Sunday, 30 September 2012


In the pictures, just another project. 

Typing with my hands still white from chalk and a big smile on my face, today I found an answer. 
In the last days I was asking myself whether I am still a climber or just a trainer who loves climbing. I struggled a lot to find the answer. I came to the conclusion that I am a trainer, because, despite climbing almost every day, pulling plastic is not my idea of climbing. My idea of climbing is climbing on rock, but also some kind of rock climbing doesn't fit in that idea. I like to think about climbing as new areas, new problems, and not as having to drive hours to test myself on yet another variation or on a classic problem with a weightbelt on. 
So yes, I came to the conclusion that I am a trainer, because I approach my training as a medium, but the medium has, over time, replaced the aim, almost becoming the aim.  
Not that this answer changed anything in my mind, it's been more a realization than a surprise. It doesn't make me sad or pissed, it's just the way things are at the moment. 
If you haven't watched the film or read the book, I highly recommend you to watch or read "The Tartar Steppe": it talks about me. It talks about preparing oneself for something that never comes. I prepare myself for amazing climbs in amazing locations on amazing travels that for some reasons, never come. Or very rarely come, and never as I want. 
Time is the most precious thing that I have. Everything takes time, and most of all, perfection takes time. I don't have this time at the moment, therefore I don't have perfection. But I still fight for perfection. 
Anyway, today was special. 
All alone at home, I had the privilege of taking my time. I slept a lot, I played my bass, I ate properly and while it was starting to lash down with rain, I begun my warm up. Still a bit stiff from the lifting and pressing session of last Friday (more on that soon), I gently pushed it until I felt quite good. I decided to try a long standing project, and on my second go I had my best redpoint go so far, doing the frist four moves and getting to the... crux. The following moves are still beyond my redpoint level, they still feel hard in isolation, but today I did the first four moves in a row for the second time since Spring. Sadly, just after a couple more tries, my skin started to give in, so I changed problem. 
Again, I had an excellent go, my core was feeling strong and I was confident about success, but unfortunately my skin was sweaty and my forearms pumped, so I fell. On this project, I've done better only once, doing the last crux move and falling on the following one, that is much easier but still not a path. 
I was feeling tired, so I took some time to rest, thinking about how I could go on a little bit more. Of course I had to switch to problems with positive holds on which skin wouldn't make a lot of difference, and I decided to try one that I set some weeks ago, with a crux move that I had only done once, in isolation. 
It felt it like an inspiration. From the first move I felt strong, and with each following move I could notice my body moving differently, shifting its weight in another way than on previous attempts, and I found myself at the start of the crux: I got the undercling that I always feared and set my feet, then went to the small pinch; I was still there, on. Going on without thinking I stuck the crux move for the first time from the start, and despite not hitting it perfectly, I dug deep, setting my feet for the last tricky move. At that point, abruptly, reality set back again and I realized that I was there, pulling hard, with my right hand slightly slipping off, and for a brief moment I tought that I had nothing left. That moment lasted just an instant and it disappeared with its thought: I got the next hold, then the following one, then the following one, then the top. 
I jumped down and swore. No wet eyes this time. Noone at home but me. Just me and my success. All for myself. 
This problem felt very special. I really pulled it out from nowhere. And I felt strong on it, too. When I set it, I gave it a particular name: "Ciao, grazie". After trying it for a while and realizing it was hard, I started feeling a bit sad, because I did not want such a problem to remain a project. Climbing it was to be some sort of tribute to the person which it is dedicated to. So today I completed it, and completed the plan, and the tribute. It's not newsworthy, it's not a new 8c in Font. But it's my problem, my project and my personal tribute. 
With this, I also reminded myself that I love this shit. The happiness is there, and maybe it's a hard and rare find because I like to push myself to my absolute limits. Setting easier problems wouldn't warrant the same emotions. 
There's so much more than this, that I just can't fully express at the moment. 
With this renewed feeling of happiness, success and fullfillment, I also forgot about the initial question. I don't care what I am. I don't care whether I am a trainer or a climber. And I understand why it's been so difficult to find an answer to that question: because it's a stupid question, and stupid questions never have right answers. 
Thanks for sharing.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012



In the pictures, the meaning of the title. 
I definitely feel something happening, as of late. It's that strange feeling that you get when you know that you're lacking something, but you can't exactly identify what.
This often happens in the morning, when I get out and I feel the fresh air, and I wonder how the conditions could be at the boulders.
But it's not that I simple want to go climbing, because this isn't completely true. I do, of course, but it's a bit complicated.
I don't need very much to get psyched, in fact I need very little. It can be a gorgeous line or simply repeating an old problem with an eliminate sequence, but in this moment I find it hard to get on the car and drive to the rocks.
I often found myself, in the last weeks, browsing my pictures folders on my laptop. There is a lot of rock in those pictures, but mostly there are lots of good friends. Some of them, I consider brothers.
I remember some of those trips, some of those days, as some of the best days of my life, not because I climbed something hard for me, but for the feeling of fulfillment.
The feeling that tells you that you don't need anything more, or different.
I really miss the company of my good friends, both for my real life and for my climbing life. Those friends who call you to go out for a beer and save your evening, or those who push you under the board when you don't feel like putting in yet another session.
In CĂ©line's "Voyage", Molly tells to Bardamu that the lonesome traveller is the one that gets further. I feel that this is true for me, especially for my climbing. I am positive that, had my best friends been around, still climbing with me, I wouldn't have gotten as strong as I'm now.
The obsessive compulsive behaviour doesn'l like the good company of friends; the obsession doesn't want to have fun. The obsession wants to be fed with your obsessive behaviour.
Unfortunately, a few hours spent under wooden edges isn't all one's life.
One must be also happy, sometimes.
Maybe, lately, I lack this feeling of happiness, of "here's your prize". For sure I climbed what I wanted to. And it's not a coincidence that I write these thoughts right now: I can tell how good I did by how depressed I get after doing it.
I'm not exactly depressed right now, but I'm empty, and despite a strong desire, I can see it when I train. It's hard to put together body and mind. One day one is there and the other one isn't, and vice versa.
There are many many changes going on around me at the moment, and I feel the urge to change something myself.
I need to feel that everything can change if I want, that there still can be some improvisation in life. Maybe I just need a vacation.
Yesterday I found myself thinking about going climbing, and that's a thing I normally don't do, I just pack and go. The air was warm and humid, and I could not picture myself, in my mind, packing and driving. So I stayed home, I crushed the strings of my bass, I put in a great Beastmaker session, and most of all I spent a few hours sending around CV's and job requests. I did not speak to anyone for the entire day.
I can't change my climbing if first I don't change my life. We will see.
I've been here in the past, in this situation, but with a great difference. Now I know what I can do to be happier and more fulfilled, and although this could seem a paradox, the key to open the box is my job.
It's a powerful tool, because no matter what, I love it. With this tool I can do new things, I can use it to try and build me a new story. And if I don't succeed... Well for the present it doesn't matter.
This post could sound a bit enigmatic, it is for sure to a certain degree, but if we remember not to judge a book by the cover, everything can be clearer. Sometimes, what we see is just a fake. It's hard to run a life that is 100% true, to others and mostly to ourselves. It's like poker: you bluff and others fold.
But comes a moment for the showdown as well, because when I bluff, I bluff to myself. And I'm tired of it.
So the aim now is: be comfortable in the power; keep the head up in front of chaos and don't fear changes. 
I feel different. 

Thursday, 20 September 2012


I am the ultimate grade chaser, and the grade that I chase is "+1".
As I've said before, climbing problems is really important, but it's not all that matters: doing moves that I could not do before, matters. It's rare to find a problem on which you can't do any of the moves, mostly because of the lack of new rock in the surroundings of where I live. There are new projects, of course, but each one is plagued by some minor or major issue that make them unappealing or unfeasible for me, especially bad landings. On one of these boulders I already smashed an ankle two years ago and I can't see myself getting on it very soon or very easily.
Anyway, The paradise in which every performed move is a new PB, is my board. Man, that's better than Prozac and cocaine together. There are no bad landings there, and nothing is morpho. I can pull or I can't.
Which leads to the next topic.
Despite a current wave of thought, all kindness and good will, that considers it a bad thing, I live on ego.
But it's my ego. It's not my ego versus someone else's one. It's just me, because in the climbing world that I know, there's only me. So, my ego satisfies myself without the need of confrontations with others, mainly because to me other climbers do not exist. If they do, I don't care what they do. This solves a lot of problems.
On my board, there are sequences, and you are supposed to do what's written on the notebook. If it says "match", you must match. If it says "LH cross" you must cross with your left hand, and you can only use the footholds that are allowed.
The key is not getting to the top, the key is screaming on every move. And I do.
I want it to be as hard as it can be, while not being impossible.
On rock, this attitude is not possible, unless you find yourself at Raven Tor, Minus Ten or the likes (and if you do, you have all my respect and a gentle kind of livid envy, because they are places in which history was made), and of course you can't complain if a new sequence is discovered, you can't call it cheating and it's all legit. But even so, I'll never switch to a new sequence if I planned to use another that feels harder.
I really can't see the point of trying to discover a new sequence: is it just to find yourself on top? If so, the easiest way is to walk on top of the boulder from the descent. I'm sure you get what I mean.
Last May, I repeated a problem with a sequence that allowed me to start one hold lower, but this also skipped a long first move off a nasty two finger jam in a crack. I don't know whether this sequence is harder or easier - for sure it's not morpho and everyone can do it -, fact is that the original move that I couldn't do remained in my mind.
That's why, applying my philosophy, I found myself under that piece of rock last Sunday. I did the move second go, cut loose - something I generally don't like, but on that occasion it felt so good - put my right foot back on, dropped into the undercling and stepped off.
I had done the move and that is all that matters, more than the problem. Will I go back to repeat it with this move? Probably, but with another completely different attitude and mindset.
On the day I did the problem, I had also tried another sequence of which I could not do the moves in isolation. Sunday I crushed this as well, just to be sure.
So, what's harder? Dynoing from a slot or getting an undercling above your head and locking it off? To me, now, it doesn't matter anymore. It mattered before because I only had done one sequence, but now, that I have done them all, it doesn't matter anymore. Which grade did I climb on Sunday? I climbed "+1". And that's why I pulled out my flask and sipped some Jura - thanks Paul.
I think that I am quite presumptuous, I've always been. But my ego was weak, and I was constantly thinking about others: what they were climbing, how much, where, how often, and sometimes I've been green with envy, feeling bitter and defrauded of something that I felt I had the right to have. It's a bad way of feeling. It's horrible.
Now, luckily, I am blessed by an enormous ego. So big that in my mind there's no room for anyone else.
And this is great.