martedì 11 novembre 2014

Albarracin (Spain)

Checking the forest of Albarracin (SPA). Photo Vivi Monteiro
Many magazines often speak about climbing destinations in Spain and a lot of images and videos are scattered in all the web regarding the good places that this country can offer. I have always heard stories from Spain; several climbers I know have been there, checking the most famous cliff of Europe or the cool Spanish bouldering areas. I actually don't know why, but before two weeks ago I have never been to Iberian peninsula. This is probably due to the fact that I am not so approachable with the Spanish atmosphere or with the Mediterranean culture or I don't know, maybe I simply had other plans to do before going in a bouldering area there. Anyway, I was pretty curious to go and I was totally sure that soon or later I would have been to Albarracin, maybe the largest known bouldering area of the country and probably the finest one too. In the late summer of 2012, together with Giulia, we already considered to spend a week in Aragon, but knowing about the high temperatures we opted to postpone in the future. That time we went to Wallis, a southern region of Swiss. It was an amazing week, but Albarracin was still missing in our list. 

Despite the long 6 weeks that we spent in US at the beginning of the year, Giulia was lucky enough to get another week off at the end of October. At first, we thought to go to check the boulders around Helsinki, a place where both would be glad to go one day. Unfortunately it was a bit too expensive for our current resources, so we fell back to a cheaper trip. Albarracin was another big area that tickled the desires of both, it was economic, the climate at the end of October supposed to be dry and we were both sure to find tons of boulders to satisfy our requests. Moreover, after the long time I took to recover my injury, I knew I would have not been able to reach a good shape before October. For this reason Albaracin seemed to be perfect; I would have had a lot of stuff where to climb and it seemed to be an ideal area where to take confidence back with the rock and with the climbing gesture. This concept looked to be much smarter than going somewhere to dedicate energies only to hard projects. Just before leaving, Nils told me he would have been there in the same days of us and we were both motivated to climb together again after long time.

Obviously a week ran away quickly; but once we were back home, Giulia and I discovered to have done the right choice about the crag. We were both satisfied, the desire had been paid off and the quality of the place was definitively up to our expectations. The rock is simply superb and every boulders has a medium-high quality. The marvelous thing about the place in my opinion regards the mix of the features. It can be consider like a perfect mix between the best sandstone places where I have been to. You can find the mantle and the technical stuff typical of font, the roof and the athletic lines of Rocklands and some holds similar to Red Rocks. It didn't seem real. For this reason the factor I mostly prefer was the climbing style of the area, probably the favorite one I have ever met. The Small town of Albarracin is also beautiful and characteristic, with its ancient walls and the autumn colors of the period. The wood is also pleasant, rich of pines, characterized by the Mediterranean atmospheres and the pre-historical rock paintings.

Once we got in the wood, I obviously couldn't wait to check all the problem I had in my mind and, despite the temperatures weren't the best, I was really glad to be there. In fact, for all the week the temperatures kept on 20 degrees, without the wind that we expected so much. But since the rain didn't come, I think it is not fair to complain the "warmness" but rather we should thank the dry climate we found all the days. Taking a day off turned into an intricate thing. I was able to rest just one day when I opted to brush and to check the exit of Zartako, a huge red sandstone pillar 8 meters tall that I was not capable of trying for a scare excess. 

I had a lot of lines in my mind as I said, but the top three project were "Esperanza", "Indian secret garden" and "zartako". The first one was the most beautiful one of the three: a perfect font style egg, totally red with awesome sandstone features, tricky moves and incredible slopers. It looked like a font's best, but with red sandstone. The sweating troubles accompanied me for all the week and, especially on Esperanza and Bindu, I had to fight a lot to try to overcome this negative side which I can't currently resolve. After a full morning of attempts I opted to rest until the evening, in order to get my skin dry as much as I could. Just before the attempts, the temperature dropped down of 2/3 degrees. I knew I had just one possible go, after of that my skin would have been like in the morning and I would have not finish it. The slightly colder evening, together with a lotion of alcool and pine resin, helped my skin a lot; I was searching for everything to get over the fucking high sweating. I started leaving the troubles out of my mind and I reached the crux where I fall off in the morning. The "colder" skin and the harder right shoe gave me a good help to get into the last easy part where I knew that I couldn't fail anymore. Thanks to these little precautions I was able to send.

"Indian secret garden" 8B, Albarracin (SPA). Photo Giulia Paoletti

"Indian secret garden" 8B, Albarracin (SPA). Photo Giulia Paoletti

Even Indian secret garden was mentally pretty tough. Having just a week, the time to work the lines you want to climb is really short, for this reason you have to optimize as much as possible all the processes, the sessions and the details. The first day on it I was really on the limit during the attempts. It destroyed me completely and I was pretty afraid to not rest enough before the subsequently session. Just to give a presentation of the line, it is 70 degrees steep, with pure wide compression moves and an ending sequences of great toe hooks which I immediately loved. The FA is signed by Christian Core and it is definitively awesome despite the two little sins. The first one deals of the stone on the right which is really close, while the second one is that you have to drop off once you reach the top.

The second day on it was challenging too.  When I was getting warm my thoughts were totally dedicated to this goal. Damn, I really wanted to climb that problem. I needed and I wanted to feel my body and my mind on the limit after the bad period I had this summer. I got under the boulder around quarter past nine, ready to try it. The skin was awful, but I knew that it could be decent for one attempt. I wanted to reach the upper part (where I failed the first day) with good skin in order to don't fail for the high sweating. During the first attempt this thing could happen, while other more goes would have been unuseful. Since I had just one more day left, I should have done on the first go and I was pretty tense. I tried to focus my mind on the climbing days I had last spring; in that period I probably had a step in my mental approaching and I tried to get into the most positive mood. Fortunately on the first go it went down and the biggest effort of the week was paid off by the nice climbing style.

The day of Indian secret garden got to the end in the best way; Giulia grabbed the ascent of the wonderful classic "Spider pig" 6C after the climbing of the day before, ruined by a dub caused by me. Zartako, the other main goal I had, is postponed to the next visit. After the big fall I had in September, the feelings on the highest stuff are still timid and conservatory.

The positive effect of Albarracin is still alive. During the last week of bad weather I thought a lot about the few days we had there and I felt a bit melancholic. The climbing style and the features of that place surprised me a lot and I can't wait to go back.

I fortunately had enough time to finish other masterpieces in the forest, but there is not enough time to tell about. Here a list of the problem I did in order of beauty (in my opinion). The grade opinion are personal like always.

Lamiche at mitges 8A
El Apeadero sit 8A
Esperanza 8B
Homo Ergaster 7C Flash
Klem's traverse 8A Flash
Zombie Nation 8A/+
Supernafamacho 7B+ Flash
Indian secret garden 8B
Dizdira 7C Flash
Revenge 7C+
Helicopter on the beaches 8A+
Zarzamora 7C+
Zarzaparrilla 8A+
Zatoichi 7C Flash
El Varano 7C Flash
Cosmos 8A Flash
Helicopter 8A
El Orejas de la Regletas 7C+
Bindu 8A+/B

Giulia on "Spider pig" 6C, Albarracin (SPA). Photo Vivi monteiro

"Lamiche at mitges" 8A, Albarracin (SPA). Photo Vivi Monteiro

"Zombie Nation" 8A, Albarracin (SPA). Photo Giulia Paoletti

"El Apeadero sit" 8A, Albarracin (SPA). Photo Vivi Monteiro

giovedì 2 ottobre 2014

September 2014 - New projects

The last months has been pretty busy under different aspects and my mind has been invaded by a big wave of projects. The wrist had a positive trend for all the month, but the tendons and ligaments are still weak. I felt they are not ready for a hard training period, but at least they don't give me troubles when I climb on the rock. As I mentioned the month has been various, rich and a bit confused too. First of all I had a wide list of boulders I would have liked to brush. At the moment, I am feeling quite excited about going to search awesome lines around and the discovering side of climbing is providing me always bigger and bigger satisfactions. The top boulders I wanted to brushed are all situated in the north west of Italy; few of them are in Valle dell'Orco, others in Valle d'Aosta, and a couple of cool projects are even present in a valley close to my home. During this period I was able to brush just four of the many projects and three of them required me one day and a half only for cleaning up the holds and making a safe landing.

One of them is up to Champorcher, an area whose potential is probably getting to an end. This was maybe the last thing I was interested in developing here. Since the beginning, It looked to be a really weird line: you have to climb a little easy stone and then grab the starting holds in the roof above your head. From there the climb begins in an imposing overhang and it gets out in a slightly overhanging wall with compression moves and heel hooks. The hardest part was the first section on the roof, where everything seems to be tricky and pretty physical. During the second day of attempts, I tried this problem together with Max. He got a really smart heel hook beta which looked to be the best; but unfortunately neither of us was able to link the moves with what it seemed to be the most obvious way. I opted to work another system, based on body tension and specific points where to grab the holds. After many attempts where I was getting closer and closer I finally got the big triangle pinch at the end of the roof and I linked the first part to the easier finish, putting up the first ascent.

Rust in Peace V11/12, FA. Champorcher. Photo Max Buvoli


Rust in Peace V11/12, FA. Champorcher. Photo Giulia Paoletti

The other two main projects I was interested in, were the big diamond I discovered in Noasca and a great river stone in a valley close to my home. The first one is huge; It is an impressive granite diamond with some slopy rails and a long climbing to reach the top. Once the day of brushing was over, I decided to come back with Ricky who helped me a lot to make a good landing. Meanwhile, the dirty residual of the brushing was drying up and the grip started to be better than the first time I touched the holds. The first intro part is pretty easy and the taller you are the easier it becomes. Instead the upper part results really strange with a big dynamic move to the lip. It is definitively a wonderful move, where from two slopy pinches and a really high left foot you should grab the final lip and you'll probably remain with only one hand hung. Considering the height of the boulder, I tried that move with the rope only. After this, I decided to postpone the attempts when the temperatures will be colder and the grip on the holds will be much better.

The diamond. Valle dell'Orco

The third one is probably the project I am most inspired for. It is 40 minutes up to my home and the feeling to have a project so close is an unique sensation, since it is never happened to me. I can get up in the morning and I can basically see the valley where the proj is. This thing makes the question sweet. I brushed the line on this big egg  last spring and I got a quick session in April without any good successes, despite my best shape ever. I love this project for two main factors; the first reason, as I said, is to have something so cool and so close to home; while the second one is due to the beauty of the line and the good rock it has, especially in the second part. For September, it was at the top of to-do list but I have been a bit unlucky with this problem.

The first time on it,  I brushed all the last slab again, since it became dirty during the heat of the summer and just before the dark I tried a bit the upper moves with the rope. After few tries it became too dark and I quitted.

2nd day on. The first part was damp so I could just attempt the second easier section. After having put the chalk  and tried the moves, the rain came and I had to leave once again.

3rd day on. The sky looked to be clear. I put the chalk on the exit again and I dried up the third hold which makes the crux part. I finally could try it seriously. Thanks to Ricky who helped me a lot in trying the moves with big push ups, I could understand the right sequence. The sessions got over positive. The crux move was still missing, but I did it with 4-5 kilos of push-up. The other move that missed was the 5th, but for this one I had positive sensations because it looked easier, I had just to try it more.

4th day on. I went up alone just to dry up the crux hold and to be sure for the day after (it usually remains wet for few days). Surprisingly it dried up faster than what I expected and I decided to try it a bit. I was alone with three smashed pads, but it was enough to try the bottom. I couldn't expect what it happened; I grabbed the damned holds and I failed on the move after. I opted to quit and to rest for the day after. I started to know that I was close and that probably the crux move would have been the 4th, since the 3rd one looked to be hard but in the end it is totally position depending. Once you get the right body position, you can do it.

5th day on. I went up with Ricky again. The friction looked even better, but in the end it was the same or even worse than the day before. I was anyway motivated and focused on the proj. I felt some possibilities to finish the rig the same day.  I put the chalk on the exit for the nth time and I repeated the final moves over and over. I knew them perfectly. I rested until the evening, when the "colder" temps came and the skin got harder. I made good tries. I managed to grab the third hold again, but I failed on the 4th moves. I tried that part with the push up and I did it. I felt I was going closer and closer. On the other side, I also felt my skin sweating a lot, so I rested for ten minutes or so. I finally perceived my hands a bit colder and I decided to go. I took the third hold perfectly and I did the hardest move after. I linked this one to the 5th and I grabbed the jug with a bit of fatigue and a strong shout. A shout which meant effort, but even a shout of possibility to complete the whole line. I was out of the hardest part. I got into the central sequence, where the overhang becomes a wall with wonderful pinches. I did it and I got the good pinch-jug; I was tired. From there the wall become a slab and there is a possible rest. From that point to the top is something like 6b composed by a little mantle into the slab and the slab itself. I rested and my hands were damp, cold and totally pink. I thought about the chalk, but I hadn't the bag with me. I tried to dry up the fingers on my pants, and they started to be numb. I put the hands close to my neck to warm them up and the feelings started to be slightly better, but not enough. There were two possibilities: to go on in the slab, or dropping off and trying it again hoping to get into the upper part in better conditions. The last option seemed to be far from my possibilities, because I felt tired. By knowing what there was between me and the top I decided to attempt; the boulder was done and I just had to do the last easy part. I breathed and I went. I started and once my body was totally on the slab and my feet still under in the wall, my right foot slipped and I fall down. I got scarred and I totally missed the pads, falling on a bunch of stones. Fortunately my heel hit a flat stone and I got just a really hard hit. It was done, but not at all. I have to come back to finish this beautiful problem but for the moment I have to recover a bit the foot and to get back in a good mentality for this gem.

Beyond these great projects, In my mind there is also another 5 starts arete to get free; A line I brushed last march in Donnas (Valle d'Aosta) which is incredible. A perfect vertical arete which is probably the biggest project of the year. For the moment the temperatures are still too high and I have to wait for a while; but once the temperatures will drop and the heel will be ready, this project will probably be at the top of the list.

The crux move of the project. Valle Cervo. Photo Ricky totò Monetta 
The arete project. Valle d'Aosta.


Beyond exploring new boulders in the north west of Italy, two weeks ago I began training again. I started a short program which includes some sessions using different systems of training and the goals are to equal the right side of my body to the left one, since the right arm is really weak. Secondly, I decided to include different sessions in order to get the confidence back on the systems I usually use for training. I set 2 sessions in the climbing gym, 3 of core works, 5 of stretching for the flexibility, 2 of campus training (fingerboard and PG), 2 sessions with overweight and 2 sessions of rock bouldering in the projects I mentioned before. But in the second week, since my heel was painful after the fall, I needed to stop and I could just climbing outdoor. I went a couple of days in Averstal with Rudy.  I was also excited to work some boulders, leaving the tall projects aside for a while and feeling again the peculiar sensations of the place. Unfortunately, none of us completed the own goals; no achievement for both after the weekend. He went really close to grab the ascent on "Morgenlatte" 7B and he made huge progresses on "Man of a cow" 7B+; Instead, I worked one day on "Ill trill", making every moves except the exit and I missed the ascent on the top out of "Muttertag". We are both motivated to come back soon, trying to complete something before the snow comes.

mercoledì 3 settembre 2014

Summer is almost over

August is now behind us and the first days of September are always exciting because of the first moments of Autumn. My favorite seasons are still quite distant, but the sultriness of the planes is making more and more space to a clear sky and fresh days. The desire to come back bouldering is actually lofty, but the wrist is not totally ready yet for every move or every hold and I think I should give to it  more time to recover.

In fact, for the second week in a row, I postpone the beginning of a training program; the feelings are not so bad, but at the same time I am not feeling sure and positive at 100%. I opted to take another week of rest, to go climbing other three or four days, to make something soft at the fingerboard and to see how the issue will roll. This plan sounds to be the best for me since I should avoid the rush and leave the mind to take more and more confidence to get in shape again. Moreover, this week I should have the outcomes of the second RMI so I will understand better how the injury has reacted to the first days of climbing. I have got nine days of bouldering since I restarted climbing (12th of August) and the wrist didn't give me big troubles except the last Friday when I perceived a bit of painful. So, I think that the problem is not acquitted, but it is going better than this spring or summer.

As I said, the last three weeks have been devoted to get confidence in climbing gesture. I mainly went to Champorcher, an area where I climbed many problems and I knew them pretty well. I repeated some moderates lines I put up during these years and the feelings with the rock is growing up time after time. I started to work a connection which links two problems: "Under the carpet" and "Q*bert". The middle section is awful, since it passes through some bad jugs, but the traverse itself results funny for the good moves it offers. Despite I knew that I wasn't under the best line, the challenge for the mind and the body was quite stimulant and I was curious to see how the process would have developed. I felt I should have fought to win it and I felt that I could climb hard since the holds weren't painful. After three sessions, two of which got to the end fast cause  of skin troubles, I was able to send it. The first "hard" test after the resting period had been approved.

The day after I went with a couple of friends to Noasca (Valle dell'Orco), to see a place that I wanted to check since few months. I knew that Bernd Zangerl put up different problems in this valley and many of them looked to be good. As I imaged, the lines I watched on the video are really impressive and even if the rock is not my favorite, the shapes are really stunning. Especially two of them, "self aperto" and "El Salvador", take delight of a remarkable beauty. Unfortunately, the combo between my worst skin ever and the sharp rock let me climb just half an hour; after this, every hold I grabbed became moist and every effort seemed to be vain. I took profit by the drawback to make a check in a stony chaos up to the road, where I supposed to discover some virgin lines. Fortunately, I found some of the things I hoped to see and a bunch of boulders seems to be worthy and good. The most impressive one deals of a big diamond which quickly got into the list of the lines I want to brush. 

The week later I decided to come back with my dad, hoping in a better skin. I tried the sit start version of "Temenoi" 8A/+, which is characterized by a hard heel hook intro and a cool tensioning climbing at the end. Surprisingly I got the first move quickly and I found myself in the upper section before the top. There, I felt my hands soaked again, I grabbed every holds wrongly and I missed the ascent. I was frustrated by the skin issue which was continuing to give me problems, but on the other side I thought about the normality of it, due to many days without rock. Thanks to some toe hooks and a comfortable position I found, I was able to take chalk in the middle and accordingly I had dry hands in the top sequence. This thing has been crucial to complete the line and to get another dose of happiness at the top.

In the afternoon I went up to the chaos to brush the big diamond I checked the previous time. I was quite stoked by the thing that came out. The line looked to be amazing and gorgeous  as I hoped. The main line I wanted to brush is still waiting, since it is quite hard to reach the hold, even with a rope. While the other two ones are now chalked and I hope to come back soon to make a good landing and to attempt them seriously.

Always thinking about some projects, last week I was finally able to brush another line I saw last May in Champorcher, which I never started to clean since I thought that was necessary to cut two branches of a big tree. I was a bit disappointed by this fact, since I really care about the trees and I think they have the priority on the climbers. Fortunately, while I was dropping down with the rope, I discovered that the tree wasn't a problem and there was enough space to climb the roof avoiding to remove the branches. I started to be actually fascinated by the big line which was taking shape while I was brushing. Four hours were sufficient just to get ready the upper part, while I had to wait the day after to clean up the bottom sequence, which looked to be tricky, hard and physical. Ricky came up that day as well. Together we arranged the lower roof, the starting stone and we began to try it. We weren't close to understand the beta, but if the first holds didn't break I am positive about the possibilities to climb the imposing rig. 

Working on the ship project, Valle d'Aosta. Photo Giulia Paoletti

Looking at the beautiful sequence of "Bravirabi", Valle dell'Orco.

Temenoi 8A/+, Valle dell'orco.

Temenoi 8A/+, Valle dell'orco.

domenica 17 agosto 2014

40 days


By checking the second-last blog spot I wrote, I can realize that something went wrong respect my thoughts. In fact, the title of it said "little injury" and it should have suggested what I supposed to have in my wrist. Seventy more days are passed from that post, and four full months are spent from the beginning of the issue. Nowadays I started to set aside the term "little", using maybe a more serious adjective. The clearness of the problem came out with a MRI, at the end of July: Lesion of ligament, lesion of the triangular cartilage and inflammation around the capsule. The suggestion has been clear like painful: a minimum of forty days of rest without any kind of climbing or training. During these days, it has been quite hard to keep the motivation high and to try to lose as less as possible from the physical and the mental shape. I opted to dedicate more time to some aspects I usually don't look after like body tension exercises, stretching and one arm fingerboard with the left hand. Fortunately, bouldering is not only composed by body tension and one arm hangs, but by infinite things and by a specific way to link all of them in a unique system. In this way, unfortunately to me, I could just keep good a very small package of skills. For this reason, I was doubtful that the few qualities I trained could be helpful once I re-started climbing, since the other parts of the system would have been weak.

Last Monday (two day after the ending of the resting period) I got the first pull-ups and the day after I went out to check how my wrist would have answered to some efforts. I was quite tense and pretty negative. Fortunately the first feelings were pretty good and the first day was completed. Results: no pain in the wrist (even in some crucial position of the hand), troubles in the capsule of the medium finger, absence of any kind of climbing coordination, worst skin ever and wearying in my right arm. Now; I guess that the last three things could be pretty normal after a month and a half without rock, but the second gave me some care while the first one let me to keep on hoping. On Wednesday the right arm was really painful, probably due to the day I had; while the wrist presented some acute pain to the higher part. The day after, this problem looked to be over and I opted to a fast evening session on the rock. I decided to go to a really known area, just to try to repeat some known problems until V8. The second day went better than the first; the wrist seemed to be pretty good, the finger capsule slightly better as well as the pain in my right arm. Yesterday was the third day of climbing and the feelings went even better: I could climb different styles of problems, put up new easy and cool lines and enjoy a great day with Marco in Champorcher.

Finally after forty days I can have some positive feelings, keeping the motivation and the love for climbing as high as always and dreaming about my future. The thoughts in this long period have been pretty various; I think it could be hard for everyone to stop what you love and many people can understand. Sometimes you realize how hard it is, other times you try to think not and to be positive, thinking about the best things you did in the last months. Now the situation is still really delicate. My next goal is to manage the next week climbing and texting again the trend of the pain. Subsequently I will maybe try to make a little program of recovery and come back as soon as possible, but giving the highest priority to the feeling of the body.

In these long days I also got the opportunity to edit and to share a new clip. It deals of the trip I had in Red Rocks last January, with some of the best sandstone boulders I have ever seen.

                                   

                                                                Red Rocks - Jan 14 from niky_ceria on Vimeo.


New problem in Champorcher. Photo Marco Pelle

domenica 29 giugno 2014

Gliese 581 - A new gem in Champorcher

The injury which I am bearing from April is still alive and the wrist has reached a condition of stability where it doesn't improve but at the same time it is not even getting worse. I have recently been in a medical sportive center, where they diagnosed two possible options about the issue:

1) Inflammation or problems related to the tendon (lower possibility)

2) Lesion in the triangle cartilage of the little articulation (higher possibility)

They advised me a check with a MRI;  Tomorrow morning I will finally know the real problem I have and the possible ways to recover.

Obviously when you have an injury you also have a little negative period and this is what happened to me. I cannot go training as I want, I cannot climb on many things I have planned and the motivation goes often down. But fortunately not every aspect is bad, I am catching all the positive situations and sometimes I feel good. I started training different things which I have always left out, like abdominal sessions, push up and stretching. I am doing them 3 times per week instead of 1 or 2 I usually did and this helps me a lot under the mental side, since I can train different parts without pain. This is simply great.

For what the climbing concerns, everything depends on the kind of holds I have to use. Crimping is out for the moment as well as every holds where I have to twist my wrist. Fortunately, some lines have positive features for my issue and I can climb hard without pain. Few weeks ago I went to try the direct way to "Zarmina", a line in Champorcher I put up last September. The original way is simply awesome for me, especially for the sequence of particular movements and holds that the overhang presents. I remember that when I brushed it up I remained pretty amazed by how all the sidepull holds are on the straight line and how the sequence seemed to be interesting. The more logical way for the simplicity was to climb the wall until the second half and then to move towards the right good sloper, by getting the top to the right on a slab. This year I gave a more significant look to the straight line where instead of getting the good hold, you keep more to the center wall with a perfect slopy pinch to do a big dyno, grabbing the summit edge and going out directly. It looked to be a bit arbitrary because of the easier version, but for the line itself I guess it is a better way. The principal reasons which inspired me in this version were absolutely the kind of movements and how all the holds from the start until the last edge are on the same straight imaginary line.

The first goes this season gave me positive feelings for my injury, since no holds were painful and I could try it really focused and really hard. This was great for me: I could keep positive thoughts and I had a goal despite the hot season and the problem of the wrist. The first day of attempts I reclimbed the original "Zarmina" and I started to get confidence on the big jump move; I understood that it was possible, but I was quite far to stick it. The second day I brushed it perfectly and some tickmarks helped me to go in the right position on the edge. I grabbed it in many attempts, without keeping my body on. The third session of the same day I went down with the rope again and I fortunately understood micro differences which allowed me to hit the single move. Great moment for the short effort, I felt so excited for this move I really love.

The third day (fifth in total counting the past year) had pretty nice conditions for the holds and my skin seemed to be better than the last period. After four hours of tries from the bottom I grab the first ascent of this direct way. It has been great for me, especially in this period where I couldn't have so many positive feelings in climbing.

Since Zarmina is a "friendly" name of a far planet, I called it as the name of its star, i.e. "Gliese 581".

Here two shots from the video and a little clip I edited few days ago which regards five different cool lines.

"Gliese 581" FA, Champorcher. Pic from the video by Andrea Cossu

"Gliese 581" FA, Champorcher. Pic from the video by Andrea Cossu




                                     
                                                            Five lines for five valleys from niky_ceria on Vimeo.

giovedì 5 giugno 2014

Little injury

Since the late summer 2011, when I had a serious strains in my legs, I never soaked in a injury tunnel. Everyone gets some problems in his own body, or at least it is really rare that a climber never feel pain somewhere and it is bound to stop for a while. After three years an injury comes again. At the moment my issue regards a tendon in my right wrist which seems to be quite inflamed. This kind of problem doesn't let me do a thing in particular, i.e. to turn my wrist in ulnar deviation (right and down direction). During climbing days many moves, holds and positions makes my arm painful and sometime I can't stay hung on some kind of holds. I don't want to complain, I think it is a part of the game and I have to live together until the pain vanishes, trying to lose less motivation possible. 

The day when I got the injury I was in Val Bavona with Nils, in the middle of April. I was trying "king of Sonlerto", the famous black face under the homonymous village, when I felt some strange weakness in the first hold. After the ascent I felt a bit of pain at the top, but I thought it was nothing too dangerous. Foolishly, I tried to don't feel it and I opted to try the moves of the sit, which didn't inspire me a lot, but I wanted to climb more. Really bad choice, considering the sign that my body was sending me. Matching an undercling I felt a big jerk in my arm and I fell off. The pain was quite high and for few days I was not able to take a hold without feeling the injury. I started to think it would have begun a long rest, in fact the things are not going so well.

10 days after the mistake, my situation was a bit the same, despite many resting days. After this negative and, rather short period, my hand began to go better and better until the leaving for Aland, where fortunately the things looked to be at the right place. The evening before the flight my shape was unexpected perfect, as well as my finger tendon. I felt super positive and out of a black period which I thought was going to be much longer. I went to Aland, I climbed all the days, trying hard stuff and pulling some holds which could have also been dangerous but I felt sure about my hand, in fact I didn't feel  any kind of bother. I came back home. I was happy because I knew I could start to climb again here, in my closer projects home. The first day of climbing, the pain started again and quite acutely. I tried to believe that was just one day and maybe the things could have come back in the perfect conditions. The following days the pain was only stronger and my motivation for climbing or training started to get lower and lower. I opted for other days of rest, when the blood couldn't loop a lot and this let me just feel more bother. I decided to start a fingerboard training period, which would last 2 weeks. I knew it was going to be the best thing to do. I should have right hand positions, symmetric holds and I maybe could do some exercises without pain, trying to let the blood loop and keep the motivation a bit high . Fortunately, it went like that and I am now doing what I was planning. I can also climb on the rock, but only on few kind of problems. Every holds which require a twist in the lower part of the wrist gives me bad feelings.

It is now almost two months that it is giving me troubles. Sure it doesn't look a really serious problem, especially compared with other injuries. The only thing that it is quite hard for me, it is to keep the positive thoughts high as before, trying to do the best for my tendon and to avoid something I would like to do.


Last weekend I decided to join two friends of mine, Max and Ricky to go to Wallis, where I knew I would have had few lines where I could climb. At the top of the list there was "Des roses en Hiver", a line of Reto Hartmann which I knew it would have been quite comfortable for my finger and after 4 days of work in 3 years I grabbed the third ascent, completing one of my most significant desire of 2014. Now my principal goal is to heal my tendon as soon as I can with physiotherapy and a lot of ice, in order to try all the lines I would like to do and restarting training again.

Des roses en hiver 8B. Photo Max Buvoli

Ricky on a problem in Wallis.

martedì 13 maggio 2014

Åland Islands - Bouldering in Finland

The view on the bay, Aland (FIN).

Aland Island – Northern Europe.

A place almost unknown. It hasn’t a big notoriety from the bouldering side and even under the geographic aspect is not so famous. It has been hard to locate it on the maps of the minds’ people when I said I wanted to go there, a region so dispersed and only renowned for making wood or fishing. This part of the Europe is an archipelago under the Finnish country, but closer to Sweden considering the easiest way to get it. It counts 6 500 islands and its name means “the lands of the perch fish”.

I usually pay much attention to what concerns the place around a bouldering area. The aspects of the nature can make a good balancing of harmonies and bouldering can be a nice way to live breathtaking landscapes, enjoy the pure wildness and feel the scent of the woods. I love to catch the small details that the environment has; Although it has less importance than the quality of the rocks or of the moves, it is always an interesting part which offers me enthusiasm to live a climbing experience. I knew about Aland thanks to a boulder’s pic I saw years ago, and I discovered that around this one also some other problems had been established by Finnish and Sweden climbers. Checking the sectors from the web, I could note that the quantity of the problems were at the north top of the archipelago, 40 km far from the only true city of the region, Mariehamn. Aland was therefore put on the list: the list of the places where I would like to go in the world. On that list you add always and you tick seldom, but the ticking usually gives a lot of satisfaction and incredible emotions. At the beginning of 2014 I spoke with Ricky, a friend of mine who is always excited to travel for climbing and checking areas considered a bit out of the ordinary. I knew he would have been interested in this, in fact we organized the trip and I finally seized the opportunity to go. Rudy, my brother, got the holidays at last and he joined us.

Today, I can say that I have personally climbed in the best landscapes ever, at least if we consider just the bouldering places. Green pine forest, gravel pink roads, blue north sea, seagulls, pink granite and silence were the main characteristics of what we saw and the flat long hiking let us enjoy the wildness of the area. We liked the boulders a lot too; in some of them the granite offers good shapes like geometric holds, roofs and physical long moves typical of Scandinavia. I immediately understood that the rock would suite my style perfectly. The first hard line I tried was the big overhang of “Normipaiva” 8B, a huge roof with 8 meters of development with good crimps located far from each other. The climbing on it is funny and athletic and it was probably one of the lines hit me more in Aland. The FA was put up by Nalle Hukkataival years ago and then a jug broke in the last move. I found anyway a good beta to get the top quickly. The last move is now less dynamic and more technical, since the jug let two crimps and it looked hard to do the move as fast as before.

The main reason which lead me to Aland, was the majestic line of Nalle hukkataival “Leaving the dream”. It is situated on the coast of an awesome bay; definitively one of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen and the hike to get there lasts 1 hour. It's easy to imagine the great quietness you can find in this paradise. At the first sight the line dazzled me a lot, more than what I thought. It looked to be so visionary and I was impatient to attempt it. It excited me and I quickly felt at ease, even though I didn’t get good achievements for the first session. It motivated me a lot, it was giving me positive feelings and I was so happy to be under it. I found it so good for many features: the triangle shape, its height and its original aspect which stands it out by other world class lines. Considering the peculiar geometric shape, it was basically impossible to try the upper moves with the rope, but hanging down I could touch the holds and put the chalk on them. The second part of the boulder looked fortunately easier than the first part, composed by a single hard dyno to the lip. I really loved this move. Using the rope I could hang down on the both sides of the triangle, I signed all the holds and with the chalk the line seemed to get a bit of life since none tried it for years. Fortunately I could read the sequence correctly and this fact helped me a lot. I had many doubts about the first move, not only about the beta, but even about the correct starting holds. The only info I had were present on the guidebook and it says to start standing on the little bloc below. From that point I could reach the good hold on the left arête and an undercling/sidepull crimp for the right hand in the middle of the roof. I was doubtful, but they seemed to be the most logical ones to try it from the bloc.

"Living the dream" 8B, Aland (FIN)


The second day on it my doubts went on, but I wasn’t able to find another proper start. Starting lower on the bloc didn’t make sense, since it would have had the same difficult start from the ground and this way would be much harder and sure more complete. I decided to attempt it like that, thinking about the most logical thing to do. That day, just after the warm up, I met Erik Massih, a guy from Stokholm and a local of Aland. Fortunately, he had a ladder and he kindly lent it to me to try the second part of the boulder and make my mental setting more sure about the development of the line. The holds had chalk and I knew more or less the sequence but I didn’t want to miss it from the start. The ladder gave me a huge help, I understood the second part perfectly and I was really sure about it. That days seemed to be perfect and my mind immediately noted this. Dry weather, wind, cold, ladder, two spotters and four pads which could make the first jump easier. I decided to get my mind as free as I can and I started. Being sure about the landing, I locked the first jump and knowing the upper sequence I went to the top. The pads made a bit of difference but I also felt really better in doing the first move. “Living the dream”, with the starting holds I used, might be personally around 8B and I felt maybe easier than the grade it had. This is simply due to the fact that I have been lucky in having a ladder and this thing changed a lot the approach for this line. Few things impressed me about this problem. The first deals of the vision that Nalle had 7 years ago in climbing this piece of rock, much respect to him. Secondly, the place around this gorgeous boulder and third that for many years none attempted it.

During the second part of the trip we went more to Kasviken, a sector closer to the parking with typical Scandinavian roofs and a really good granite. I have always an iron brush and a rope in my bag, so when I see a line under the moss which can tickle my imagination I can clean it up. I love to brush a thing that I imagine, but especially a line that seems to be really good for the moves I look for and for the kind line I would like to establish. In that sector I saw a compression line that looked to be amazing and maybe possible, but touching the green holds was hard to say with certainty if it would be or not. I brushed it and I put the chalk. The holds started to have a different grip and I could feel the possibility of my vision. Unexpectedly, I quickly found the beta that suite me more and I figured out the sequence. I got two sessions then after the rest I surprisingly sent it. I was able to send it the same day I brushed it and despite the quickness of the process, I guess it might be the hardest thing I have ever climbed in North Europe between Aland and Vastervik. The name chosen was “Nitro” and I was really lucky to finish it that day since the days left have been rainy and wet.

Now it is time to go back training. The injures to the tendon is going better, but it is not gone. I feel I have to be really wary about this and try to look it after as much as I could in order to get back in the better shape and better feelings. On the rock it is not so painful and I think I could climb more than in the gym. I will now have some projects in Champorcher and some boulders to try in the French side of Swiss. Stay tuned.

"Dodo" 8A+, Aland (FIN)

"Game Over" 7C, Aland (FIN)

Rudy on "Hammas finger crack" 7A+, Aland (FIN)


Ricky on "Supermarkitainen" 7B, Aland (FIN)

"Normipaiva" 8B, Aland (FIN)

"Moongoli" 7C+/8A, Aland (FIN)

Fagerlberget, Aland (FIN)