Friday, 22 May 2015


It's raining and I don't care. It will rain for a good ten days, and I don't care. I'm at work, and I don't care. I've just had two fastastic afternoons climbin on rock, and I am happy. I am ready to lock myself in my cellar, trying my impossible projects; I am ready to swear and do yet another fingerboarding session; I am ready to do my weights finishers and my uphill sprints. I am ready to do it all again. I've hit an unexpected peak of form and, equally unexpectedly, I took advantage of it on the real thing. A friend of mine had reclimbed an old problem of mine, giving it a new, harder finish, and this motivated me to go and try it again. Fact is, when I did the old version, I also tried to give it a new, harder start... but never completed it. So, after almost ten years, I found myself with my old project and a harder finish! Oh yes! When my girlfriend asked me if I wanted to take an afternoon off from work and go climbing, I couldn't resist. With days of rain ahead, I wanted to climb! So we went, we were all alone in a fantastic setting, it was sunny and windy and I was happy. I tried to remember the sequence of my old project and it was easy, given that there are only those holds. Linking them was another thing. I had gone there to climb my friend's problem, but instead I tried the longer start and after some playing around I gave it a go. And I crushed it. I found myself on top with bulging forearms and I was happy and sad at the same time. Happy, because it had gone down; sad, because it was all over so fast. I always joke saying "The less I climb, the better!" this meaning that the perfect session is the one in which I get there, I warm up, I climb my project and I am free to annoy all the other climbers for the rest of the day, or be back home super early ready for some Gin and Tonic. But then, I really like to climb! And it was over already! After some hugs and kisses and coffee I did it again in bits to film it, and then I decided to take the monster 8 minutes walk to another sector to try another line I'd spotted years ago. It's the usual link of two existing problems, and I got there telling my girlfriend "Nevermind, I'll do it first go and then it's pizza time!" Ahahahahahah! Rude awakening motherfucker. I couldn't do any of the new moves. It took me a good hour and half only to manage three moves, and all of a sudden I found myself with a new project!!! Great, great day out! What my girlfriend didn't know, when she asked me to go climbing, was that I had already taken the following day off to go climbing with a friend! Oh yes. So, after my brilliant previous day, I found myseld in another sector, in which I had a project. The day didn't start very well, and it reminded me that I live in a place with little rock. Before heading to my project, we wanted to try two lines on a boulder I'd never seen before. What a piece of shit. It's in a steep part of the wood, so whenever you sit or step on the mat, you start sliding down surfing the wood; the rock is super aggressive and crumbly and I ripped off two big chunks. The problems seemed impossible despite their accessible grade. "Goddamn I should have stayed at home!" Then, we went to the project. Before hauling the pads, I checked if, for once, it was dry. Fuck, it was. And so I found myself there again, with my super sequence and all my fears. Obviously, this project is a harder start of an existing problem that I did three years ago. I had tried it on and off along the years, and often came back really not satisfied about the sequence: basically, to make the new start you could simply add one single move. I didn't like this, I wanted a line that was as independent as possible, but struggled to find a sequence. When I found it, the results were these: It was nasty and hard. Really hard. Like, barely doing single moves in isolation. Plus, I had basically already done it a couple of months ago, only with a very ugly pad dab (the start is very low), so I found myself there asking myself what was I doing there. The answer was that I was there to properly crush that shit. Dry holds make a big difference, blimey. I started, and everything felt easy. Well, not easy, it felt hard, but in control. The sequence is very simple, you either hang the holds, and if so it's ok, or you don't, and if so there are no tricks. After a false start, on my second go I found myself going through the moves steadily, and getting to the crux. I switched my right hand from a bad two fingers lock to the undercling, got it but not perfectly, kept going and missed the high pinch. Dammit. It was nearly over. I had crushed all the new start, that used to give me hell, and I'd fallen on the crux of the original 8a problem that I've done numerous times. Shit. I was under pressure. I rested, drank more coffee, and really, everything was perfect. It was sunny, windy and cool. I was having fun and I was full of joy. Only one question mark was left. The foot swap. The original problem, for me, is a bit morpho. You have to reach very high to this pinch, and I am fully extended on my left foot. Then you have to match feet, swap right for left, and move on. Well, on the reach I am so stretched that I can't match the right foot, because with the hips rotation I can't reach the foothold. It's the crux for me, and I can really barely do it. In fact, I've done many times, but one thing is coming from two easy moves, another thing is coming from five hard ones. While trying this feet swap in isolation, suddenly I felt particularly strong on the holds, and instead of the usual sequence, I just squeezed hard, high stepped with my right foot just under my right hand, pulled really hard on the pinch and I had bypassed the morpho bit and was eyeing the top. It was a brutal sequence, but at least it was only a matter of power! And power, is not a problem. I sat down, I went through the routine that makes me climb perfectly, and then I just performed. I motored through the lower moves and got to the undercling. I didn't get it right, and there I made the difference. I paused, locked myself in position like a steel beam and adjusted the right hand hold. When I got it right, fuck me it felt like a path. The high pinch move was just a gentle, slow reach, and then I was there, at the feet swap. I knew I could bypass it with the new sequence, but I also knew that it was hard. My friend yelled "Vai! Vai!" and I went. I high stepped, right foot under right hand, I pushed myself away from the pinch and it became good, put the left foot on the small edge, moved my right foot again and I was at the right hand gaston and the top. I came down and I was out of myself. In a few tries I had climbed my three years long project. I was happy, surprised and exhausted. In my memory it was easy, but in my emotions I know it was not. I climbed perfectly, physically and mentally, and performed almost at my limit. I did it again in bits to film it, and then all I had to do was spot my friend on the original 8a. He did good links and he will do it in the future. And my two afternoons of newly found climbing youth were over. I couldn't stop talking about how I'd adjusted the undercling, how I had high stepped, this and that. It was pure pure joy. So, in a moment in which I find myself disgusted by what happens around here in the climbing community; in a moment in which I feel completely out of it, and proudly so; in a moment in which all I read on climbing websites and magazines are bullshit and lies; in a moment in which I ask myself why I don't speak out the truth and put them to shame; in a moment in which I hate what they're doing to our beautiful discipline; in this moment I realized that for me nothing has changed. I can work and still train. I can love and still train. I can ride my motorcycles and still train. There's a life beyond climbing, and this makes climbing even better. Thanks for your time. And now some video stills.