After the trip to Frankenjura the motivation for sport-climbing raised a lot and at the same time the summer broke out, the temperature started to get hotter so the only thing to do to escape from this terrible hot weather is to leave to the mountain in search of cooler condition.
Actually the best summer destinations are in the south of the France where within a radius of 100 km there is a very high concentration of amazing crags like the well-known Ceuse, Entraygues, La Suame, Rocher de Brumes and many others.
But It was not the time to leave the country again because It was the time to back on the books and to University but my mind was still remembering the great moments spent in Germany, so I needed find an hard project to work, close to my home, since I couldn’t leave the country for a while.
It was not very difficult to find it because I've been waiting all winter long to try it but still just to be finally able to come back on that amazing sport climbing place that make me psyched every time. The crag is called “La Benedizione” and it is situated in the upper part of Gressoney’s valley, and offers an extraordinary quantity of beautiful lines featured by sustained endurance climbing on all-natural crimps and pockets on a super granite quality. The most important things to know about this place are that the environment is very strict because you have to cross a large waterfall to access the bottom of the sector, where it’s impossible to stay dry; then the bottom of crag is not very comfortable and you must always be careful what you do. The last thing but not less important is to keep in mind that everything you climb from 6b+ to 8b range is graded very hard, everything should be upgraded of at least half a grade, but all of this things are not enough to keep me away from this outstanding crag.
|"La Benedizione" crag, Gressoney (ITA)|
Sometimes is very hard to try to understand why just few people spend their summer weekends to climb here, in a place where a climber has everything he needs: stunning routes , a picturesque landscape, fresh condition but nevertheless I guess that you have to be so fond of climbing where the beauty of the routes comes before of its grade. Most of the climbers prefer to get a 8a route without bear in mind of its beauty and without much effort instead try to send an easier dream-line which however can engage you for much longer time but that in the end will give you an immense gratification anyway. This crag is the proof of all that I said.
Every summer I climbed not a lot here because I was used to spent a lot of time out of Italy as I had 3 months of holidays so I’m never been able to send things harder than a 7c, but this year that I’m at the college I have the summer exam session so I have to climb here around.
The first time I came here this year was at the beginning of June when we come back from Germany, and the route my brother and I were going for was “Lucky Man 8C”. This line is situated in the middle of wall and It is the first part of “SS26 8C+” opened by Alberto Gnerro in 2006. The route is something like 35 meters long and counts about 70 moves or more but the climbing is not just pure-endurance but it’s also boudery because the hardest part of the route are the first 15 meter (25 moves), around 8b+ route that allow to get into a slopy rest. From here, there are still 20m (45 moves) route of about 7c+ where your endurance come in.
I got “Easy Rider 6b+” as warm up as usual and then I decided to try sent an old project called “L’anestesista 7c+” where 2 years before I fell off on the easy part because a foot slipped off. I decided to try this one because despite being the best route in the crag I needed to start to put some endurance on my forearm because the past months I was used to do mostly boulders or short routes like in Franken, so this routes counts about 70 moves as well so It was the perfect one to train it. I put the quickdraws on and I brushed it up from the dirty that the winter brought.
I was able to crush this gem on my second go of the day, but It was a big fight till the chain because when I clipped it I was superrrr pumped and I felt my body exhaust.
In the meantime Andre figured out the beta on Lucky Man and just before the sun hit the wall I got an attempt to test the moves. I did all of them quite well so I started to dream.
The next 3 sessions of work went very well, I started to work the both two sections separately; I was able to get second part without hang on and to make promising links on the first one. Every time I was going always better and my beta was improving more and more because just one push with of a foot a little bit different could make the move easier, till when at the 3rd session I decided to change my beta for the second crux of the first part because I felt so hard to do it in the original way. Basically I used the very same hold but taken in another way and with different hands that makes it hard as well but way better for my climbing style.
June 22, I planned another session in the crag with my brother and many friends of mine so It was the 4th day on the proj. I got usual warm up on the 6b+ and on the 7a+ and then I was ready for the first attempt. I got my skin warm and I started to climb move after move and in one second I was down for an hold wet. I was pissed but I took a rag and I dried up the wet hold. I decided to take a long rest because I known to have just one more try because my skin was destroyed and It was pissing out water.
After about one hours I decided that it was the time for the last try; this time the hold was dry and I got the good hold that divided the 2 section of the first part. I chalked up, I took the side pull with the right hand I upped the feet above the little roof, I took the intermediate and I fell down to catch the last good crimp, few moves before the rest point. I take a breath and I re-climbed the move where I fell down and I got the rest-point, I shaked my forearm and I was able to do it till the chain without hanging on. I was super happy because I was getting closer and closer so on the next days every tries could be the right one.
My skin was destroyed but I was not still tired so I decided to get one try to check the moves on “GLORY DAYS 8A”, an outstanding 35/40 meters with very long thrilling run outs.
I was excited as nobody else to come back there very soon, even just to enjoy this outstanding place because it makes you forget everything.
|Glory Days 8a, Gressoney Credit: Andrea Zanone|
The work on the route was going very well despite sometime I felt not enough strong to pull off the proj nevertheless my motivation was always very high because I guess that this is the typical progress when you try hard stuff. Sometime you feel close enough to say “Yes is possible”, but many time your body is not able to give 100%, feeling tired or just not convinced enough to take it down. However the best thing to do is to think positive because one day you will be able to tick the route.
The last day I was in the crag, I started to feel a bit of pain on my right shoulder after the usual warm up but I didn’t pay much attention and I kept climbing anyway. I did 3 tries on the proj and on the last try I thought for a moment to have done the hardest part but everything was blown away cuz my right hand slipped off as it has been wet.
The day finished very well anyway because I was able to send “Glory Days” after an epic war against the pump. I was really satisfied.
The next day my shoulder starting to be more painful, I had a constant pang on the arm but I had never expected that it will be something problematic. The evening besides the pain, I saw that when I moved the arm my shoulder blade came out, It was like I had a ball on my back. I was speechless and a bit afraid because I didn’t know what to do and my mind had already understand that I had stop climbing for a while.
The Monday morning I went to the doctor that diagnosed a strained of my thoracic nerve due to overload training or due to a big effort and said to me that I had to stop climbing for at least 2 weeks and then I would have to go back for another visit.
Now it’s 13 days I rest and more have to come, but I have to think positive. I would like to say thanks to my friends that have support me, It has been very helpful and great.
Now i'm off to Friedrichshafen Outdoor Fair in few hours, I’m super psyched to be there.