Thursday, October 8, 2015

why i hate climbing on my limit sometimes

...finally a few days of holidays. perfectly rested. perfect shape. perfect weather and conditions in ticino for bouldering... (bit warm during the day, but quite nice in the evening)

.... perfect weather and conditions for surfing in france

...really cool weather for mountain biking


- SITTING AT HOME (and work) and WAIT -

because you can't train, you can't climb, you can't bike, you can't surf, you can't go on holidays, you can't eat, you can't climb... cause you would not be fit the next day(s) for your project). so you end up waiting FOR BETTER WEATHER at your PROJECT in the NORTH of SWIZZY.

climbing at your limit really makes you weak as well. you rest so much for the best weather and to be actually in the best shape (and save your skin)... with unpredictable swizzy-weather you end up just resting and not climbing anymore...

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

feeling like carl the coyote

what ever i do, (or not) - something goes wrong every time...

wonderful weather... i thought i would wait till my project got some shade - BIG mistake....

 ... after taking 5 days of rest (felt tired, bad weather) - i felt super fresh and strong. weather was super nice. sunny and warm. i napped a bit in the warm sun and slowly warmed up - waiting for the highlander getting in the shade - it was just too warm in the sun.

conditions were perfect, not too cold not too warm, dry holds, bits of wind... then exactly at the moment when i sat down to put my climbing-shoes on for a try on the highlander - clouds rolled over the pass and really bad: the wind stopped completely - from one second to another. i waited a few minutes. nothing. not the slightest breeze. the air felt suddenly pretty damp.

never mind i thought. as i am stronger then ever i may can climb it in not perfect conditions as well. NOT. i did set off and made it with ease through the traumland-start-crux (where i failed so miserably the week before in perfect conditions) but then started to grease around like i never experienced it before this season, not even in the middle of the clouds the other week. i literally slipped off every hold in the upper crux, grabbed them again and kept fighting - just to fall down on the last move once again.

fighting to stay on the holds to set up for the last move - BUT i was just slipping off...

i rested and set off again. i managed to climb two more times trough the traumland-crux (first time ever this season i made it more then once in a day through it) just to grease off the holds in the upper crux...

watching my finger-tips in pure disbelief... WHAT was THAT - WHERE did this grease come from so suddenly?!

... i just don't get it anymore: last week with perfect conditions i felt tired and did not make it even once through the lower crux. then i feel super fit, make it once to the last move and two more times through the lower crux to just grease off the holds... MAY THERE BE ONE DAY WHEN FITNESS AND CONDITIONS FIT TOGETHER???!!! can't be THAT hard - can it?!

Friday, October 2, 2015

glorious punting

... well perfect conditions, the fog just stayed low enough... two days of rest... so this should had been THE DAY and a GLORIOUS SEND seemed inevitably...

BUT i punted like a REAL punter... (what else???!!!) not even made it once through the first crux... climbed the 8A-intro 8times with ease... but somehow i got not enough tension in my body for this heinous undercling move...

so what went wrong? first it seems the highpoint-burn last weekend had drained my body more then i thought and second the two "rest days" have not been filled with relaxing instagram and facebook activity... i had to work from 8am-10pm and 8am-6pm... and felt really exhausted.

and then i know this "can't-make-the-first-crux-secenario" too well from previous years. always when i get in real good enduro-shape i loose some kind of max-power. this year i wanted to work against that and planed to do some hang board sessions to keep strong. but my (on and off) finger-injury on the right hand that prevents me from pulling on the undercling-crux-hold like i would like also prevents me from doing hang board sessions.
and then i recognized that the specific muscles for this strange undercling-move get tired when i try them too often. i usually have to take a break for a week or two from that move and then it works normally quite solid again. but when you are 0.5 moves away from your 11year project, you feel fit as never before... and winter slowly is knocking on the door... you can't just "walk away"...  can you???!!!

Monday, September 28, 2015

surprise surprise

well it really seems there are no candies or carrots stored for me up there...

the weather forecast was great for sunday at sustenpass. sunny and perfect temps. even bit of wind. the snow from earlier in the week had melted. i even waited an extra day to give the seeping crux-holds more time to dry. i had two rest days. i did sleep enough and well. i did eat enough and well. my skin was really good. i did feel strong and everything was ready for the send. considering the great progress over the last few weeks i really had high hopes for that day.

the surprise i got arriving at sustenpass was not what i did hope for: clouds rolled in super fast and after 15minutes this was how it looked like:

and five minutes later like that:

so much to the swizzy-weather-forecast!!! instead of in the sun - sustenpass was in the middle of clouds, no wind, you could feel the water drops in your face; 100% humidity - may bee great for fishing or play chess (indoor) but not so perfect for bouldering. i really start to ask myself what else i have to take to get this moves up there together. and as i did write in an earlier blogpost. i am already wondering what will go wrong next time?! any suggestions???

i first thought to go down to a lower area (schoellenen) or to (sunny) ticino. but i did hope the clouds may would settle lower... and so i stayed. needles to say they did not.

what to do? everybody else went home or to the restaurant. there was just no way to climb anymore. even the pads got plain wet by just lying underneath the boulders. just nico and me were still climbing. and well i just went for it!

i greased around - kept fighting - got bit cold fingers - tried to "shake" the cold out (ridiculous!!!)  - somehow got up to that last hard move - got up my left foot on that foothold for the very first time EVER - took the swing - but at the very last moment the swing did send me down to the pads... NEW HIGHPOINT - bit too cold fingers.... i don't want to think about just 60% humidity instead of 100%....  - later i failed very close on the traumland-undercling-move again. did rest for 3min. climbed it from two moves in. rested 3min. climbed it from two moves in again. THIS IS GETTING TOTALLY RIDICULOUS!!!

HIGHPOINT: got that left foothold for the first time ever... now just grab that hold up left...
but the swing you get when releasing the right foot put me down at the very last moment...

Saturday, September 26, 2015

escape to the south

very good try on "big cat, 8B+"... if just that heel would had stayed...

one of the amazing things in swizzy is the variety of the weather. when its bad in the north, sometimes all you need is a 40min drive through the gotthardo-tunel to the south. normally one rest day is not enough for me to fully recover (also for the skin). but conditions seemed really good in the south. so off i was for an after-work-night-session in chironico.

same day... 40min drive... amazing to say at least

it still was a bit warm, but there was bit of nice fön-wind as well and it cooled down quickly. so pretty good conditions all in all. to my upmost surprise i reclimbed all the sequences of "big cat" on my first attempt. even this nasty and tricky start-toe-hook went as smooth as never before. conditions still seem to matter for me ;)

as i was cruising through the start-moves i first wanted to continue but then recognized i still had my "warm-up"-shoes on and with these i had no chance on the heel-hook moves further up (i would just loose them when pulling on the heels). too bad because i normally don't have many good tries on that start. (beginner-) mistake. idiot.

i went down, changed shoes and set off from the start again. i was curious to see how far it would take me. everything went very smooth, i did the hard stand-start moves and i felt strong. but in the transition from the hard moves to the "mellow terrain" (quote from jimmy webb) my heel slipped. BUMMER. and one hour later (the wind had stopped) i slipped from the crimp in the same position. close on everything. sending nothing. business as usual. i feel like i am due for a bit of luck. then everything seems possible these days. if not. i will be back. for sure!!!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

feeling strong as never before... and then winter hit

(... once again) i numbed out on the last two holds (of the hard part)... BUMMMMMER!!!

GOOD THING however is that i never ever felt so strong and light and i never managed to climb so solid up into this last two moves. Unlike a week ago i was not tired at all but when i numb out on this two small holds i just can't climb any further. i nearly had enough feeling on my tips left though. really close this time it was!

after coming close another 4times on making the heinous undercling-move on link and then immediately climbing twice through all the hard part (15moves) of the project my friend nico was like: i never ever seen anybody climbing a boulder so well and looking so strong and making this big overlapping sequences but NOT climbing it. HAHA. sometimes i really start to think this thing is coursed ;)

BAD THING though was the view of the webcam this morning. this will need some days to melt even more days to dry the (from the inside seeping) holds!!! ARGHHHHHHH

Friday, September 18, 2015

top to flop - frustrating mind games start again

well then it was different - but in a not so pleasant way.... last weekend with perfect conditions i was so close on my highlander-project... just to get shot down three days later on the lower crux (once again)... this lower crux (original start-beta from traumland) is pretty nasty... a very strange and really hard move... there are a few very strong climbers that do not even get this single move done in isolation... on the highlander you have to do it after climbing an already tiring 8A....

somehow i did not feel as strong as on the last weekend... no idea why... (maybe did do too much on the weekend after my near send). but the humid holds in the lower crux def. did not help at all. frustrating somehow... but not for the first time during the last six years of going down on the last hard move... and part of the game... sometimes you really have to earn it!!!

watch these two little vids to get an idea of a good and a bad day up there at sustenpass:


(three days later) BAD DAY

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

back on track after summer breake

....but a finger injury prevents me from training as much and hard as i would like to... but looks like i am getting back in shape nevertheless....

...last saturday on the highlander project: going down (for 6years and counting) on that %ç/*()*%+*ç%? LAST HARD move... will this evening be different??? 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

perfect days

at first it was not that perfect... after my ascent of "insanity of grandeur" i rested for a week, then got a bad flu. after 3weeks of lay-down-time i was ready to hit the outdoors again and i had some amazing days in deep pow some 30minutes away from home. 

but then it took me some time to get back in climbing shape. i decided to work a bit on my anti-style and after quite some days of effort i finally was  fit again and was able to climb the stunning line of the new classic "il portici, 8A+" (felt hard, but it felt good to climb something harder on my anti-style). 

last week i finally tricked myself once again and was able to link the heinous start sequence of "big-cat" for the first time into the standing start... - felt finally strong again. just to get shut down on the moves two days later like a beginner... hahaha... time to get strong again... looks like i have a new project... - perfect days :)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

insanity of grandeur

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"Two things I have learned about this endeavor is that most dreams will only come true with a brutal amount of hard work and determination, so it’s important to love the process as much as the intended outcome, and having good friends with a sense of humor, will make all the difference in the world". - Sonnie Trotter 

i just read this nice blog post from canadian strongman sonnie trotter. he describes what happens when you set off into the unknown and/or when you test your limits. there will be no such things as two day epics. you may have to invest a bit more, failure could be your steady partner and you never know if you will ever make it. but there is no other way to find an answer to that question then to go out and go for it. 

and these words are very true no matter if its a small granite boulder in ticino or a bit of a bigger junk of it in yosemite, or any boulder you want to do in "real" life. it is a very personal process about turning something impossible into reality, see how far you can push yourself and how far you are willing to go and how much you are willing to take... and its about discovering and climbing "the perfect beta" which makes the moves not just possible but smooth and elegant. as "i really love to master my climbing" (that one is from fred) it is this process i enjoy most. quite often even more then the actual send. and last but not least; even if its a "solo" sport and it's all about you if you punt or succeed, without some good friends i would have never climbed (all my) this boulder and the experience would just not be the same. in the long term: "happiness is only real when shared" (christopher mccandless, into the wild).

down below the (bit longer) story to the send. hope you enjoy the process ;)

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2004 fall
arriving in chironico from a summer in magic wood where i just sent "octopussy" - my first 8A-boulder, we got word from dave (graham) that there were two new great boulders down the hillside (later 101area). "einfisch" and "delusion". i wanted to try them but could not do one move. later in the day i learned i did try too low and left. i went back tried from the original start. still could not do one move. but these boulders looked amazing and the line of this lower start i tried somehow was burnt into my memory. but never would i have just dreamed of being able to climb such lines. it was light years away. even with the most optimistic approach not realistic at all. it would take too much time. i had been already too old. but the line.... the line...

2009 late fall
was back underneath the roof of the "fisch-boulder" and met there franken-under-the-radar-strong-man-markus-windisch. i joked about a low start i tried years ago to the "einfisch/keinfisch"-boulder. he then told me he had done the moves and was going big and trying to top out over "delusion of grandeur". my jaw dropped and i told him he was crazy. i set off to work on the moves of "einfisch-keinfisch" and sent this one after three sessions. i loved the moves and started to dream about this lower start again. the line looked just too good to not be climbed.

2012 late spring
after three years and a lot of "puzzle-solving" and going down on the last moves over and over again (frozen fingers...) - i did the FA of "der mit dem fels tanzt, 8C"  (still just one repetition by dai koyamada).

on the "funky-middle-part" of "der mit den fels tanzt" and "insanity of grandeur" - brilliant climbing!!! pic by

using my good form and the good startbeta i went for the straight exit over "delusion of grandeur" and was getting close on what would later become "insanity of grandeur". but then it got too warm and i had no chance to climb through the start anymore.

back in 2012 - already making good links on "insanity"

2012 fall
was back to meet up at the "fisch-boulder" with fellow strong man dai koyamada who was climbing one super hard boulder after another. i was getting super close on my "highlander-project" at sustenpass but (climbing into my highpoint) managed to ripp of my hamstrings. resulting in over eight months of rehab which were followed neatly by another three months because of a broken meniscus. needless to say that dai did not punt around and got the first ascent of this beautiful line calling it "insanity of grandeur".

two permanent anchors that fix my hamstrings to where they belong

2013 fall/winter
officially "healed" i was still scared to properly hook with my right leg (on a boulder that consists more or less just of right hooks) but i was getting back my beta again and made some good progress. but then it quickly turned too cold for me. there were a few warmer days at the start of december and gabri moroni did the second ascent.  all my respect because he started to try the very tricky start-sequence without any (video-)beta. i teached him through the moves and we had a good laugh cause he got stuck with his feet around his arms quite a few times on his first tries ;) it still took him some days (the start and middle sequence is quite morpho=hard for shorties) and that even as a 9a+ route climber. i started to ask myself some questions. would i ever make it to the top? 

before you get to the top - you have to get through the nasty start sequence
start-crux-intermediate (you have to move quite a bit on that one)

2014 spring
i got very close and could climb twice a day up to the second last move. these two last moves felt easy from two moves in but were somehow limit from the sds. then i managed to strain my right hamstring-muscles because of pulling too hard going to the lip. lucky it was not an avulsion again and needless to say that was a SCARY moment!!! so the season on this boulder was over for me but i made use of my good form at sustenpass with the first ascent of "gepresster hase". meanwhile james webb climbing everything that spring in swizzy took "insanity" down in a DAY - amazing to say at least - but i suppose thats what you do when you are really strong!!!

2014 fall
after getting my beta back and after i gained confidence in my right hamstrings again. i felt very strong and light and made quick progress but kept freezing off the last moves over a period of two month. i perfected the beta again. to get some "distraction" i went three meters to the left and climbed (and old project i brushed years ago) the standingstart to "big cat" - one of the best for sure - as all the other problems on that boulder!!! nearly all these days (most were night sessions) my friend nicolas was up there with me, climbing strong himself and giving me some much appreciated beta support and good company - great times :) 

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2015 winter - THE SEND
unusually good weather made it still possible to climb in chironico, but at the same time i could feel how my form went down. climbing for over three months at and beyond my limit slowly took its toll on my body and my mind. so it turned out to be a race against time and conditions. i went down from the lip/mantel twice and even thought the mantel felt "totally ok" climbed from a standing start it did just not feel "safe" enough to be climbed with frozen fingers and cramping forearms. i could "feel" that there had to be better beta and i already had searched for it. thanks to nico i did found better beta but still i could feel it was not "it" - not yet.

so on that last day before winter was about to hit i spent another hour on that mantel and finally found "it". it was just a matter of balance and feeling and in about one second it went from my "hate" sequence to my favorite one. this boulder really has it all: brutally powerful, very tricky, balancy and even a bit of a highball-exit. i wanted to give it a go immediately but i knew it better and for one last time i had to keep my calm. i waited for ronny to arrive for a afterwork-nightsession. with his help i did not had to carry a chalkbag (with a hot stone in it) and no head torch as well. neither did i had to worry about flying over the pads and down into the woods (what i did once on a solo mission; scary if you are all alone, especially in the middle of the night...). and as much as i like to climb alone, the presence of a friend can give you just that little bit of extra motivation. 

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so i waited. and it was totally worth it! on my second try of the day i was lucky enough to make it trough the bottom-part and i did not let go anymore. i climbed very well, not one little error (for once) and was not tired at all arriving at the first "rest" (after twenty moves). but while resting i could feel that i was not as fresh as i thought i would be but i still could feel the holds (thanks to that hot stone in the chalkbag, thanx gabri!) so i kept going. everything went great but while setting up for the move to the lip i could feel how the fingers of my left hand just started to open their grip. i panicked and pressed my thump over my other fingers forcing them to keep holding the grip. but i could feel that everything was pointing down into the pads. nevertheless i went for the lip - my body went back - i hit the lip with just three fingers - but somehow stayed on. i crossed for the match and now the fingers on my right started to open and again. i just barley made it. needless to say i was super tired. but i still could feel the holds. so i just rested for a few shakeouts, took some chalk and went for my new mantel-beta. and the mantel went very smooth, it went down perfectly as did the slabby topout into the dark... 

sitting on top of that proud boulder in the middle of the night was just THE perfect ending - another EPIC put down to rest - one more to go. and as i am not getting younger it is really time to get strong... ;)

as for the grade: compared to other problems in ticino and if you are not as strong and tall as jimmy (=myself) - i think ("soft" to stay en "vogue") 8C fits in pretty ok... ;)