lunedì 4 novembre 2013

Fall trips!

Here I am back at home(for a few days...)after a little less than a couple of months on the road!

I left for Germany at the beginning of september with my friend Ema. My plan was to spend a few days in the Frankenjura at the beginning, heading to Stuttgart to compete at the annual Adidas Rockstars bouldering competition and finally finish the month long stay back on the Franken's rocks!
First days were easy days, trying to save some energies for the weekend!
Adidas Rockstars is defenitely the best organized event of the season. All the athletes are invited and during the days of the comp everything is offered from Adidas. We stayed at the Hilton Inn Hotel just next to the Porsche Hall where the comp was held and the first evening we were all invited at the official dinner and "transported" by a huge Adidas bus!...
Qualifications were pretty hard for me. The problems were good but I couldn't climb as I wanted to... The post qualification hours have been mentally tough too since I had to wait till the end to see if I could pass the turn... For one time luck was on my side and I barely made it to semis in 20th place!
Next day was different. After a quick warmup I was feeling much better and fitter than the previous day!
The boulders were hard and nobody could climb all of them! I climbed pretty well and confident and could top only one boulder first go but I was kind of close to finish another couple of problems...
I was very happy about my climbing but having started first and having finished only one boulder I had no expectations about making it to the finals! So I relaxed,ate some food and followed on and off the rest of the semis.
After a while I started to realize that many athletes were finishing their semi with no tops or with one top in various attempts... Many of the best athletes were struggling like me on the hard problems!
At the end of the turn I was still in 4th position tied with Jorg Verhoeven so that meant I made it to the finals at my first international competition in a long time and with a pretty packed field of strong World Cup competitor! I was blown away!
The other finalists with me were Rustam Gelmanov, Jernej Kruder, Jorg Verhoeven and Dmitri Sharafoutdinov!
                                                 photo Elias Holzknecht

After some hours of waiting we were back in the isolations and ready for the show. The Porsche Arena was very crowded and the band ready to play some music during the finals!
I won't write much about the finals since actually my life in the finals have been very short...
I was very excited for it but after the first two boulders I have been eliminated togheter with Jorg and Dmitri. Basically the first boulder was too easy and everybody but one could flash it. The second one was really hard and nobody could even make the bonus...
So unfortunately the judges had to watch the semifinals result and we were eliminated by countbacks!...
A bit disappointing for me and for the other finalists but this is the competition game and I finished my adventure with a great 4th place!! This result made me realize that with some proper training and motivation, I can still compete at a high level togheter with the best international competitor and this got me psyched to compete again in the World Cups next year!...
To finish the story Jerney Kruder and Jule Wurm were the winner of the 2013 Adidas Rockstars!

Back to the Frankenjura and back to the projects I left unclimbed in the last trips!
First days were a bit about re-adaptation of the body and the skin to the sometimes sharp rock. Plus the weather was horrible and we could only climb on the semi dry cliffs, usually the ones outside the forests. But luckily there were some of them and for the first time in almost ten years and more than fifteen trips I spent some times in one of the most classic and best sectors, Holzgauer Wand!
Holzgauer is home of one of the hardest routes in the area, Classified 9a+, climbed this year by Alex Megos.
I tried the route for the first time this summer in august, on the first day ever spent in this beautiful crag. It was pretty warm and humid, the route felt totally heinous and hard and I couldn't even do the moves of the first 8b+ part.
This time, already from the first tries, Classified felt like more doable. I realized that the route suited me perfectly. The first part is pretty intense on the fingers, having a few bad pockets and crimps for about twenty moves of 8b+. Then you get to an awkward rest on two slopey pockets. The final bulge is the crux and climbs on some more horrible pockets at about 8a+ boulder.
During the first week I think I spent three days on the route and I started to make some promising links. The big problem I was dealing with was the humidity. First part was dialed very well but everytime I got to the top part it felt greasy and slippery.
                                                 photo Roman Van der Werf

So I decided to take a break from the route and wait for some better temps in the coming days/weeks.
In between tries on Classified I also managed to send some more good routes like Kate Moss 8c, He's looking at you, kid! 8c, Hansel ohne Gretel 8b and the flash of Casablanca 8a+!
During this break from Classified I went back on my last year project The Elder Statesman! This route opened by Markus Bock has been my real nightmare last year. I spent lots of days on it and felt like I could have done it at least ten times... But every time something went wrong, a slip, numb fingers, splits, bad weather, fog, too warm, too cold and so on...So it became a real mental battle that evenyually I lost.
The Elder Statesman was the main project for this trip. After some days the conditions were finally good and I was ready to give some serious tries. The attempts were going better and better falling higher every try until one day I basically climbed it to the last hard move, I did the move then fell on the next much easier move to get to easier terrain... I was really pissed off and my skin was trashed.
I decided to rest the day after and came back the next day.
I felt really good but the conditions turned bad again and the wind usually hits the wall was not there. After the warmup I tried my chance on the route but the conditions were so horrible that giving it all I could only climb to the first crux about halfway. I was even more pissed off that we left the crag immediately after I lowered off the route.
So we drove to Holzgauer Wande since my friend Ema was trying his 8a+ project Casablanca there.
After a quick warmup Ema sent Casablanca and said the friction on the rock felt good. So I jumped back on Classified and yeah the friction was okay and actually better than on The Elder Statesman.
I thought that giving a try would have been a good idea sowith no pressure I started my attempt and I got quite easily and not pumped at the rest before the headwall. I switched into battle mode and left the rest more psyched than ever. I had a huge fight risking to fall at every moment but suddently I had the final jug in my hand and the chain in front of me... I couldn't believe I had just sent Classified!!
I lived a few hours of euphoria before to really understand what I had just done... Crazy moment and one of the best days of my career!
                                                 photo Roman Van der Werf

That same night I facebook chatted with Alex Megos and told him about my experience on the route and we both came at the conclusion that in this case the grade needs a slash and 9a/a+ might be the right number for this beautiful route!
I decided to rest the day after considering that I was feeling pretty worked and I wanted to try my other trip's project Sever the Wicked Hand 9a the next day.
Sever is another great route from Markus Bock I had already tried and got close on during my trip in august. The style of this route is not the average style of the hard routes here. It is about twenty-five meters long consisting in a first ten meters 7b part followed by a really hard boulder(the crux) on small holds and pinches at about 8a boulder, then one more 7b part to a rest and a good 7c boulder on small crimps and an always humid undercling pocket!
I just needed one try to make my muscles memorize again the moves and I was ready to give some attempts from the bottom.
On the second and third try I fell on the crux but I was pretty confident that if I could make it through the first crux then I could do the route with a good dose of luck.
And it went like this, next try I managed to do the crux but got to the rest pretty pumped. I tried to stay positive and to give everything I had for the last part, struggled alot but eventually I got to the chain for my second 9a in a few days... Incredible feelings once again!
So the natural thing to do was resting the day after, recover and grow the skin as much as possible and try to send The Elder Statesman the next day.
Usually it doesn't happen but that morning I woke up with the feeling that I would have done the route that day... I was so confident and psyched, the wind was blowing cold and dry!
We got to the crag pretty early, warmed up, chilled for a while then finished the warmup trying the sequences and brushing the holds.
It was pretty cold and windy so to avoid numb fingers during the climb I heated a little stone with a camping stove and put it in my chalk bag. It worked perfectly and I easily cruised my way to the last hard move. The next move is easy but it was the move I dropped off last time. I focused 100% and went completely static! Yes! Last meters are easy and I climbed them with a big smile on my face...
One more time I couldn't believe what I had just done. Three 9a's in three days of climbing and all my projects done!

So my time in the Frankenjura was over withmy most productive trip ever! Many thanks go to my friend Ema for the support and the belays!
Of course I still have a bunch of projects so I will keep on visiting Frankenjura in the next years and I will probably come back next spring!!

Some days after I returned from Germany I was ready to bounce again, this time for The North Face Kalymnos Climbing Festival of course in the island of Kalymnos in Greece!
I've been invited from The North Face to attend the event and to take part at the Project Competition!
This is not a real competition but more like a friendly contest between some strong invited athletes on some newly bolted routes in a brand new sector!
Totally I spent one week on the island! First two days were really lazy days climbing a bit and spending the rest of the day between the beach,bars and restaurants!
Then it came the first "competition" day. The new developed crag didn't look so inspiring at first sight, due to the nature of the rock, but after climbing a couple of routes I changed my mind. Sometimes the rock was a bit crumbling but the routes were world class!
On the first day I felt horrible and unfit... I already got super pumped on the warmup and got way more pumped on the first competition route graded 7c+ where I miserably failed!
I spent the rest of the day with the feeling of being pumped and tired and couldn't recover. But I tried to enjoy the day having fun with all the other competitors and saved the day getting the flash of another comp route graded 8b on a little cave! Nice Frankenjura style!
I finished the day trying the third comp route, an 8b+ that Alex Megos just onsighted earlier in the day. It felt so hard and pumpy that I didn't think to have any chance to send it on the next day...
The next day was luckily a rest day from the competition!
The second comp day was totally different for me, I felt fitter and recovered and I warmed up on the first 7c+ comp route I fell on the other day.
After that I rested a bit and tried my chance on the 8b+... I quickly climbed the first part without getting so pumped and got to the crux. It felt like a different sequence from the other day and could connect the moves quite easily and sent the route on my second go!
Before the end of the day I tried the fourth and last comp route at around 8c. On my first go it felt so good and doable on the next try. It was defenitely the route fitted more my style, very bouldery with a fingery crux.
                                photo Richard Felderer

On my second try I messed up the feet beta and fell. Then the sun came on the route, I tried to give everything I had but the sloper on the crux felt so slippery that I fell again...
So my comp was over with a good three routes sent. And eventually finished in 5th place!
I had a blast climbing this routes and spending time at the crag and hanging out with all the other athletes! I hope to be invited again next year!...
                                           photo Richard Felderer

After the Project Competition days I had another two days to spend on the island. Due to the very hardcore after party I had to recover on the next day but on the very last day I could visit one of the best sectors called Odissey! Here I took home one more souvenir climbing the classic Sharma's 8b+ Lucky Luca Extension on my second go!...

Back to Italy I went directly to the city of Rovereto to visit some friends and climbing in the crags around Arco! Unfortunately during my two weeks stay the weather has been pretty bad, not so rainy but always cloudy,foggy and really humid.

 I came here with a route in mind. A route I tried a bit this last spring when it was still wet.
Bio-Logiko was bolted by Loris Manzana some years ago and climbed by Adam Ondra last year giving it the grade of 9a!
This last spring I tried it for a couple of days but the first boulder,the crux, was still wet. You can climb the second part starting from the 7c on the right so I got the first to send of this version at around 8b+/c!
This time the bottom crux, an 8a+ boulder itself, was perfectly dry but the conditions were giving me hard times. I was already pretty close to do the bottom crux on my first sessions back on it but eventually it took some more days to actually stuck the crux jump and send the route!
The day of the send was another humid day up at the crag, the clouds were low and the wind was wet. I decided to give it one last day of tries before going back home and preparing for my upcoming trip to Spain.
                                          photo Matteo Pavana

First two goes went bad. I got to the key pinch but it felt like soap. Then I rested for a while and gave another go. I got to the pinch and it felt slippery again but I managed to focus on squeeze the hold. Finally I stuck the jump and passed through the bottom crux for the first time! The second part was very well dialed but still a very resistent 8b+... But with a good fight I got to the top and finished an other chapter with the happy ending!! Big thanks to the Rovereto and Trento climbing community for always make me feel part of it!!
                                photo Matteo Pavana

Now I'm ready for another adventure! I'm leving for Albarracin in Spain tomorrow! First bouldering trip in a long time... Let's see what happens!

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