Wednesday, October 21, 2015

One summer in Gressoney

After 17 hours of flight from Cape Town to Milan, I really needed a couple of days off because I was totally wasted from the long trip but mainly for the terrible hot weather. I was used to the stay on temps between 10/25 degrees range with very low percentage of humidity and when I landed in Italy I was hit by crazy temps till 38/40 degrees. I thought I would die.
My skin was destroyed from the last 4 days in a row and for the antihydral effect but I was at home, back to the usual routine, so it didn’t matter anymore.
After a little while I got out on the rock again, but this time with a rope and a harness for some sport climbing on my favorite place in Italy, “La benedizione” in Gressoney.

Gressoney Landscape. Pic Elisa Negro

The first time after a month of bouldering has been terrifying, I got pumped on a 6c+ and my skin was smooth, it seems to me to climb on glass, probably because of the rock my skin was used to taste (sandstone), so on the gneiss I had not any feelings.
The heat continued unabated and even in the Gressoney valley, where is used to be cold, was very hot even at 9 am (25 degrees).
On my third day on the rock I nailed a great link up of 70 moves called “Mauashinger 8A+” after a couple of goes.
I started to go to Gressoney with some regularity, at least twice a week to get some endurance and tough skin for the unfinished business “Lucky Man 8C”; but before to get on it I waited that the temps dropped a little down.
The very hot temps didn’t help my skin recovery so I needed more than a month to get a tough skin.
Since I could try my project I started to try something easier but very challenging as every route up here. I freed ,after a key hold broke off, “Balconi Fioriti” originally graded 8A+ but I proposed 8B because the new sequence it’s way harded than the previous one. I also climbed the neighbor “Arriva la Bomba 8B”, another Gabri Moroni’s testpiece that start like the other one but it goes right after the first 7b pitch.

Arriva la Bomba, Credit Elisa Negro

My season up there couldn’t started in any better way but just 2 days later of my latest repeat of “Arriva la Bomba”, or rather the first day of quite good conditions, I was eventually able to take down my first 8C ever, the one which I struggle with the last summer, “Lucky Man”.
In the next days of my send I started to think about If I would have been strong enough to try the whole line, the famous Alberto Gnerro’s route freed in 2006, called “SS26”.
I was on my way to Ceuse so all of my thoughts were blown away by the tons of the projects I setted for the trip.
After 10 productive but very hot days in one of my favorite place in the world I came back home and I forced to rest for a strong sore throat and for a very high fever but luckily the weather was rainy.
When I felt rested and recovered I went to Gressoney and I tried one of the last thing left me up there, “Non capisco 8B+”.

Last move of the boulder. Non Capisco. Pic Andrea Zanone

This route is pretty long, 35 meter high, with a very hard 7c boulder problem at the bottom followed by an 8A+/8B route very pumpy.
The moves on the lower crux were okay but it was very hard to link them all together without cool conditions because the holds are pretty slippery, instead the second part was more climbable but really teachy with a lot of moves and feet sequences to remember.
In the meantime I was trying this one I cleaned up the upper part of the 8C+ and tried to figured out the moves to see if it was possible.
The first tries I would not able to find a sequence that suited me quite well but after a while I got it. I knew it was hard to link it from the bottom but at least was doable.
I was still struggling on “Non Capisco” when in a cold morning of the end of August I stuck the hardest move of the boulder climbing then all the way up very precise without any mistakes, ticking another awesome route.

I was definitely happy about my season in this crag but the games were still not over because I wanted to try “SS26” seriously.
I basically took a week off from this crag to recharge my brain and to take part to the Deep Water Soloing Competition in Milan. I probably never had so much in a comp, the crowd was warm, the atmosphere between climbers was quiet because everyone was there just to have fun.

DWS in Milan Pic Eddie Fowke 

After this great experience I started to work the project, and days after days I could see the process of improvement, every try I was slightly closer. The first part of 8C was “easy”, I did it every time like a machine, because I knew it perfectly and I was already so focused on the upper part that I could not fail.

Crux Move of the lower part. SS26. Pic Andrea Zanone

The higher part after the first pitch is something like 8a+ with a final crux on very small edges around the 95thà100th moves. The most challenging part of the route was this one.
I basically fell off in that section for about 10/12 tries even if each try I was a little closer, but the nasty thing about falling in that section is that I had to skip 2 quick-draws in a row, because It was too hard to clip, so I did huge drops off, like 10/15 meter drop, every time, so It was impossible to try again the hard section.
Attempt after attempt I started to realize that this monster was possible, I knew I could get it, it was just matter of time. Sometime you have the route on your arm, I mean you are strong and trained enough to do something, but If you are not focused and relax with your mind, the matter seems to be further that it actually is. The most important thing is to believe on what are you doing, you have to be the first to believe that is doable and If it happens it happens and if not, there are worse places to return.

October the 11th I went up with my brother Andrea and with my girlfriend Elisa. It was very cold as usual, like 3/4 degrees at 10am the morning, I warmed up as I was used to do and when I felt ready I decided to make it my ultimate goal because the next week would have been snowy and super cold.
Everything worked out perfectly, I put all of my energies in one single effort, I got through the red point crux and made it all the way to the final jug. The release after I clipped the chain was unbelievable, I was feeling  accomplished and this neck and neck with the project that occupied myself for the last month, was over and I could not believe it.

SS26 Pic Andrea Zanone
This was probably one of my biggest dreams that is become reality with passion and dedication to the sport I love most, but it would have been not possible without the support and the patience of my family, of my love, of my friends and of my brother that all together followed me on this long and awesome process.

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