Sunday, 30 May 2010


Night vision. I have to get it. I have to learn it, and then I have to master it, and then I have to follow it through this moment.
In the last week I had been fooled that my elbow injury, maybe, was really healing: tuesday I had a poweful session with weights, in which I had no pain or discomfort, and I didn't even need to ice the elbow, afterwards, nor to use anti-inflammatory patches. I was happy and I started picturing myself cranking.
After a couple of days off, I had another session on friday, and despite some discomfort I was still feeling good, maybe I started picturing myself not cranking, but definitely enjoying climbing.
Yesterday I went climbnig. No, wait, I went bouldering. My goodness. I felt as weak as a man can feel, and after a while my elbow was fucking sore. I did nothing hard, I tried to slowly get into the moves, but as soon as something harder than climbing with a straight arm was needed, I felt a sharp pain that stayed with me for the rest of the (brief) session.
It felt horrible. I don't even know if I enjoyed the climbing I did. I am scared to say that I didn't. My friend Bengio was on fire (pretty much as usual), and not being able to take his energy and to climb at full power has been very very depressing. Sad but true, I don't enjoy doing easy stuff. Whatever the grade may be, I enjoy being at my limit, but not for an injury. I may have fun, and I did many times, doing a delicate traverse on a featureless slab, and I have fun fighting my way up powerful overhangs, but only because this is what I WANT to do, rather than what I HAVE to do because I'm injured.
So, how poor my condition is? Not only I can't climb, but when I get to climb I don't even enjoy it. Wow, to even write it, it sounds horrible.
"You have to be very disciplined" says Ben in "Stonelove". He also says "I don't like being weak".
Looking back at it, it's really been a hard day out. There were rays of light sometimes, but they were cancelled by an acheing elbow. I really really don't know what to do. I was hoping to enjoy climbing. I had waited for this day since weeks. I had planned a weekend in the Dolomites. I had dreams to fulfill, I had problems to crush and routes to try.
As some of you may have understood, I am sad. It's not uncommon, you know it if you are a regular here, to read sad lines. But one thing is being sad because you failed on something you should have done, one other very different thing is being sad because you couldn't even try.
My hope is time. Time and weather. It's already +30° here. 22° yesterday night at 10. Not exactly crushing conditions... and the summer hasn't even officially started. I have long boiling weeks ahead, alot of work and different things to do, that I will talk about sooner or later.
The climbing gym is going to be closed in a few weeks. The owners are going to split and noone knows when and where a new gym will open, if it will. I feel at Ground Zero again. Maybe even lower, because I still can't start over again until properly recovered. In this pitch black night I will center my vision on weights and fingerboarding. I need to move. I need to do something. I need to become strong. I need to crush hard things. I need a mental asylum.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010


Found these pics buried in my old e-mail account. They show the last bit of "Lourdes" an old vision from myself and my friend Luca, that my dedication turned into a problem. It's been honoured by respectable repetitors.

Thursday, 20 May 2010


The road to The Tor is very long and very hard. I feel I have just left.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010


... some other times I think back to a few years ago, to the first years my girlfriend and I were together. Back in those days everything was so easy. We were living in a big house, we were free from bigger troubles and worries, and any given weekend was good to go climbing for a few days.
Meschia, Magic Wood, Cresciano, Annot; surfing in Corsica, or in Sardinia. Anything would do. Life was simple and straightforward. Climbing was so straightforward: get to the boulders, throw the pad under a rock and climb it. No name, no grade, no beta, nothing. I trained on my own, on my small fingerboard, with random trips to the old gym in Florence, maybe once a week, to get my ass kicked by punters here and there.
Everything is so different now. Work is my main concern, because, for the first time in my life, I really love what I do. Sadly I don't earn alot, but it's enough, and now that my girlfriend is working too, our lives are taking a completely new path. There's alot of time dedicated to training, still, although now I train in a big gym three or four times a week, with psyched climbers, that, anyway, still kick my ass, but that's another matter.
There's sadly little time dedicated to climbing on rock. And when I get that precious time, it's so different now: gone are the days of 30 problems climbed in a weekend. Sometimes I laugh "The less I climb, the better". My goal now is to get to a place, to seek my specific project, to crush it as quickly as possible, then move on to the next. I need a name, a grade, and often I would gladly appreciate some beta, to save me alot of wasted tries!!! While years back I wanted to get an overall good level during the whole season, now I train more specifically, with more dedication and responsibility. Sometimes I have come back from a trip without a single problem climbed. Some other times I have come back with a total amount of climbing of a couple of minutes, just enough to send a project. But every time, I have come back proud of what I put into my climbing.
So, what's the point? The point is that we never know what's next, until we make something to make it happen. As long as we lie in our lives, avoiding choices that could prove us to be wrong, everything comes cheap or even for free, but tasteless. When we make things happen, we expose ourselves to success or failure, to a sweet taste or to a bitter taste. My trick is to seek the bitterness into a sweet taste, and to seek the sweetness in a bitter taste.
One thing didn't change in these last years: I really miss my friends and I really miss spending more time with them.

Friday, 14 May 2010


My right elbow hasn't recoverd yet.
I try to keep my chin up, my head down and my eyes fixed on one step ahead of me, my mind on the long term goal.
It's very very hard for me, now, not to get really angry and depressed about my climbing. Ironically enough, I am realizing right now that in the previous weeks, when I was feeling weak, I wasn't THAT weak, and most of all I was climbing well, if not strong. So, to have to interrupt this kind of flow, really makes me sad. It would have been perfect to keep the good climbing style and then match it with some serious training, weights and fingerboarding. Oh well, I have to cope.
I keep doing my left arm training, and I see some progress. I am able to lock off on a slopey edge now, something that I could easily do on my right arm but not on the left one: at least this injury gives me the chance to really address my weak left arm, to regain some balance between the two arms. The other day I also tried to one arm that hold, nearly doing it. I went up with power, but then was unable to complete the pull, stopping a bit shy. Strange, given that the first part of the pull is generally the hardest to perform. I also did some other tests, finding that I can dead hang and one arm that hold very comfortably with just 3-5 kilos off. The hold I train on right now, I am sure, is nowhere close to being as hard as the hold of "Malc's One Armer", and this makes me shiver when I am alone in bed at night. Sometimes the goal seems getting closer, sometimes it seems so far away, becoming so distant in the fog, as if I was lost in a desert and could not reach the oasis that is at the line of the horizon. This really scares me, not because I am scared to fail, but because it will show how weak I am in comparison to other climbers. It's something completely different than, for example, being unable to climb a problem: here, there are so many different aspects thare relevant, while on that hold, you can only be strong and one arm it, or weak and not one arm it. So, it's a benchmark, completely separated from climbing, but also so closely related with it: if one is able to perform a single hand move at Font 8a, the road to something good gets wider, straighter, and faster, and I want to race down that road as fast as I can.

Saturday, 8 May 2010


Respect is one lost attitute nowadays, but it has great importance for me. It says alot about a person, and I want to be a respectful person, also at the rocks.
Years ago, I was watching a tennis match at the telly; well, more than a tennis match, was a tennis lesson: one of the players (whose names now are lost in the dust of my brain) was so superior, so inspired, that his poor opponent was being destroyed; it was something on the lines of the infamous final of Roland Garros back in 1988, when Steffi Graf won 6-0 6-0 in 32 minutes, tennis' shortest final ever.
Anyway, on the commentators' mouths the word "humiliation" appeared often, and it seemed well put at the moment. Everyone was thinking "Please, let him win at least this point!" and was considering kind of "unfair" to destroy an opponent with such energy and dedication: it seemed that the player wanted to put the other player's career to an end.
At some point though, they gave the mic to another commentator, a former tennis champion of the '70s, and he said one of the most inspiring things I have ever heard on sports. He said that it was just the opposite: far from being a humiliation, the stronger player was paying his best respect to the other one, putting all his energy into defeating him. This is the only way to demonstrate respect: giving everything you have to destroy your opponent. What most consider a sign of respect, doing just enough to win, like cat and mouse, is a horrible lack of respect and a true sign of presumptuousness.
When you destroy an opponent, although it may seem "unfair", you are telling him "listen man, I believe you are a strong opponent, I fear you and I respect you, so I won't risk anything with you, and I will cancel you from the Earth's face". On the other hand, if we don't put ourselves 100% into something, we want to say that we are superior to that task or opponent, we don't need to apply seriously.
So, I want to keep this attitude also in my climbing. If someone shows me a problem and I know I can flash it, I want to flash it, and to flash it so hard that it becomes another problem. In this I am not humiliating my friend, I am only paying my respect to the problem, especially if it's on plastic, because it has probably been conceived to be hard, especially for the setter.
Briefly, I want to apply all myself to a task, because I think that this is the only way to be respectful, so if this involves destroying a friend's problem, well so be it. I put too much of myself into climbing to let it become something not entirely serious. So, if I will ever get to the Tor, and if I will ever do that infamous one armer, be sure that I will try to do two; and if I will do two, I will try to do three, and so on, endlessly. Because Malc is a legend, and because he'd do the same, I am sure.

Saturday, 1 May 2010


So far, 2010 has been rather disappointing in terms of climbing achievements. It's not that I haven't climbed shit, but for sure I haven't climbed as much and as hard as I had figured before. That's the difference between desires and reality. As you may or may not remember, 2009 ended with a bang, when I went to Cresciano and did "Frank's Wild Years", a problem I fell in love with many years ago, during my first trip to the place with my friend Eric. That ascent is one of my career highlights, because it was fast and solid, I tried it for half an hour the first day, then did it first go on the second day; but also because it's been a dream come true, and doing that problem pushed me back in the past to that trip with Eric, when everything was different, in my life, in my climbing, and connected me again with those days and those memories, bringing them closer to the present, making me able to relive them, in this send. This year has been different. I took a few days off after Cresciano, then went back to training for Font. I had many projects and I was sure I was going to be strong. Unluckily, I immediately started with the wrong foot, being forced to suspend the training for a couple of weeks for a physical problem, but I kept my mind together, I kept thinking that those two weeks weren't going to be crucial in years of training, and I was right. Font, on the other hand, proved itself to be shy of success for me: I was actually in good shape, at least physically. The fact that my girlfriend didn't come with me, as it was supposed to be, left me a bit on the down side, but luckily friend Filo took her place and helped me alot. Snow, rain, damp boulders were what the forest had prepared for us, and despite climbing to exhaustion every day, I was unable to try even just one of my many projects. So it was back to Italy, with a fairly depressed mood and a tired body. One day, I felt my middle right finger a bit stiff and swollen, but I didn't care too much about it. Well, since then, two months ago, it's gotten worse due to my continuous training, hindering my climbing alot and generally being a pain in the ass. Despite this, I had a few good climbing days especially at Amiata, where I repeated a few old problems in good style, and put up a few new ones, the best being for sure "Petting" a nasty traverse with a cool sequence. I was hoping it to be very hard, but unluckily I think it's not.
Spring came. High temps caused low psyche in the gym. I kept training in no specific way, just bouldering as hard as I could, and after a few weeks I started feeling better again, but still with an injured finger. I needed something to push me forward, to give me new psyche, and when I pictured myself trying to train in the summer months, with temps in the gym in the high 30's, 80% humidity, the solution appeared in the form of a "Beastmaker 2000" fingerboard. In the previous weeks I had already gone back to fingerboarding, this time using the beasts' advices, and got good feelings from that, despite clearly having to tune it down to my needs. I was overdoing it a bit, but I could feel it was good. Then, just from nowhere, a sting in my right elbow. I thought it was going to disappear with a couple of days off, and it did, but it kept coming back after every bouldering session. And it's still here. It only allowed me one single Beastmaker session. A great session, to be honest.
So, these are the facts. The boring facts, you want to add. Yes, as boring as I am bored. I am absolutely pissed off by my injuries, and I know that I should have addressed them earlier, but fuck off, I want to train and get strong, not sit on the sofa massaging my elbows. Clearly this hardman way of thinking doesn't pay off that much, and now I am sitting on the sofa, massaging an even worse elbow.
"Think long term" is what I tell me. The summer is long and I won't get much climbing, especially because of work. A few weekends in the Dolomites, that's what I long for, but they are still far away. So I am trying to recover my finger and elbow, and in this dark moment, the light came in the form of a polished bit of limestone in the British climbing mecca that Raven's Tor is. This hold represents an entire world for me, a world of training, dedication, myth and modesty. It gave me new energy to keep going to the gym, it allows me to rest my right arm, and it's a long term goal of mine, sitting perfectly in another long term plan, that is taking one month off during next fall to be spent in UK.
I don't care if I will take this month off (oh fucking hell I do care!), and I don't care if I will one arm that hold (oh fucking hell I will!). As long as it helps me keeping my psyche up during an injury, anything goes.