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Melloblocco & Pains au chocolat aux amandes

As every year, the first weekend of May means that it’s again Melloblocco-time!…and… as every year, after weeks of perfect weather and sunshine, just before the event starts, the bad weather arrives. ;-( …But well, that’s also part of the Melloblocco! Anyways the coolest part of the event is to meet again a lot of people, so it doesn’t really matter if we have to take some rest days due to the rain and hang out all together.

So, after a couple of days at home to rest from the route setting, we left on thursday morning for the Val di Mello. The weather forecast didn’t look bright for that day, but once we arrived, we got positively surprised buy the sun and the good conditions. We immediately took advantage of this exception, and we spend the whole afternoon climbing around in the valley. Simone and his team did once again a great job, and they cleaned a lot on new (loooong) problems.

In the evening we hanged out, as usual, at the Centro Polifunzionale, where a lot of climbers gave lectures or showed their videos. I also presented my video #evolve.

The weather forecasts for friday were right: it rained the whole day. As every year, that meant a lot of Cappuccinos, chats with friends, internet surfing and chilling. Highpoint of the day was a walk in Bagni to check out the position of the boulders…not a bad idea, as Simone’s map is not always easy to understand ;-)

In the evening, together with other BD’s athletes, we had a small talk about the “Clean Climbing Idea”, or better some “rules/behaviors”, that every climber/person should respect while playing outside. The number of climbers is growing every year, but our playgrounds are always the same: it’s our duty to preserve them!

On Saturday we were lucky again, as the sun was shining when we woke up. After a day spent drinking coffee inside, we were all super motivated for some climbing… so we jumped out from the beds and went straight away outside, looking for some dry lines. We basically started all together on the same boulder, as it was the only one dry in the morning, and then we moved higher up in the valley. I actually enjoyed a lot to hang out again with Gabri; we used to climb quite a lot together in the past, but due to some big changes in my life, we don’t see us very often.

I was so happy to be outside again, that I climbed the whole day until it was almost dark.

The evening we had a funny dinner with the BD crew in San Martino, followed by some (almost) party.

Unluckily it rained cats and dogs the whole night, so everything was wet in the morning. We tried to spot some dry lines, but after a quick warm up, we opted for a coffe session with some friends, in order to wait for the prize giving ceremony. It was again a long waiting-day and at the end we were even more tired than on the previous day after a lot of climbing.

Melloblocco was once again, not only a great event, but a nice way to meet a lot of new/old friends, hang out and climb all together, hear inspiring stories during the slideshows and spend time in a beautiful valley. Even if I normally prefer to climb with just a few good friends, in a quiet place, I’m somehow already looking forward to the next Melloblocco: it’s always fun!

We actually wanted to leave straight after the event, but we ended up staying one more night there and we left on the next morning. We had still quite a long drive to do, as we didn’t plan to go back home…but to go to the VERDON Gorges for one week :)

We were both super motivated for that. I had been there just a few times before, but I had never had the time to check out the big potential of the Gorges…. so I was pretty excited to discover more about this famous place. Babsi had never been there before, so she was even more curious than me!

After a looong drive, we finally arrived in La Palud, where we quickly put up our tent in the main camping, just before to finish off the day drinking a beer on the top of “les escales”. Seeing all those perfect rocks, made us super syked for the next days!

We woke up without a real plan, so we opted for a short route for the first day.

We quickly realized that sometimes can be complicated to find the right rappel stations ;)… But after some searching, we finally found our way down. I had always heard a lot about the famous “Take it or leave it”, so we went to check it out. I was a little bit surprised by the chipped holds, but the climbing was really good. Unluckily Babsi couldn’t find a solution for the long jump move on the crux pitch, so she was kind to second all the pitches and I red pointed the entire route.

In the last years one route of the Gorges has became really famous worldwide… not only for the quality of the climbing, but mainly for the beauty of the line. A lot of climbers went to do it and tons of beautiful pictures started to turn on the web, making every climber dreaming about it.

I had the pleasure to climb it during my last trip, but obviously also Babsi had the route in her mind, so on the second day we decided to go to “Tom et je ris’”. We started once again pretty late, and even if I had been there before, we struggled a bit to find the belay of the route. Due to the long hike and that we got “lost”, we rappelled down pretty late and the route was already in the sun. Babsi opted for a warm up try to check out all the beta, while I enjoyed the sun hanging at the belay. Even if it was hot, after some rest, she decided not to wait the shade and to give it a go. Luckily everything worked out perfectly, and she could climb the route straight on her second attempt: machine! We were both happy that she also had the chance to do this beautiful line, and after I cleaned the route, we enjoyed the sun at the top, just before to hike back to the car. It’s such a nice place there, as you have a perfect view on the canyon and all the classic routes of the other (famous) side of the Gorge.

The day after were not sure about what to do. I wanted to check out the “Ramirole” sector, but some locals told us that it could be wet. At the end, we decided to check it out, and after a looong drive we hiked down to the wall. It seemed to be dry!

As it was late, we opted for the “shortest” and easiest route of the wall: “Papy qué dévers”. It didn’t look very nice from the ground, but we were confident about some better upper pitches…

…but we were wrong…

The route turned to be a wet and dirty gully/corner, full of birds smelly ****…a real pleasure to climb ;) So we ended up aiding the last hard pitch and we were both happy when we stood on the top of the wall. I’m sure the route is funny and interesting to climb when it’s dry, so I don’t want to scary anyone, but we definitely chose the wrong moment to try it ;)

Anyways the wall looked so good (and almost dry), that we definitely wanted to go back there to check out the other famous lines!

It was funny, because we were both expecting to climb on technical old school slabs, and we ended up in a super steep wall, full of tufas, and big corners, were everything was involved except small crimps and tiny footholds ;)

We spent the following day resting and enjoying the life in the small villages, eating a lot of good french specialities (I had to say that I missed them quite a lot!) and relaxing. Life could be harder.

The next day we went back to the “La Ramirole” sector, where I gave a quite poor on-sight attempt to famous multi-pitch, which gives the name to the sector. I’m not the best “tufas climber”, and the dirt didn’t help me, so we ended up checking the pitches and we planned to go back on the next day for an attempt. The route was actually really cool, way better than the one we tried the time before, and it was pretty funny to do a multi-pitch on such a steep wall.

So the day after we went back there and I led the route, while Babsi seconded working out the betas again. I felt tired from the day before and a little bit sick in the morning, but with a little bit of luck, sore knees ;-) , and some improvised betas, I managed to red point all the pitches. While climbing I was impressed by how steep the wall actually was… but luckily Babsi found a comfortable way to belay me ;-) (check out the pictures below…).

So, after that the plan was to take a rest day, and go back to the wall for Babsi’s red point attempt. She said that she struggled a lot on the previous days, and that she wasn’t really confident about a red point ascent… but every time she says that, I know that things will go differently! As planned, we took a well needed rest day at the lake, spent paddling around with a canoe and enjoy once again the good local food, in order to “recharge the batteries” for the next day…our last in France.

The next morning we were back again on the wall. Babsi started her red point attempt, and she immediately looked way stronger and more confident than in the previous days. She crushed all the pitches, and I seconded everything , so we quickly stood on the top of the wall again…with still a lot of time to spend in the village :)

It was the perfect end for such a trip!

Unluckily our time in the Gorges was over. The next day we packed up everything and jumped into the car, ready for the looong drive back home. I really enjoyed to spend some time again in France, especially in such a beautiful place! I had been there a couple of times before, but this time the Verdon Gorges completely blew my mind. The place and the never ending potential are just impressive! I’m sure it will become one of our yearly destination ;)

A lot of route setting and “Helmutant”

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The last month has been a really busy and intense period. This time I tried to concentrate a lot of route setting work over a 4-weeks period, in order to get more free time in the next months, before to start for the expedition. I don’t know if it was a cleaver idea, as at the end my body felt completely destroyed… but now I’m happy that the work is over, and I can focus on my goals.

Anyways I can’t complain about my choice, as I don’t see route setting only as a work, but also as something that I really enjoy to do. This time I set a lot for the national teams (both youth and senior) and this was really challenging and motivating at the same time. I enjoyed to work for these climbers, trying to prepare something useful for their training, and with the idea of giving back what I got from the coaches in the past. I especially liked a lot to collaborate with the youth national team, as it made me remember when I was younger and I used to compete in their categories…it seems like it was ages ago!… I can’t hid that I felt a little bit old ;)

I had a really busy agenda, and I got always only a couple of rest days between the different events; for this reason I didn’t plan anything special for those days and I just used them to climb and hang out with some old friends in some local crags. Obviously Marco was the first person with whom I wanted to go climbing, and after a short discussion, we ended up in Saustal. I had been there for the last time 3/4 years ago, when I was trying an old project, that was later free climbed by Michael Piccolruaz. I remembered that I struggled a lot on that line, so I was curious to see if something had changed :) I went without expectations, as I was pretty tired from the route setting, but, after checking out the moves again, I unexpectedly could to the route with just one rest. I immediately got motivated again for it!

I came back the day after, but I couldn’t do better, and the heat didn’t help me. Anyways I felt pretty confident about a send. After another stressful route setting event, I came back with Angi early in the morning, to take advantage of the cooler conditions. Despite I felt dead tired, unexpectedly I could do the crux pretty easily. So, just before the sun hit the wall, I made an attempt and everything worked out perfectly :) It was such a good feeling to clip the belay of that route, not only for the difficulty and beauty, but also because it felt like the closing of an open circle, and it was great to see the progression over the last years. Sometime things happen, when we don’t expect them! A special thank go to Marco, who always find the right way to motivate me… in climbing and in life.

Climbing again!

Finally, after almost three months of struggling with a finger injury, I can climb again without pain! :)

I restarted at the end of January, and after just a couple of easy sessions, I could crimp again like before. The good thing of an inflammation is that, once it’s gone, and as nothing was broken, you don’t have to worry too much about the rehabilitation; I tested for a couple of days the finger, and than I started to pull on it as before…what a nice feeling! ;)

We first spent two weekends in Arco together with a big crew, and we climbed a little bit in the gym at home when the weather wasn’t so good. We planned a 2-weeks-trip to Spain at the end of February, so we tried to finish all the small jobs we had to do before, while getting pretty excited for the departure. Babsi had to make some filming on “Prinzip Hoffnung” and in the meanwhile I started to work an the line on the left of it, “Psychogram”. It was supposed to be one of my main goals for the winter, but due to the finger injury, I got a little bit short in time…as the wall is facing south and it could get quickly too hot for  little crimps. Anyways, I got some days to try it. I managed to climb it toprope, placing the gear, on my second/third day on it…so the deal was to find the time and the right conditions to give it a go from the ground. Luckily I managed to give it some attempts in between the film work, but I got shut down 3 times grabbing the crimp of what is for me the end of the crux. The pressure of the near departure didn’t help, but the route is still there…I just have to wait the next season, as it is way to warm at the moment. Anyways, I was really happy to be able to try it, and to feel comfortable while climbing on such small gear.

Just 2 days later, after a long travel, and a stop in Milano for one “La Sportiva” event, we arrived in Siurana. Even if I spent a lot of time in those places in the past, I hadn’t been there for a while, so I was pretty excited to try some old/new routes. Also Babsi had visited Siurana a couple of times in the past, but she had always found poor and rainy conditions…so everything was kind of new for her. We settled in a small apartment in Cornudella and we got immediately into the spanish mode: wake up late, eat, climb, eat, sleep…and repeat! ;) Bernardo Gimenez had to make a short video about Babsi, so he also joined us for the 2 weeks. It was really nice and funny to meet again after a long time, and we enjoyed a lot to share most of the time with him. Even if it wasn’t too crowded, we met a lot of old friends, which is definitely another good reason to go climbing there in that period! We spent the first days climbing in the classic Can Piqui Pugui sector. Babsi made a quick work of “Renegoide” and started to try “Chikane”, while I got stucked on “A muerte”. That route drove me crazy! After the first tries, I felt pretty good on it, and I fell a couple of times reaching the final jug; I was sure that it would go fast, but I started to struggle a lot with a dynamic move to a pocket, which I was no more able to centre. I always tapped on the sides! Who has tried the route knows what I’m talking about ;)

We changed for a couple of days, as the skin and the head had to recover. We spent the first day in Montsant: the paradise for endurance routes… Babsi got on the coolest line (for me) of the wall, “L-mens”, while I got a long, but successful on-sight battle on “Falconetti”. The next day we visited a not very known sector, El Grau dels Masets, which definitely deserves more attention for some long and technical routes! I wanted to try a short and bouldery route called “Chocolate Caliente”, as I heard a it was supposed to be really good. It doesn’t look very nice from the ground, but the moves are really cool! Once again, I got super close on the second attempt, but, when I tried it again, I tore something in my hand and I had to give up… It’s never good, when both you feet slip off the wall while you are holding just one mono :(

After a rest day, we drove to Margalef…the paradise of pockets… where we actually climbed a super nice and crazy route on tufas. I’ve never climbed something like that before! Basically you stam and lay-back your way up between two parallel and slopy tufas: super funny!…and very painful for the hips ;)

After that, we moved to some more classic Margalef-routes, but I immediately realized that my finger/hand was hurting too much. This time I decided to take a rest before the injury would have become too serious, and I decided to stop my holiday 5 days before the real departure. It was pretty frustrating and hard to be there without climbing, but I believe it was the right choice.

I spent the last days hanging out with Babsi and different friends at the crag, where she made a quick work, or finished, some other classics of the area… just in time before she run out of skin:)

After Spain, we flew straight to Hannover to attend the Hard Moves Kick-Off Event, which was quite a big change for us: from the sunny and quiet Catalunya, to a crowded and loud gym!… but, even if the situation was different, the spirit of the climber is always the same! It was actually pretty funny to hang out with a lot of people and see the BD team again. The week of rest was over, so I tried to climb, actually a lot, on the funny boulder problems… and I’m really glad that I took some days of rest before, as the hand felt way better!

After a funny party, we flew back home. We climbed a couple of days near Bludenz, and after a meeting with the The North Face team for our next  expedition/trip, I left for a quick 3-days trip to Ticino with Kilian.I hadn’t seriously been bouldering on rock since the last Melloblocco, and I was pretty motivated to discover some spots in Ticino that I’d never seen before. I’m really happy that I was able to do a quick work of two lines, of which the pictures have always intrigued me: “Freak brothers” and “Boogalagga”…two pure lines! We spent the last 2 days trying an isolated gem, “Ninja skills”, first climbed by Nalle and situated on the other side of the Valley. 4 days of climbing were too much for me, but I kept on as the moves were really nice…I’ve never seen such a coordination dynamic move on rock before. On the last day, after he finally found out the right beta, Kili made some really good attempts..but unluckily we run out of time and energy! I haven’t been very motivated for bouldering in the last period, but this one is pretty special…it would be actually nice to give it some more tries :)

The weather in Ticino is supposed to be not really good at the end of the week, so we will climb around home and try to finish some “unfinished business” in Loreuns! ;) Keep the finger crossed..

The teaser of #EVOLVE is online.

#EVOLVE has been my first personal video project, and wants to be a portrait about my life and my “evolution” as a climber (and person). Going through the different stages of my career, the video tells how I moved from competitions-, to trad- and multi pitch climbing , and how this changes have influenced my life. It’s not a video about just different climbs, but about the process behind them.

The video will be showed during different events and it will be part of my lectures. Go on http://jacopo-larcher.com/slideshows/ to discover more about it.

I hope you will enjoy it!

15 more days off… A good opportunity to go ice climbing and skiing!

After the last post, we decided to spend the last days of 2104 in Ticino with friends. It was fun to hang out together and to enjoy the perfect granite, even if my finger was still hurting a lot. I didn’t climb much, but I got pretty frustrated seeing that there was no progression in the healing process.

When we came back, I took the decision that it didn’t make any sense to keep on climbing like that, and that I had to take a period completely off form climbing in order to heal properly. I decided to rest for 15 days, without even hang on the pull-up’s bar, hoping that it would help and that I could seriously get back in shape after this period. I was so pissed off from the situation, that it hasn’t been an hard decision to take… Climbing is always fun, but it is even funnier when you can pull hard :)

The winter isn’t a bad period to rest, there are tons of other sports to do, and other aspects of climbing to try out…so I grab my ice axes and I tried to work on my weaknesses. Ice is supposed to be good for healing injuries…isn’t it?! ;)

Ice climbing has always inspired me, but I haven’t really taken the time to practice it a lot in the past. The conditions weren’t too good, but I teamed up with some expert ice-climbers, which showed me around anyways. I really enjoyed this experience, and I definitely want to keep on doing it in the future….lets hope the temperatures will drop soon.

Behind that, I tried to spend a lot of time on the skis, in order to gain some more endurance…and to reenforce my skinny legs ;)

The period off is now finally over, and in the last days I tried to climb again. The finger feels still weird, but it is definitely healing slowly! I just have to be patient now, and not to climb too much in the next weeks…but I’m happy that things are looking up! :)

I have a lot of projects for this year!

Waiting, waiting, waiting…injuries are hard to face.

The last two months haven’t been easy.

After a “waiting” summer, I had two really busy months, full of setting and events; I wanted to get as much free time as possible during the summer, so I concentrated all the work I had to do in September/October/November. Actually it wasn’t a smart decision, as the weather began to be really good with the beginning of the fall…and I was stuck setting in gyms… anyways: that’s the risk of taking decisions!

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Route setting for the Italian Cup in Premana

I love my job, so, even if it was frustrating to “waste” those perfect days, I tried to do my best and keep the motivation for the next period off. I was pretty satisfied with the result of the comps I set, and I managed to climb a little bit outside in the short periods when I was at home. The weather was awesome, the crispy and dry fall days were perfect to climb in Loruens, a really nice crag, 5 minutes away from where we live; there are so many hard routes and nice projects there, that I was pretty happy and motivated to go always there as soon as I had some days off. After having done a quick work of the classic of the sector, I started to try the extension of it, which definitely is the most obvious line of the wall. This old project climbs an overhanging corner and it is characterized by some super weird moves, which are powerful and technical at the same time. I struggled a little bit to figure out the beta, but then I started quickly to get always closer and closer to the send.

Tobi trying the other old classic project.

Tobi trying the other old classic project.

When I set so much in a short period, I always get really tired. The fact to travel a lot, work a lot of hours, sleep less, eat bad, climb without having warmed up, and, more in general, to have an unbalanced life…always makes my body more sensitive to injuries. I know that, and this scares me… but that’s also the deal to make a living out of climbing ;-)

I tried to pay attention, but as every time, I stated to feel that something was wrong with my fingers.

At the begging I taught that my right middle finger was just a little bit sore, and that I just had to take care about it…but it got everyday worse. That’s how the “nightmare” of the last two months has started! having learned for my past injuries, I immediately started to slow down and I took some days off from climbing, doing some other exercises. It seemed like the rest wasn’t helping, so I decided to start climbing again, to get some more blood going trough. I had the feeling that it worked out, so I kept on climbing on not so hard stuffs. It seemed to work out, or at least not to make things worse…until one day it started to hurt a lot again. I tried to find the support and feedbacks from some doctors, and I started to take a period off from climbing, doing again just other exercises. I felt that my body was tired, and I had the proof when I injured also my right shoulder, while doing some rehab workouts. Luckily it wasn’t something too serious, but it was definitely annoying and demoralizing. After the period of work, I finally got all the free time I wanted…but I was stuck because of the injuries!!!

Finally some snow!

Finally some snow!

I believe that everybody would react differently to an injury; somebody would be wiser and would take a period completely off, someone other, like me for example, wouldn’t stand it and it would keep on doing something…with the hope that this would help to heal. That’s the case…and probably it doesn’t help… but I can’t stand to rest: I need to move.

Luckily my shoulder healed completely within 3 weeks, but my finger is still hurting a lot. I started to climb on 6a’s to get some more blood coming through, and it seemed to help. After 2 and half weeks of easy climbing, I decided to slowly start to do something harder, as it seemed to get better. Now I’m always climbing one day and resting one day, but always on not so hard stuffs, and basically without crimping; somedays it seems to help, somedays it doesn’t.

I’m trying not to think about it, and to focus on endurance sport and mountains, but sincerely I’m a little bit lost and afraid about the situation. I would like to start to train as usual in January, but I can’t like that. Let see what it will happen… hopefully everything will get better soon! :(

Luckily it started to snow! :)

In the meanwhile I had the opportunity to make a little premiere of my new film project #evolve in Trento, during a scholarship giving. It was super interesting, and I’m honored, to having showed it to such a young audience, sharing with them what I’ve learned and experienced in my climbing career, and how this has influenced my life. I really enjoyed it, and I’m happy to got a lot of positive feedbacks. I’m looking forward to receive the final version of the film in the next week.

Stay tuned for the teaser!

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The rediscovery of climbing: a new game.

Here we go, this video is a short story by Richard Felderer and my self, about how I got into crack climbing. It hasn’t been easy to start something completely new after so many years of climbing, but now I’m super happy to have started this new adventure.
Do not have fear to leave something “old” and well known, for something new. Life always offers us different ways to evolve.

I hope you will enjoy it!

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