domenica 27 aprile 2014

Last sessions in Ticino

The good season is coming to an end. The winter is going to finish and the fall is a memory. A memory of few years ago, since the climate of the last period was strange and particularly hot: October and November were unfortunately warm and the fall had not the same taste of the previous years. I love winter and autumn, for the best bouldering conditions first and secondly for a personal preference. The arrival of spring usually gives me depression, the heat fades me and the motivation often goes down. Despite this, the weather is still good for some bouldering spots and the temperatures are high but not excessively warm. After US my mind started to imagine some boulders around and Val Bavona came quickly in my thoughts; a place where I seldom went to, but that always inspired me for different reasons.

Despite the slowness of the road to reach this valley, it is possible to go and back in a day like Ticino itself and I had occasion to get there 5 times, including the last one when I stopped for 4 days. Every time I go up in this valley the feelings are exceptional and the place never stops to hit me. The entrance in the valley is crazy, full of color contrast, perfect granite rock, big walls, big boulders, waterfalls, stone villages and an amazing wood which make my days great as well as the good lines there are under the soft moss.

The first day, together with Jimmy Webb, we tried a new big project which immediately seemed to be a great one with a stellar quality: An overhang with pinches and hard swing, followed by a combo ending wall that requires technical and physical skills. The climb on it looked to be amazing and really complete: a really intensive body tension and physical sequence to get into a totally different climbing like technical compression, small foot holds, mental climbing and an endurance finish before the easy top-out where you should be really focused coming from the bottom. The final wall was totally covered by the moss and we decided to remove only the necessary, letting the cleaned holds stand out like white chalk spots from the intensive green of the wall. On the second day on it, the problem seems to be even better. The holds didn't have the small dirty residues and they were really perfect to grab. That day we were able to complete all the moves on it, and to link few sequences. The processing of the full line gave us big motivation, in fact we pushed us both to discover new betas and to do small changes to get a better feeling. It was maybe out of my possibilities, but I came anyway back to try it since I would like to understand it better, in order to train harder and maybe reach the top in the future. The third day Jimmy was going really well, but the beginning of the technical part looked harder from the bottom. For me the crux was the 7th move, where from a good hole for the right hand, you have to do a big dynamic to a sloper. This is a really low per cent success move for me. During the 4th day on the proj I was alone to try it and even I was not capable to stick the sloper from the start, I repeated the single 5 times, climbing it in two parts. Sure I felt far from doing it but what was important is that I felt it possible. I know I could complete this one in the future if I will be able to be stronger than now and this fact is simply exciting. This project appeared to my eyes like a gem and I really would like to finish, would be it the first ascent or the 15th one. It was really long time that I didn't get such a deep motivation for a single line.

Noting the lower temperature, I decided to come back last week for more days with Nils. I decided to let the proj away for the first day and we went to "Heritage" 8B, a stunning line put up By Carlo Traversi two years ago. The first day on it, few weeks before, went good, but I had huge problems to get a the horizontal pinch in the middle of the sequence. I found a good way for my size, but it looked hard coming from the sit. The second day the temperature were really high, in fact my expectations were low. After 5 mins, I surprisingly discovered a tricky beta which suited me perfectly. Moreover, this easy way, let me able to stick the first gaston almost like I wanted, so I didn't need to be precise as before. I took it with the medium finger in the point I would have had the index, but the new beta let me avoid this details and I felt myself at the top. I was satisfied by the quality, as well as in the line climbed in the evening: "Elysium" 8A. Even this one is amazing, it appears like a stunning overhang prow, with incredible holds. The movements on it are magical, and when I climbed this line my feelings were at the top. I guess I can locate this line at the top of swiss boulders around this kind of grade, at least for my personal tastes.

 The day after, excited from the cold in the dark, we tried "King of Sonlerto" 8A+/B and, thanks to the colder temperatures, I was able to feel the holds differently and to top it out on the grass. The negative side was that I injured my finger trying the moves of its sit and for the moment I can climb just on few kind of holds, since many edges are impossible to grab without pain. Negative notice apart, the valley gave me great satisfaction and I can't wait to be there next fall to brush other moderates and try other awesome lines.

Wie im Urlaub 8A, Val Verzasca. Photo Marco Zanone

In two days I will be off To Aland (FIN), so the next story might be something about northern Europe Bouldering.

lunedì 7 aprile 2014

Similitudini - The small things that make bouldering great

The aspects I mostly look for in bouldering are basically two. Two seem to be not too much, but at the end they are a lot, considering that each of them has infinitive sensations, multiple variables and wonderful combinations. The first one is definitively the beauty. Trying, brushing, looking and climbing a boulder I like, that gives me something, that is able to offer great feelings is sure the best thing to search for.

Based on my personal tastes, a line expresses its own beauty through various factors. In fact I don't like to catch the beauty in general, but I love to appreciate the different features that a piece of rock offers.

Some boulders can inspire me when just one of this factor is at the top of the quality, like for example the quality of the holds, its aspect, its rock, the line itself, the moves and also the place around. The stunning lines happens obviously when all those features are at the top for your personal tastes and requests.

The second aspect I love to discover regards the physical part, a bit more sporting, but always linked to a personal experience and a personal comparison with the climbing. Trying the problems on the own limits, not limits in term of grades, but in terms of mental and  physical difficulty, is always motivating. What is really nice to discover is how bouldering on the limits is composed by tiny actions, small modifies on the beta and imperceptible differences in the positions of the hands and of the body. When I can discover those little things, attempt after attempt, session after session, the key of the success is showed and you have just to execute what you have understood. 

These small details can show other little parts of the puzzle and when you add all of them they can make a big results that is the full sequence to get the top. I remember this approach on some of the hardest line I did like "Entlinge", "Boxwood Hill", "Meadowlark Lemon" and others too. Recently this thing happened on "Similitudini" in Aosta Valley, a line that I brushed with Gabri and even though the line is not as good as others, the movements are really nice and motivating.

After brushing it, the holds had already a good grip so we started pushing us up each other to get the beta of the new rig. The moves were done after the first session, the first part of two singles were harder than a second one more understandable that required just a bit of conviction to grab the final lip. I knew the hardest part would have been to find the good link for the first move and I was too tired to try it from the start. I was anyway happy; I did the move but I knew there would have been much more to discover to link it all together.

The second day of work lasted a lot, but the time was sufficient  to finish this line. Everything was thanks to those little things that composed the betas. The hand in a super precise point gave a better position for the crucial heel hook, the fingers in an exact point of the sloper made the bump easier, the ring finger and the pinky on the first holds changed for few millimeters. That hold became better and at the end everything looked more possible. My mind, seeing those little improvements changed in a positive way, the motivation went up and the feelings became better in better understanding the process of the small things and I was able to send it. 

Similitudini, FA. Photo Giulia Paoletti

Similitudini, FA. Photo Giulia Paoletti

Similitudini, FA. Photo Giulia Paoletti