At the tail end of last week I finally completed the HD version of the film which will soon (very soon I hope!) be available right here. On Friday morning, at 6am, I overcame what I hope is the last obstacle and went to bed for 3 hours of sleep. When I arose I definitely felt like I need to get as far away from this monitor as possible so plans were made and come evening James and I were on the road to the Dolomites.

It turns out the dolomites harbour some rather large pieces of rock. Very large infact. Flicking through the guidebook we saw routes with over 1km of climbing. We were lucky enough to be met by Lorenzo, all around hero, and dolomite guide for the weekend. He spun us tales of being lost on the huge faces, using his chalkbag’s 3mm cord as abseil tat to escape from irreversible situations, and on Saturday morning he led us in to face the project for the day. We parked high up in the Sella pass, at something around 2300m and were dominated on both sides by huge imposing pieces of limestone, in places covered by snow and ice. What had we signed up for?

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Luckily I know Lore quite well, and so I knew roughly where he would be taking us, so I wasn’t at all surprised when he announced “this is it” and before me stood a 2m, 50 degree overhanging boulder problem! I was mildly psyched, but I hadn’t come here to boulder, I’d come here simply to come here. The sky was a perfect shade of blue, the air had that wonderfully crisp property that cools your nose and invigorates your lungs, the ground was partially covered in ice/snow, and I remembered how wonderful the world outside of my room really is. I was more than happy to just recline in the sun, enjoying the fine line between the cold air and the warm sun.

Within 10 minutes I was being sucked into the black hole of bouldering, so I began warming up on the very strange limestone that filled my sights. I’m not a fan of limestone, but this was something a little different. It was grippy for a start, and the holds weren’t all small, sharp, and painful. They were nicely shaped, smooth, and felt nice. It’s a rapid departure from raven tor. Before I was half way through my warm up James had sent both problems on the bloc, called Redline Inside and Redline Offside. The guy doesn’t mess about. I hadn’t even seem him do them, seemingly crushing them in the blink of an eye. Luckily Lore’s shouts and general dismay confirmed what I’ve come to regard as ordinary – James crushing. Fifteen minutes later and I wasn’t warmed up but it was time to shine. I felt bad on the rock, shaky, weak, and like I was falling off every time I moved a hand. Once I had 2 hands on the rock I felt stable enough, but the inbetween positions were very wobbly. I flashed the left problem (not sure which is which – turns out the left one is called “no name” and the right one which we did is called Redline Offside, which is the lower of the two starts!) and then by some miracle I managed to do the other problem 3rd go, which came as a great surprise to be honest. I hadn’t really worked the moves much, I hadn’t had a million tries, but I was on top. It felt good. I imagined that this is what it must feel like to be more like James or Tyler, or any one of the other great climbers I spend time with. I was also surprised by what my heart appeared to be doing. I lay on top of the boulder breathing rapidly and trying to count my heart rate… which came out to around 180bpm. I don’t know if that’s possible or not, but it was certainly beating fast enough to worry me slightly. I’ll put it down to the thin air instead of me being grossly unfit. I don’t know the grades of said problems, but a quick hunt on 8a.greatconcept.badlyrun reveals that they are either 7C, 7C+, or 8A. One of these grades is probably close to correct for either of these problems.

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Probably the only italian to go bouldering with an old school Liverpool FC hat on…

We also climbed a nice (albeit lowball) problem called Mecca 7C. It had surprisingly great moves, but was marred by the proximity of the ground. If it had been another 2m in the air it would have been superb, and I don’t say that lightly considering we were bouldering on limestone. All in all, the limestone bouldering in the dolomites taught me that not all limestone is bad totally horrific. Far from it, limestone can actually be good unobjectionable. Whether or not I’d ever choose it over sandstone or granite remains to be seen (actually, definitely not), but there is room in my cup for more than 1 flavour of ice cream. In fact, if you’ve followed my adventures for some time you’ll know there is room for at least 29 flavours…

I’ll post an update regarding Between The Trees later tonight or tomorrow morning, but the simple version is that it’s closer to you that you realise.

ps. Apologies for the pictures. I’m still hindered by using a camera phone!