Friday, 30 March 2012


In the pics, my new problem at Amiata.

I'm learning a lot as of late.
I'm learning a lot about training, and about how my body reacts to training.
But I'm learning a lot about myself, mostly. Yesterday, for example, I understood that I am a completely different climber than I thought I was, or at least I have become that in the last months? Years? I don't think so, I think I've always been this way, only I was hiding it, behind a mask from the others and behind a different attitude from myself.
I found out that I am obsessed by grades, basically.
The pleasure of moving effortlessy and gracefully on rock? Bullshit.
Being in contact with mother nature and my soul? Bullshit.
Having fun? Meeting people? Bull. Shit.
I climb for the grades.
Not really, I climb to progress and to always push my limits further, but in climbing, grades are the consequence.
I found out I've always been this way.
When I was a child, in the Summer one of my favourite pastimes was trying to traverse all around my parents' house, without falling off. Whenever I fell, I had to step a few meters back from the wall, then run towards the wall and jump from a line I had previously drawn, to catch the external windowsill of a window and resume the traverse from there.
When I grew up, I used to play basketball, because I already was so tall. Well, I thought "If I'm short I can try and jump more" and I started training in the gym. At 15 I could leg press 135 kg, and I kept training my legs for my entire career, because all I wanted was to become able to slam dunk. I never managed it, but until my ankles and knees gave up, I kept trying.
I used to ski. Getting the first chairlift at 8.00 in the morning, my desire was to draw the first lines in the pristine snow. But they had to be straight lines. I'm a very calm driver, but I was a mental skier, completely addicted to speed. After a bad crash, I came to a different view.
Shall we talk about cycling? I basically grew up on a roadbike. Going around for sure wasn't enough, I had to go to the sea, 110 kms of Tuscan hills, if you please. I was 16 the first time I did it, with just a 0,5 liters flask of water and a phone coin in case of troubles. Then I started wanting to go fast. I started training and training until I could sprint the 2 kms of straight road in front of my parents' house at the sea, and average at least 50 km/hour.
I think you start getting the idea...
I don't like to take it easy.
Then I started climbing.
After a few years, with my best friend Andrea we decided that there was no reason for us not to try the harder routes of our local crag. They weren't for Gods. Their bolts weren't golden. We put ourselves to it and we did them all, up to the magic grade.
Before, my life had been already ruined by Patrick Edlinger and his book "Grimper", which at the end featured a few charts trying to put together training feats and climbed grade. One of the tests was on a 1 cm edge. Patrick said that 28 pull ups on it, meant sport 8a on rock. The fact that he was climbing full time didn't occur to me, and I never rested until I did those damn 28 pull ups.
Then it was one armers, then lock offs: did I ever think that fully locking off for 1 minute on a 1 cm edge could be a bit useless? Never. That was the idea, the aim, and all that mattered. The fact that at that moment I was climbing 6b+ never seemed a contradiction to me.
I think you definitely got the idea. My worst fears are now reality, climbing is not the aim in itself anymore, it's just a way I push my physical - and somehow mental - limits. This saddens me a bit. All poetry is lost. The magic is lost. All that remains is the battle. I can try and make poetry out of the battle, but it seems hard to do...
This is why I am so intrigued by trivial (no offense) challenges, like fingerboarding, or campusing, or deadlifting. Oh, deadlifting. I am so eager to start it. These activities are very simple and very easy to be pushed to the limits. Training has become a goal in itself, and it's not a coincidence that in the last weeks I put so much effort not only in the physical part of training, but also in the mental part. Standing under the Beastmaker, trying to feel the hold before touching it. Or sitting under the board with my weightvest, eyes closed, visualizing my body gliding between holds that in the previous set I was barely able to link together without the vest on. I love this shit.
I have been trying for a lot of time to understand my feelings towards my ex-project. I was very puzzled because I clearly felt no interest in it anymore, after getting a few times to the last holds but not topping it out. Why didn't I care about completing the problem? Because, I know now, the project wasn't the aim; the aim was to try and do something light years beyond my ability. Climbing the problem should have been the consequence and the result of my real goal. I found myself in a Limbo, in a no-man's land. Getting all the hard part done, and not climbing the problem. I got stuck in between, and I still am, because I want to climb the problem, but I don't desire it as I desired it before, because I have already reached my goal, that was to perform at another level, both physically and mentally. The pure will power that I lack now, makes it very hard to keep going there again and again, also because it's still very hard for me. I lack the mental edge.
I keep going there, though. I went today, and I had fun, also because I nearly did it again despite 23°, but that's exactly the difference: I was having fun. I want to be clear: having fun is OK. But battles are not won by having fun. Personal records are not beaten by having fun.
This is also why I lose interest when I quickly do the moves on a problem and then for one reason or the other, can't put it together. I move out from my target and I get lost. I confuse the aim and the climbing and I am clueless.
I really don't know if a single word that I've written makes some sense, or if it's just another self-delusion. I really don't know. I know that I am feeling more and more free, by letting go and accepting to be a prisoner of my own self.
I don't think writing this makes me happy, but I feel that doing what I do makes me happy.
Of course not everything is just black and white as I've put it. I have fun while climbing; I enjoy getting to the top of problems; I love to take it easy and spend a day doing easy things. But then again, just before packing my stuff and heading to the car, a small thought appears in the back of my mind and tells me to go and try something hard. Because it's what I like.
I feel really lucky that I have my small board, the Beastmaker, and all the strange ideas that keep me going and struggling.
Today, for example, I went to Amiata and opened a new problem, that I called "Lore's One Armer". I'm sure you understand...

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