martedì 23 luglio 2013

Rocklands, second week

Time is passing fast here in Rocklands and every evening we reckon how many days left. We are in the middle of the trip and we still have some areas to visit, many projects to try and goals to achieve. After "King of limbs" I finally felt that my two previous months of training started to work well enough; not as I would, but It is obvious that the physical shape has higher and lower points in the graphic. I am feeling in a pretty good shape but for sure not as I was in "gandalf il grigio" or in Sweden. Last week I managed to put some ticks on my list doing a couple of problems I found really lovely. The first is "derailed" 8B, it looks like a ball of glass to squeeze and it has the first ascent signed by Daniel Woods. I watched this line in Progression film, I think four or five years ago, and I was pretty impressed by its slopers and its movements.I remember I said that I wanted to try it one day in my life and that it would have been a dream to see it and to be in a place like that. But everytime that I asked to my dad to go to Rocklands his answer was always doubtful because I was too young or things like that. He often explained me to have patience during my life, in the climbing side. When he saw me disappointed after a day of climbing he said me that with patience and no haste I would have climbed in south Africa or would have done some hard boulders around.For sure "derailed" is not the best line in the world, but last tuesday it was like a little dream for me to be under it; because I waited four years for it and there I was conscious about my dad’s words, probably he was right . Finally I could touch that sloper which was always present in my mind and never in my hand. After a fast warm up, my goal was under the sun, but I decided to try it a bit since the wind blew and it refreshed the holds. After a session of work I understood how to do the first move and the changing of feet which is probably the hardest part for me. At the end of the session I missed the last crimp from the bottom and my energies went down while the sun was heating up more and more. I took the best decision deciding to wait for the evening, when the shadow would have fallen. We went in another wall and I rested thinking about "derailed". In the late afternoon I started to go towards the line with Adrian but we took a halt to see the monkeys on a boulders. When we arrived it was already in the shadow and my motivation grew up fast. I did it on the first go. I’m really happy about this line, it is very significant for me and for my climbing journey.
The day later we went to Sassies. My friend max told me that the walking would have been really long and sandy  so I was ready to walk; or probably I just thought that I would have been ready. Fortunately the walking skipped. we managed to go up with the car until the highest parking and shorten the path to few minutes. The approach with the car was crazy, because we spent 15 mins to push it since it sank in the sands  so it was really hard getting there. During the day I flashed "Pinotage sds", a probable 7B+ and climbed "Shosholoza" 8A which is a well known line of two moves simply awesome. Also for Nils was a good day since He flashed his project "leap of faith", a hard jump with a scary fall. The two days after were rainy and we all got new skin and good energies for our projects. During these rainy moments boredom was high for all and we tried to fill our days with ping pong and poker tournament. On Saturday 20th, we woke up and surprisingly It was raining again, despite the positive forecast. Fortunately at 10 o'clock in the morning it stopped and some blue sky started to appear. We had many indecisions about where to go and we went on to ask ourselves which sector would have dried first. Probably the time for "sky" was arrived and in fact at midday the final decision was to go to Kleinfontein. I felt a bit of pressure because I knew that I wanted to have the line in a perfect conditions to attempt a possible flash go. We parked and a slight rain restarted. Anyway we went towards the project and when we were under this marvelous thing the azure of the sky started to appear again. I was a bit more relieved.I don't write here about the high beauty of the problem, since everyone knows about the perfection of this rig and the videos of today can explain well how pure and essential it is. In my mind the first move was a bit shorter, but when I was in front of it the move looks long with arms completely open. After the warm up I was ready to try. I brushed it and I was focus. This moment was often present in my mind and also my friends knew the possibilities about a good flash go. I took the first one and I lost my feet, I matched and I failed going to the last pinch. Shame for this, but the pressure immediately went down, letting me more quiet for the next tries. After two attempts on the last move I crushed on my second go and I was anyway happy to have done this super orange gem. Concerning the stupid grade system, my personal opinion made some discussions but for my size I thought that the grade can't honestly be higher than 8A+. I think that this kind of number doesn't matter as I always said and it seems ridiculous to put discussion (o start a discussion) about grades in front of a boulder. I think that whether it is 8B+ or 8A+ or 7C, this kind of valuations doesn't ruin in any case a perfect line as sky is.

"Sky" 8A+, Rocklands. Photo Nils Favre
Apart from the usual problems about numbers, the day after we finally went to Fortress where it is the line of "the vice" 8B. This line was put up by Thomas Willenberg fourteen years ago. Its true looking is for sure better than what it seems in the video and it counts 13 movements which made me pumpy before the easy exit. I was happy to have done also this line and I think it is a worthy one despite the long path to reach which made tired my thin legs.

"The vice" 8B, Rocklands. Photo Nils Favre
As every climbers can image the lines here are good and the rock too. But for me it is not the most impressive thing of this place since Fontainebleau has a better kind of sandstone. For my experience, Rocklands is the first  climbing place where there is not any kind of artificial noises and you can stay alone among the natural landscapes without seeing and hearing cars, airplanes, roads, cities and other human made stuff. In my opinion this is the best aspect of this place, the possibility to be alone in this marvelous scenery surrounded only by rocks and natural elements.
After Friday we will have still two weeks of climbing. for now I would like to say thanks to Nils who is taking me some really nice shots.

domenica 14 luglio 2013

South Africa, First week

King of limbs 8B, Rocklnds. Photo Nils Favre
At the end of a travel lasted 29 hours , last monday evening I reached Rocklands. The first week of my trip is basically over and I decided to write something about these days in African landscapes. As I said, the journey was obviously long from Milan; it was my first flight out of the Europe. The halt in Dubai lasted almost nine hours and we sat in a jack daniel pub to have a dinner. Sunday night we took the second flight and Nils and Gulham got the upgrade to Business class and I had to settle for the economy one. Next morning we arrived in South Africa and Nils bound our pads above the car, since it was really small for all the luggage. The driving lasted about three hours from the airport to Clanwillian, the closest city to Rocklands. We passed through the grasslands which was rich of sheep or similar animals and in the evening we were exhausted so we decided to go to bed early to be in shape for the day after.

Fortunately, on Tuesday we had a couple of hours to climb here and we checked the first sector close to our home in pakhuys camping . Finally I was able to try a few lines which I desired for years. We tried "ray of light", "glading the waves like a dolphin" and "el corazon" where I missed the ascent touching the top on my second go. Nothing was climbed during these first hours, but I immediately understood that the place would have been worthy and it would have offered me some awesome landscapes and sick boulders. The day after we went to the pass, probably the most famous area of all Rocklands, where I was finally able to crash some problems like "nutsa" 7C+, "out of balance" 8A, "green Mamba" 8A and "caroline" 7C. In the first three lines I always missed the flash at the last move like a stupid and I climbed them in the second go. I was really hit by the beauty of Caroline, for sure the best problems climbed in this week. The rock represents a perfection of pinches and cracks, probably made by the water and these features made it really unique. I really liked also Green mamba, which has a really lovely sandstone at the beginning and cool moves at the end. For Thursday I planned a day of rest, but it is really hard in a place like this to have a day with no climbing. In fact, in the evening I reached Benoit in "witness the sickness" 8A, since it is one of his project for this trip. At the beginning I was strong to withstand this inviting problem but at the end I fall in its temptation. Fortunately I climbed it fastly and after two goes I was at the top with no additional dangerous troubles at my skin. On Friday the time for "moiste mooise" finally arrived and Nils and I were extremely syked to put our hands on it after long period of waiting and dreaming. We got warm in a crazy and marvelous wall, which has some easy lines and I’d like to have always such easy and beautiful problems to warm up). It deals of a slightly overhang whit a black slab before the topout, it was amazing being under it. After climbing the four lines on this wall we put the pads under one of the meanest problems which I would like to do, Moiste mooise. It was completely at the sun and with 23 degrees it looked hard. My skin got worse after few goes and I wasn't strong enough to do it. I did it splitted in two sequences twice, hoping to get an improvement the next session. The riverside sector is really particular and nowadays everything is burnt after the big summer fire in January. Nils told me that last year It wasn't so simple to find the lines, because a lot of bushes and trees hinder the path. Now the area is bare and the boulders are pretty visible going towards the zone. This zone has also a little river, which makes it a bit different than the other ones I saw so far and this stream was a bit useful to refresh my hands, since they was burining after the two hours trying Moiste Mooise. In the late afternoon I was under "black shadow", knowing that the ascent would have been quite hard for me, because I felt tired again. In fact I failed miserably at the end of the problem. after calling the day, I decided to take one/two days of rest and I started to think a wish problems list by the selection done during the first days. For sure I will come back to try "black shadow","el corazon" and "moiste mooise" and during the next days I would also like to check other lines to put them in the working list and to climb other easier stuff.

After the rest I felt quite better and today, after the warm up in a classic like "the rhino", I could climb in few attemptes "king of limbs" 8B, a cave with a big gaston move and a powerfull finish.

The first week is gone and I’m going to have other four ones to visit new places and try other sick sandstone lines :)

Green Mamba 8A, Rocklands. Photo Nils Favre

The rhino 7B,Rocklands. Photo Nils Favre

giovedì 4 luglio 2013

Last month

Here we go! Only few days miss for the second trip of 2013 and South Africa come closer and closer. I desired Rockland for long time, but during the last years my motivation started to go down. Too many climbers went there in last three years and it seems to be like a summer trend going to the south. Except this fact, I am sure about the beauty of the place, with pieces of orange sandstone scattered in every angle. Last winter Nils invite me to join with them in this experience and I decided to seize the opportunity to visit the famous paradise many climbers tell about. I have to admit my motivation before Sweden was still higher, because Scandinavia lands always inspired me a lot. Despite this, I am obviously Syked to check a place completely different under the environmental aspect, I guess everything will be barer and the colors of nature will be the opposite of the Swedish ones. Even if it is different, I think it is an awesome place with a great and spectacular natural contest.

Beside Rocklands desires, this last month was dedicated to training, looking for get a decent shape before leaving. The newest thing in my program was the hang exercises of Chris Webb Parson, which would have had to last 12 weeks but I had to modify it in a 10 weeks program for questions of time. This kind of sessions were pretty useful for me, and it seems they can work well. I feel like it is giving to me a little finger strength improvement which I have always needed . In addiction of these hangs, I also did few Pan Gullich sessions with new exercises like some crossing moves, and some abdominal working, which make body tension a bit stronger. During these two months of preparation (may + June) every week was accompanied with two or three hours of stretching and some climbing on the rock; or in the gym when the weather was negative. In the gym I tried to do three session of endurance-strength with boulders 16-18 moves long, meanwhile in June I returned to try normal boulders with few movements and some different features to try different kind of skills. 

In June I also climbed on the rock, not so frequently, but I had some session in Champorcher and Barbara refuge. The developing of new lines in Champorcher goes on and a bunch of problems was born in last month. The first one was "Murano", a line I checked the second time I was there in 2011. It deals of a small cave, brushed by Mazrio Nardi who also made a really good base on the ground in order to try it in a safety way. Last years I was syked to try this powerfull crimpy overhang, but my ascent seemed really hard since the first move is a big dynamic to a glassed crooked crimp which I never did, despite numerous work session. Fortunately the foot hold is large and I knew it would be possible one day in the future. After the ghost ship days my shape was still good and I decided to try again the sick cave. On May 31th Rudy and I reached the spot after the usual halt to buy a fresh sandwich. The temperature was fine, in fact I needed my jacket and in this natural hole I was freezing. Surprisingly after some attempts I grabbed the crimp and I keep a good position to continue this short sequence. It has three moves and I failed on the last one which is a long span to the final jug. I rested and I did it. I was happy, because it was a test of my shape about crimpy strength since last year I wasn't able of doing this first movement. Moreover a new line was there to be repeated. The name chosen is "Murano" due to the kind of rock that looks like glass and the crimp is a bit smooth. 

Last Monday, Rudy got a day off and we decided to climb again there with Marco. On the weather web site, it was forecasted a light rain in the afternoon, but it was wrong and the sunny day allowed us climbing until 6 o'clock in the evening. They decided to change our Champorcher routine, buying a sandwich near home, where the shopkeeper contained us asking about climbing. We arrived in Champorcher and the warming up took place on a boulder marked with "13" sign which is really fun to get an ideal body temperature. It has eight logical lines, but we often invent new sequences to have fun, since the holds have a good quality of rock. After climbing a bunch of lines and after having seen the normal crimpy snaps of Rudy, we moved toward "la V". It deals of a line around 7A, with strange mantle which my mates never tried. Marco did it after a couple of goes instead of Rudy who had hard times to feel the slopy lip. During his attempts I tried to figure out a lower part which seemed to offer good pinches. The squat start was already done years ago, but the ascent used another boulder for the foot which makes it really horrific. After two hours I found a good beta to avoid this bad way, so the lower climbing is possible without any other stone. I hope to come back before Rocklands to try it again. 

In the afternoon Rudy discovered a new cave. He called us shouting, so me and Marco ran to check it. It was really nice, orange rock and high quality grain. Motivated by this, we took the pad and we started to try this sick line. After some tries I climbed it from the bottom using some tricky to stay on this slopy sequence. For sure it will be present on the video I hope to edit in September/October. We are all happy about this day, because another new line was born and we called it "orange madness", probably around 7C+/8A. Moreover, In the evening other two new problems were born in a boulder discovered by Max days ago. A wall with black and white stripes which had three possible lines. The straight line, called "yellow fever" has a really strange dynamic and it could be around 7C I suppose. The second one, is a traverse that join into this problems, which doesn't add difficulty but fun moves on serpentine.

It is really nice for me seeing a boulder area in its developing and this fact is motivating because every new line can offer something special that didn't exist before. I will come back in Champorcher on this Saturday for trying the V project and then it will be time to leave. I feel in a pretty good shape, probably I trained a lot some finger skills but at the same time I haven't done enough in climbing gym. This fact probably has worsen other skills like some climbing dynamic movements or muscle tone question that climbing gym training can usually offer. For sure I will not focus only on the hardest boulders, But I would like to climb what inspires me more. I am syked to see this new place for my eyes; beyond climbing stuff I hope to love this place I have always imaged and to feel me in a paradise as some climbers tell.

Murano, Champorcher FA. Photo: Rudy Ceria

King of Pratacco, Champorcher FA (2011). Photo: Giulia Paoletti