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SwissylandIt’s been a while since my last blog. All I have been doing is climbing 24/7 , driving back and forth between Innsbruck and Ticino. Having been out of school for almost a year now, all responsibilities that I used to have are now finished and now the only focus is climbing and making sure the bills are paid (not to mention a few parking tickets and speeding tickets much to the dismay of my girlfriend).
The experience has been amazing. Traveling Europe and climbing at all these new areas makes me feel like a kid in a candy store. I recently took a long trip (about 11 days) to Ticino, where Laura and I met up with Jamie, Angie, Olsen, and Pinto. The weather has been getting warmer than previous trips as it is now March. We had some good days in Cresciano, with much wind and cool air.
Day 1 was a huge success. Laura and I warmed up on a classic 6B slab called The Never Ending Story. This might be one of the coolest slabs in Cresciano with perfect granite and no holds, only friction and balance. Later that day, I moved into the last sector of Cresciano, which holds the classic La Prue, Mithril, and La Boule. On a previous trip I had tried both La Prue and Mithril but failed miserably on both due to warm conditions. La Prue was first on the list. Conditions this time were brisk, the holds were very sticky and thanks to my feeble attempts at last minute stretching (which Laura helped me with laughing the entire time at my inflexibility) getting my foot in the incredibly high starting foot was possible. I pulled on and first try was able to get to the last move. After a few more failed attempts, I finally climbed through La Prue and was standing on the summit. It is funny how something at first feels really impossible, then with right conditions, it feels like a totally different game.
Up the hill sits the classic La Boule which consists of a very technical crux move leading into a crimpy topout. Olsen was attempting it, which inspired me to give it a try. Herm sprayed me down with beta for a flash attempt. I pulled on and did the first move, coming to the crux which consists of taking a slopey left hand gaston, manteling your body onto the bulge and reaching out to a right hand gaston shoulder, then swinging out establishing your left foot on a high foot and crossing right hand to a crimp. I found the right position for the crux and moved through it quickly. Next was the crimp section which I found to be not hard but just painful. After all of this I was standing on the top of La Boule. Flashing classics is always inspiring to me just because of the background behind these boulders. They are the gem of the areas. Carrying my psych over to another classic, Mithril, I had no expectations on how it was going to go. I did the upper crux first try and thought that it was going to be possible. All I had to do now was climb the fist move and Mithril was in the bag. The chilled air and dry wind led me to the 3rd ascent of Mithril. I was so pleased to start the trip off with such classic sends. Brian Capps sent a classic 7c+ called Sweet Home Alabama that same evening. What makes this bloc special is the height and purity of the problem. It is something that you would see in So Ill, very open and tall with an obvious starting jug and a sketchy mantel up top. I was not there to see the send but from what I heard, it was the scariest thing Brian had climbed. The sun set was beautiful that night and now it is time to go cook dinner and be in the company of good friends.
Laura, in response to my challenge to send something hard in Cresciano (she has always avoided sloppy problems and Cresiano has not much else) had set her sights on an 8a called Petit Pas Tapen. It is the second half to the famous La Rondeur des tes Seins. It is low to the ground but powerful and technical with a long lock to a sloppy crack rail feature, a series of bumps and then a long move to the finish. I was surprised when she declared confidently that she would send it, knowing the powerful nature of the bloc. After seeing how she intended to do it (skipping the slopey rail and using all of the crimps on the face) I knew now why she thought this problem was possible. Even though this version seemed like straight forward crimping, it atually was quite involved. The first move was a test of accuracy, having to stab into a slot crimp for the left hand. After this the next step was to set your right heel onto this diagnal crimp, hold the tension, then move right hand to a flat edge bringing the foot high and left while using the momentum to carry the body upward into the finishing jug.
After 4 days of rehearsing the moves, Laura managed to link the climb. I could tell she was satisfied with the send when all she talked about was the process she went through and how good it felt to overcome something that felt impossible at first, but later went down. I was very proud that she completed this line. A few days later she made an acsent of the famous Les Doight Verts in good form.
All of this time we have been staying in this “rustic house” which in my opinion looks like a stone castle. There is no heating inside although we do have electricity. The place is heated by metal ovens which require an abundance of wood, paper, and matches. It is high on the hillside of this town called Claro, with no one around except rocks and trees. Living here has been fun and a nice experience as well. There is no radio or TV, just the company of friends and many bottles of wine and beer.
Before this trip was over I had my sights set on one more climb, The Dagger. I have never been insprired to try this because of how confusing and complicated the climbing is. Basically take a refrigerator and make it horizontal and the only way to climb is with intense slaps and heel hooks. There are 17 moves of upside down climbing with a crux at the end. This bloc was first done by Toni Lamprecht, with a method of climbing feet first. Dave found a way to climb it head first but it is much more compliated. I went up by myself and had no clue at where to begin. It felt as if I were in the middle of a math test, forgot to study the night before, and had no idea how to find the answers. I played around with the top but got nowhere and then decided to try the beginning, but failed too.
After 30 minutes of trying, I was about to give up. Sometimes all it takes is studying the bloc from a distance to see all of the possibilities. I found this sequence for the top which worked perfectly, then moved to the beginning and figured these moves out. All that was left was the transition. It took 4 hours of figuring out the moves and now I was ready to begin trying send burns. I came back the next day and fell a few times on the bottom section, then had a burn where I got to the second to last move. At this point I knew the bloc was possible. I rested then fell 3 more times at the last hard move and even had an attempt where my left hand was on the finishing jug. I decided to give it rest and come back for another day. The next day conditions were not perfect but my psych was high. I warmed up and on my 3rd try, sent The Dagger. It felt so good to complete something that was so involved and physical. Not only did I have to figure out the sequence but also link the moves together. The feeling was that of doing a first acsent. I was very pleased to climb this boulder.
The trip has come to an end. I will be back out in a few more days. Next on the list is confessions, a bloc put up by Dave Graham in Cresiano and From Dirt Grows the Flowers. Hopefully both of these will go before the weather gets too warm.