giovedì 16 aprile 2015

The Forest. Third part.

The Forest at Elephant, Fontainebleau. Photo Giulia Paoletti
After 40 days, the last part of my stay has been characterized by twisted emotions and contradictory feelings. On one hand, I reckoned how many days I had left, thinking about home, projects, resting and resetting my mind from the hard stuff. On the other side, the climate of the environment was continuing to make me feel good and I didn't want to leave the paradisiacal setting which surrounded me. I felt melancholic and bored at the same time.

I anyway had some goals I wanted to reach during the last period, despite my two main "projects" (The Realist and Illusion du Choix) were accomplished. Max came up for one-week visit in the forest and I was really glad to share some moments with him, climbing in some of the hidden areas. I climbed few days with Neil Hart as well. He filmed me in one of the best example of "Font in a nutshell" boulder, "Paddy" 7C+ and also in  "Magic circus" 8A, a double jump in the southern part of Bleau. Both these problems present a really heinous mantle, where you have to smear your body and try to rock over without thinking about the consequences of the fall. A true crap. On Magic circus, after the first fall on the mantle, I got the upper part with a positive feeling I found myself almost over the lip. I unfortunately got into the shocking situation where you are too high to come down, but also too low to be save. I was locked. My hands started to touch rock in every angles, with the results to get mossy and find no useful slopers. I couldn't jump down and I couldn't go up. I prayed Neil to give me a help with the hands, he was stood at the top while filming. He didn't understand at first; he went on filming. On the second call he gave me the saving hand and he pulled me out of the terrible situation. The little fear vanished into copious laughs from every of us. A bit smarter I brushed the rock around that zone and I found some slopers where I put some chalk on. The third go I said to Max to be focused on the spotting. I trusted him a lot. Neil stayed upon the stone, to film what we hoped to be the good go. I stuck the dyno for the third time and I fortunately rock over without Neil's hand. Great.

When Max Left I went for the first time to Opium boulders, where in two different days I was able to climb "Narcotic Direct" 8A+/B and "Jour de chasse" 8B/+. After this, only 5 days were left. I opted to leave all the projects away. It didn't matter to climb them at this point. I just wanted to climb as much as I could, go out and climb with relaxed mind in some areas where I had never been to. I climbed easy stuff from 5+ till 8A, and they were probably some of the best days of my trip. I was enjoying a lot. I also asked to myself why I would have not done more days like these and I took note for the next trip. The last day was also ending. At half past six I drove to Boissy Aux Calais ( I am a fun of this area) and I went alone to climb "Les Nobrilistes" 7A+, one of the most aesthetic Font's slab. It required me some goes until the sunset, when I reached the edge and I said goodbye to Font.

Here is the list of the line I climbed in the last part (beauty order)

Hotline 7C
Le chainon manquant 7C
Magic circus 8A
L'aplat du Gain 8A
Paddy 7C+
Rencontre du troisieme type assis 7C+
La theorie du chaos assis 7B+
Le Tailleur de Mansonges 7C/+
Chasseru de prises assisi 7C
Return d'Ariane 7C
L'art de la Fugue 8A
La Baleine 7C+
La Chose 7C+
Rencard 7C
Full Metal Jacket assis 7C
Jour de Chasse 8B+
Prise d'Otage 7C+
Narcotic Direct 8B
Millenium 7C+
Apotheose assis 8A
Infidele assis 7C+
Opium 8A

Paddy 7C+, Fontainebleau. Video still by Neil Hart

Narcotic Direct 8B, Fontainebleau. Photo Neil Hart

Appartenance 7C, Fontainebleau. Photo Stefan Kuerzi

Elephunk 8B, Fontainebleau. Photo Stefan Kuerzi
Illusion du Choix 8B, Fontainebleau. Photo Stefan Kuerzi
Living in Font for 2 months has been  an excellent deal; I probably wrote and said these words countless times, but the area is actually one of the best ring where the bouldering should take place. It is flat, it counts tons of hidden rocks, the holds are awesome and, moreover, it is one of the scarce place where you actually learn to climb and not only pull damn like a rude. In Font, you can see how the climbing should be understood and enjoyed beyond the simple action to grab holds and pull them. This is why my trip had to be special and, in the end, these are the main reasons for which I got a lovely stay. It has been a simply wonderful school of climbing in a kind of paradise forest. I hope to have make the idea clear enough. 

Some people also said that my trip has been gorgeous for the problems I climbed and the bunch of “hard” stuff I sent. Basically I am pretty disappointed on this side and what I managed to do; the bummer is not actually related to the fact that I wanted to climb more, but in a deeper analysis, to the reasons that gave me troubles in trying hard and doing what I desired more.

At the base of everything I have my skin statement which is giving me serious problems because they are excessively sweating. The story is pretty long, but I try to make a summery. Since before 2014 I have always had an ideal and fitting skin for bouldering. I went to the gym, to granite, to sandstone, to woody fingerboards and it was always hard, solid, compact and suitable with what I was going to grab. I could crush the pen’s tip into my upper fingers and they kept its mold for quite a bit; that was what happened during winter days at school. I knew I could have no issues from this part, and the fact let me serene.

Since I came back from US (March 2014), I started to sweat more and more and the good feelings began to change into a kind of obsession. In June I had to stop for injury, I came back climbing last September. The first days were pathetic and annoying. My tips pulled out water from every part, after a couple of moves they were literally wet. I tried to understand the issue; I mean, it was warm and it was months that I didn’t climb, so the problem was understandable. My shapes was going higher again, but the problems persisted. I started to use a mix of Alcohol and pine resin, before the good goes on my projects. It helped me a little bit for 3 attempts or so, since the sweat didn't come out for a while; without it, everything would have been thousand  times harder. I tried to accept the situation and not complaining too much. Then I got into the training mode from December until mid Feb. I knew the alcohol wasn’t the best solution; I knew that an abuse or an excessive using wouldn’t have been so good; I hence opted to stop for a period since I wanted to train only. During Christmas Holiday I went out climbing in Ticino; It was the same story once again: with alcohol it wasn’t good but even not  terrible; without the lotion it was almost impossible to attempt something hard. The stiff skin tissue of years ago was only a memory  and this made me disappointed. The issues didn’t get better.

I went to Font, being quite relieved because sandstone requires usually soft tissue. I probably got into a good shape and the physical benefits could compensate the bad skin. In fact, this was what happened. The temperatures after Feb started to increase a little bit (they were always good but my conditions perceived this changing a lot). Now, analyzing the whole trip, I could honestly say that most part of the ascents I did and all the failures I got, were only accorded to my skin statements. My physical shape was good, my mental approach got a little step ahead, the friction was most of the times perfect, the mood was positive and many things seemed to roll in the best ways like rarely happens. This is sad and frustrating, since almost everything was depending on the skin and this made me sliding many times.

At some point, the issue also started to attach my mental approach and my motivation as well. I started to be more nervous under the boulders and the patience was always less and less. The motivation and the desire are starting to turn off, especially in the last part of my stay. Now that I came back home, I need time to rest and to recover them in order to try some products which can dry it a little bit. This can help the issue, but on the other side I would not understand the drastic change and the true causes. I think I will also make analysis and see if it can be linked to metabolism or alimentation. Meanwhile, if someone has some advice I would be glad to hear.

Since I was telling about the dark side of my Font’s trip, I also reckoned the boulders I tried which have eluded me. This is not too bad since it can be source of motivation to come back in the Forest more prepared and with a good skin that I hope to get soon. Below it, some pictures I made.

Surplomb de la mee direct
Toute peines confondues
Delire Onirique
La toupie carnivore assis

Giuly on "Le voie michaud" 6C, Fontainebleau.
Max trying "Pancras", Fontainebleau.
Mont Pivot, Fontainebleau
Giuly on "Heir Hencore" 6B/+, Fontainebleau.
Trying la Baleine, Fontainebleau.

lunedì 23 marzo 2015

The Forest. Second part.

Spring is coming out, the sun is burning more and more and the winter is giving the last beats with its tail. I usually don’t like spring so much and this year it won't be  an exception. I am sure about this. Winter temps are missing, but it seems they are not going to grow up in the next coming days. I am writing this blog-spot to make a point about the central part of my trip to Font, since I am getting  into the last three weeks of climbing where I actually hope to not meet really warm days and to enjoy the forest as much as possible in terms of friction and pleasant temperatures. Many days have been spent, but it is hard getting satisfied with all this wonderful nature around me.  For this, the desire is still burning.

 I would like to make a kind of report about how the things have rolled from the beginning of the trip until now; about the achievements I had, the little “dreams” I realized and the good days spent out in the wood. First of all the thing that I am noting is that I am feeling more and more at ease  in the full contest of the of the forest. Breathing the air just out of home, smelling the scents in the first steps into the forest and catching all the features and the various shapes of nature is great. Every day I get more aware how quiet some areas are and how beautiful is the setting where we climb. Everything is getting more familiar and it was what I wished.  Beyond the setting, even the rock is now less a mystery and I am improving in feeling the slopy foot holds and squeeze the weird slopers. Feeling like home here was one of the biggest goal for the trip and also one of the thing I have desired most in my climbing career.

Secondly, the other target I set for the 2015, was to find some hard lines to repeat and falling into the working-obsession, keeping trying them for more than my usual 2/3 days after which I started to get bored and I usually give them up. The reason is because I would like to improve my  patience, my constancy and my mental statements. I would like to get mad in mini-details and work hard to climb gorgeous line. Working a line for many days in a short period is something tough where I personally reply some issues: I get frustrated and I am not able to understand the process and how it should have been followed.  Overcome this trouble would mean to get a step ahead for my personality and for my climbing vision. The reason is because there are some wonderful  lines that are too hard to be completed in just a couple of days and since I would really like to climb them one day, I have to start to think upon this side.

For the second time this year, this approach has been reached and  I have been able to stick a couple of lines that in the past I would have let away before. This first happened in “Big kat” (last Jan) and then in “the big island” last week.

This boulder is good; many videos and images represent it quite well, probably much better than my poor descriptions. It climbs really well and the shape is quite emotional. It has anyway a couple of pities. The stone below makes the line smaller than what it is; it should be huge and really pure; while the stone makes in one side the attempts comfortable, on the other a little lack in terms of purity. There are  also few controversies regarding the starting position. Here I try to explain them, making the read as short as I can. Dave Graham was the first to climb the roof, in 2008. He started sit on the stone, LH in the low rails, RH on the first polished crimps and right toe hook in the right rail. This is “the island”, rated 8B+. Later, some repetitions had been made; some of them climbed the original way, other ones adopted a new way to begin: RH on the slopy rail instead of using the crimp. This is obviously much more logical, even personally much easier than the original Dave’s line. Then, in 2009, a new version came out. Vincent  Pochon started lower. He Stood on the ground with LH on the polished crimp and RH on a lower hold. He added two easy moves into “the island”, putting up “the big island” rated 8C.

Beside these little things, I guess it can be considerate like an awesome line and I always like it since the first day when Marco lead me to the spot (spring 2011). I was anyway conscious that for climbing it I would have had need  a good dose of toughness  to attempt it for more days, one of the biggest lack in my baggage as I previously said.  I have been tried it three times before this trip, when I was able to do all the moves except the first one of “The island”. On the third session (oct 2012), being tired by incessant  fails, I attempted the first two moves of Poschon’s version and they quickly came together. For this trip it was not the main project, but definitively it was the first of the secondary ones.

Coming up the first day I was pretty positive and I really wanted to get into the working mentality. I tried several times the starting move again, but nothing changed;  it went on to miss and I felt far from executing it. I had two possibilities to chose: making the deal pretty easy and opted for the “new” starting  version, which is way easier for my style, or getting into the whole line of Poschon.  I thought a lot about the first plan, even the seasons before; it sounded sweet and more logical after all. But it basically didn’t convince me; it would have been a kind of cheating beta, since it basically skips what is the hardest move for me and I could have not climbed the original way.

I opted for the second one. This meant a bad and a good thing. I had to do 2 more moves that  require body tension, adjustments of hands/feet positions and more time on the line in the overall. I hence knew to get at the end  and with less chalk in my hands, which in fact turned into an important point. The positive side was that in this way, I could start with the heel hook directly and my hand was a bit closer to gain the hard move of the Island. In terms of strength it is definitely easier (the two first move are pretty simple), in terms of endurance and mental approach is harder. The second day I was again falling in the middle, going to the central crimp in the roof. The third day was pretty warm but it was also the turning point of the experience and the moment where I understood the importance of the chalk at the end. I fall 3 times after grabbing the crimp and my hands could not squeeze anymore. I was slipping to much.

The fourth day was even warmer but I felt positive feelings in my mind. I opted to go. The path was the same like usual; I knew every part of it. I knew where all the bushes would brush my legs, I knew the colors and the atmosphere of the hill and I knew that my thoughts were always focused about sending. I knew the perfect position where the pads had to stay, I knew the tickmarks I had to make and I knew that we were in march and the temperature could have not been much different than those ones. I had nothing to complain about. There was anyway something that I didn’t know. I found a slightly different position for the slopy rail in the last part, where I fall the previous day. That could have made a little difference. I repeated the sequence a couple of times from 4 move into the start, meanwhile the Slovenian climbing team came up to try it. I rested and they began to work the moves. The kindly let the boulder dry a little bit before my go. I appreciated their spirit and I thank them for this. I tried to focus and not think about the heat. I got into the central part pretty well, I changed my feet and I got to the crimp without efforts. Then I got into the last part, where I missed 3 times. I slowly moved the right foot on the far hold and I focused into the new slopy structure I felt few minutes before. I squeezed the rock as strong as I could realizing that it could have been the right moment. I grabbed the good edge and I almost thought about victory. I swung my body off and this part was much harder than what I supposed. For nothing, for luck or for I don’t know what I was still on and not laid on the ground. It was done. I made the mantle and I screamed out all the efforts; not for only having climbed it, but mostly for have worked the line for many days according to my standards.

Climbing the big island has been a quite intensive and challenging effort. It took me several days to finish it, despite its style suits me pretty well. It has been a good satisfaction, but not as I actually desired. The day I sent it I was pretty happy for the first minutes after the top out, than the happiness started to vanish and I felt I was more happy to have removed an hard problem and never think more about it, more than the ascent itself. This let me a little bitter taste; and I didn’t catch the source and the reason at all.

The big Island 8C, Fontainebleau. Photo Eirik Thorsrud

The big Island 8C, Fontainebleau. Photo Eirik Thorsrud

The trip anyway continued. The weather seemed to have reached a good positive and stable trend and all the moist boulders would have been drier. This is what I supposed. The forest has many areas and you can find boulders which dries up really quickly, while other ones take many days or even weeks to get totally climbable.  There were two problems that I really cared about, more than all the other ones. They deal of “illusion du choix” located in Puiselet and “the realist”, which is situated in a bad hole  into a humid wood;  they both need time to dry up completely, especially the second one.  
During the good period of sunny days I was more positive and relaxed about the issue, since I knew that I finally could have seen them in prime condition. It is a bit frustrating to wait for such a long period for the main things that you come up for, but fortunately the nature helped me. The timing was also on my side, since for the best conditions week Giulia showed up and I had an excellent spotter for “Illusion du Choix”.  We went there and I was really excited to try it. I couldn’t wait. I have been in Puiselet 5 times before that day; 2 of them I got lost, while in other occasions I forgot the rope to clean it or it started raining or I found it wet.  So I waited that day pretty long, impatiently.

It was fortunately dry. The area has for me the best rock quality in all the forest, at least for the sectors where I have been so far. It is quite sandy few times, but the grain is perfect. I remained dazzled on this side. Basically nobody usually go in this place, since it gets mossy in a really short time. “illusion du choix” was already dirty, despite the fact that Nalle cleaned it last year. I quickly put the rope and I give to it a touch of life back. Whit chalk it was a wonder. After two little sessions on the moves I gained the top. I remained speechless by astonishment I had. I knew it could have been one of my favorite, but the reality has been still much better than what I though. World class problem.

The second one was Realist but it seemed harder to find it dry. The slopy rail was always wet while the other holds slightly humid and almost dry.  At the end of Giulia’s stay, we had not enough  time to go there and I was without spotter;  but this is definitely safer than what it would have been on “illusion du Choix”. I figured out a good way, using a higher pinch-hole than the normal beta does. This hold allowed me to skip the rail in the damp section and the vain attempts became a kind of success. In a couple of hours, with some breaks and another one go to bring the pads, I finished this beautiful line.

Now I still have three weeks left here in the forest; I am working on some other lines and I would also like to brush something new that I looked at. Definitely the 2 biggest desires has been fulfilled and the fact that I have not to take about wetness anymore makes me light and happy.

Here is the list of the ascent of the central part of my trip (beauty order)

Illusion du Choix 8B
Appartenance 7C
Partage assis 8B
The realist 8A/+
Gecko assis 8B/+
The big island 8C
Bleau Sacrè 8A+/B
Coup de feel 7C
Le Tajine 8B
Pancras 7C
La Toupie carnivore 8A
Sacrebleau 8A
Irreversible 7C
Kendo 7C 
Shoot 7C+

L'apparemant bas 8B, Fontainebleau. Video still

Gecko assis 8B/+, Fontainebleau. Video still.

Partage assis 8B, Fontainebleau. Video still

domenica 1 marzo 2015

The Forest. First part.

Time has gone quickly since the last time I travelled to Font, the suggestive forest in the south of Paris. It was autumn 2012, when I sent my last problem here, the historical “Karma”, located in the centre of Cusinere sector. If I have not lost the count, that deal of the 7th time in the Forest. It is a lot, I have to admit. Sometimes I try to get conscious about how lucky I am to live not so far from this place, which can be reached by car from my home (7.30 h more or less). Every time I came up, it was the same story year after year: I came here, the motivation was high, I climbed, I tried to get confidence, I had lot of fun and then it was already time to leave. One week in a place with tons of good rock is everywhere too little. The longer period I have ever been is for 8 days and considering how the area is large and how many stones it counts, 7th short times don’t seem too much after all. That last time, back in 2012 fall, I was almost sure that it could be the last short visit and I promised to myself that soon or later I would have set a larger period in the forest; The reasons are simple to realize. I wanted to get used with the rock, the style and enjoy as much as I could this place where I have always been with rush and few time on tap. I had to wait for 2 years and half, before the desire fulfilled, but now the moment has come.

I left on the 12th and the first 2 weeks of the trip are now passed by. It is good. Being here in the forest and enjoy it as deep as ever is sweet and exciting. I can now set a longer list of goals, investing time and energies working on the lines I have always dreamt to attempt, enjoying the wood and the sandstone boulders in all their shapes, difficult, heights and styles. During these two years I fortunately visit other several places around Europe and the globe. Compared to the other trips I had up here, I have got now a different vision and I have more experience to match the quality of this place with other great areas where I have been from 2012 till now. Font is always good and the first days of climbing confirmed to myself this thing. There are a couple of factors that make this place special for me. The sandstone quality comes first. The climbing it requires is not something harder than Granite or than other kind of Sandstone, but it is simply a totally different thing; a different kind of approach. The approach is in fact totally singular, the body positions are tough to find as well as the holds are something we are not used to grab; you have to learn new moves every day and feel what you have up on the tiny footholds. The typical package of holds is a perfect mix of “sweet” grey sandstone which presents wonderful ultra-gripped pinches, edges and mostly slopers or “tortoise” slopers features to squeeze in many directions with your open hands. This is great. Nothing is foregone, both for the easiest boulders but even for the hardest, both in the positive expectations and even for the negative ones. Secondly, the forest makes this place sweet and great. The moss which cover woods was something I missed in these year and I finally have the pleasure to see and admire it again.

During my previous trips here I only knew this world class area, beyond Ticino which for me is certainly a lower point below Font. Now that I have been in other couple of world class places , I can almost put in the same level with this area other spots like Rocklands, Red Rocks and Albarracin. Everyone of these amazing destinations had some special points higher than the respective ones and for a reason or another I love them at the same point.

The weather is probably one of the few negative side of Font, here is typical to go up and down quickly. It is continental climate, so it is less foreseeable and pretty weird in many cases. The good thing is that the rock dries up quickly. Unfortunately for this factor I have been able to climb 8 days in a total of 17. Almost 50% of the time, which is not obviously as I wanted but I haven’t to complain about, since the weather will do its own loop. I fortunately got profit by the good sunny days, where the friction wasn’t so bad. Here is a list of the problems I managed to tick and below it you could find my Insta upload with all the news about my trip. Enjoy.

Ticks (in order of beauty)

- Partage 8a+
- Elephunk 8b
- Eden Rock 7b+
- L’apparemment bas 8b
- Controle A 7c
- Bagheera 7b+/c
- Coup de kick 8b
- Formis rouge 7c
- Hip Hop assis 8b
- Ubik assis 8b
- Deux faux plis en plats reels 7c
- Atomic playboy raccourci 7c+
- L’aeredynamite assis 8a
- Conviction 8a
- Gibouleè assis 7c
- Tristesse 7c
- Respire 7c+
- Le Zebulon 7c
- Sale gosse assis 8a
- De vitae beata 8a
- Plates tonique 7c
- Atresie 8a
- Big golden 7c+
- Big boss 7c

martedì 3 febbraio 2015

The last two months

Here we are with my first blog spot of the year 2015. The period riding December and January has been quite busy and many days were spent inside for training and preparation. Like usual, training has a double face; a bad one and a good one. Once I got the training mood, I always know that I sit the rock climbing out for a while. This is a negative part and sometimes it is even dangerous as you lose the rock feelings and technique. The positive side is that once I got into this process I am just damn focused on training and nothing else; I like this thing and I love to do it despite sometimes rock climbing misses a bit. During 2014 I basically had only 3 weeks of training during all the year, then I got injured and I had 3 more weeks in autumn where I made a kind of soft/keeping training just to recover well and prepare my wrist for hard climbing and for the though moments would come next. Late in autumn, I felt it was time to start again and I opted to buy an online training program from two well known trainers of Teamof2. The program provided 10 weeks of daily schedules. Since the Christmas holidays were in the middle of the deal, I split it in 3 different sections: 3 weeks of hard training, two weeks and a half of rock climbing/rest/soft training and 3 more weeks of full training again; all this package would have made a flew from December to the beginning of February. I was excited.

At the first look, the program seemed to be interesting and mostly new for me. In fact, it was. Many workouts that I wasn't used before had been added. While the schedules I already did before underwent modifies using other systems or other recovering time. It has been curious and newsworthy to follow a program set by every day of to-do's. Before this, I just planned what I should have done in the whole week, giving no matters to the order of sessions or the days when I had to push hard or not. Moreover it is the first time that I followed a program made by someone else and not planned with a self-setting. New stuff like I said, new ways and new workouts. For example I had Cardio sessions where I was completely green, TRX workouts for the core and the shoulders and other cool exercises. Since I do only bouldering I often underestimated the Cardio aspect and its importance and aftermaths. I knew I was bad and it deals of one of my biggest lack, but I didn't think that it could be so useful for bouldering. Definitively it will be a part of my future training.

The graphic of my shape made a lot of ups and downs during the period. At the beginning I felt gorgeous. Between the first and the second week I had a really high peak, I managed to do my first 1-5-9 ever on the personal PG, I could try V14 in the wall and I sent different hard problems in the gym. Then I started to be tired, weak and a bit sick from training. The last few days of the third week I had a big cliff, my muscles hurt but I was mentally serene, since the drops are obviously normal. I went to Ticino for few days; I rested, I climbed a bit and I enjoyed the fresh winter air. I felt pleasure, joy and I got relaxed in being out instead of close into a stinky and dirty pigeon house or into a fitness gym where I could read the sameness of the usual customers riding on a static bike. They seemed stupid and I also was. One day I felt bored and faint, while the day after I ticked "ninja skills" off. This is to say how the ups and downs can change and the shape can evolve, dropping or rising. I came back home and I came up again few days during the holidays. I tried hard on "big kat" and I finished this line after 4 days of war. I tried "the story of two worlds" and I felt everything was going down again. That day I perceived a intensive dose of tiredness which followed me for days. I reached the lowest point during the middle of Jan, where I sensed fatigue and I had to fight to make 1-5 on the rungs of my PG. My shoulders didn't answer, my body was off and what I had was only a bit of finger strength that allowed me to go on. Sometimes I skipped the daily workout; I felt insane trying something when your body or your instinct don't feel good and positive. On the last week I came up again. The skin raised up, the shoulders seemed to be better and day after day I added a piece of mine to the full package. The core strength missed again, and it is missing right now as well. The motivation came and the line of my imaginary graphic probably is reaching the medium values. Now I finished, I felt I need rest and recovering days, I need to find a way to link all the skills together and make one unique well-working piece. The time will say if it has been worthy and useful for myself, or just a kind of "keeping" training and the hard times was vain. I am confident, we will see.

Ninja Skills 8B+, Sobrio (CH). Photo Stefan Kuerzi

mercoledì 7 gennaio 2015

2014 - Top 10 problems

When a new year begins, it comes pretty usual to think what has been done and what is coming next. I always analyze the good moments from the past, trying to remember them as deep as I can, reading the mistakes, setting new goals and dreaming new glory moments of bouldering and travelling for the next future. Since two occasions, I am used to make a kind of top 10 list of the best lines I climbed during the past year. Conversely to 2013, I opted this time to share it on my blog. The list basically includes the best things I did in 2014; it classifies them following what are for me the most important 7 aspects of bouldering: quality of rock, pureness of the line, quality of the holds, the aesthetic  aspect, the natural landscapes around, the kind of movements/sequences and the personal experience on the line. Here it is.

- 10th. "Rust in Peace" (FA), Champorcher (ITA). Definitively one of my proudest first ascent ever: tall, huge, massive, physical and the climb on it is awesome. It probably deserves to be in the top 10 milestone of 2014 for its pureness and for the good quality of rock, which stands out in all the valley for me. It is characterized by a slopy pinches sequence in the roof, to get out in a slightly overhang easy finish with cool moves as well.

"Rust in Peace", Champorcher. Photo Giulia Paoletti

-9th. "This side of Paradise" (FA Matt Wilder), Bishop (US). One of the best highball I have ever seen during the years; It is a kind of perfect and tall arete which makes you small like an ant. Located up in the wild Bardini's boulder sector, it stands up on the hill in a perfect position like a true king. The experience had been quite mystic, scary and proud at the same time. The only thing that don't let this gem go higher is probably quality of the rock. It has been great sharing this ascent and my fear together with Giulia.

Checking the move on "This side of Paradise", Bishop. Photo Robert Rundin

-8th. "Gliese 581" (FA), Champorcher (ITA). The direct way to climb "Zarmina", which has the beginning sequence in common with this. Definitively much less proud and pure than that previous two ones, but the moves make this piece incredible like the experience I had. I Felt so on my limit that day and the ascent was something like epic and unforgettable. It probably has one of the best pinch I have ever used to make a perfect jump to the slopy good lip.

"Gliese 581", Champorcher. Pic from the Video of Andrea Cossu

-7th. "Atlas Shrugged" (FA Jon Cardwell), Red Rocks (US). Black velvet canyon is an unique sector of Red Rocks; together with Fontainebleau, here I found my favorite rock ever and the shape of this one is awesome. Compression roof climbing at the beginning, followed by the upper part (The Fountainhead) with great holds and tricky mantle to get out. Exciting.

"Atlas Shrugged", Red Rocks. Photo Giulia Paoletti

-6th. "Lamiche a Mitges" (FA Tony Lamiche?), Albarracin (E). Here we came back to the pride of the first two lines in my opinion. Its highness is perfect to me, not excessively high but with incredible development; great experience with my friend Nils.

"Lamiche at mitges", Albarracin. Photo Vivi Monteiro

-5th. "Nitro" (FA), Aland Island (FIN). If I would have made a list of the best climbing moments, this one it would have been the 1st. I Looked at this line during the short trip I had and I just tried to wonder if it would have been possible or not. At the end of my stay I decided to brush it and clean it up, to see how it would have come out. The result deal of one of the best experience I have ever had in climbing. Brushing new stuff, dreaming about it and realizing that it is possible goes after goes discovering the real beta is unique. The boulder itself is amazing for me, like a big egg of rock to squeeze with the movements I have always looked for.

"Nitro", Aland. Photo Riccardo Monetta

-4th. "Elysium" (FA Randy Puro), Bavona (CH). Another good day of climbing together with Nils, in my favorite place of all Ticino. Here the rock is great and this masterpiece is the proof. Around this difficulty, it might be the best line in Ticino. Immaculate, fine granite and beautiful climbing in a perfect mix of strength/technique/balance. Great rock and perfect holding shapes. Totally worth to be in the best things of the year.

"Elysium", Val Bavona. Pic from the video

-3rd. "Meadowlark Lemon" (FA Paul Robinson), Red Rocks (US). Epic moment again. The first day when I tried I didn’t want to believe at its beauty and perfection. The experience had been quite though under the mental aspect, since I would not come back from the states without this tick. it has basically been the reason which lead me to Vegas and I had a kind of personal pressure which pushed me to finish this beautiful arete. Sent on the last couple of days of my trip, leaving a weighty stress and taking a gorgeous lines like this.

"Meadowlark Lemon", Red Rocks. photo Giulia Paoletti

-2nd. "Des roses en Hiver" (FA Reto Hartman), Val Ferret (CH). Thanks a lot to Marco to have showed me this piece of paradise. Since I saw it, back in 2011 fall, I desperately love it. A sharp and perfect overhang, with a kind of rare rock quality in all the Swiss, more similar to the sandstone than the granite. Excellent moves, weird positions, lovely holds.

"des roses en hiver", Val Ferret. Photo Max Buvoli

1st. "Wet dream" (FA Ethan Pringle), Red Rocks (US). The most complete boulder problem of the year. Stellar rock, imposing aspect, beautiful moves in a long high development, crazy full package holds: crimps/cracks for the start, jugs, pinches, rails, finger lock, brick pinch with a really high quality rock and shape. Not the best one I have ever climbed, but definitely the number one for what concerns the last year. 

"Wet dream", Red Rocks. Photo Giulia Paoletti

domenica 28 dicembre 2014

Ninja Skills - Sobrio (Ticino)

Ninja Skills 8B+, Ticino. Photo Giulia Paoletti
When I was in Albaraccin I started feeling my shape reviving a bit, especially on the very steep boulders. Getting the positive feelings back was simply a wonderful emotion. After the week spent in Spain, I set a little goals-list I wished to complete before the end of the year. My plan was to complete a couple hard sequences; they would have been special and gorgeous as I desired. The list included  5 problems to work and the goal was to finish two of them before 2015. Since I have to work them more than usual, I had to chose something not so far from home. The 5 names came up quickly: The big project in Bavona, "From dirt grows the flowers" and "Big paw", both in Chironico, "The Story of two worlds" in Cresciano and "Ninja Skills" in Sobrio. I previously had other sessions on these problems during the years like one session in From dirt and ninja skills, eight days on the story in Cresciano, four ones in the Bavona project and an endless number of working days on Big paw. Something like ten or more for this last I guess. Frustrating.

One point where I have a lot to learn and a lot to understand is to set the working days closer and to dedicate a long period to work on a single hard project. This approach would sound better than trying one single line for a full day and then come back to attempt it one year later or six months later. Using this manner, I basically feel that the previous session almost didn't count and the work I dedicate before is almost useless. It doesn't need to be a genius to understand this process, but after years I am still not getting used.

So in this period I was really thinking to start this process, but at the beginning of December I felt it was time to go into the training mood and for this reason I hadn't time to go on the rock. Anyway, I had few sessions before the program in the month of November. I started with FDGTF in Chironico. The session went much worse than last spring, when I was able to climb it in 3 parts. This time I was no more capable of finding the beta and the good feelings I had. Moreover, the sweating troubles increased a lot and all my finger thrown out water after few goes. Seeing how the skin is bad in these months, I immediately set aside this one: The holds are sharp, small and incut so it is not the best if you have soft and wet skin. Big Paw was the same story of years ago. In 2011 I was getting really close, but after that incredible and positive session I was not even able to repeat the single moves. I opted to work it with another big beta, skipping some moves and going directly to a hole when the right hand is still really low. I have never been able to stick the move; I went close a couple of time, but never stuck it.  In the same time when December started, I began to follow teamoftwo training program where I do just indoor climbing, gym, trx and other stuff.

Just before Christmas, I had a couple of days off from training and I went up to continue the selection of the problems to work. I went again to big paw, but the bad feelings went on, without any kind of progress. Seeing the bad and poor results, I decided to set aside this one as well, together with From dirt. Ninja skills would have been the next to try. For this problem I was more positive. Together with Giulia, during an afternoon of rest, I went to check it out again with one pad only. Fortunately, I was able to remember the path correctly and after just 15 minutes of hiking I was under it. I let the pad for the day after, it was supposed to be a great day since Nils and other couple of guys wanted to check it. On December 23rd we woke up with great temps: not to cold, dry, sunny and the feelings of the winter in our veins. I met up with Nils in Nivo, to get warm before going up to Sobrio. The warming up went good, I felt positive, free and focus to start a session of work in "Ninja Skills". I really hoped to find a boulder to work for more than one day, without having bad feelings like on "big paw".

The picturesque village of Sobrio was still in the sun. It is crazy to see how this peculiar place is far from the society and it is located in such a cool mountain. The hiking was memorized good; I reached Ninja in 10 minutes or so, walking down quickly for the excessive motivation we had. The sun was still hitting it; so we took profit to sign the holds, put the chalk on, remember the beta I tried in 2011 and eat a bit after the downhill. Ometz brothers reached us when the shade came and we started to try it all together. I figured out a smart and good beta for the finish. I did the ninja move on the first go this time, while years ago it required me something like 15 goes. The first two moves compose in my opinion the hardest part of the line: big move to a bad sloper and then a "go-again" action to a pretty positive edge. These two moves can be considerate around V11/12, which lead you into the second part of the same difficult but really longer, composed by 12 moves where endurance and precision can make the difference between sending it or not. I started working from two moves into the start and I quickly reached the top, climbing the hardest move of the upper section. Feelings were great.

After a quick break I tried again the first moves; I was able to do them singly. This was awesome too, since 4 years ago I was not even able to hint none of them. I felt I could start to work the line from the proper start and see what would happen. Surprisingly I linked the second move from the bottom, I got the easier part and I felt on the ninja move, missing the correct sloper to use for the jump. I felt immediately stupid since it was a great occasion. If I would have taken the proper slopy pinch, I would have probably had opportunities to complete it or at least to stick the crimp in the ninja move. A bit disappointed I rested and I reset my mind. The skin suffered a lot from the slipping, since the wrong hold slipped fast. But I was trying to not think about it.

Rest time was over and I went into another go. With more troubles than before I got again into the ninja move, this time with the proper hold but more tired than before. The attempt was vain. I opted to rest again and to do another session of working in the upper moves to get even more confidence, since I felt to have no chance from the start. Baptiste figured out an interesting beta for the ninja move, basically skipping it. From the same two holds, instead of going up with the right hand to the positive crimp, he tried to go with the left one, using a left heel hook on the rail. After few attempts I managed to do the move using this beta. It looked to be big and as hard as the other way, but it definitively requires less precision on your feet and less body coordination. I repeated the single move for 3 or 4 times, then I rested. I felt it was the last possible shot from the start, hoping that the new way could have given me the last chance. Surprisingly I grabbed for the 4th time the second hold and I ride the rail which leads into the third crux. Using the new beta I grabbed the good crimp and I started to think about finishing the whole line. The only thing that could have stopped me was a flash pump, but the breathing helped my mind to believe in the sending and together with this "mate" I sent it.

Climbing "ninja skills" was awesome. The problem is gorgeous and the feelings at the top were sweet. I complete this goal, but not the main one. I wanted to search for a line to work hard and falling in its obsessions, but I was not able. Fortunately, during the Christmas day I started for a solo mission to Chironico again and I probably found two problems where to invest time and energies, testing my skills under this aspect that I felt is missing in my climbing life. The first line is called "The great shark hunt" in Nivo, while the second seems to be "Big kat" in 101. Moreover, I would still have to check the project in Bavona and "The story of two worlds". I will still have other few days to go up in Ticino before the 7th on Jan, when I will start the program again. If the skin and the weather will help me, I will go to attempt them.

Ninja Skills 8B+, Ticino. Photo Giulia Paoletti

venerdì 12 dicembre 2014

New clips

The fall is now going away, is making room to the cold winter and the woods are losing all the beautiful colors of the leaves. Reading again the blog spot of September, I am not finding compatibility between the plans I had and the things I have actually done during the autumn. The main project was to complete the big lines I had in outstanding: the big diamond in Nosca, the project close to my home and another couple of highballs in Aosta valley. All of them are amazing, superb, imposing, massive. All of them were at the top of the to-do list and they offered me a high dose of motivation; I was so happy to have brushed these pieces and I was focus to finish them. As I wrote, unfortunately, in the middle of September I had a bad fall on one of this boulder and I got a microfracture below my hell. For many days I had pain and still now I have some issues using heel hooks. Since all the things I was interesting in are pretty tall, I decided to let the projects aside. Every time I find myself on a slab, or on a slightly high mantle I go crazy and scary. I hoped to get the positive and the awesome feelings of the highballs back soon, but this one didn't come. This is the bad and the main reason for which I didn't go back; the projects are still there, are waiting in wet conditions for a first ascent or for the return of my positive feelings which I hope to get soon.

Fortunately I could replace the things I really wanted to do with other incredible boulders around. I went to Albarracin as I told, but first I finally had the long-desired opportunity to check Maltatal, in Austria. Malta is a typical Austrian village, located in the Karnten region. As many climbers did, I was really inspired by the old and great videos of Klem Loskot and the mythical problems he established like Unterland, Power of goodbye, Alligator and the most unique and perfect Bugeleisen. I was just so glad to be there because I knew that I could finally see these pieces of rock, and that was enough. But fortunately we also found dry weather to climb two days and I can't wait to go back on one of the most incredible granite I have ever grabbed. For who has not seen my clip yet, you can check the video here below. Together with this, there is also the new clip about the Albarracin trip, I hope you enjoy both of them. Now it is time for training again, the next post will be focused on this training period :)


                                                                  Maltatal - (Aut) from niky_ceria on Vimeo.


                                              First time in Albarracin (Spain) - October 2014 from niky_ceria on Vimeo.