Monday, 30 January 2012


... but more importantly mean what you say.
I discovered it today: it's far easier to say things than to really mean things. It's easy to say "keep the fucking faith", it's cool, makes you feel hard core, it earns you other climbers' respect, and if you play it well it could even get you a one night stand at some climbing destination.
What is hard, I found out, is to follow that mantra deeply, to really keep that fucking faith.
Last post was about hitting the bottom; this one is about being on top again. Maybe not an all time top, but oh so close.
Turns out I really kept the fucking faith.
Last Thursday was hard. I did not want to think it was over, my form. It's natural to have highs and lows - only mediocre athletes are always at top form, once Gullich said - but I wasn't prepared for such a deep low.
What did I do? I got depressed, you can be sure about it. And then? Then I went to the gym on Friday to have a light session, then out for a kilo of pizza. Saturday morning I woke up and thought that I did not want to let it go. So I starved myself the whole day and trained in the afternoon on my board: it wasn't the most powerful of sessions, but it broke the spell; I kept throwing myself at the problems no matter what, until my fingers gave up. Then I climbed with 5 kilos on and I finally skipped dinner. There you go, pizza.
Next morning I was feeling a bit better and I went to the gym again for a very easy session, only two problems climbed and a few holds mounted. Lots of chatting, they all make me feel happy.
Today I went back to the roof.
I wasn't sure this morning about what to do, if it was a bad idea or not, to go back there so early after my epic defeat: only four days ago. But I went and I was rewarded.
Despite being a bit tired, I had the power. I had the mental and the physical power, and there, under that roof, with my weightbelt on, I found my faith, really.
I found out that I really had kept it. I had kept it there. When I went there it was there, where I'd left it.
Today really marked another step forward.
I had lost badly. I had gained something back and I gambled it all again. What I won with this bet is the faith. It's like when I watch those boxers that keep getting knocked down and keep getting up again. Do they know that they're going down again in a matter of seconds? I don't care. They don't care. They have the faith. They keep the faith. Why do they keep getting up? It's very simple: because they can.
Of course it doesn't escape me that I'm writing now after a very powerful day, with my naive mind full of happiness and testosterone.
Where was my faith Thursday? Have I ever lost it, even if for just a split second? Perhaps, but probably not. Only, I hadn't fully realized what a simple sentence really implies. If you say "keep the fucking faith", it means that you have to fucking keep the fucking faith, when things go well, and, especially, when they go bad, because only in this second case you are really challenged.
This is a lesson I learned today: we can say things and we can mean things. The first behaviour earns us other people's respect; the second one earns us our own respect.

Thursday, 26 January 2012


I think that after today I really need to end a very long period of intense training and climbing: I went to the roof, and I couldn't even do the warm ups. Not the roof warm ups, the real warm ups, the 5+, the 6a.
I barely put my shoes on.
My mind was elsewhere, and my body wanted to be elsewhere, so I cut my losses, packed everything and went for a walk in the new-old sectors. Many years ago we found a new sector, full of boulders, but for a number of reasons we never developed it, except for a few small areas; recently Michele Caminati, during his stay, went there and checked things out with the eye of a professional, and was immediately hooked. Yes, the place is amazing and the boulders are hundreds.
I will try to fight my selfish attitude and spend some time cleaning new problems despite the little spare time I have to dedicate to climbing on rock.
So, the 17th of September I did my first session on my board, and from then on I trained very intensely and climbed with equal attitude.
Now I have really reached my present physical limit and I need some rest.
I spent the last weekend training both days, then last Tuesday I put in a very powerful session of max one arm dead hangs that really surprised me, then I set, worked and climbed three new problems, all quite close to my limit, and finally the usual 4 problems with 5 kilos on.
I think it's quite normal that today I was so spent.
I want to check my training of the last 6/8 weeks to assess things and see how I did in terms of progression and performance. Today was an all time low so from here I can move on.
I have four weeks with no work in front of me, all I want to do is relax and take advantage of this chance in as many ways as possible. I definitely want to surf again after one year without getting wet, and for sure I need to direct my energy in another direction from climbing on the roof. I want to go climbing in UK. We will see.
I am sipping the last drops of my Laphroaig 10 bottle, and this is the perfect conclusion.

Friday, 20 January 2012


In the pic, my dog Phoebe checking I respect the speed limit.

Yesterday I didn't work at the school, but at the roof.

The weather was quite bad, it was cloudy and a strange mixture of cold and warm, dry and humid, alternating.
I had a go at my project, but my skin start sweating from the second move on, so I immediately understood that it was time to bring the weightbelt out.
On my first session, climbing with 2 kilos on made me really struggle, as you see in this video; three days later, my second session went better and I started linking a few more moves; last Tuesday I put in a really good training session: first some front levers on the Beastmaker, as you see in this video, then some bouldering on my wall, setting a nice problem and trying it until climbing it in two halves, and finally I climbed four easier problems with 5 kilos on, trying to focus on precision, core tension and footwork; this all seemed to pay dividends yesterday, because I nearly did the classic line under the roof twice with 2 kilos on, and managed to repeat "La stanzina verde della follia" with the extra weight. This great session is featured in this other video for you all to enjoy.
These sessions with 2 and 5 kilos really worked my back and core: it's the way to go in my opinion; especially on the roof, all the move are dynamic and snatchy, and keeping the feet on despite the extra weight right at waist level, where it's most influential over body tension, is really important. The most important thing, then, is that it's fun as fuck; I mean, it's really really fun, interesting, challenging and physically exhausting.
I feel very tired today and am looking forward tomorrow's session; would be nice to go there again with my girlfriend and the dog: puts me in a good mood for pulling and always reminds me that my girlfriend has no clue about what's going on when I climb; last Saturday, while I was struggling under the roof, with poor holds in my sweaty hands, trying to stay on, she thought the best advice she could give me was "Relax, keep calm"...
I am eager to test my condition elsewhere, to see how much this kind of training applies to general skills and other problems: I will start discovering this from next month, hopefully; I want to climb tomorrow and train on my wall on Sunday, then for the next week the plan is still the same, Tuesday fingerboarding and bouldering, Thursday bouldering at the roof, then I want to go back to Varazze in the weekend.
I've been really surprised by the front levers session, because it's been a strong one, I front levered holds that I find very hard just to hang generally, like back2 in medium pockets and index monos, and I haven't done any fingerboarding in a long time.
I think it could be that a fingerboarding cycle really tears your fingers, it really works them to exhaustion, and progresses take a while to set in. Or maybe I don't know, or maybe it's climbing on the wall, or maybe the simple act of sleeping close to the Beastmaker.
It's nice to be on the move again, after stagnation. Makes me happy.

Thursday, 12 January 2012


I'll try to be brief this time.
Two days is not only how long the new final sequence lasted, it's also how long the bouldering season lasted.
I went today, and it was boiling. My fingertips are shredded and painful, and I could not have a decent go.
Luckily I had finally remembered, this morning, to bring the weightbelt with me, so I took the opportunity to start training, given that climbing the project was out of question.
What a difference two kilos made!
I don't think I've done more than three moves in a row! Skin was a problem for sure, it was painful without that extra weight, imagine how painful it was with it, but I don't care.
I am out of my (tiny little) mind with happiness. Trying so hard, failing so hard, feeling every move so hard, filled my heart with joy and my mind with psyche. I was stuck, I kept going there to repeat what I've already done basically, and as I've said, I had lost focus. Now, with a simple weightbelt on, my world is full of energy again.
It's clear that I love this shit. I love the struggle. I love the process of putting myself under pressure. I love to train, and to suffer when doing it. It's been like starting it all again: the enthusiasm, the dreaming, everything was there again, despite the boiling sun, my shredded tips and my aching muscles. My mind has never been so strong. I see a goal in front of myself, a new one. I needed it. If only I'd known it before.
After getting home and having a shower, I went for a walk with the dog. On the way home, I stopped by Trombicche, my favourite place in Siena, for a glass of red wine. Walking back home, I found myself so happy; I was thinking that I could relax, have a nice meal and go to bed without worries, because tomorrow I won't neither train nor climb, I will only have to work.
Imagine this, a life that works at the opposite. I can relax because I don't train. Ahah!!! That's mental, innit.
It's beautiful to have a new path in front of me and to know that with each step I will improve. The battle is the aim, enjoy the battle.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012


In the pics, the original sequence from another point of view, a point you can read about below.

Two days, that's how long the new final sequence for my project lasted.

Yesterday I realized I cannot and I don't really want to use it, and for many reasons I want to stick to the old sequence, the original and the only one.
First of all, the original sequence is the original, and that's enough.
Second, I have climbed the original problem using the original sequence at least 20 times.
Third, I have climbed the project with the original sequence twice already, without managing to top it out.
More precisely, I cannot use the new sequence, because I rationally put myself into finding it, to cut off a low percentage move. Well, that's finding a shortcut; in reality not, because as I've said the new sequence added a move and was really more physical, but it was also, for me, a lot more steady (although I never got the chance to try how that last deep lock would feel, coming from the start); so, being more physical and more steady for me, it's also easier. And that's not fair.
Moreover, the first line to be climbed on that roof, was a problem I put up to start practicing the direct line: it featured its first hard moves, then abruptedly cut right to big holds and the top, in a sequence whose final move was the same of my new sequence of the project.
So, that is really dirty. If I go right at the top, why not going right lower? How could I justify, to a climber who attempts the problem in the future, that he or she cannot go right low, but only at the top? How could I explain that he or she cannot get the jug because it's out? How could I tell him or her that it's unfair to directly dyno to the good pinch skipping the nasty crimp?
You see, what a mess from a simple move.
Then, most importantly, what about myself? The new sequence, having already succeeded with the original one, is for sure a step back, both in terms of climbing ability and mental strength. If something feels easier, in a situation like this one, it equals cheating. It's not like using all the holds while others skip them, it's using holds that neither I, have never used. If I climb the problem with the new sequence, there could be only two possibilities: I never try it again, never fully appreciating how the original one would feel after topping it out, and having doubts forever about my ascent and never getting the chance to get better; or I keep trying it to repeat it with the old sequence. Both are useless.
The first one for the above reasons, the second one because it's just pointless.
So, in the brief space of two days I changed again my mind. I wonder if, last Sunday, when I was so weak, it was also because I had been searching that shortcut; I had cheated; I had admitted defeat. I'll never know.
What I know, is that one of my resolutions for this year was, and still is, to be pure. Especially to myself, which is my most severe judge.
So tomorrow I will go there, and again I will try to destroy that motherfucker that is ruining my life. If I can't, I'll pull out of my bag my weight vest, I'll wear it, and I will start lapping the motherfucker with 2 kg on, as a start. Then I will go on, and on, and on, until I'll feel satisfied.
When will I be satisfied? I don't know, but crushing the project in fine style without breaking a sweat could bring me some kind of joy, I reckon.
Chalking up before the final move, could.
Getting the jug so easily that Velasquez could have portrayed me in the meanwhile, could.
You got the idea, I'm sure.
Many years ago, when I was 14, one night I went with some friends to steal bengal lights from the train depot, to use them the following day at a football match. And I never liked football!!! We had to cut the barb wire, to crawl under the lights, and all that stuff. We nearly got caught. I wonder why I put myself in that situation.
I wonder why I put myself in this situation: this problem plays to all my weaknesses. It's long, 15 moves; the hard part is the last 4 moves; the hard moves are dynamic, something I'm very bad at, and reachy. Plus, it has small, painful holds, mostly pinches, a prehension I have never ever trained until recently. The enemies we choose qualify us more than our friends. Enemies are chosen by hate, friends by love, and hate is always more pure and more sincere than love. I wish I hadn't seen that line. Or do I?
But now it's too late. I'm stuck in it. I've done all the hard part, I only have to bear the pain and top it out, then I'll go home and I'll watch my face in the mirror for a long time. And what I'll see will be the true me.
Keep the fucking faith, love and destroy.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

6 A.M.

In the pics, the new sequence. Powerful but steady.

In the pics, the final move stuck with the old sequence, on one of my best goes. Ouch!

Tomorrow is Monday, and my alarm will go off at 6.
My holidays are over and they've been great: I climbed nearly every day (nearly every day on the same problem, I must add) and I am happy.
Yesterday I finally decided to change the final sequence: I am bored of smashing my fingers over the hold, under the hold, to the right of the hold, or getting flappers due to its sharp and painful lip. This new sequence adds one move, and it's more physical than the old one, but it's also more secure.
The real problem, though, is that I am not enjoying this anymore. I am happy with every good go, but as I've said I feel it's over, and every go that doesn't see me to the last hold is perceived as a failure and a step back from my best efforts. Some days I didn't want to be there really, and only the company of friends or the simple presence of my dog gave me the necessary happiness to give my best.
I found out it's about happiness.
So, today I went there to finish the business with the new sequence. Well, I couldn't even do the moves in isolation. OK, it was very hot (spring is here definitely, mount Amiata has not seen a snowflake), humid and still, and I was on my fourth day on, but it was too perfect not to give it a try: a siege of months, progressing from not doing the moves, to doing bits of the whole problem, to getting close, to losing my mental sanity, to recovering it, to keeping going there during the summer, to finally finding myself with the final hold in my hand and letting go, to finding a new sequence and, in my mind, to finally doing it on my last day before going back to work and real life.
Wow, that would have been perfect.
It wasn't to be. I gave 110%, trying to find every possible faggotry to climb it, from liquid chalk, to putting my clothes on the holds to cool them down, to sheltering the sun with a pad (obviously falling exactly on the move that at that point was uprotected, a move I haven't fallen off from in months...), but simply I could not do it. As I said, I didn't even do the single moves.
Could I give more? Fuck no. Not today, not in the last two weeks.
I will go back to work and for sure I'll be thinking about the problem. I'll be asking myself if this new sequence is cheating. I'll be asking myself if it's simply the time to let it go. The fact is that I want to be happy while trying it, and this sequence makes me happy.
Now it's time to focus on work and training, hopefully I won't have a tight schedule right from the start, so the plan is to rest tomorrow, have a session on Tuesday morning, rest Wednesday then deliver on Thursday if I am free from school.
I am not exactly sure I became weak(er) while concentrating only on this project. Maybe I haven't broadened my skills, but for sure I perfected what I can do. Proof is that the other day, at the end of the session, I managed a new 7c that Michele had just opened (and hiked as a warm down five times in a row to get footage...); what once would have been a seasonal success, is now an end of session tick. Cool.
Right now, just before going to bed, and with work ahead again, I really am proud of myself. Years ago, when I had the other jobs, in the bank, or at the Public Notary firm, Suday evenings were a nightmare. As soon as I packed the car, with crashpads or my longboard, all the happiness of the day was gone, because in front of me I only had a job that I hated, and that gave me nothing except money: no joy, no self esteem, no commitment, nothing but money, dirty, soulless money. My jobs stole not only my happiness, but also my time, because they cancelled the good moments I'd had. I desired something else, and I never stopped searching the balance. I did not quit. I upset and disappointed many people, but finally I found what I like and what makes me happy. I don't need money, I need people. I need humans. I need good relationships, my best friends close to me. I need to see smiles when I'm at work, and I need to be thanked.
I won back an entire part of my life: I have my Sunday evenings again. And most of all I have my entire self back. The good and the evil self, but I have it all and I am, for once, proud of what I do.
Keep the fucking faith, love and destroy.