giovedì 17 marzo 2016

Basilicata, February 2016

Campomaggiore, Basilicata
It was one of those lonely night at home, right before the dinner time. January was almost over and a little training loop was coming to an end. It had not been an efficient training loop; for a reason or another I missed the proper pace and I felt sorer than what I should have been. That night was the end of a resting day and I was managing the last things before my upcoming trip: a tour among the southern Italian sandstone boulders. During the journey I would have been alone and many thoughts was making me doubtful. The last time I moved for a long travel was in November. Like it usually befalls, in the previous winter months, I lost energies up on the projects in Aosta valley. I also went to Ticino a couple of times, then I stuck myself into the gym for wide part of January. I felt I needed a little change, so I opted to set the rock climbing a side for a bit. At the end of the month, I felt psyched to travel once again. I needed to check new places, new areas, new stones. But, more than other times, I needed to look for something special, something a bit out of the lines. At the same moment, I also felt frightened to move for something I didn't know. I felt like a bit trapped from the home comfort and by the family warmth of the closest areas, which gave me assurance and safety. I went for the dinner at my Granma's place, like it often happens, and I kept thinking about the travel of the upcoming days.

My grandma asked me a favor for the next Tuesday and I replied I couldn't do it since I would have been off. I explained I was moving to Basilicata, in the southern part of Italy for a couple of weeks or maybe more. She still reminds well, so she knew I hadn't been down there yet. "Why do you go there, are there any special stones?" she asked. I couldn't give her a proper reply. I just said I hadn't no clue about what she asked. That was in fact a true answer. I heard rumors about the area, I asked a couple of opinions and I also checked a bunch of photos, but I didn't know if the trip would have been worthy or not. I was extremely keen to go down and look for new brilliant lines. The psyche was high, but obviously nothing was guaranteed. I could have found nothing, or maybe everything.

I left just few nights later. It was in the middle of the nighttime and nobody was around. The journey was long and the more I went ahead, the more that question resounded in my mind. Who knows if there would have been the things I was looking for. I felt insecure, to be honest. My car was at its last journey. It is a very hold station wagon and since a couple of months it is not totally safe in the highway bends. It somehow could mirror my travel doubts. Why, I asked to myself once again; Tons of good projects were awaits in the valleys next to my place, while I was doing a 1000 km travel for something I wasn't sure to find. I couldn't get an answer, but I kept driving until the next afternoon. I left the freeway in Foggia and the landscapes were absolutely Southern.

In the late afternoon I got to Campomaggiore, the village above the climbing sectors. The little hamlet has a very quiet atmosphere and this gave me somehow a touch of certainty. The B&B was cozy and pretty. The first steps into my room helped me a bit to remove the fears I stored during the journey. I felt home atmosphere and I had the comforts I wished. Even if I hadn't seen any pieces of rock yet, I couldn't imagine the sandstone and I felt a bit more positive. Right before night, all the thoughts went away and I felt serene again. By this time I was there, and the step to move down was completed. I was satisfied to have won once again the home trap and I started to built positive thoughts. The morning later I would have had appointment with Marco, a friend of mine from Potenza who was free to show me around. I sincerely hoped that the answer of my grandma could find a touch of true. Even if the first day would haven't been enough, I truly wanted to clarify those doubts within the end of the stay.

Marco carried me up to the area and after the hike among the cows we got to the first blocs. The quality of the first 2 rocks was pretty high and upper to my expectations. The first one, "Ole'" 7C, presented some spider webs at the bottom and a Font "tortoise" holds at the top. Not only the looking was good, but even the texture was something I really liked. The promises were now a bit higher and I was fading into a positive certainty.

I spent the first days jumping from a classic to another. Michele Caminati checked the zone back in the seasons and many of the boulders he freed have an amazing aspect. "La chiave del Sole" 8A+ has been even better than what I supposed and "Empire state boulder" (again 8A+) went absolutely beyond any expectations.

La chiave del Sole (2nd asc), Basilicata.

Empire State Boulder (2nd asc), Basilicata. Photo Marco Giorgio
Marco had more free time than what we thought and we fortunately went chasing together. We found many things to put in the list; some of those were tall and pure, with a super solid sandstone. If I was satisfied from the classics, I was probably even more fulfilled to see all of these nice virgin boulders. The exploration side was obviously the fact who worried me more, since it wasn't guaranteed at all. I didn't only find interesting boulders to clean, but I also checked different things which are worthy to make a trip back in the next years.

I spent several days of the trip and a good amount of efforts into a specific and beautiful project. This bloc is one of the first you meet on the way up and it features the same Mt Fox's rock; namely the typical famous, and infamous, orange spider-webs conformations of the Grampians. After two intensive and long days of attempts, I managed to get the right sequence and climb all the single moves. The way I was using is very specific, conditions depending and finger strength requiring. It counts a total of five moves, where the crimpy full angle of the fingers is necessary. I hence needed to keep my fingers really close for a long range of time. Being this one of my weakest skills, the experience turned into a hard deal to manage. I was anyway happy to see little improvements day by day; despite the conditions were getting worse and worse and the skin started to be moist after the weeks, I felt I was getting the right feelings on the full crimp actions and I was psyched to see the parts coming together. I kept forcing myself to keep the fist super close, and I surprisingly could see some progresses after a while.

The last cool day was coming and I knew it was the last chance for a good and reasonable session. I woke up early as usual and I was ready under the crimps at 8 o'clock. In the very early morning the area tends to be humid, and, since the boulder is facing south, it quickly gets warm. I so had a good windows opportunity between 8 and 11, when the attempts could have had a sense and it would have been dry, but not insanely hot. Few degrees less could have helped me a bit, but it wasn't time to complain. I began the session and I went actually well in few occasions. I missed the sending before the last move and I could climb the problem in two overlapping parts. 11 o clock came, skin was very over and the sun was covering all the face making the rock burning. I was quite disappointed to miss it, but somehow happy to know what is waiting for my next visit. The doubtful pre-journey questions were a memory only.

Project, Basilicata. Photo Marco Giorgio

Searching for new and exciting lines consisted in the big goal of my trip, mostly during the second half of the stay. I wished to find something very special and, at that point, I knew the chaces were high. During one of the long breaks between the project sessions, I went exploring a lower part of an old sector. Marco had already been there in the past, but he couldn't remember if there were any special things or not. We progressed with quick and secure steps through the known part of the zone, then our steps became slower and the glances left and right were more intense. We went further and we got into another blocs band. We eyed a bunch of great stones in the middle of the forest and we followed an imaginary path to reach them. Coming out of the thick vegetation, we step in front of what I was truly looking for. It was too early to be fascinated, so I opted to give a deeper and rational looking. After several minutes I understood it was very doable, not too hard and I was sure it was going to be a brilliant problem; One of those I have always wished to find in my life. The day was over and we went back to the car, making the appointment for the day after. It was tacit where we were going to go; that line needed to born and we both were fascinated by its beauty. The morning later I brushed an old highball, called "Urban Cowboy" V8, one of the best arete I have ever climbed. Happy from the beauty of this, we were ready to step into the new amazing project. We were cleaning and chalking in a deep silence; both lost into their own thoughts. Just few technical comments seemed to be allowed. The atmosphere was unique. In the late afternoon it was ready, and I quickly started to try the sequences with a couple of pads.

After a session I knew I could have done it and the quality of the moves gave a further touch of beauty. We looked at the clock; Marco needed to be at the gym right after and he had to move around five o'clock. I would have had a further hour, but I really wanted to climb with him. We found the line together, we cleaned it and we were both part of this process. I cooled down my fingers and I started positive. I step through the crux, I went ahead and I reached the upper part, where the prow became very wide and I am at the full extension with my arms. I had some troubles before the exit, but I fortunately got it. I topped it out. I had climbed my favorite line and many efforts had been paid off in few seconds only. The name choosen is "Geometrie non Euclidee". The research could start once again and I felt happy to have found a positive answers to the many pre-journey questions.

The days later, we were able to find other nice looking problems and many other projects I couldn't clean for questions of time. I will think about those for many days, until the next time I will be back in this land. I will definitively start with a more secure approach, but always searching for something new and not very guaranteed. Thank you Basilicata, hope to see you soon!

Urban Cowboy, Basilicata. 
Geometrie non euclidee (FA), Basilicata. Photo Marco Giorgio

Occhio di Bue, Basilicata.

Titanic (FA), Basilicata. Photo Marco Giorgio

Agronomono non Praticante, Basilicata. Photo Marco Giorgio

Basento Ruggente (FA), Basilicata