Wednesday, January 28, 2015

insanity of grandeur, 8B+/C

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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... ;)


  1. Congratulations from the US, Martin! I've been following your blog for quite a while, and your process and perseverance have been inspiring. Thanks for keeping the blog going! Good luck on the Highlander--you got it! Cheers.

  2. Well done Martin. Really happy to hear that you did it.

  3. I was waiting for this. Congrats Martin. Truly deserved. Legend.

  4. Inspiration! It's great to read these insights. This got me fired up.

  5. thanx everybody for the nice comments - keep on rocking ;)