sabato 2 gennaio 2016

2015 - Top 10 problems

Here is the usual top-10 list of my favorite boulders of the year. It has been a really tough and long choice to draft the best moments/lines I did during the 2015. I saw many shapes, tons of good rock, amazing problems and these are what I suppose to be the best 10 ones of the last 12 months. Enjoy, and sorry for the missing photo at the 7th place.

- 10th. "The Outsider", Grampians (AUS).

Riky on "The Outsider".

- 9th. "The Big Island", Fontainebleau (FRA).

Photo Stefan Kuerzi

- 8th. "Partage/Partage Assis", Fontainebleau (FRA).

Photo Stefan Kuerzi

7th. "Osiris", Tennessee (USA). I unfortunately don't have any pictures of this one.

6th. "Elephunk", Fontainebleau (FRA).

Photo Stefan Kuerzi

5th. "Nichilismo", Valle Cervo (ITA).

Photo Giulia Paoletti

4th. "Appartenance", Fontainebleau (FRA).

Photo Stefan Kuerzi

3rd. "Owning the weather", Grampians (AUS).

Screenshot from the clip

2nd. "Ebano", Tennessee (USA).

Photo Beau Kahler

1st. "Illusion du Choix", Fontainebleau (FRA).

Photo Stefan Kuerzi

giovedì 3 dicembre 2015

The South-Est. My second US trip.

Photo Paul Robinson

Another trip has gone by and another climbing area praises a tick on the list. The South-East of the United States was one of the few outstanding classic zone where I still desired to go. I have been waiting a lot for a good occasion to go to Tennesee, but the chance took a while to come. 

Last October, Paul told me he was going there for the full month of November; The spread out area seemed to be amazing for shooting a section of the new film that Alex and him are producing, “Uncharted Lines”.  I knew It would have been one of those rare occasion to go, because,  for a reason or another, this place seems to be out of the radar for most of the European climbers. Moreover, I would have spent a trip with Paul and Jimmy discovering new lines, developing, cleaning and establishing. I was sure we were going to have a great time. The idea excited me and I got the first cheap flight to head to Chattanooga right after my weekly trip to Sheffield.

The trip basically ran over three different weeks.

Our first week was terrible. Delta Airlines lost my baggage and I hadn’t my goods for some days. The Temperatures were insanely warm, the humidity  was high most of the time and the woods were still thick and green. The summer was giving its last signs.  Climbing was almost impossible, excepted for a couple of days where we attempted to go out, but the rocks were very wet because of the condensation and the high moisture.  The positive side of the deal was that I had time to recover my jet-leg  and to go shopping to get what Delta didn’t give me back. I got some amazing underwear, socks, pants and all the basic stuff I needed.  We also checked a couple of wet rocks in Cumberland area, Little Rock City, Rocktown and some other hidden gems in Chattanooga. The rock seemed amazing  even when it was wet and I couldn’t image how good it would have been once the sky would have cleared up. I was anyway excited.

The second week the weather improved a lot. Sky started to clear up, some decent days came and we saw the first dry rock. Unfortunately to me, skin and shape didn’t seem positive as I wanted. The first never stopped sweating, while my body felt somehow faint.

Before the third week started, I took a couple of days off. The rest worked well and I got some good skin while the first touch of winter was coming.  Perfect timing. The last seven days have been amazing: a lot of climbing, first ascents, cleaning, but also classics, moderates and really amazing sandstone climbing. I have been checking many areas from the southern to the northern Tennessee, with the addition of the classic zone of Rocktown, in Georgia. The South-East  can be considered like “the Font of America”, like some climbers like to name it. The definition is generally appropriated, but I feel  to note some other good points.

What has been special to me is obviously the rock quality and, way more, some of the hold shapes. Most of the times the climbing depends on the quality of these two features. So, if they are cool, the climbing is probably  gorgeous too. It is incredible how the climbing and the sandstone change from sector to sector and how many nice styles of bouldering is possible to have. The texture many times is similar to Font, while in other parts is more comparable to Albarracin, or to Peak District or to Ticino’s granite. Secondly, according to the rock, even the holds package is really various. The boulders are hence really different, but the variety keeps most of the times an awesome quality. And, last thing, the potential is big too.

During the trip I stood several times in front of new blocs; some of them  were still to clean, waiting for some chalk; While other ones were ready to set a first ascent. I obviously love the process of the developing,  since it is probably one of the activities that makes me more excited about climbing. It is something more special and different than the simple execution of a boulder; It is creative, it includes art, vision, inspiration, doubts, vain attempts, efforts, work and so on. It is something that when you complete it, lets an indelible sign inside. I hardly forget good FA experiences. I anyway dislike to go out and climb something just to claim the first ascent or to add a new one randomly. When I look for a new line to clean, it has to stimulate my senses and to be like a white sheet where I can draw my vision, following the “rules” of the rock. It has to be a special bloc to me, otherwise I let it there. Once I see something I know is going to be magical, everything turns on and I usually don’t care about  how many hours of effort I should invest in “work”. Everything is just exciting and motivating. Once the fresh chalk shines for the first time, I just feel alive and satisfied. That’s maybe one of my favorite feeling in bouldering and reaching this emotions in the South East has been sweet.

In two boulders I had been able to transfer my vision and my abstract imagination on the real rock. It first happened for “Ebano” and then, right after, for “Hell was made in Heaven”. By the way, the second one is just next to other two amazing lines freed by Paul and Jimmy.

Beside the first ascents I have made, I tried also some classics. I especially climbed on some good old problems of Jimmy Webb, which were still unrepeated at the date. Before showing some shots of the trip, I would like to put clear that many blocs are in secret areas or on private lands and I take occasion to remind to everyone to put at first the respect of the environment and of the rock, everywhere we go. Enjoy.

Jimmy Webb on "Point of View" V11 (FA). Photo Paul Robinson

Jimmy Webb on "Southern Drawl" V14 (FA). Photo Paul Robinson
"Ebano" V11 (FA). Photo Beau Kahler
"Hell was made in heaven" V10 (FA). Photo Beau Kahler
"Little Foot" V13 (SA). Photo Alex Kahn
Paul Robinson on "King of contortion" V14 (SA). Photo Beau Kahler
Paul Robinson on "Knocking on Heavens door" V8 (FA). Photo Uncharted Lines
Photo Paul Robinson
Photo Paul Robinson

sabato 7 novembre 2015

Voyager, Peak District (UK)

More than 5 years have passed since my first visit to UK. That time, together with Marco, Gabri and Miki we had the pleasure to take part at the CWIF, one of the biggest and best organized competition ever. We were nothing else but a bunch of students, like a drunk of a typical pub had enjoyed to name us. After that good competition at the works, the major climbing center of Sheffield, we spent  a lovely week  on the Peak District’s hills, bouldering on the Gritstone. That was amazing; I will never forget that nice vacation which was actually my longest trip to the date.

Bouldering in the Peak was awesome for my tastes and I wished to come back as soon as possible. What I really enjoyed was  the Gritstone itself, which makes unique shapes and offers a special climbing like the one I usually look for. The gesture is in fact really balanced, you have to dose enough strength and use a good technical approach. I immediately got the deal that you cannot climb so much without using both of these skills. Slopy arêtes, slopy crimps, vertical climbing, pebbles, smears are the major things which features the movements.  These blocs are located in a stunning scenario too; Grey rocks, green meadows, scattered woodlands and beautiful hills. You might wonder if there are any other better place than this; Unfortunately the dark side of the area is the bizarre weather, which is really unpredictable and it changes in a blink of an eye. So you could have a decent week or  remain stuck in the gyms for many days in a row.

Time passed by since that great holiday and I tried every season to plan a weekly trip, but nothing happened. In 2010 and 2011 I got back for a couple of summer days, both occasions were due to a world cup competition.  Actually I didn't look forward  to move to the rocks so much, but however I couldn’t for the terrible heat. England seemed to be set aside of the list, until the last summer when, discussing with Giulia, we were both keen to spend a good time there. For her it would have been the first time, for me the glory moment  to attempt Voyager again.  

Voyager is one of the best problem in all the UK, established by the English legend Ben Moon in 2005. One year later his achievement, he also established the sit, which is currently the hardest thing in the Peak. At least this is what I have heard. The intensive and lasting desire to come back to Voyager was due to a specific reason. In 2010 I missed this problem at the very top, and I had to leave it without the closing send. Back in the days, it would have been a great triumph for my climbing, but not always you managed to roll the things as you would like to. Obviously, Voyager was at the top of my list this time and after a full month of training we only had to fly and keep our finger crossed for the uncertain weather. I have always thought that if you feel good, ready and in a good shape before a performance, you have already made half way to reach your goal. Before sitting in front of the problem, I knew that a lot of work had been done the month before and the hardest part was to execute the problem. It hence was much more a mental effort  than a physical one.

The first day of the trip was damp, wet and foggy, so we waited for one more day. I felt impatient, but on the other side the Sheffield’s atmosphere was really pleasant. The day came, it was cold dry and perfect. I saw Voyager again after many long days of waiting and my eyes started to brighten. I tried to keep my enthusiasm really low. I need to be focused, I felt I didn’t have many good shots to use my good shape. On the first go I fall very high, like in the past. Few minutes later I stood at the top. Obviously, I wanted to try the sit too. I felt happy half and half. Voyager sit, rated fb 8B+, was still waiting for its first repetitions after almost  9 years. This was obviously my goal which I have always kept a bit hidden until the ascent of the stand. I rested and I took a while to realize how many days I waited for. After a bit of relax, I began to work the first part, that counts 5 moves more using the beta I figured out. Beta was clear, so I opted to rest for a second time, trying to make a first go from the bottom. The sun came out, it was warmer but still nice  to attempt. I sat on the pads and I started to climb searching for the flow. I moved to the stand part really well, then I lost a bit this flow in the central section. I reached the crux, where my mind ordered to come back into the good focus. I did it and I kept my body on. I knew only three moves were missing, two of them pretty okay. I fast got to the last, where I missed the stand version in 2010. In less than a second I managed to realize I was on the last move, on my first and probably last go (since it is really sharp) and I was in the same situation of 5 years ago. I was tired and just my mind could have made a difference. It luckily drove my hand to the last decent hold, I brought my feet back on the wall and I only had to move to the jugs. I reached the top, I felt amazing. I looked at my tips, one of them was bleeding. It was really the first and the only possible shot. The loop came to an end and my story with Voyager too.

The day later the temperatures increased a little bit and it was actually the last sunny day of the trip. It rained until the last morning, when  it dried up and I could sent “The Storm” 7B+, one of the best essential problem ever. Another piece of the bouldering history. Time flew like usual and it was time to leave.  I really  want to say a big thanks to Giulia; without her this trip and,  voyager in particular,  would have not been possible on  my own. Hope to come back soon in this country and enjoy the many things we couldn’t visit because of the weather.

Here you can find some pictures of me and Giulia climbing on the Gritstone and at the legendary School Room. 

Voyager sit, Paek District (UK). Photo Giulia Paoletti
Giuly on Cloe's arete, Peak District (UK).

Giuly on Slopy Pokey, Pick District (UK).

The Storm, Peak District (UK). Photo Giulia Paoletti

Feel the Pinch, School Room (Sheffiled). Photo Giulia Paoletti

Feel The Pinch, School Room (Sheffiled). Photo Giulia Paoletti

mercoledì 7 ottobre 2015


Ahh, it's finally time to close the windows, put a hoodie on and see the yellow leaves hit the ground. The autumn is here and the summer is dead another time. September has been cooler than the previous years and the last month flew fine as I wished. I needed to reset my mind from the travels and spend a bit of time at home for editing, training, planning and stopping for a while. I could train with pleasant temperatures, using a nice and motivating program I set; Meanwhile, I have also edited a couple of videos of the past trips and I went climbing four days during the whole month. That's not a lot, but I had to sacrifice the rock for a while. I was more psyched to stick some plastic holds.

My training program planned 4 weeks of work. The first was supposed to be light, like an approaching week to try the sessions I would insert into the schedule. I hence texted different things, revisiting what I set and trying to make the loop work as good as I could. From the second to the fourth week, the program started more seriously. It provided a good work out on the strength-endurance at the gym; single fingers, half crimped and arm locks works at the hang board; full crimped activity, eccentric moves and 1-5-9 at the campus board; core work at the TRX; some body-exercises at the rings and finally a bit of stretching for the technique in addiction of one day of rock climbing. This is what the weekly schedule planned. I am now in the middle of the 4th week and I feel I am having a lot of fun. I don't know if the fun is because I am not training as much as I would have, or just because I love training after a long period of absence.

Despite the intensive month stuck inside the gyms, I had four days outside where I completed a couple of problems. I quickly got the second ascent of "The wheel of Champo" 8B, in Champorcher, like the name suggests. It is a super traverse connection, freed by Gabri, which links two established lines and with a lovely pinch at the end. The rock at the top is one of the best in the valley and it is probably one of the last thing left to do up there.

The Wheel of Champo 8B, Champorcher. Photo Rudy Ceria

The other boulder I sent means probably one of my biggest achievement in my climbing career; after 8 days scattered in 3 years, I grabbed the ascent of the legendary "Scarred for Life" 8B+, in Fionnay. For those who don't know this boulder, it is in my opinion one of the most impressive single blocs I have ever climbed on. The boulder is giant, as big as a house and this ascent required me 3 seasons. But before my ascent, I would like to make a point about the previous years: In 2006 Dave Graham established this impressive roof climbing of 30 moves (including the exit). For those who like the numbers, it links a hard 8B intro (5 moves), into a long 8A+ 14 moves to get into a higher exit around 6C. As the numbers never make justice about the efforts of the FA, or about the correct difficulty of a problem, I want to tell more about. The link that Dave put up is seriously a futuristic vision for that age and all the worth goes to him for such an impressive mental and physical work he made back in the time. Years went by and in 2008 I first heard about this problem when my friend Marco made a quick tour in Fionnay. He described me the cave really well and I quickly began to dream about this roof. The charm of this region of Swiss always attracted me since I am a rock climber; it is one of those lovely area where you don't know nothing and you start to discover the sectors time after time, with the paper information from the locals; almost everything is quite unknown and once you get to the boulder you want, the satisfaction is bigger than usual. It is like adding a little piece to the puzzle day after day. This is the approach I used for Wallis. In fact, I had to wait a lot to get to Fionnay for my first visit. It kept the head of the list for few years until the 2012, when I was finally able to check it out. That day I pulled on "scarred for life", climbing the stand version quickly and, few days later, I sat on the first section. Despite the hard blow I got, since I was not able to make moves, I kept on dreaming about the ascent.

Unfortunately 2013 didn't seem to go better. Other 2 sessions were spent on the first part, without any good successes. I still couldn’t grab that damn crimp. In August, I went back with Gabri, and he magically discover a good (still really hard) beta with a conversely heel hook. That way suited my skills much better and I finally got all the five single moves.

In 2014 I was injured and I was able to go to Fionnay only when it was late. I had a good session last October, falling towards the end because of numb fingers. The winter came and I had to postpone once again. During the good trips I had this year, I was keeping my mood positive for this line; I wanted to be optimist, thinking I could have sent it within this season. At the beginning of September, despite the poor shape, I missed the goal in the same point of the year before. I felt tired. I started training and my muscles also started to be more reactive, but the season was running out. Surprisingly, last Thursday the forecast was really cold but dry; together with Gabri, I went up in the valley. The warm up was hard core: really low temps, wind and prostration from the training days. After a while, we turned on the back side of the cave, trying the sequences of “Scarred for life”. The sun shined the often dark cave and I knew it would have been the brightest and the warmest moment of the whole day. I felt ready for a go and I put the shoes on. I couldn't think it would have been my last time upon that crimp, but with a touch of surprise I quickly got the last part with cold, but not numb hands. Climbing as fast as I could paid off and I still had a minimum dose of feeling on my fingers. I roughly climbed the last part and I found myself with the jug in the hands, with only the exit in front of me. I triumphantly got into the last easy section, getting to the upper grass where I could realize to have ticked one of my most important ascent. Years later of the first tale, the tale which let me dream a lot, I finally climbed the hero of those stories :)

Just the day after I was in the gym again, to follow my schedule as precise as I can. Now few days left remain and before telling my next adventures I suggest to check my new videos I edited during September. They are simple and basic; the first regards about my ascent in the Rocklands, while the second one show some of the best problems of Australia. Enjoy!

giovedì 3 settembre 2015

Rocklands 2015

Riverside, Rocklands (SA).

Two  seasons have elapsed since the last time I was in Rocklands, the renowned area in the Western Cape region of South Africa. That trip was actually my first time out of Europe and was also a good reaching  point  for my first year as a full-time climber. I was excited the day I left and the trip was brilliant for different aspects. Despite I didn’t like some sides of the area, like the low quality below the V9 frontier, I remember a lot of positive things: some good boulders in the highest difficulty range, the climate which was often perfect, the breathtaking landscapes and the cost of life which was cheap for us. These things made me keen to come back as soon as possible, even because the potential for new stuff is probably bigger than anywhere else.

The climbing style in Rocklands is anyway really simple. It is way simpler than in every other place I have ever climbed. Nothing is difficult. The only thing you do is to grab a hold, which most of the time is a good crimp, and pull it as strong as you can. Rarely you have to figure out something technical or the climbing seldom offers brilliant moves like spicy arêtes or sequences where minimal details are the key. Everything is basic and repeated over and over. This is something I like and I don’t at the sometime. I guess in some cases is really fun and nice. Even the hardest problems are of course difficult for the strength, but super simple for the reading and for their interpretation. After a while, I miss the true bouldering and the gym style of the area start to get me bored; this is the negative side.

Campground, Rocklands (SA).

Max trying "Pinotage", Rocklands (SA).

"Purple Nipple Clan" 8A, Rocklands (SA). Photo Max Buvoli

This year I booked my flight really late, like one month before or maybe even less. Me and Max, a friend of mine, opted to come down in July and just after booking I immediately planned a program which worked well. I went to Silvretta for a bunch of days before my trip and I could text myself after those 2 weeks training. I felt positive, light and in a good shape. Skin was perfect and this meant a lot to me. I just had troubles on the endurance and some specific moves made my shoulders feel weak; The time between Silvretta and Rocklands was anyway enough to recover this lack.  We landed on the 11st of August and we only have 20 days of climbing ahead. It was short, but it was definitely better than spend another full month in the terrible Italian summer. 

Everything started well  like I desired: I felt light, I got tough skin and I kept going into a positive flow. The first 4 days were brilliant. We first went to 8 days rain sector where I finished the classic “Golden Virginia” 8A and flashed “Monkey Buisiness” 8A+/B.  Everything seemed to promise for a joyful trip. The days after I jumped on some classics I left in 2013 and I briefly tried one of my favorite problem ever i.e. “Black Eagle”. I wanted to check it out to see if coming back later or not. Unfortunately this never happened. After the first 4 days on, I took a day off; I wanted to start working on something harder and to look for some new projects. I had many things I wanted to do and I knew the time was pretty short.

Since the first day of rest, everything started to go wrong; or better I couldn’t fix my problems properly. I started to be sick for five days and  I felt weak in some moments; In the same period I seriously split my medium tip, for an Anthyidral bad use. I started to be stressed at that stage, probably because I knew I was wasting some of the few days I had. I should have simply looked after myself in the coldest nights and use the Antihydral better. Good things for the future!

 I anyway started working on “Speed of Sound”, a problem rated 8B+ and freed by Jimmy Webb. This problem sadly took me all the trip long.

At the first session I still had two weeks ahead; all of them have been spent working on “Speed of sound”.  It took me 4 full days of effort in which I exclusively  tried that line for 6 or 7 hours per day. The first session I had tape on, while during the second day I also split my index. I kept working with double tape, but I knew I had to stop and recover my fingers properly if I wanted to climb it. I had already spent two precious days, so I wanted to finish it before the end of the trip. The routine was like: intensive session on “Speed of Sound”, climbing on easier lines with tape the day after, resting 3 days and then repeat this loop again. Everything was mentally frustrating for me. I knew that after the resting time I could have 5 or 6 goes on the boulder, and then I had to work the sequences with tape on. The third session went good, falling at the very end before starting bleeding. I put tape on my tips again and I could try the end for a while. I figured out a smarter way to climb the upper moves and I knew that if I could have reached that point again, I wouldn’t have fallen anymore. I removed the tape off, I looked at my fingers, I looked at the boulder and I set my mind off until the next session, trying to keep the positivity. I started another resting loop; it was really long to sit on the pads all day, waiting for a bit of skin. The game started to stress my mind more than what I expected: I was in Rocklands and I had spent lot of time on a single problem. I still had time ahead to  check some other stuff; but at the same time I would have not recovered enough to work properly “Speed of Sound”, so I would have thrown away one week of hard effort. I opted to choose the hardest way for myself: keeping on resting and keeping on believing in that ascent. I had no chance: I would have climbed it or I would have basically wasted the whole trip. I got a risk put 1700 €, three weeks trip, 20.000 km on a single boulder problem. A boulder problem that at the end I didn’t like so much, but at the point it was more like a personal game between me and my mind.
"Speed of Sound" 8B+, Rocklands (SA). Photo Giulia Agatea
The third session was on Monday the 24th. Then the day after we went to Campground where I climbed on easier stuff before another resting period. The plan was simple: resting Wednesday and Thursday, try hard on Friday, then resting on Saturday to have the last possible chance on Sunday, before leaving. Doing this I would have had 5 total sessions for Speed of sound, 2 of them still ahead. I honestly thought that one would have been enough, but knowing about another possibility made me more relaxed and positive. Unfortunately the forecast damaged my plans. On Thursday the weather forecasted rain for Friday and Sunday, while Saturday was supposed to be a sunny day with temps between 14 and 24. I knew I only had a couple of shots before starting bleeding and then with tape the sending would have been much harder for me. I hence rested on Friday as well and the pressure started to make me bad. Saturday was the day. I woke up and I immediately went at the window to see if the rain of the previous night passed by. I wasn’t worried, I trusted in the forecast. I wouldn’t have . It was desperately foggy and quite wet outside. I felt nervous.

We had our usual breakfast and we drove to the pass. Going to the Saddle, the sector where speed of sound is, the path takes like an hour. The fog was thick. The rhino was visible at 5 meters only. I have never seen Rocklands in that scenario. I opted to postpone my warm up, praying to see blue sky soon. After a couple of hours I was warming and the fog started to fade off. We went to Roadside to finish my warm up on “Sunset Arete”. Max climbed “Pinch of herb” 7C+, while the sky was fully azure; his send and the clear air made me much more positive than the early morning. We hiked to the saddle in our silence. Beyond how the result would have been, that was my last time on the way. I got under the boulder and I cooled down my temperatures; I sheltered in the shade of the overhang and my skin started to be colder. I made a quick warm up for the exit, re-climbing the new way I checked the session before. I didn’t want to check the other moves to save skin; but I would have liked. Everything seemed anyway good, just the skin was more moist than the last time. I wondered why, but an answer would have not made any difference. Pressure was high and I decided to break it with the first go. I climbed so bad and roughly, missing the middle crux. I rested and I started again. I felt too nervous and my feet slightly shake in the sequence. I grabbed the heinous crack and I got into the hardest move but I quickly hit the pad. My mind was not following my body. I had to stop and set it off. After 45 minutes I sat again under the boulder and the anxiety passed by. I felt my mind was searching for the positive stream and it miraculously found it. I was on, I felt a turning point and I began once more. I had a really bad go, with a quick finger snap in the easy section. I fall down, but I was much happier than ever, because I reached a good flow with my head. I rested few minutes and I started with a even better focus. I reached the crux, I went over and I got in the changing feet. I felt stronger; I was climbing into the flow and the flow lead me to the lip. I did the mantle at half past 4 PM, with only a bunch of hours before leaving. I was happy about all the process. All the resting days have been paid off with a single shot and an intense moment.  At the beginning of the trip I had totally other expectations, definitively much more positive. But the things roll differently many times and I had to change my plans. This experience will make me stronger on the red point mode; and since it is one of my weakest point, it is what I actually needed.

Trip is over now and it has been good to live this “bad” events and to overcome some mental problems. It has been curios to me to see how some aspects has changed between 2013 until and now. I would have never been able to work so intensively on a single problem in the previous seasons and this is definitively a good point. I am pretty excited for the fall in Europe now. I have many projects to do, things to develop and testpieces to repeat. Hopefully the temperatures will drop in the next weeks!

Max trying "Cedar Spine", Rocklands (SA)

Leopard prints in Kleinfontein, Rocklands(SA).

Roadside, Rocklands (SA).

"Time Out" 8A+, Rocklands (SA). Photo Giulia Agatea

"Ulan Bator" 7B, Rocklands (SA). Photo Giulia Agatea

Giulia trying "Demi Lune", Rocklands (SA). Photo Max Buvoli

sabato 1 agosto 2015

Summer time

Almost two months have passed by since I wrote my last blog spot. Nothing really cool happened after my return from Australia, but at least I finally managed to plan my next future properly. Beyond this, I have also taken advantage from the hellish temperature to edit some clips.

I usually work alone on my videos and I don't have a proper PC to edit this material wherever I would like. For this reason, I usually don't release the video reports quickly just after a trip; This year, for example, I travelled more than the last 24 months and I was not always at home. After two months in the Forest I spent 3 weeks in Italy, but two of these have been super busy working on some projects. Then I left for Grampians and I have been off for 6 weeks more. Finally, once I came back I had time enough to focus on other stuff. I rested for few days and I recovered from the annoying jet leg.

At first, I went up to Champorcher for a bunch of times. On the first day, together with my brother, I spent a whole afternoon shooting a problem I established last spring. Temperatures were quite different compared to April; the vegetation was super overgrown, the light was shady, the air humid and the color totally on a green atmosphere. This scenario is one of the thing I hate most of the summer and it makes me glum. Anyway, we took some shots and here below you can see some them.

Champorcher. Photo Rudy Ceria

"Little (s)wing" FA, Champorcher. Photo Rudy Ceria

"Little (s)wing" FA, Champorcher. Photo Rudy Ceria

"Little (s)wing" FA, Champorcher. Photo Rudy Ceria

The other days were instead focused on bouldering. I felt under the attraction of a little project I briefly tried months ago . Nothing special, since it deals of a sit-start addiction of "Idea 92", a little wall with a rock similar to sandstone. The long period of rock climbing, in addiction to some really high temperature (25 degrees), made me weak and this ascent turned on a really hard one. The line takes together three specific actions on weird holds and it ends on an easy top-out upon a flat slab. The problem quickly became an instant classic of Champorcher, with three ascents in few days. Surprisingly, it has not been abandoned soon.

In the middle of July I went to Friedrichshafen for 3 days, to visit the outdoor tradeshow. I took advantage to rest a little bit my arms once again. While I was there, I also prepared the weeks that would have been next. I planned an intensive training program of 2 weeks, trying to overcome the heat and making something to keep my shape alive. While I started this schedules, I edited two videos. The first is about my trip to Font ( the second part), and the other one regards the first clip about Grampians. Here are the links for those who want to check them out.


                                                Bouldering in Australia - Grampians Pt. I from niky_ceria on Vimeo.


                                                              FontaineBleau Pt. I from niky_ceria on Vimeo.


                                                              FontaineBleau Pt. II from niky_ceria on Vimeo.

The program for the next months have been hazy until last, but I am having clearer ideas day by day. Fortunately.
In the first days of August, I will move to Silvretta for a kind of special event. Red Bull organized "The five blocks" event and I am going to be one of the participant. After 3 years I hence come back to this alpine place. I am not a super fun of the sharp granite boulders, but that area has some special aspects.

Just after this I will leave for a three weeks trip to Rocklands; another little period of training should follow just after that; in September I mean. Then it comes the period of the season which I am more excited for. From October until the last part of the year the plan would be to dedicate myself to some single projects only, eight boulders to be precise. Some of them are in Aosta Valley, while other ones are projects and test pieces to repeat in Swiss. Time will tell how many of these 8 will be possible within 2015 and I can't wait to be under these soon. I felt I made some progresses in working boulders, so I would like to make a longer period in this direction.

But before it is time for some alpine bouldering and a little South African trip.

mercoledì 17 giugno 2015

Grampians. Second part.

Buandik, Southern Grampians (AUS).

I am introducing what it is the second update about my  visit at the Grampians National Park, VIC, Australia. Another trip is gone by and it is time to reflect about the last period and the first part of the year, in meanwhile I am  getting use to the middle summer temperatures; Something that I really don’t like to do after a cool autumn.

Six weeks in a place are quite a lot; you should have time to visit most of the areas, make an idea about the potential to discover, enjoy the climb, get stressed by hard ascents and get bored by the rain; at least this was in the Grampians, since the rain was absolutely a constant in many days.

This trip has been basically focused on repeating boulders for me, I hence looked at  the classics and climbed them by knowing the ways used by  the previous climbers. Having the web handy, you can easily get all the information about how to reach the area, how the possible betas might be and there is nothing really interesting or exciting to tell. I have to admit that this way is getting me bored and bored after a while and I feel better going out and think more about projects to figure out or catching for a new king 5 star line. This is why in the future I would like to make more trips to unknown areas, to climb on problems with few ascents or to discover new hidden lines.  The reasons which lead me to Grampians to repeat only  where basically two. On one side I wanted to go there with the idea to make a first check at the place. I would have like to see what has been developed so far, to repeat the classics and to check the new age lines of Nalle and Dave. Secondly, since it was my first time, I hadn’t no idea about how the sectors would have been, where the boulders where located, the approaching ways , the locations, the distances and so on. I knew how it was on the paper, but not in the reality.  Moreover, staying in Stawell, It took 1 hour driving to get to the best areas and these facts pushed me to chose the comfortable way to go out and repeating only, more than prepare some new pieces of rock which require more time and energies.  Analyzing what has been done and having now a better localization about the rocks, I have a good reason to come back and getting into the discovering mode. At least this is my goal for the next time.

During  the second part of the trip I had a better view about all these established problems. I wrote down a little list to organize what I wanted to work and to check, letting aside the crap lines and the things that weren’t worth. Obviously.

The Northern areas are sadly reduced in two little sectors, since a fire made the climb forbidden in many off-limits zones. I think I had noted this in the previous blog-spot. So, in the North there is Campground boulders, a pretty bad place where to go bouldering and the area of Trackside-Citadel-Upper caves. The first has been removed at once,  the boulders are definitively not inviting. The second counts many mediocre boulders and few good stuff where to climb. Unfortunately, it is not so wide and the fire presented  the Northern part much smaller than what truly would be. Despite this, even in the second period, we passed some days in these locations,  finishing the few good problems able to tickle my curiosity. I had one single day ascent for “Pigeon Superstition” V13 and subsequently for Alex Megos’ “Sultan of Swing” V13, located in a wonderful scenario at the top of the Taipan wall. Up there, you can have an amazing view and a good taste of Australia. The “Wave rock” V12, the best looking problems of Trackside, still eluded me hardly and I could not make it. Its sequence seemed to be too weird for my wrist, since the crux evolves into a super contorted two-fingers undercling which was impossible to feel.

On the other side of the Park, the Southern region  offered us something more than the Northern. Although the quality is good down here, it is nothing very special and out of the lines. I found it quite overrated honestly; I mean, it is definitively  out of the world best for my personal opinion. Unfortunately, our stay was 115 km from Mt. Fox and Buandik as I told and we usually got there for more days in a row. This obviously depended a lot on the weather: good for more days meant South; uncertain meant single days at the North and bad forecast meant more resting days at Stawell. This was how the weekly routine worked. 

The days in the South were always very pleasant though. They were always characterized by hikes, engulfed  spots into the wild, sunsets up on breathtaking sceneries, camping life, nights around the fire and shining stars during the nights. These were definitively the moments which made the proper Australian atmosphere and which really made me feel alive in this country. The boulders in this area are better than in the North in my opinion and some lines had been set under the “to-do” voice of my list. First of all, “Owning the weather” in Mt Fox, the line I put more energies and passion into. The battle to send it consisted in a hard understanding of my skin statements, in choosing the right part of the day when to work it and having a lot of patience between an attempt and the other. For three sessions I missed these elements and the ascent was hard to execute. Finally on the 4th session I put the single aspects together, making a good weapon to win it: good skin, cold temperature, right moments, physical progresses and relaxed mind. The ascent  almost came spontaneously, with a surprise taste at the top. What I am asking is:  is the surprise more linked to the ascent itself or maybe more to the fact I was able to collect all these little things together? I still don’t know, but the victory on this line made me light and happy at the same time.

In Buandik, after making some good classics like “Simplicity” V11 and “Rootarted” V12, I got interested in a piece of white/grey/pink immaculate sandstone, which had been attempted by Ian Dory, Dave Graham and Nalle Hukkataival few seasons ago. Ricky gave me a huge help to clean the upper part from the moss, and he gave me lot of push-ups to identify the proper way. After the first day, the resume was anyway deluding: 2h hours of working. 8 moves done ( 6 of them really easy). 2 moves with no idea about the solution. On the second day, I somehow had clearer ideas and I quickly got my beta for the top part, exactly where the difficulty is concentrated. Those slopy features  require good skin, good temps and no sun. I had to stay quiet and to relax my mind as much as I could; I knew it was possible within the day, but I had to manage the energies and the skin like a super precision chemist manage the right doses. The long rest was preparing the atmosphere for a powerful go; Ricky and I both knew about the high possibilities. I turned my mind off and I climbed into the flow. I reached the slopers perfectly, I stuck the crimp and I felt I was really solid, both physically and mentally. I set my body for the last move which consist in grabbing the last elusive jug and my heel popped out. I felt smashed on the mats with nothing in my hands. From that stage, I dropped into a no-success mental zone, where I couldn’t feel the slopers anymore. Two hours later, the dark came and an inner voice said it was time to postpone.

Third session on. It was time to send and the fact made me a bit stressful. Temperatures were perfect, my skin not fantastic but even not bad.  The first go was a bummer and I felt out of the proper focus again. I felt really worse than the previous session. After a while, I started feel my muscles lighter and relaxed; I probably got aware about the difficult that the boulder was requiring me. This fact made me more quiet. I started the easy climbing with another mood and I got into the section again. I stuck the crimp, a thing I didn’t think I could on that go; I barely did, but I grabbed. The last move is still heinous, but I found myself with the good hold and I quickly went into the upper easy slab, which leads  to the summit. I had climbed a new one and I could decide for a new name! I couldn’t wait. I called it “Il Mancino di Bristol”.

Between an ascent and another the time ran quickly to the end of the trip. In a blink of an eye, I found myself sitting on a chair again, waiting for a flight, writing some words about the time in the Down under. I flew back home and I posted what I wrote in the journey. Despite Grampians deluded my expectation (maybe too high expectations), I felt happy about how this first part of the year has gone. I see many reasons for which I should come back here. The first one is definitively because I would like to open my vision more, searching for what there is beyond the already climbed lines, going beyond the known and the simple, into the new and the exciting. And, I am pretty sure, Australia may be a good place to do this.

Here the ascents’ list of the second part and a bunch of pictures

Il Mancino di Bristol V14 (FA) **
Owning the Weather V14 2nd asc. ****
Pigeon Superstition V13 **
Sultan of Swing V13 2nd asc. ***
Rule Number 1 V13 ***
Rootarted V12/13 3rd asc. ****
Point break V12 3rd asc. **
Diagonal Highway V11/12 ***
The Roobiks’ Cube V11 *
Simplicity V11 ***
Dead Heat V11 (flash) ****

Ricky on "Great Expectation" V9, Grampians (AUS).

Ricky on "The Outsider" V11, Grampians (AUS).

"Diagonal Highway" V11/12, Grampians (AUS). Photo Ross Taylor (Vertical Life Mag)

"Diagonal Highway" V11/12, Grampians (AUS). Photo Ross Taylor (Vertical Life Mag)

"Il Mancino di Bristol" FA, Grampians (AUS). Photo Ross Taylor (Vertical Life Mag)

"Il Mancino di Bristol" FA, Grampians (AUS). Photo Ross Taylor (Vertical Life Mag)

"Rootarted" V12, Grampians (AUS). Photo Ross Taylor (Vertical Life Mag)

"Rule Number 1" V13, Grampians (AUS). Photo Ross Taylor (Vertical Life Mag)