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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!

Ossola: the italian crack climbing paradise!

I had heard a lot for many years about Cadarese, I dreamed about it, but I had never took the time and the chance to visit it. Riky, a good friend of mine, who helped a lot to develop the area, kept on talking about it, telling me the big potential and all the 5 stars routes that were there. Well, if you compare only the grades with a “normal” sport climbing area, the routes are supposed no to be very hard there… I thought that normally I should be supposing to warm up on those grades… but I soon realized that I was wrong ;)

When I first met him during our trip to “La Reunion”, I had no glue of what crack climbing was; I tried to jam for the first time there and I remember how much I struggled on a 6a crack pitch…luckily I lay-backed the whole way up, otherwise I would have fallen off for sure! ;) That feeling of being “unable” to do something that was supposed to be very simple annoyed me, but at the same time gave me the motivation to learn this “new” aspect of climbing.

When I came back, I immediately started to look for a place where I could learn how to crack climbing, but it didn’t take me too long before I realized that Indian Creek was exactly what I was looking for. We booked our flights, we started this new game… and we quickly got addicted to it.

That’s basically the story of how I got into crack climbing.

There is not so much crack climbing around where we live, so except for some stuffs in Ticino,  we basically always just travelled to the US to improve our jamming skills.

One evening of this summer, after another day spent hanged under the rain in Tre Cime, I got fed up with that weather and I suddenly jumped into my car: direction Cadarese! I had heard so much good feedbacks about it, that I had to check it out by my self.

Within a night, I changed from the choosy wet rock to the perfect and dry granite: the long drive was definitely worth! I was lucky,on my first day I had the best guides for those areas (thanks Riky, Andrea and Stefano), that decided to show me Yoesigo, a less known, but 5-stars wall close to the more famous Cadarese. It was funny, already during the coffee break at the bar, talking with them I felt like back in the US!

After a long hike we finally reached the wall; I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw tons of  perfect 40 meters long splitter: it was the paradise…and way closer to my home than Indian Creek ;)

I teamed up with Andrea, the super local of that area, which started directly on a 45 meters long hand crack…placing just 4 pieces of gear; I immediately understood why everybody was telling me not to ask him about the gear I had to use! I felt a little bit rusted, as I hadn’t crack climbed in the last 6 months, but I enjoyed every single meter of that line; I felt like in a new playground.

They showed me around and we spent the day laughing, climbing, and re-climbing, the classics of the sector. It felt so good to do something different after so many weeks waiting and struggling with the weather in the Dolomites; I could immediately found my motivation again. We ended up the day top roping a really crazy off width, which ends with a 15 meters long chimney, where you can just crawl inside, literally without seeing any “light” ;) It was fun! I really would like to thank the guys for the welcome and for the huge work they did there!

Everybody left and on the next day Riky decided to finally show me Cadarese. At the first sight from the parking lot, the walls don’t look so nice; you can basically see just different big ledge systems with some good looking rock in between… but it doesn’t seem anything special compared to Yoesigo. Riky had to leave in the evening and I planned to stay for 4 more days, so I was a little bit worried for the next days as I didn’t know if I would have found someone to climb with… but just after some minutes (and in the evening), a lot of friends showed up by chance: that was a perfect timing! So we ended up to be a really big crew and we spent the next days climbing and hanging out all together.

As I was wrote before, the walls didn’t look so good from far, but once I got close to them, I realized how good the area actually was. There are really a lot of good lines and still a big potential. Riky guided me around, and already during the hike he showed me some possible projects; I immediately fell in love with a slopy outstanding arete between the first two sectors, which looks pretty much impossible to climb, but incredibly good looking. I promised to my self to have a look on it during the next days…

We warmed up on a tricky corner and we moved on to the main trad sector. Riky kept on talking about “Mustang”, a thin and short crack, that he brushed some years ago and which is supposed to be on of the best of the area….for sure, at least at the first sight it looked like that. I went for an on sight attempt, but failed pretty quick, just at the end of the first tricky part… I forgot that it was different from sport climbing ;)

The moves were really cool: after a first technical stemming section, you have to layback and jam in a really thin crack, finishing with a dynamic move to an horizontal break.What a route! While the others were climbing, Riky showed me some other lines around and than I quickly jump back on “Mustang” as it started to rain. Luckily everything felt smooth and I was able to clip the chain just before it started to rain too heavily. So we spent the rest of the day hanging out and having dinner all together.

The next day I was pretty tired and I decided to rest and hang out with the others. In the afternoon, the project that Riky showed the day before immediately came back to my mind; I run down to the car, took a static rope, some gear and a brush, and I rapped down the line. It was way steeper than it first looked! At the first sight it seems to be impossible, but I slowly started to find some really thin and sloppy holds, which could make it possible to climb. I got over motivated for that and I spent all the evening, and part of the night by headlamp, to clean it and aid my way down to the ground. The idea of maybe climb such a proud line just on gear excited me. I went back to the campground over stoked about that project.

The next day Riky showed up again and we spent the morning doing some filming. In the afternoon we hiked up to what is for sure the most famous line in Cadarese: “The Doors”. I remember that I first saw that  crack in a video, where Matteo (Della Bordella) climb it on gear (definitely the more logical way) after having chopped the bolts. It looks so good, that it’s impossible not to want to climb it. Michele (Caminati) and Gianluca (Boldetti) were also there trying it, so we hang out a little bit together and than I went for an o.s. try. Unsurprisingly I fell on the tricky section in the middle… I suck so much in on sighting cracks!… but once again on the second go everything felt smooth and easy :) It was definitely a cool end of the climbing day, but I still finished the evening brushing my project.

I spend the last 2 days brushing and starting to try the new line on top rope, which is going to be really hard! After two evening of tries I could do just a few moves, but I was confident about more with colder conditions.

I left Ossola as I had to go back to work, but I was sure that I would’t have to wait too long before to make another visit to the valley.

So, after the first route setting period, I drove back to Cadarese for two days, to work a little bit more on the project and make some filming done. Together with Riky and Michele, we spent the first morning taking some footages and climbing on some really good new lines. In the evening I hiked down to work again on the project; I made a small progress, but it was still too warm to hold those thin and slopy holds.

The weather was supposed to be very bad during the next days, so together with Riky and other friends, we decided to drive to a “new” area, where they were starting to bolt and clean. We started the long hike in the rain and fog, without any expectations and with random gear in the backpacks. We couldn’t see much cause of the fog, so when we arrived there I was pretty surprised to see so much rock coming out from nowhere! I wasn’t so motivated for clipping bolts, so I started to walk around looking for some trad lines. I stopped just 10 meters from where we put all our stuffs, when I saw a short, but really good looking line, with some crack features on it…”it should work on trad”, I thought. Riky was climbing close to it, so he put up a static rope and I started to clean it and check the protections. I could place just really few and small gear, but the rock looked bomber; at the first sight it looked easy…I thought it should be something around 7a+…a first easy part and a little section at the end…but it ended up to be a lot different. I decided to first try it on top rope, as there are some points where you can’t fall and I wanted to check out the gear placements better. Luckily I did like that! The first “easy” part was already hard and it took me half an hour to manage to do the upper section…it was pretty hard for 7a ;)

I had one more lap on top rope, placing the gear, and I barely did the last long moves. It was late and the only small protection on the hard section is tricky to place, so if you fall from there you hit the ground; I started to hesitate about having a go from the ground, but as I wasn’t sure to go back there, I decided to give it a go. First I was a little bit scared, but I managed to focus just on the climbing and everything went well and felt smooth. I don’t care about grades so much anymore, but it wasn’t an easy one :)

To end a day like that is always good, it definitely should be more often like that! That exactly the summary of what makes climbing special in the last period: good friends, new rock, adrenaline…and no bolts.

After that I flew to Kalymnos to join the TNF Kalymnos Climbing Festival, which was a lot of fun again. It was great to see the “legends” climbing and to hear their stories: it was really inspiring.

When I came back I had to set one more week and than I finally went back home to Babsi :)… but only for 2 days! We decided to go climbing somewhere and, as the weather seemed good there, we ended up in Cadarese again. She had never been there before, so I tried to guide her around to show her the best lines. She obviously made a quick work of all the classics (machine!) and I started to made some really good progress on my project. We climbed for days in a raw, and everyday we did some new lines to warm up, the classic “Grazie Riky” (and “Django” for me), it was a lot of fun….”easy” cracks could be really hard sometimes! I’m really glad that, thanks also to the colder conditions, almost every “piece” of the project came together; I still have to do 1 1/2 move, but at least it’s getting real. I can’t wait to go back to Cadarese and try it again!

We spent the last day filming “Super Cyrill” in Ticino; I climbed it back in the spring and it was really interesting to see how the crack pitch felt easier after some time spent in Cadarese… I’m slowly learning how to jam :)

I really want to thanks all the people I met/climbed with during my visits to Ossola, I had an amazing time there! Thanks BABSI, Riky, Elena, Gnerrone, Andrea, Lilli, Michele, Gianluca, Tambo, Spini, Bruno, Gio, Camilla, Fabrizio, and all those I forgot. See you soon.

Now after some more setting, I’m recovering from another finger injury… I just hope it will heal soon, ’cause I have a lot of projects to climb!

Have fun.

A wet summer…

If I think back to the last months, there are three simple things that come up in my mind: rain, fog, … and hot tea.

When I quitted the competitions- circuit, after having spent a lot of time in that secure world, I started to feel the desire of climbing in the mountains, which for me have always meant adventure. Exploration. A way to get out of my comfort zone.

I felt that step was necessary for my personal evolution.

After having taken some “slaps on my face”, I quick realized that it was a completely different game; I needed to get some more experience, before to adventure myself on my dream lines.

The time passed and I started to feel more secure on what I was doing; I was ready to pursuit my dreams.

During the winter, I planned to dedicate the whole summer to try to climb some of the lines, which I’ve always seen as a possible turning point in my climbing “evolution”.

I had a list in my mind and I was ready to commit.

But sometimes, when you are too focus, you forget that there are other elements, definitely stronger than you, which could change your plan. The bad weather is definitely one of them!

So, my ideal climbing trip in the alps, turned quickly into a waiting game and a battle against wet rock.

Anyways, I started the game, and I had to play it.

I’ve always seen Tre Cime as a good example of alpine climbing: the steep and cold north-faces, the choosy rock and the poor protections were the perfect playground to see if I was ready to pursuit my dreams. The only disadvantage should be the big crowd of tourists, but I swear that I haven’t seen a lot of them with this weather ;)

At the end of June, together with Babsi,  I hiked for the first time in the snow at the base of the wall; Cima Ovest was behind the clouds and it was freezing cold, but we were stoked to begin our project. We were still a little bit warm from the approach and we started to unpack the gear; it was just after a bunch of minutes that we realized how cold it actually was. We had two down-jackets and we were still trembling. We started to hesitate a little bit; the first pitches of “Pan Aroma” are not very hard related to the one in the roof, but the poor protections, the choosy rock and the numb feet started to worry us. It was a weird feeling: my head wanted to do something, but my body didn’t answer.

It started to snow and we decided to hike back to the car. I was pissed off with myself: I left without having tried, probably it was the best decision, but one part of my head still couldn’t accept it.

Even if I was angry, I felt attracted by that place; everything was calm and white, and the snow made everything wilder.

We arrived at the car and we prepared a hot tea… I couldn’t know that, but it was the first of many.

While driving back home, I convinced myself that it wasn’t so bad: the season was long and we had just to wait a little bit. I was positive.

We came back the week after for another day. The conditions were pretty much the same but this time we didn’t rest after the hike and we started to climb immediately to keep our feet warm. I was proud that we didn’t escape again! It was my first time climbing on the north face of Tre Cime and as soon as I started to grab the rock, I realized why everybody was speaking so bad about its quality. Everything is moving and even if the first pitches are not so hard, it was pretty scary. We couldn’t feel our fingers and toes, but it was so cool just to be there. When we reached the big roof, we were both freezing, so we fixed our lines and we escaped to the car. We prepared an hot tea and drove back home.

I was glad that we checked out the first pitches and I couldn’t wait to try to climb on the famous roof.

The plan for the next time was different; it was pretty tiring to drive every time 7 hours, so we decided to stay for a longer period and to camp at the parking lot. I was sure that it would be a quick work and I was confident to climb it just after a couple of days.

This time it was again freezing cold, but at least it wasn’t snowing or raining. We jugged up on the fix lines until the belay of the first hard pitch under the roof, and we prepared for climbing. It’s such a weird sensation to be up there below this immense piece of rock: you feel kind of oppressed and for the first time since I’ve started climbing, I had the impression that there were a “real” obstacle above me.

Babsi climbed and aided her way up to the middle belay, just after the crux of “Bellavista”. From there we could finally see what our two “projects” looked like! I prepared my self and I started on the big traverse of “Pan Aroma” (when you lead it, you start from the lower belay). The pitch is nearly 60 meters long, with few and well spaced bolts in between, but from what I heard, it shouldn’t be too hard. It was kind of annoying to climb with completely numb fingers, but I slowly made it through the first bolts….it was pretty exciting to climb on the lip of this immense roof,  leaning below it for a couple of meters, just heel hooking above my hands.

But after the second bolt I began to struggle;  I couldn’t find the holds and I took a big whipper.  I jugged up on my lead line, as I was hanging more than 10 meters below the roof, and I got ready for climbing again. I could see some white chalk marks, but there were no holds. I tried another time, but I ended up again way below the roof; and the same happened on the next tries.  I was surprised, as I heard that that pitch was not so hard and it doesn’t have too hard sections after it splits from Bellavista. I tried everything and I finally found a sequence which could be possible, but involved two hard cross moves on some muddy holds; there was rubber on some footholds on the right, but nothing where I was trying. It seems like something broke off… It was really annoying and tricky to try the sequence as the bolts are too far and, as I couldn’t climb through that section that day, I didn’t reach the next one.

After a lot of tries, we lowered down and drove back home.

Some days later I read on the net, that during the last season 2 holds broke off the second crux of that pitch, and nobody could climb it again….that’s why it was so hard!

As soon as I could, I drove again to Tre Cime, ready to try the new crux. Luckily Alessandro was motivated to come with me; we used to compete together in the youth competition and I hadn’t seen him in a while: it was pretty cool and weird to hang out together up there after so many years…that’s crazy how things change! That day the muddy holds were a little bit drier; after some more big whippers, and a huge one missing the jug on the side of the next bolt, I managed to climb through the new crux :) The last 35 meters weren’t so hard and I finally reached the next belay. It was a huge relief!

The new beta involves some powerful and hard moves, but unluckily also some really slippery holds!…in my head I thought…” that’s not so bad…I just have to wait for better conditions”…but I couldn’t know what was waiting us :(

I came back on the next day with another good friend, Sandro, to try the last hard pitch, before to leave fast due to some work. On the paper it should be the hardest pitch, but actually it wasn’t so bad. It’s pretty short and tricky, but once you find out the right beta it shouldn’t be a problem. It was just a little bit sketchy to reach the second bolt, as the first one popped out. I checked it out once and we rapped down as we both had to leave.

It was end of July and I felt ready and confident about a serious go from the ground; I was sure it wouldn’t take to long…. but exactly at this point, the nightmare began!

The weather turned from bad to horrible; it was cold, rainy and foggy… we basically couldn’t see the Tre Cime for weeks. We didn’t want to give up: we had started the game and we had to play. It’s crazy how stubborn we could be when we want to do something; everybody was saying that we were crazy to spend the whole summer there by those conditions. Leaving would have been the easiest and more logical solution… but I wanted to climb that piece of rock!

We basically moved to Tre Cime parking lot and camped there in our small Caddy for weeks, waiting for decent conditions. It was pretty tiring to live there for so long, cooking on the ground in the rain, and waiting in the car when it was raining… luckily the guys of the Auronzo hut welcome us really friendly every time we escaped there from the cold: thanks again! Also for the “special” tea ;)

I didn’t want to try again the single pitches by that weather, so I often belayed Babsi trying the crux pitch of “Bellavista” in the morning and than we went sport climbing down in the valley in the afternoon. After a couple of weeks, the weather seemed to get better for a couple of days, so I decided to give it a try. It was really cold in the night and when we woke up the ground was completely frozen…for sure not the best conditions, but at least it wasn’t rain! I climbed the first pitches and after a couple of hours we reached the big roof. It was always pretty scary to lead the lower part of the route, as the rock was soaked wet and it was too easy to slip off the wall. Everything is pretty chossy and the protection are really bad, so it’s highly recommended not to fall!

After a good rest I started for the crux pitch. The holds were a little bit slippery, but I managed to climb through the crux of  Bellavista and I reached the rest. Everything felt pretty smooth and after some minutes, I started for the long traverse. I climbed fast and surprisingly I managed to hold the muddy holds and go fast to the big jug… but when I was jumping to it, I made a stupid mistake and I went for a very big fall: F%&”£!!!

I jugged up and got ready for another try. Also this time everything felt good, but when I pulled on the crux hold, I slipped off the wall. Pfffff, I had to start again! I gave it another try, but it ended in the same way. That was really annoying! We rapped down and hiked back to our “hotel”. I knew that I would had to wait a long time, before the next windows of good weather.

The following weeks were horrible: everyday was cold,  foggy and rainy. Babsi kept on trying the crux pitch of “Bellavista” and made some really good progress on it…but I’m sure that with decent conditions she could have done it way before. We sport climbed down in the valley and I kept on waiting for a try. It was unbelievable, it rained 28 days out 31 in July, and 27 in August.

At one point I made a desperate try, but by those conditions I kept on slipping off the crux..when not even on the first traverse of “Bellavista”.

The time was ticking, as I had to start to work at the middle of September.

At the beginning of the month the good weather kicked in for 3 days: I knew that was the last chance. We got ready to do our attempts, and somehow we could feel a little bit of pressure due to the short time left.

The forecast didn’t make any mistakes and we left the car under the sun. That day the wall was pretty crowded, as also Dave Mac Leod and his film crew were there to try/film his new route. Also Riky and Klaus were with us, in order to film my attempt.

I climbed the first pitches without many problems, except for a hold that broke off the 4th pitch, but luckily it was just a couple of meters above the belay, so I took a long, but safe, whipper, and I started again. We reached to roof and I aided through the first pegs to dry and chalk up the hold, before to make a real attempt.

The conditions weren’t so bad, definitely the best so far, and I felt confident about the next pitch! I started and climbed the first crux without problems; after some shaking on the jug, I started on the traverse. I felt strong, but as soon as I pulled on the crux hold, I found my self  under the roof again: F%$&! I couldn’t believe that hold was soaking wet again! I rest and made two more tries, but they all ended up the same. I was super frustrated. I gave up for that day, but I still tried to climb through the crux for the film: no way. Every time I grabbed that hold, I slipped off the wall.

The next day we had to film some other stuffs, but the conditions were pretty much the same.

The day after Babsi made her first try from the ground on Bellavista. She climbed super well, but she also got stopped pretty high on the crux pitch from the wet holds :(

After another week of bad weather we came back, but she got stopped again from the wet holds and kept on slipping off the wall. That was super frustrating for both.

So, after 2 months of waiting, struggling and 3/4 tries, that was the end, I had to go back to work. I think I’ve never spend so much time on something, definitely not in terms of tries, but of energies and motivation. Somehow it was really stressful and demanding, and at the end of everything, I felt completely empty and tired. It demanded so much effort, that I was almost relieved to leave. Anyways I feel that I’ve learned a lot from this experience, not to give up and escape, to fight for a goal… and I can’t wait to go back there next year!

As someone says, the journey is the reward! :)

A big thank to Sandro, Ale, Giulio, Klaus, Riky and all the stuff of the Auronzo hut: it wouldn’t have been the same without you

What’s up? Kalymnos, Melloblocco, Super Cirill, sport climbing around home and more…

 

Trying my nemesis "Dolby Surround"; credits: Jensen Walker

Trying my nemesis “Dolby Surround”; credits: Jensen Walker

 

After our trip to Utah, I had just a few days to rest at home before I took my next flight: destination Kalymnos!

As every year, I used to do a short visit on the island in April, in order to search a new crag to bolt for the TNF Fetsival and to start to do the job. This time the crew changed and James and Caro joined the party. We had just one week time, so we had to hurry up! I spent the first 2 days hiking and driving around, looking for some potential lines… and !thanks! to the big help of Claude Idoux and his rescue team, on the third day we found the right spot. I can just say that the place is amazing, but you will have to join us at the Festival to see what it looks like ;)  We spent the rest of our days on the island, bolting and cleaning some new routes… and I can’t wait to see the final result!

After we left the island, I had just a couple of days to do some work at home, before I had to leave again for the Melloblocco. At the beginning I was a little bit skeptical about going there, as it rained the whole week before and the weather was supposed to be very bad during the event…. anyways…it’s not something new that it rains during the Melloblocco ;)

I had to present “Zembrocal” (the film about our trip to La Reunion) on thursday night, so I drove for the first time already on wednesday evening to the valley. The original plan was to have a a look on a trad multi-pitch route, which was freed by Simone Pedeferri  some years ago, but as nobody was motivated to team up, I ended up bouldering a little bit down in the valley. The weather wasn’t great on the first 2 days, but on saturday it cleared up and the sun came out. It was very nice to meet again a lot of old and new friends, so I decided to spend also the last days playing around on the boulders field: at the end I had no more skin, but it was a lot of fun! …and so, I had also for this year my bouldering “dose”… now I can wait until the next Melloblocco ;)

After that, we decided to spend the next few weeks around Austria, trying to get some fitness back after one month of crack climbing. …and actually it was one of the best choice we have made! Even if I have been based in Austria for many years now, I have been traveling so much that I rarely climbed in my “home areas”; I really enjoyed to visit all those different crags, climbing a lot of classical lines between Oetztal, Zillertal and Voralberg, and spending time with nice people. I was lucky that the shape came back pretty fast, so I could climb most of the routes first or second go, which means I had time to climb a lot of different lines :)

Cookie Flake, Elements of addiction, Caramello, Erntezeite, Jambalaya, Reifepruefung, Total Brutal, Erkenntnis, Behind the Tree, Black Mamba are just some of the routes I had the opportunity to climb during those two weeks. The weather was almost always good and I was so stoked about all the different places I could visit, that I rarely took a day off.

Between all that, we decided to head to Ticino for a couple of days; I’ve basically never climbed there with a rope, so I was pretty happy to check the great potential out. Babsi spent a lot of time there and she was kind to show me around; we drove immediately to Val Bavona, as I’ve always heard a lot of good things about the multi-pitch “Super Cirill” and I wanted to check its beautiful crack out. Babsi’s back was a little bit sore from the last days, so she decided not to climb and she offered to give me a belay on it :) When we arrived there in the afternoon, I was positively surprised by the immense amount of perfect granite and the beauty of the valley; I quickly racked up and give the route an attempt. Everything went fine until the technical dihedral before the crack, where I fell and it took me quite a while to figure out the beta. I lowered down and gave it another try, but my foot slipped again.  I decided to quickly check out the crack pitch and we rapped down as it was freezing cold… unbelievable for may. The day after Babsi’s back was even worse, so we decided to chill out, take a rest day and drive back home. Luckily after a couple of days the pain disappeared  and she started to climb again:)

We arrived back home late in the evening, but I was so motivated from the beauty of the line, that I immediately searched a partner for the next days.  Luckily Luca (Schiera) was also interested in the route, and so after a short night, I drove straight back to Ticino for a day. I arrived pretty late, as I found a lot of traffic due to the bad weather, but we still had enough time to climb. I led all the pitches, but I fell on the crack pitch with frozen fingers… that’s crazy for may in Ticino! Luca checked the pitch out too, and after that I had another go, fighting until the next belay with a big smile on my face: what a dreamy pitch! We climbed our way up trough the last easy pitches and we rapped down just before it got too dark. As we both had to do something on the next day, we immediately got back in our cars and we drove home…well that was a long day out! Thanks again to Luca for the cool afternoon.

At the end of the month I had to set for the European Youth Cup in Imst. It’s always very tiring, but at the same time very funny and motivating to work together with Jan “Janny” Zbranek and the Knabl family; it’s  just a pity that Paulo wasn’t there this year. The organization was great as every year, and even if we had a loooong last route setting night before the finals (we went to bed at 5 and we woke up at 7 ;) ) it was definitely a positive experience.

In the meanwhile, between some more route setting in Bolzano, and the Natural Games with La Sportiva crew a couple of weeks ago, another adventure has started… but this is another story … ;)

Have fun

Jacopo

 

Cracks addiction: back to Utah!

Scarface - copyright: François Lebeau

Scarface – copyright: François Lebeau

It’s weird how something in what you struggle a lot could be so addictive. The first time I jammed my hands in a crack during our last trip to Utah in November, I couldn’t believe that I would like it so much. It’s painful and it feels so much harder than a normal face climbing route: it was like restarting climbing again from zero. It could be a source of frustration for someone, but actually I really like the process of learning something new and see the progression day by day.

When I left Utah the last November I had clearly in my mind that I wanted to come back there as soon as possible. Babsi was also looking forward to make a crack climbing trip again, so the decision was easy! We immediately booked our flights for another trip in March/April.

This time we planned to spend the whole period in Utah, trying to see as many places as possibile and climbing a lot of different things… single pitches, towers, multi pitches… we wanted to explore as much as possible what the desert can offer, with the goal of improve in jamming and see something new.

We flew again to Denver, where we met up with Françcois (Lebeau), a friend and very talented photographer, who joined us for the  first week of our trip to climb, hang out and shoot together.  As the previous time, we had to drive trough a snow storm across Colorado to reach the desert of Utah; the wide american places never stop to surprise me… it’s amazing how many different landscapes you can see during the drive from the airport to the desert!

The plan was to spend the first 10 days climbing in Indian Creek, as we wanted to get used again to the cracks and climb some more classics that we missed in November.

I was very surprised when we entered in the Canyonlands; the colors, the plants, the rock, the light were completely different from the fall… everything was brighter, more intense: the desert was blooming! We put up our camp at the Superbowl and we started immediately to enjoy the simplicity of the dessert life. I love to be outside, hanging out around the fireplace, with no  connections with the rest of the world, talking just about life and watching the stars… it makes me feel lucky to be alive… and to share all that with a special person is the best thing I could immagine.

We leaved with the idea of finding some projects, but we ended up doing just tons of pitches,  trying to climb on all the different crack sizes, with the goal of improve as much as possible. It was so nice to hang out with old and new friends and to enjoy the desert life, that we arrived at the end of the 10 days without even seeing it!

After this first part, I had to leave to San Francisco for a week to attend the TNF Athletes Summit. I’d never been at the headquarter before, so it was a great opportunity to see it and to meet up with all the other athletes. We had a good timer here, talking about the brand and our future projects, doing different activities and giving feedbacks on the products. It’s like a big family and I’m very happy to be part of it!

I flew back to Moab super motivated to go on with our trip and to see something new. After having heard so much about it and its emblema “Moonlight Buttress”, the plan was to drive down south to Zion. Babsi picked me up and we immediately started the journey.  Once again we drove trough different landscapes and we entered the Park just before the sunset: what a beautiful place! Thanks to the precious infos of Jonatan, we found a calm spot to camp far from the crowded campings. We spent the whole period there, having some funny experiences and meeting different people who literally enjoy the “american dream” ;-)

The day after we wanted to drove inside the Park to go climbing and we immediately realized how much different it was from the quiet Indian Creek: a line of cars was waiting at the gate and after an expensive fee, we had to take some shuttle buses to reach the other side of the canyon. Sincerely I didn’t like it all on the first moment: I’ve always hated touristic places and, even if there were nice rock walls everywhere, I was not so stoked to spend one week in the crowded Park…. but I forgot about all that as soon as we started climbing on some classics multi pitches :)

The rock in Zion is not so good as Indian Creek, but it was pretty nice to be outside again and to climb on something long.

We spent the first 2 days doing some classics and after a rest day we went straight to one of the most famous route of the Park: “Moonlight Buttress”.

From the ground the line looked awesome and I heard so much about it, that it was impossible to leave without giving a try. We on-sighted everything until the end of the crux pitch, but we got stucked before the dihedral and we rapped down exhausted. The pitches were amazing and even if they were hard for us “euro” climbers, we definitely wanted to go back on it… especially as we heard that the upper part was even better!

So, after a rest, we hiked again super motivated at the base of the wall and, after some easy pitches, we quickly reached the beginning of the hostilities; I led the long crux pitch, Babsi crushed the dihedral (thanks :-) ) and I finished os-sighting the last 3 pitches. I loved the upper 0.5 splitter: it definitely is one of the best I’ve climbed so far of this size! World class!

We reached the upper plateau super happy about the day we had, and with a team ascent in the pocket… there was no better way to finish it…. well…maybe without missing the last shuttle bus it would have been better ;p

We wanted to stay some more days in Zion, but the weather forecasts weren’t great and so we decided to drive back to Canyonlands to spend our last few days of the trip there.

We climbed some single pitches and some multi pitches, but we were still missing some towers! After a quick research at the outdoor shop, we decided to head out to the Moses’s Tooth, which is a really cool and famous tower not so far from Moab. During the drive, I got very surprised seeing how much rock there is in the West Rim: the climbing potential is huge!

We chose the classic “Primrose dihedrals” and, after a short and stormy day, we reached the top. Even if it was super windy and it started to rain, it was great to stand on the summit of the tower: the landscape is beautiful from up there.

After we rapped down, we decided to drive back to Indian Creek for the last two days of climbing. Unluckily when we arrived at the Super Bowl campground,  we had just the time to put up our tent, that it started to rain. We spent the night there, hoping that the situation would improve, but the day after was even worse! So, sad to leave without jamming again, we packed all our wet stuffs and we decided to drove back to Denver. A “wet” end of another great trip together :)

As every quality travel, the time run so fast, that I couldn’t really realize that we had already spent one month in the desert. We had once again a great time in the US, learning a lot and seeing some beautiful places… and sincerely I can not wait to go back to Utah again! That place is addictive ;)

Thanks again to François for nice time together and for all the great pictures!

 

 

Prinzip Hoffnung

If I think back at the days when I was just competing and sport climbing, I clearly remember a few lines that really inspired me, but that at the same time scared me a lot.

“Prinzip Hoffnung” was one of them.

I remember the pictures of Beat climbing on this incredible line just in the middle of the village, standing on minimal holds and using just some micro nuts to protect himself: for me it was something completely unthinkable at the time!

In the last years a lot has changed in my climbing attitude. I experienced a lot of different things and I started looking for something more intense and committing. It has been a kind of natural evolution in my climbing and life.

Last summer I went often to climb in Buers, passing by “Prinzip” every time: it was a truly eye catching line!

In those moments, I start to remember the pictures of Beat and the feelings I had while watching them: I felt that the moment to look what it looks like arrived. I wanted to see how much my climbing attitude changed and if I was ready to try something like that. For me it was a game, just as all the other climbs… but more committed.

In october, when I came back from the Kalymnos Climbing Festival, I spent a couple of days in Bludenz before our next trip; it was very hot, but I was super curious about the route, and so one evening I rapped down from to top to look how it was. I didn’t even have the climbing shoes with me and I just checked the gear, but I immediately felt in love with it. The line was simply amazing: one first crack that disappears after 25 meters, and another one that starts 6 meters above, with just some minimal holds in between. I flew to America with just one idea in my mind: to try it immediately when I come back!

… and so I did …

After our trip in the States, I spent a lot of time in Bludenz. I wanted to check it out better, and as Babsi had to work in the morning, I went alone and rapped down again from the top. The route was pretty dirty, as just a few people have tried it after the 2nd ascent of Alex, and I spent a lot of time cleaning it to find the small holds and the gear placements. I wasn’t afraid of the two cracks, as it was pretty obvious how to climb them, but the crux section was a big question mark for me. There are not so many holds in that section and it was very difficult to find the small footholds and to understand how it worked. It took me for sure a couple of hours to finally understand which was the best way to climb the crux. In december the suns shines just for one hour on the wall, so I went again a bunch of times alone for a quick session to figure out the moves and the gear.

Prinzip Hoffnung
At the beginning I had a very bad feeling while standing on the extremely small footholds and I couldn’t really think about a lead attempt… but at the same time I was completely decided to try it!

In the meanwhile Babsi also got really motivated to have a look on it, and so we went together on a weekend to try it top-rope. It was very nice to share again the same project and to progress on it together: it’s always the best part of the whole story.
Anyways the time run fast, and after Christmas we decided to train for a period indoor to get some fitness for the next season. We basically split the time between Innsbruck and Dornbirn, deciding to try “Prinzip” later on again.

At the beginning of February, after the short training period, we came back in Buers with the goal to finish the “business” ;) The sun shined longer on the wall and it was better to try the route. We did some good progress on it and the idea to lead it started to turn in my mind. I was always so focused on how to place the gear, that I never climbed it without falling on top-rope. Anyways my mind was ready to make a lead attempt, and so I didn’t think about it and I went for it.

The first attempt wasn’t great, and I failed before the crux, but it helped me a lot to get more confidence with the gear. After another top-rope session, I came back, falling two times at the very end of the crux. The first time I fell on the last small offset nut placed before the crux, I was sure that it wouldn’t hold and that I would fall all the way to the last bomber piece; I was very surprised when it didn’t pop… it was a really strange feeling to fall without knowing what it would happen.

Prinzip Hoffnung

Our depart for Spain was getting closer and I started to worry about the time, as I was afraid that it would be too hot after 2 weeks. We planned to come back after a couple of days, but when we woke up in the morning everything was covered by snow and rain; the weather looked horrible and I was almost sure that we wouldn’t have the possibility to try it again before our flight to Spain….

… but sometimes things change really fast :)

In the afternoon the wind started to blow and the rain stopped, so we immediately drove to Buers! I couldn’t believe it: everything was dry! Babsi decided to make her first lead attempt, and after the warm up, she went for it. I have to admit that I was more stressed while  belaying her, than while climbing. :) She climbed super well, and she was so focused that she forgot to place (£&)£&%”%!!!) one of the bomber gear in the middle, but unluckily she also fell before the end of the crux. It was really impressive to see her climbing!

Alex (Luger) was also there to try his project just on the right of “Prinzip” and so I gave him a belay; he didn’t send it that day, but he fell very high up, showing that it was a good “friction” day. The days were still short, and it was almost dark, but I decided to give it a go anyways. I was cold and sure that I would have to stop in the middle because of the dark, so I started without any expectations. I tried to climb really fast , in order to arrive at the crux with still some light. I felt exactly the feeling I love the most while climbing: I felt like in a bubble, focused just on what I was doing and enjoying the moment, without thinking about anything else. Everything was super smooth and I climbed trough the crux struggling a little bit to see the small footholds. When I reached the second crack and I rested before the last easier section, I could barely see 1 meter below me, and I just told to myself: …hurry up, you can not fall here! ;)

The mixed between the deep concentration and the darkness, made everything more intense: a beautiful felling, which is really hard to express with words.

When I clipped the anchor and I looked down the the lights of the village, I realized that another little dream just came to an end. I was super happy, but at the same time I was sad that everything was finished. Climbing “Prinzip Hoffnung” has probably been the best moment in my climbing life and it really opened my eyes about new prospectives.

A big thank to Beat for the vision to bring this beautiful piece of rock how it was before, showing to everybody the importance to respect such a line and to commit ourself.

A huge thank to Babsi for sharing another nice “adventure” together : those are always the best and more important memories and aspects of  a project… I can’t wait for the next one! :)

 

Pictures copyrights: Jensen Walker

Last weeks in the US

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