domenica 29 dicembre 2013

- Una Giornata al Vivo

Una umida e bruttina giornata di fine anno passata a scalare con gli amici...


anche questa è la scalata. Buone feste a tutti.

martedì 17 dicembre 2013

- Back to Ticino

Winter has come back again! After a warm summer mainly spent sport and trad climbing, as soon as temperatures dropped it was time to get back on bouldering...

I still have many projects to try down in Tuscany, but after all the sport and trad climbing I felt quite weak and wanted to test myself and get back in a good shape first, so I went to Chironico were there were still lots of new problems for me to try. (Being quite tired to mess around the Dreamtime boulder in Cresciano)

There was a problem in Chironico I've always wanted to try: "The Crack Line", a nice 8b that requires a couple of strange finger locks... I thought it was time to see if all the crack jamming payed off ;-)
In fact I was able to feel the finger locks quite good but what I struggled with most was the middle section that took me quite a long time to understand... it all turned out to be a long siege against the problem as usual!

Apart from the Crack Line I climbed a few other problems around, the most beautiful of them being: "Walk the Line" a nice 8a+ added by Giuliano Cameroni in Lavorgo. So here it is: back to bouldering, back to Ticino, back to my small self made videos with single static camera... but this one is special... it has a "vintage" look... enjoy!

giovedì 21 novembre 2013

- Sardinia Bloc Scouting

It has been a while I'm not writing anything on my blog, and the main reason is that since I've started focusing more on sport and trad climbing I haven't been able take any good pictures of my activity as I used to do with bouldering, hence nothing good to show you... but this time I knew the opportunity was epic as we were all going to explore new areas in the granite paradise of Sardinia and so I made sure to bring my camera along with climbing shoes, crash pad and trad gear.

La Sportiva Bloc Scouting is born by an idea of Pietro dal Pra, regular visitor of the Island, who wanted to bring a team of  La Sportiva athletes to help developing new bouldring areas and find some new lines as well as living a good experience together. We were ten climbers, two videographers, a photographer the laspo guys and we've also been joined by some local climbers... a perfect crew with mixed origins! (the climax being reached when Cody Roth from New Mexico played "morra" with the owner of "Lu Branu" agriturismo after they served us some local grappa ;-))

Everybody has been free to walk around and try the lines he liked the most. As for me I've been mainly attracted by some nice crack lines running through the tallest boulders, that stand out of everything else, and where I had the opportunity to practice my skills, because to be honest crack climbing is a totally different game and I still need to improve a lot.

So everyday we were out climbing: brushing and slapping rough granite slopers or jamming hands into sharp crystals... the rock there is quite aggressive, but everything becomes doable after a good cleaning, and the shapes are so inspiring that it is worth bearing some pain to get to the top.

Unfortunately after several days of crack climbing I got my hands totally trashed and I was not even able to finish a couple of the climbs I cared more about. We planned to go back on the very last day after some rest, but unfortunately bad weather came in and we had to give up. Sometimes you have to accept defeat, (well most of the times for me ;-)) but at least we tried hard.

Together we opened more than a hundred new boulder problems into three main areas, four or five short crack climbs, and even a three pitches trad route on mount "Pulchianotto" by James and Caroline. There will be a small topo coming out soon so everybody will be able to get there, revive our experience and open new problems as well... there's still loads to do!

I really have to thank Pietro for all the efforts he put into this project and La Sportiva for making it happen. Everything we did has been filmed by Richard Felderer and Pietro Porro, and there will be a calendar soon by Klaus Dell'Orto, so stay tuned on La Sportiva website to follow the official reports. As for me I always had my camera in the bag and tried to make my small personal video report: there's no climbing action but at least I hope you will get the scenery!

One last thing: I want to express my sadness and support for all the people who live in those places that have been hit by an hurricane just the day after we left. Hope everything will get back to normal soon.

venerdì 7 giugno 2013

- Cadarese Cracks !

Last weekend I had the opportunity to visit for the first time the famous trad climbing crag of "Cadarese" in Ossola Valley. I left with my friend Daniele from Parma and we got really lucky to find great weather conditions with some cold northern wind... it was actually too cold at times!

It was my first time in a totally trad climbing crag with loads of cracks and no bolts around, so different from what I've been doing in the Peak District! Here routes tend to be very long and there's no way to walk at the top and throw down a rope for inspection... ;-)

In addition of doing some nice easier routes I also managed to try some of the hardest stuff the crag has to offer like "The Doors", "Turkey Crack", and "Book Cake". Each of these routes is very different from the others and requires totally different skills... my crack technique is still very poor and it's very stimulating to find something where you can improve so much.

Anyway the most familiar I've felt is on "The Doors" which is just too long for me at the moment (35 meters!!) and I do get really pumped placing gear all the way up... let's see what I will be able to do next autumn when I will go back!

For now just enjoy some random pictures of there three days of learning and self body destruction.

martedì 14 maggio 2013

- Oltre il Confine

Last two weeks have been pretty busy with climbing in Monte Amiata, Val di Mello and Orco Valley. On the 30th of April I've started working on this incredible route my friend Bengio opened last autumn. It is a very obvious line that follows the mouth of this cave, and has a couple of hard boulder sections with a little rest in between.

I had to try the moves for a couple of days before solving the crux, but then I left for Val di Mello, where I did not want to miss the 10th anniversary of Melloblocco. There I could meet plenty of friends and finish to trash my skin climbing some of the great new problems prepared for the event. Just a few days rest and I went for a short trip to Orco Valley to make some multi-pitch practice on the route "Cannabis" I had previously left unfinished last October... 

That was good stamina training: after just a short bouldering session at the wall and straight back to Amiata for some unfinished business! Last weekend have been just great: good weather, top friction and lots of friends who to show this nice quiet place. Saturday the 11th after four days of tries I made the first repetitions of "Oltre il Confine" my first 8b+/8c route. I don't really know about the grade, as I don't have much experience, but it's definitely something special and a good step forward in my sport climbing skills.

venerdì 26 aprile 2013

- Peak District 2013

Since I came back from the Peak District on April the 11th I've been pretty busy, but now it's definitely time to sum up my experience as many interesting things happened during last two months. I left from Parma with my dear Skoda Roomster packed with gear on February 11th... destination Brussels, where I attended a two day advanced video workshop with Philip Bloom, organised by my friend Haroun Souirji.

It has been quite useful and fun, as we had the opportunity to shoot and edit a little 30 seconds short, and it really helped me realize what I need to learn and what I'm already capable of. You can find a collection of shorts that were shot on the occasion here, there's some pretty good stuff for a couple of hours filming inside a hotel and a short editing session at night!

After Brussels I went straight to Sheffield. I could not wait to see the Peak District again, and when I finally entered in town driving down Chesterfield road, I felt like coming back home. A really nice feeling, which I used to have only when arriving in Fontainebleau... it's nice to have a second "home away from home" now.

The day after my arrival the Peak was still lightly covered by snow, but a few days of good weather soon came along and I had the opportunity to get back into gritstone doing some classics like "Low Rider" 7c+, "Great White" 7c+ (which I added of a nice and scary top out), "Silk" E6 6c and "White Wand" E5 6a.

Unfortunately good weather didn't last long, and it soon turned back into clouds and rain. Not even good to take pictures I just sticked to training trying to prepare at best for my main goal: Voyager sitstart, which I wanted to send before warm weather kicked in, and leave some time for more trad climbing.

As days passed I had some mixed weather, it was generally cold but quite humid and still. I tried several times Voyager but I constantly kept falling on the release from a heel hook, quite close to the end, but there  was no sign of improvement with such conditions. I was confident anyway, almost certain to get some dry windy days at some point... and in fact I did, but not under Voyager, as I will explain later on.

At the same time I had some fun trying the technical slab of "Walk on By" 7c+, which required a few visits, and taking part as usual at the CWIF competition, proudly member of the Beastmaker team together with Ned, Will and Mina. I did surprisingly good in the qualifiers, coming second overall, probably too good, as the next day I did a complete disaster in the semis (as usual) and had to get out on grit straight away to get off some steam (usual again). In the evening I came back to watch the finals and then everybody went out for a curry... happy ending. (did I say usual? :-) )

One day I also got some luck: quite tired after a long session on Voyager the former day I went out with  
friends to try Superbloc 8a+, an amazing boulder problem that looks like one in Fontainebleau, but definitely climbs like a gritstone classic, needing cold weather and good skin to drag a few poor tiny pockets using the worst feet imaginable.

The day was perfect: cold, windy and with occasional clouds masking the sun. I could not ask for better, and after some fight with it I found myself at the top of the problem. I was quite surprised as I've been trying that since my first visit three years ago and was not even feeling close. Gritstone is like that, one day you can't move and the next one you stick to everything. After Superbloc only one boulder problem remained on the list... Voyager sit! But weather showed up with an unexpected gift... SNOW!

Right at the time my father and a couple of friends from Parma came to visit, we got stuck for a couple of days under a heavy snow storm accompanied by strong winds... nothing much I could show them apart from some circuits at the Climbing Works and a tour of the nicest pubs in town where we could taste a complex variety of real ales...

After the storm passed it was impressive to see how much snow there was up there... the wind moved and packed huge drifts of snow under the crags and on the roads, making it impossible to drive or reach what was left of the crags... it was time to buy some gaiters and prepare for some long hikes in the snow. The goal was to go there clean the rocks and build some nice and flat snow landings, waiting for some highball action once the crags would have dried out.

Weather gave us a couple of weeks of dry sunshine, staying quite cold and windy, and making the snow quite compact. Unfortunately winds kept blowing from east all of the time, making it really sheltered and even warm at Burbage north under Voyager, while on the other side, at Burbage west conditions were just perfect... very frustrating.

Anyway, finally good weather had come back, and even if condition were not good enough for Voyager, there were plenty of things I could climb, and the nice snow platforms under the routes were certainly an occasion not to be missed. Going out almost every day, fighting at times with cold wind and at times with boiling sunshine I satisfied my need of rock, and I made the most out of this awaited period of nice weather.

Among the things I wanted to try most were a couple of aretes at Burbage south: Messiah E7 6c and Simba's Pride E8 6b. The first one is a proper route with a hard 7b/7c boulder move at mid height, while the second one is a scary and tall boulder problem with a deadly jump right at the top... Messiah was really fun: as I was getting too cold placing gear in the first break before the crux, I preferred to carry on to the good one just above it when I did the route, but I still got really cold placing gear and finishing it up... nightmare!

Simba's Pride was even scarier: I wanted to try it "ground up" without a top rope inspection, but when I got to the final jump and had to engage I was simply too scared and I could do nothing else than trying to jump down as controlled as I could. Even with some snow on the ground the fall was really nasty and after the second one my sore knees forced me to stop. Back on my decision, I tried the jump with a rope, but that felt not as easy as I thought it would feel... (yes, I definitely suck at jumping!). I have to thank my friend Jake who took courage and finally climbed the line: his effort gave me back motivation and I also went for it instead of giving up. What a day!

If I could not finish Voyager and it was too cold for trad climbing there was one thing I absolutely wanted to do: Samson. I've been dreaming of this route since I've seen Jerry Moffatt top roping it in the video Hard Grit. The line is tall but it's definitely possible to try above pads, and a few people already did, like my friend Ned last year, making me very envious.

The problem starts with an easy crack, reaches an obvious hole in the middle of the blank wall and crosses to a pocket you use to finish up a line of rounded edges. The climbing is quite powerful on fairly big holds but all you have for your feet is just a bunch of poor pebbles that are quite hard to use. You can climb, take your time to chalk up in the hole, and then carry on for the upper crux. Definitely one of the best things I climbed in my life: a tall hard 8a boulder problem, one that you will never forget of. Thanks James for spotting and supporting me!

During last few days temperature started to warm up and you could definitely feel spring was coming. I briefly tried Voyager again without much hope of success (never give up), but at least I could move to try a few routes on a nearby wall, the one where "The Promise" is, before the snow platform would completely melt.

So one day together with Ned (like on The Promise last year) we did the third and fourth ascent of Miles Gibson's route "Superstition" E8 7a?. Probably a fingery and pebbley 7c boulder problem above pads (and snow), just slightly harder than the Promise, with a final scary jump for the ledge. Now just one route was left for me on the boulder, and thanks to the snow I managed to climb on my own with three pads "Living in Oxford" E7 6c on my last day... after that a final session at the Works (just in case), and a good pie at the Broadfield with James... next day I would find myself on the ferry back to Italy.

lunedì 21 gennaio 2013

- New Year in Amiata: boulder and trad !

New Year, time to get back to Amiata trying to get some sunshine and finish some unfinished business... potential is surely there, good rock too, if you even find a team of psyched people to work with it's basically done!

First goal was climbing a hard project in "Vivo D'Orcia" sector named Mondo Bastardo. I tried it a few times over last spring and this autumn, I was getting really close but always dropped on the last shoulder move when coming from the start. It's a great line on pockets, it can be quite sharp on your skin, but the reward is enough to make you battle and bleed as hard as you can.

I had to get back a couple of times, and make some good training on our super board at Castel del Piano, before finally sticking the last move on the 4th of January... the grade is proposed 8b, and I think it deserves it all. After that I've soon started working on the next hard one, which is just a hundred meters away. This one could be even harder and will be a good project to get back as soon as the snow goes away!

Moving on to a different subject we started opening some new trad lines at Chiesina sector, mainly due to the efforts done by Federico Schlatter who made a heavy gardening job to clean all the rock from vegetation! I have to say hard bouldering and good trad climbing is probably my favorite mix, as it allows you to rest your body after a heavy session and simply enjoy the beauty of climbing with a little bit of mind challenge... I'm really proud we're starting to develop such a place in Italy as well.

Among the lines we gave birth to a special mention goes to "Il Nido del Cinghiale" E3 6a (the bore's nest) and "Un Friend per Amico" E6 6c (a friend as a friend). The last one is quite intense and fairly safe on gear, it has a short bouldery section which will deserve at least 7b sport climbing, with proper gear (not too easy to place though)  it becomes a very enjoyable route to test your trad skills.

I'll leave you with this nice video we made of the route, hope it will make you wish to visit Amiata and enjoy this place as we're doing... we'll publish an article on Pareti magazine soon... just in case! Thanks to Federico, Bengio, Tommy and everybody else who shared with us his new year's holiday.
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