cool climbing clothes, telling everyone how much you paid for them, but then you still climb with shitty shoes borrowed from the gym? Maybe you didn't notice the dozens of climbing shoes on the shop's shelves, or the fetish climbers have for climbing shoes?
6) Do not die in the gym. If you ignored advice N.3 and get on the campusboard, when you fail to latch a rung, please don't try to catch any other rung on the way down. Just fall off. The sound of your fingers snapping from every line of rungs is horrible and recalls memories of injuries.
7) Talk the talk. Do not talk the talk until you can walk the walk. Listen carefully as climbers speak, so when you will be addressed you won't look puzzled if someone uses some specific term. Do not try to create new lingo: remember, an undercling will never become an inverted.
8) We don't give a fuck part II. Don't come to the gym with cultural or geeky books to read during your rests. First because you are not supposed to pause for 21 minutes after a 6a circuit, and then because, again, we don't give a fuck about your IQ. The only numbers we care about are grades. And our grades are bigger than yours.
9) For fuck's sake. Use you brain. Ask. Listen. Observe. And if you can't, get the fuck outta here.

Monday, 29 March 2010


My girlfriend has her first job as a doctor, starting today. When I pause to reflect over the consequences of this change, I am still unable to fully comprehend them.

Thursday, 25 March 2010


My good friend Federico recently sent me a few pics of myself firing "Out of Service Assis" in a cold windy day in Sasso. He says they are shitty due to being made with his shitty phone camera. To me, they are just perfect and sharp: looking at them, I can exactly see every grain of the rock, every small bit of chalk, every minuscule part of rubber pasted to the rock. I can even feel the tension in my body, the effort of crimping that last, horrible hold, the sound of the slap to the arete, the wonderful sensation of my body tightening and staying put on those holds.
But hey, maybe it's just me.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010


Friends show up when you less expect them, because they are friends. Yesterday a friend of mine sent me an e-mail, saying "I thought about you" with the above picture attached. Thank you Filo.
Sunday, another friend showed up just while I had found a new sequence for a problem, requiring a double toe hook with hands on two bad holds that, moreover, were quite greasy in the warm spring morning. I was a bit afraid of slipping off from the holds with my feet staying put, but given that my friend had just arrived, I borrowed him a quick spot and he made me feel super solid, firing the problem off next try. Thank you Giulio.

Friday, 19 March 2010


I have just finished my daily teaching, and it's time to collect my thoughts about last week. It's been another week of hard hard work that, on this matter, will end only after tomorrow lessons. It's hard but it's rewarding, so...
This past week also saw my first free afternoon in a long long time, so instead of sitting in my couch reading crime stories, on Wednesday I went to Florence other climbing gym with The Guru himself. I needed to be shown the problems, he needed a bleay slave, easy to find a gentlemen's agreement.
There had been a comp at that gym recently (video here), and the blackboard with the scorecards was still in place. I had a quick look. My jaw dropped. 30 problems plus the final, with alot, I say alot of the competitors doing every problem but the hardest six. My goal was to do as many problems as I could, so I put my arms to work. I started again feeling as heavy as a battleship, doing the first group of easy 6 problems. Then I belayed The Guru. Then I did my other group of 6 moderates, then I belayed The Guru. Briefly, the battleship had muted into a fast and powerful drug dealer boat, and I powered down every problem but the last 6. At that point the lactic acid kicked in. On the first of the harder problems, I quickly sorted the bottom moves out, but when I reached a flat crimp, my forearms exploded. I took a good rest and tried a more crimpy problem. Same result, my fingers opened up while they were on a crimp that normally I would have slept on. Time to go. Yes, time to go to the bar and eat. I actually went to two different bars, ate and drank. I came back and fired the problems into oblivion. Then I died. I tried the final, but I had cramps, so that if I locked my arms, the muscles would seize and I wouldn't be able to open them. I decided to call it quit. I was happy because of the good volume. Obviously I was disappointed because I could have climbed more hard problems with a better tactique, but that wasn't my goal. My goal was to climb every problem in numerical order as quickly as possible, and that was what I had just done, flashing almost all the probs.
Tragic irony: at the end of the session I found out that the impressive scorecards were misleading. In the actual comp, if you had done a yellow problem, you also got all the whites, greens and part of the blues. This meant that I could have easily done up to 15 problems more than the competitors did. Heh.
On the way home, I suddenly started feeling dizzy. I started trembling, then sweating, then shaking. I was experiencing one of the most terrible hypoglycemic attacks ever. Luckily a pizza take away was open. In I went and I managed to gulp down two slices in ten seconds, under the curious looks of the owner and customers. At home, I ate for a continuous hour, more or less. It was a great day.
I am very happy of my climbing, although none of the things I did was hard. I mean truly hard, otherwise I wouldn't have flashed so many. But it was a mental test also. Maybe I have found my way of enjoying comps. Who knows.

Saturday, 13 March 2010


I am currently at the end of my first rest week, and another one will follow. I can't remember the last time I took two weeks out, injuries apart. It must be years. I came home from Font pretty tired, and the way the trip went, explaines that easily. In the conditions we found, every day could have been the last climbing day, that's why every day we didn't stop until brain impulses bounced back from our muscles.
Moreover, instead of bashing one single, hard project into submission, in super high intensity, brief sessions, we basically tried whatever was dry, putting in far too much volume. Eight days in a row, then, made the rest.
But still wasn't enough. I got home, spent the weekend on the couch, then it was back to the gym. I had decided not to train, obviously, but simply climb, and I found myself in pretty good shape, althuogh tired. I was climbing well, fairly sparky, but unable to last for more than ten minutes. Something was going wrong. During the second session I found myself yawning between attempts. In the whole third session I climbed nothing but one problem, and probably not even hard. Oh well, I thought, on the rock I will be strong. Ah, how far I was from reality. The rocks smashed me, and for good. I was as heavy as a battleship. With my last calories I tried to repeat the Roof Direct, and to my surprise I almost did, but my body was so tired that I had absolutely no core tension, so more like a jelly battleship.
With a sore back, sore elbows, sore wrists and sore soul, I decided to rest. And so I rested, which fitted perfectly with my recent schedule of at least 8 hours of lessons every day, saturdays included. What we do for money.
But the fire is burning strong as ever. Tomorrow I will go back to Amiata to climb the new line I saw on the lip of "Ossezia": a rightward traverse on crimps and slopers that promises a good tick. I decided not to force too much the sequence, I called the big jugs out but will use a good hold that is lower, which is perfectly into the line. Anyway, I will work and rest for the next weeks, then I will go to Ticino. I am eager to finally try my other projects. Oh fuck. Now I'm fully psyched to crush, and I have to wait until tomorrow: I'll have to get naked and go on the balcony and yell at full voice that I will climb 8b's, so loud that babies will start crying, dogs will bark and old ladies will freeze in terror. Pretty girls will wink, though.
Damn this fucking blog.

Saturday, 6 March 2010


The biggest frustration of my Font trip lies all into that small question of the title. I came back without having been able to even touch my projects, due to bad weather. Instead of going around picking the most attractive lines, or spending every day under a beloved problem, we had to constantly search for a few dry boulders. And we did find some wonderful problems also. I even climbed some of them, we climbed every day bar one. But I couldn't try my projects.
So this small question bounces back and forth in my mind: "What if the rock were dry? I would have sent, or I would have failed?"
I will never obviously know, I can only guess. I guess I would have destroyed those problems, because that's the only thing to think, the only one that will move me forward, the only one that will lead me to crush those problems the next time I'll be there.
Au revoir mon amour.