After so many days in Tivoli, it was time to get to the rocks and thanks to a last minute call from Jorg I was able to get in a few hours at Magic Wood. I’m not a big fan of magic wood, perhaps because it always shuts me down so hard, but this time I had a mini breakthrough. I finally managed to get a good sequence for part 1 of the Never Ending Story, and part 2 was feeling easy which came as a great surprise. I really wanted to try a few other things but they were either wet or too dirty, and on a 1 day trip I had no time to do anything about that. The result of this quick jaunt is a renewed motivation for the wood, so perhaps I’ll be heading back out there to try and slay some more demons.

The next adventure was to Silvretta, thanks to an offer of a tour from Gu. There is no topo to the area, a serious lack of information, and everyone I asked said different things regarding snow levels, access, and the blocs. There is only ever one way to be sure of something, and that’s to do it yourself, so I arranged a meeting spot with Gu and off I went. The boulders of Silvretta are basically located just off to the side of a piste, so in winter they are largely covered by snow, and in summer they are located at the end of a long walk, unless you are going up there with someone in the know. We managed to drive all the way up to the top parking, which thankfully left only a 5-10min walk to the boulders.

Now, most people who know me also know just how much I dislike sharp holds, sharp rock, and basically anything other than smooth sandstone. I am rather picky when it comes to holds, and if anything ever feels even slightly tweaky, I choose not to do it rather than risk an injury. I don’t think it’s a particularly good thing that I’m so picky when it comes to holds, but I often think that a potentially great problem can be ruined by one sharp/tweaky hold. This is probably due to climbing only on amazing things for the first few years of my climbing life, so the standard (or norm) was set high.

With Gu being ever enthusiastic, he took me up to what was supposed to be a warm up area. There was an amazing 7A which instantly stood out to me, but the other easier problems looked absolutely horrible and dirty. So it was the 7A that was up first. Gu had been telling me about the rock, and I’d told him about my dislike of of sharpness, so he assured me the first area was the least sharp rock in the whole area. I pulled on, did 1 move, and let go. This was sharp, no doubt about it. Gu found it particularly hilarious but I was a little worried! I decided I just need to breakthrough, so I pulled back on and made my way to the top. It’s a very cool line, being a 5m high arete, so I was glad to get it done, but the sharpness was a small concern. Next up was the problem next to it, which was an 8A/+ consisting of a few big moves or lots more little ones. Gu showed me the beta, I did the moves fairly easily, but whilst doing them a chunk of skin came off one of my fingers, once again providing some comedy for Gu. He couldn’t believe how bad my skin was, and I decided to wrap the warm up session up.

We headed up the hill to have a look at Anam Cara, an 8C put up last year by Bernd. Everyone who knows Silvretta knows about Memento, but I think there can be little doubt that Anam Cara is actually the hardest problem up there. It’s not a hugely aesthetic line, being a fairly low 70 degree roof, but what it lacks for in looks it makes up for in hardness. It’s 7 moves long, with not an easy one in sight, the crux revolving around a move from a small undercut and a highish foot. You can see a video of Kornelius Obleitner making what may be the 2nd or 3rd ascent over at Chalkjunkie. We tried the moves and I managed to do most of them which is something I suppose. The crux move, in my opinion, the first hand move from the undercut and this is a move I couldn’t do. I don’t know if it was because it was too hard, or because it was due to my fingers not being fully warmed up, but I’m fairly certain that I could do the move on a return visit. In my opinion this is one of the most consistently hard problems that I’ve tried, there are no easy moves, and because of this I think linking it would be much harder than doing the moves. It’s also my anti style in a big way. Every hold is a smallish crimp and that is without a doubt my weakest grip position. Still, I don’t think it’s impossible for me, far from it infact, so I’m taking that positive away from the experience. Unfortunately the rain moved in and we ended up huddled under the roof waiting for it pass, but when it did we were in no mood to walk up the hill to see Memento or False Gods. False Gods is a very good looking 7C+ so I’m keen to head up there and have a blast on it at some point over the summer. If you’ve seen Memento, you’ll know what I mean.

The next rock adventure came courtesy of a guy called Berni, whom I met at Tivoli. He offered to show me around some of the bouldering in the Zillertal and, even though my skin was hurting, I couldn’t refuse. We headed to the Zillergrund, but unfortunately the majority of boulders were wet from the little rain and the extremely humid conditions. We ended up at a boulder which stays perma dry, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing. Berni was giving me numbers but they absolutely didn’t correlate to the things I was looking at. The 7A warm up looked about 7C, the 7B problems next to it looked impossible, but the 7C+ actually looked 7C+ which was strange. A couple of pull ups on sharp jugs and then the 7A was dispatched. The 7B’s were ridiculous, requiring a pull from perhaps the smallest hold I’ve ever used. I have no idea how it could be 7B but I was pretty damn happy when I managed to do the deadpoint, jump, float, 2nd generation swing, and latch the jug. I didn’t try the 7C+ as my skin was on fire, so we went for a walk up to the sundergrund. What I found were some rather impressive blocs, with one highball arete being amongst the best lines I’ve ever seen. Some of the other things looked cool, but nothing stood out quite as much as the arete. What was incredible was that I found an arete of rock which was amongst the best rock I’ve EVER touched. It was a super fine granite, with incredible grip and texture. A true delight to pull on. Amazingly, this rock only existing for this arete, as only 10cm either side of the arete the rock changed to something much less appealing. I was so taken aback by this amazing bit of rock that even with super thin skin I went up, then down it. Truly magnificent, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to exist anywhere else in the area, which is a great shame.

It felt great to be out on the rocks again, even though it was on sometimes horrifically sharp rock, and it reminded me how much I love rock climbing. Silvretta looks a little scrappy as there are huge pistes manufactured nearby, but the overall aspect is really beautiful. There are mountains and valleys all around which only made me feel greatful for being able to live the life I do and visit such wonderful places.

As for now, I’m back in Fontainebleau looking after Maisonbleau for a week as Neil and the family have gone south to enjoy a small holiday. I’ll be here for a week or so and then I’ll be making a small trip to England after which it’s back to Innsbruck for what I hope will be a summer of rock climbing. I’ll probably be training a fair bit as well as I want to increase my base level of strength, but the main goal for the summer is to learn how to utilise the crimp and pull on sharp holds without screaming, crying, or tearing open my fingertips!