The past several days have been spent divided evenly between climbing and resting. The weather has also taken a change and we’ve seen the arrival of colder temps, some snow, some rain, and some more strong climbers.

The passage of time has not been kind and I have no success to report. I’ve been back to try Amber again and, even though I was so sure I would do it, I didn’t manage to get to the top. Even though it was very cold up in Brione, the previous days rain was cause for high levels of humidity. Normally I wouldn’t even consider making such an excuse, but I bumped into Christian Core up there, who had a little gizmo that told him such information and he declared it too humid to be premium. Transpires that it hadn’t effected his performance too much as he’d done Amber only an hour or two beforehand! That’s the difference between world class and town class. During my short session I managed to split a tip on the start hold which only added injury to insult. I don’t feel too dejected about it because I know it will get done at some point, but I’m also very careful not to become complacent about it. It’s hard for me, and I’ll need to go there with good skin and try very hard, probably resulting in me topping out and then saying something like “that’s not even that hard”. I was up in Brione on my own, which gave my thoughts some time to be vocalised (without appearing nuts) and one of the things I was wondering about was why it takes a certain length of time to do a certain boulder problem or route. Why do some people do things quickly and some not? Obviously basic climbing ability comes into it. An 8C climber will do an 8A much faster than an 8A climber, ceteris paribus. But what else makes the difference? Why, given two climbers of very similar abilities, does one of them do a problem in 1 session and the other in 5 sessions? I broke it down to the following; Ability to execute, ability to perform at a high enough level at will, mental resolve, and the triple D’s. My main question was why I was falling off Amber when I knew I could do the moves, I knew I could link the moves, but I wasn’t able to actually go from the bottom to the top. My failure came because the climbing is hard for me, and if I don’t hit a hold in the right way I either have very little time to adjust or I simply can’t adjust. Perhaps I just wasn’t precise enough in my execution of the moves. I’m not really sure. I’ve also realised that the compact nature of Amber has pulled one over on me. Smaller doesn’t mean less moves in this case! Vecchia Leone is 5/6 moves until you’re at a hold from which you will not fall off whereas Amber is 9/10 moves including a difficult foot move in the middle. I was shocked when I realised this but it could be related to why I’m falling off… ie. My ability to link more than 4/5 moves is pathetic. It’s definitely time to build a bigger board at home! The bottom line is that the moves aren’t particularly hard, but the link is hard, and I think this is generally true for my climbing. Amusingly, I went up with Ty one day and he was shocked that I was falling off where I was falling off. He had said that he thought the cutloose move and the second slap were the hardest moves (in his opinion), and I was getting through those moves nearly every go! The only move that I’ve ever found really hard on its own is the crux of Radja and the single move of Dune. It’s good to realise why you fail, but another thing to implement change so as to eradicate this path of failure from your future. The only thing I can do now is go climbing as much as possible and keep trying Amber.

I spent a day up at Cresciano with Tyler and watched as he completed a long time dream of climbing La Prou. It’s an amazing boulder and I hope to one day to follow him (and Malc) up it. I had a quick go and realised I can get my foot on the foothold which is positive, and I think it’s in my style so perhaps I’ll spend some time with it. The only downside is that it really hurts my ass trying it because I have to flick my leg up onto the foothold and this really takes it out of the muscles in my derriere. Whilst in that area we also had a go on Confessions, 8B+, which is the amazing looking overhanging arête on the bloc to the left of la prou/mythril. It’s a stunning line and I was interested to have a go in order to assess how difficult it is. This is a perfect example of a grade being an indicator rather than a definition. Basically, it’s only one hard move and that move probably isn’t very hard if you have flexible/open hips. Unfortunately, I don’t. In fact, I’m quite the opposite. Without the ability to put on the left heelhook for the crux move, it seemed unlikely that it would be possible, but the hold you are reaching to with your left hand is fairly good so I was sure there would be another way. After trying a few different body positions and ideas I eventually found a way that I think is possible and results in a cool but hard move. I simply used a tiny undercut to pull in with my toe which gives just enough grip to enable me to jump to the left hand hold and then you have to hold a fun swing in a narrow compression position. I didn’t quite manage the move but I’m sure it will work. The rest of the moves are steady and if I can do that move I’m confident I can do the problem. However, I don’t know if I will put much time into it this trip. In fact, it seems like time is running out! I may have to leave around December 10th which only gives me a couple of weeks to do what I want to do, which is not very long when I’m superpunting everything. It’s also arbitrarily hard for me, which is annoying. If I could open up my hips I think it would be MUCH easier, but my method doesn’t even seem that hard, which leads me to (probably very naively) conclude that it isn’t 8B+. It’s not super important to me what the grade is, but now that I’ve tried it I’m confident I could do it which is good to know. However, I’m willing to concede that being able to do something (ie. Potential) and actually getting off the sofa and getting it done are two hugely different things, as I’ve seen with Amber. Something that I could have done in a session has spiralled into 4 sessions already! SUPERPUNTI!

Another thing I’ve come to realise is just how weak I am at shouldery moves. I have no shouldery moves on my board and after trying Radja my shoulders were in pain for about 10 days. The same pain reoccurred after a very brief session (20 mins) on Vecchia Leone. It stayed with me for 3 days, during which I was stretching and massaging it as much as I could. I don’t know why the outside of my shoulders is quite so weak but it’s not good, and I know that I can’t try Vecchia on consecutive days. If anything, I need many days rest in between trying it. I think I may leave it until the end of the trip and then hope I can do it quickly. Once I do Amber I’ve got my next project lined up, and once that gets done then perhaps I’ll move on to Vecchia.

I’m having a couple of days on the down low now with no climbing as I can feel the beginnings of a cold setting in and I want rid of it before I thrust all my energy into a boulder problem. Trying to climb something that is hard for me whilst not feeling anywhere near 100% would be foolish so 48 hours of hardcore rest, tea, soup, and very hot fires should see me right.

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Radja (Picture courtesy of Fred Moix Photography)

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Powerstrips, Chironico

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Conquistador, Chironico

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La Pelle Left, Cresciano

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Reve de Mario, Cresciano

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Amber, Brione

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Amber, Brione

ps. If the internet starts working at the house again I’ll update more frequently and also fix this text size issue that seems to have just reoccured.