Thursday, May 9, 2019

First Ascent "NINJA-SKILLS-SITDOWN-START 8C/8C+"


its on when its on!!! another BIG dream came true!!! just one week after finishing up "story of two worlds (low-start)" - after three years of effort and more then 150 sessions i finally was able to do the FIRST ASCENT off the SIT-DOWN-START to one of the best boulders i know;  nalle hukkatavial`s "NINJA-SKILLS" in sobrio, switzerlandthis is the story to my three year journey with this beautiful line!!!

after three years off effort and more then 150 sessions - on my way to the FIRST ASCENT of  the "SIT-DOWN-START" to "NINJA-SKILLS"- sticking the second crux - 
video-still from the ascent!





























@moonclimbing produced a wonderful short movie (including the uncut off the ascent) put together by the guys from @puzzleglass (premiere at MAY 9TH: 8PM (SWIZZY-TIME) about my journey with "NINJA-SKILLS-SDS". can't wait to share it. the guys at @puzzleglass really did a great job with with capturing the essence of projecting a dream-line (at a personal limit). hope you enjoy it too!







here you go with the full STORY to yet another epic journey:

„NINJA-SKILLS“ truly is special. the place is utterly beautiful. it is a south facing plateau with some typical ticino-chestnut-trees and some scattered out boulders. and there you can find this diamond-shaped and huge freestanding boulder. the line of ninja-skills is proud; over eight meters high and as much overhanging... (good thing the bottom follows upwards) there is just this one seam with holds in the middle. the climbing is amazing; very powerful yet subtle and tricky at the same time. perfection!!!


ninjaskills (sds) - such a perfect line - picture by hannes kutza

ninjaskills (sds) - what a beautiful place - picture by hannes kutza


watching footage of nalle hukkataival doing the first ascent back in time was already super inspiring. but it was not after spring 2013 (during an eight month rehab after ripping may hamstrings off my hip-bone while going for the crux of "highlander" in 2012) when i was hiking to sobrio in ticino to check on ninja-skills with my own eyes. and i got instantly hooked. the pictures and videos already looked good, but in reality it looks even better. it simply blew my mind and i knew i had to come back and climb on it. it took its time but i finally got back with some pads in fall 2016.


2013 - getting inspired!!! first time at "ninja-skills", sobrio, switzerland

at first i was unable to climb the upper crux with the original infamous "ninja-move-beta" from nalle. that is a pity because the move is just amazing!!! but i just could not feel it. lucky me there was another beta with a heel left and some structure on the rail up left, which you can compress to get the move done. not easy as well. but way more doable for me!

the second problem was the start-sequence of the original-start. there are many different beta's and i could do single moves but just not link them together. but that is completely normal for me. no need to worry too much. i know that i need some time to adapt and after some sessions i had finally found a sequence for the original start. but i still had a hard time to link it and when i finally was strong enough and had my beta sorted out it was a constant fight with (or against) conditions. snow, rain and later an unusual warm spring forced me to change my beta again and again.

climbing ninjaskills (original) back in january 2018 - videostill from the ascent
























got totally obsessed with the line and after more then two years and well over 100 days of effort (or in other words: “training” at the boulder!) i finally ended up climbing ninja-skills from its original-start. interesting side note was the fact that in the end i had climbed it with a beta which i had tried already at the very beginning but with which i had not been able to do or link any move(s) back in the day. it was great to see the progress! it had been so good to see (again) how it was possible to turn the impossible into possible  - if you really put in the work needed :)

climbing the original line was the big goal and nalles original start for sure is a very logical start to that proud boulder. it starts standing with the lowest obvious holds - you walk in and climb. nevertheless from the very first moment i had been puzzled if it not may would be possible to start it sitting?! it just looked like a great puzzle to be solved. the idea though seemed like total hybris at the time as i first could not even link two moves from the original-start. but it is always a good thing to be curious, to have this little yet big dreams in the back of your mind - and the "hybris" to just try - as there is nothing to "loose" anyway - so no matter what - you can only win ;)



trying to solve that sit-down-start-puzzle to ninja-skills


after completing ninja-skills original in january 2018 i wanted to get may pads back for the next project. when i was down there again to grab the pads i just started to play a bit around to see if this sitdown-start even could be possible. at first i could not do a single move but there were holds and it felt like it "had to be somehow possible". so i kept trying. started to imagine a sequence. i started to be able to move in between holds but was not sticking any of the moves. one week later the same procedure. i was getting down to collect two more pads and i started to puzzle again and suddenly i could stick moves - but could not yet connect them. another week went by and i was about to collect two more pads when i started to link some off the sds-moves! that was the moment i knew that it was definitely possible to climb “ninjaskills” from the sds. the beta was tricky and very powerful and climbing into the original-start i did not get the holds exactly how i needed them – but i was totally exited to have solved the puzzle and to climb some more on this  king-line !!! the next time i did carry all the pads down again and went on to "work" - again ;)



                                     fighting with the (lower) crux of "ninja-skills-sds"




as i had dialed the (start-sequence off the) original line pretty well by then i thought it would be a matter of a few sessions to seal the deal. i could not have had been more wrong. little did i know it would end in total obsession again - coming closer and closer - falling at the last move to the lip twice but just not making it. little did i know that it would take over one more year - over 60 more sessions - climbing in february in 50cm snow and -6C - in the rain - at 4am - at 2pm - in july at 25C - and all the time really close to send  – EPIC!!!


all possible and impossible conditions - but what matters is what YOU make out of it!!!

linking through the lower crux from the sitdown-start turned out way harder for me then i thought but the longer i worked the line the stronger i got. but then the temperatures went up and up as well. as i got stronger and got closer and closer to send - conditions again got worse. it was again an unusual warm and wet spring. it did throw everything at me. ventilators, all-night-sessions, ice to cool my fingers/body and tarps had been my answer and i kept getting closer and closer and every time i did drive down there i was sure i would send!


higher and higher... back in july last year.... twice with my fingertips on the rescue hold....


it was a waiting game for a little window of some semi-decent conditions. there had been days/nights i had not been able to link through the lower crux but i still had been able to climb “ninja-original” after an 8hr session. it was great to see the immense progress. what had been limit some months before (in good conditions) suddenly had not been limit anymore. i started to climb through the night. 2AM till 9AM. 15hr sessions. 1AM till 4PM. i was always super close. i always thought "today is the day" - that’s why i kept going. just one more day. but the day never came. that play went on for months till july when i fell again on the very last hard move out off the roof to the lip (bare in mind the location is exposed to the south and prime season is wintertime). then at the start off july the weather-forecast turned really bad (hot and humid even at night) and that was the point i knew it just did not make any sense any more. so i did take my usual summer-breake from climbing and went surfing for a month with my girl in bali. best decision ever. we had such a great time. it was all time!!! and my body and mind got a well deserved rest from constantly pushing over its limits!


THE GOOD STUFF - not just carrots... although i really like carrot-cake :)
never ever get out of power - always refuel ;)

back home again after one month of surfing and i had gained 7kg!!! (from 68 to 75) of weight. not all fat though - surfing twice a day gives you some nice shoulders... ;) never mind. training-weight. magic wood called and training started. it took some time to get back in shape but in fall there had have been signs of good power. i came super close (again) on "NEW BASE LINE" and "ILL TRILL" but then winter hit early (also in ticino) and i had to back down. in previous years i may would have had kept going to magic wood even in the worst possible conditions. but not this year. i had changed that (somehow stupid) strategy and decided to go bit more with the "flow". this paid payed off big!!! in frankenjura the weather had been great and so i managed to climb my old nemesis and one off the best compressions-boulders i know; "RIOT ACT, 8B+" (after some epic 1'000km-one-day-trips). back in ticino it was already way too cold for "NINJA-SKILLS" so i decided to switch to cresciano to give the "STORY OF TWO WORLDS" its usual trial and error. this time was different though. i had figured out some new mikrobeta for the middle-part the year before and i met my super motivate friend giani and we had some legendary (very late-night-) sessions with slow but steady progress. going for "story" was a good decision as it was great fun and very good training. to make it perfect i could send “STORY (LOW-START), 8C” after two moths of intense (many late-night-sessions) efforts!








climbing (and sending) on "Story of two Worlds, (low Start), 8C" was a great training for "Ninja-Skills-Sit-Down" - picture by hannes kutza

after that successful "detour" in frankenjura and cresciano i was straight back at "NINJA-SKILLS". conditions were prime by then and i was in great shape! at my first session i was falling close on the lower crux. but most important i felt strong. on my second session i made it already up there twice to the ninja-move. but my heel slipped and i fell twice. climbing up to that move in two consecutive tries was something that never had happened before. things were different!!! in a good way!!!

next time i was up there i did not feel at 100% after having cached a cold at the beginning off the week. but i also knew that i was in my best shape ever. so i rested for three days to get my body as much rest as possible. and with my wife and giani joining in i had great company and support. 

i had a long warm-up and started to feel strong again on my dead hangs but still could feel the cold making my body a bit tired and nausea. nevertheless i did sit down and did give it a burn. climbing into the lower crux i did not have all the holds in the perfect spot (even worse then other tries) - but just kept climbing - no matter what. somehow i stayed on. coming to the ninja-crux i did not set up perfectly due to already feeling numbed out. i still went for it and miraculously sticked it (still do not know exactly why). after sticking that ninja-crux i had totally numbed out. i could not feel any holds any more, and as a consequence my forearms started to cramp and all i wanted was to let go!

but i clearly could hear my wife katherine and giani screaming at me, cheering me up and rearranging pads for the top-part - so i kept going - somehow (in pure disbelieve; why i am still here?!) sticking move after move to the very top - the two literally lifted me up to the top!!! i owe you two big - thanks so much!!!



sticking the second crux move on the FIRST ASCENT of "NINJA-SKILLS-SITDOWN-START" - for the full send-video check at moonclimbing.com (premiere at 8pm swizzy-time)




as much as bouldering is a "solo-sport" it very often is a real "team-sport" as well. never underestimate the support and energy you can get from people believing in you!!! i am super thankful to my love katherine and my friend giani for their support that evening; and especially to my wife katherine who had joined in so many times and also in the worst conditions ever, would not have had been possible without you!!!!!!!!! 

so happy that my wife (@cat__ballou) was down there for the send. we had spent so many epic days (and nights ;) down there together and it was so great to have her support during all off that journey. check out the highballs she cleaned and climbed on the back-side of ninja; good stuff!

it looks like i just climbed my two hardest dream-lines in one week. could be a coincidence as i was super close on several boulders at the same time in the past as well. but somehow i never had been able to make it count. now i did. something really had changed to the good. best thing is that i know exactly what had changed. but that will fill another post/blog. stay tuned! i am off to the next journey :)


on a sidenote:


it is for sure (and by far) my hardest boulder yet. i had many days i couldn't link the lower crux once coming from the sitdown-start but was still able to climb the original boulder (8B+) after a full 10hrs session. so my perceived difference in difficulty for the full line was huge! also compared to other hard(er) boulders i had climbed in the past. but that’s always like this when you start to come closer to your (current) physical abilities. if your abilities are way beyond you will not even feel a difference at all. i for myself can't really tell the difference of a 5A and 5A+ anymore ;) (- but somebody with his actual limit somewhere there will be able to tell you exactly the difference!)

so i can only speak for me, and others can only speak for them. for me it felt like an 8A Boulder itself linking into the (for me) 8B-startcrux-sequence of the original start. the main problem for me was that i did not got the holds of the original start sequence perfectly (unlike you can grab them when stepping in from the ground). and this turned out to be a nightmare for the crux-sequence for me. it was also really at the limit of my span and at my physical limit as well. so not having the holds in the perfect spot did make the whole thing infinitely harder for me. the mind-tricking-thing was that there is (way) easier beta (really good hold) when you have just some 5cm more reach. but as i did not had (have) that 5cm more reach i had to battle it out with what i got. 

for me the full start-sequence from the sds felt like an 8B+/8C itself, followed by a long and physical 8A+ to the top. and that second part did make another BIG difference in difficulty for me (for sure not so much if you are strong in endurance). i had fallen quite some times in the uppers part (very last move twice) as well. so grading this one (as usual) is really tricky. i think it makes most sense to say the grade will be somewhere around 8C and 8C+, therefore the slash grade to express an interval, not an exact point! 

but whatever somebody else will feel about this climb and its difficulty (grade) - it will never change my own experience with this piece of rock. it will forever be (one off) the best boulder i have ever climbed and up to date (by far) my hardest. and after that much time spent at this beautiful piece of rock the "grade" really starts to loose all of its importance. what really counts is the personal experiences, the people i met and the things i learned – that is what will stay with me!


as good as it gets! beautiful sunset-view from the top of "ninja-skills"


Friday, March 1, 2019

„STORY OF TWO WORLDS (low), 8C


another dream came true - it doesn’t get much more classic - i was finally able to complete @dave_graham_ 's masterpiece „STORY OF TWO WORLDS, 8C“ in cresciano. 


„STORY OF TWO WORLDS (low), 8C“ - WHAT A LINE!!! picture by @hanneskutza






















after falling in true „martin-style“ at the very last move a week before i finally was able to put the whole line together (i started the line from @dai_koyamada 's low-start; adding even more funkiness to the line (and thanks to some new crucial beta not really harder then the original start at all anymore).

another epic journey comes to an end. i did stand underneath that crazy gneiss-feature already back in 2005 getting introduced to its even crazier climbing by the master dave graham himself. despite having done my first 8A boulder shortly before i have not been able to climb any of the cruxes! i did come back for the stand start "the dagger" (fa. by @tonilamprecht71) every year to play a bit around just to get shut down again and again. 

dave graham showing how it’s done back in 2005.

there is a funny anecdote from back off that day: some off the “strong young ones” (including among others; tyler landman and  magnus midtbo) tried the new rig from dave but nobody could do the crux-moves. so when dave showed up they asked him for some beta advice. dave all syked as always (without any warm-up) did put on his climbing shoes and climbed most of the “story” up to the last move; jaws dropped, leaving all the others startled and in pure disbelieve. the guys tried again. but despite the beta-demonstration there was not much progress. lets say not all of the youngsters took it so easy. there was some cursing, sneakers, chalckbags and climbing shoes flying around. it somehow felt good to see that even the “heroes” were human ;)

dave graham with his head-first-beta for the second part of "story" - myself with the spot - back in 2005.

i was back every year but simply was unable to climb dave’s beta. it was not until 2009 till i finally solved to puzzle for me and found my own crazy beta involving a full 180-turn in the middle and i could complete "the dagger" for its 5th ascent.






















the pictures above and below are from back in 2009 - going for my crazy 180-turn-beta on “the dagger” – and climbing out head-first-compression-style. for sure 8B+ with the beta’s back then! last year i finally found some better (still hard) beta to avoid my insecure 180-turn in the middle part. there is some easier beta for the end-part as well but i still climbed the end head-first-compression-style - this sequence was just too good to not be climbed in this way ;)
























but the brutal start-sequence of „story of two worlds“ rejected me ever since; i just could not commit to this heinous crimp left hand at the start. my fingers would immediately scream in pain!!! so i got curious when sebastian cotting (who climbed storylast year in impressive style) told me that he had found a new beta involving a kneebar which kind of made it possible to basically skip the heinous crimp. but there was another problem with a very insecure move in the middle part. strange thing was that it worked sometimes super good, but many times i just slipped. quite annoying when coming from the “story” start. and it just could not really figure out what i was doing wrong.

detailed video analysis was the key here to understand why the heel/toe at the left sometimes slipped and sometimes stayed - thanks to this i did fully understand the body position and i never slipped again!

so a little beta-advise here: when you don’t understand why a move sometimes works and sometimes not its a good idea to film yourself. here i am climbing in the middle-part of “story” where i repeatedly lost my right heel/toe-jam when reaching to the right with my right hand. sometimes it worked quite well; many times i just lost my feet. video-analysis showed that when i slipped (upper pic) my body was pretty far away from the rock creating a bad angle (red arrow) for my toe hook right and it logically slipped. when the move worked (lower pic) my body was way higher and therefore the pressure on my toe (red arrow) was in a perfect 90degree angle to the rock – making it stick.





after getting shut down by the cold at my ninjaskills-sds-project i finally was back at the „story“ mid december last year. i figured out some better beta for the middle part and the start with the new beta worked pretty smooth. BUT the move into the roof and taking the feet out puzzled me. i just could not do them; my mind did not understand and my body rejected any attempt. so i am super thankful that i could watch my friend gianni clement (who is a damn strong underground crusher and close on sending "story" too!!! owe you big my friend!!!) doing the sequence again and again - and by watching him again and again my brain slowly started to accept and understand that it def. had to be possible. instead of just blocking it i started “to let go” – it felt super strange at first but somehow it miraculously worked. the pieces started to come together and after two weeks i could finally link the two moves. from impossible to possible... its literally all in your mind!!!




it took many more late-night-sessions to fine tune the beta and gain the necessary fitness for the whole line. fighting snow and unusual dry (too dry) conditions - the middle part turned out to be trickier then i thought. so i was very happy when i managed to figure out some flowing powerful yet subtle beta through this part as well - despite some setbacks we always found some new micro-beta-improvements and thus stayed positive and motivated . 

it was just great fun to go for it again and again; despite the obligatory last-move-and-fail-attempt (i just had numbed out and was too scared to go for the last big move to the jug without a pad in the back. this was a very good decision because i even hurt my back when just stepping down! when you get older you may get a bit wiser ;) 




one week after falling at the very last to the jug it all clicked and finally sending during a session with some good friends and my love - when everybody cheered me to the top - was the perfect ending to this 14 year journey!!! 14years is a long time for sure. but i obviously did not spend it "just" trying "story". but it means i was back again and again to try it. and in the end i may have spent more time on this piece of rock then many others that have sent "the story". but that's also because i "train" mostly on my projects. others train mostly in the gym. they get strong in the gym and then send relatively quick on rock. but everybody has to put in the time and work somewhere. it doesn't matter if it is in the gym or on real rock. there is no such thing as a free lunch!!!


victory-scream while holding the heinous swing at the end – picture taken while the actual send-burn!!! with the “head-first-compression beta” the crux sits right at the end – the move to the right (pic above) is at the limit of my span and to hold the following swing took everything i had left in the tank - there is easier beta, but i liked this compression-part so much more i just had to go for it anyway ;) picture by @cat__ballou

so its about time to switch again - onto the next journey - cause its all about the process, the experiences you make; the people you meet; after so much time you start to understand that the final destination doesn’t really matter that much anymore dare to dream big - put in the time and work - focus and enjoy the process - eventually you will send - its all in your mind!!!  



--> movie of the send will be out when i get some more time - will go rather climbing if that happens though ;) - uncut movie will be out soon on @mellowclimbing


on a side note: i was neither able to climb dave's or dai's original beta. what they had climbed was/is even by today's standards super hard!!! and they both had been ahead of their time!!! lucky me there was more suitable beta for me. for me and my beta it still felt like an 8C boulder. may not the hardest (and there is for sure even better beta to climb it), but it would not make much sense to me to call it 8B+. it took its time, i was in good shape; found some beta in „my style“ but still had to dig deep and fight really hard. but most importantly; it was a great journey; this process again that you can turn the impossible into the possible - if you dare to dream big, take your time and keep going no matter what, but still try to act smart - and most of all: it was simply damn fun to climb on this iconic line!!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Short video to my journey with BIG KAT, 8B+

thank you everybody for your encouraging feedback to keep going for my epic's - actually i am in the middle of another one... ;) but more to this one later....

some people have asked if i could make a short vid about the  100+ days process of my journey with BIG-KAT in addition to the more detailed blog i have written . i am not really good at doing video nor do i have the time (work you know... i rather climb when i have some time or spend time with my beautiful wife). but here you go. did put together a short flick. hope you like it. but be warned; some nudeness, screaming, desperation, cursing, and big joy at the end :)

for the full story check my blogpost below: BIG KAT, 8B+. The story to yet anther EPIC









Thursday, March 8, 2018

BIG KAT, 8B+. The story to yet anther EPIC

it may takes me some time to finally climb my projects. but till now i did get them all :) what blows my mind again and again is the process and the journey with each of that amazing lines and still with being 40years old by now what you actually can do when you really want something, when you are passionate, persistent and patient enough and when you are willing to put in the work time and to sacrifice some things - not chocolate though ;)

i already managed to climb "Big-Kat" one and a half years ago (time flies when you get older...) and wanted to do a video-blog ever since to document the process because i really got kicked my (fat) ass a LOT over two years of trying it on and off and had to dig deep to finish it. work, life and climbing got in the way though and i just managed to finish this blog (kind of) right now. the message and the process is timeless though. so here you go with the story and the process to one that did NOT GET AWAY: "BIG KAT, 8B+".

and it was once again not the "usual" three-day-epic. to give a better understanding of what it means to really test your limits i did put together this video-blog. as you can see in the different sequences failure is the name of the game in 99.99% of the time. not glorious at all but it teaches you a lot when you fail. fail again. fail better. send!!!

a special moment when you have failed for so long...
...finally getting onto that 5m slab to top out BIG KAT, 8B+

it seems i have the funny talent to go for bouldering-projects that i can relative quickly climb every time from either one move in or up to the last move. but usually not link it all together. it was not six years of falling at the last move as in the "highlander, 8C" at sustenpass but i still ask myself how i could fail for so long as i could climb big sequences pretty fast. but a very insecure toe-hook at the very first move and also the next foot move troubled me a lot. and when being able to link the start the beta for the upper part was just slightly too insecure as well, or conditions have been shit, or i was too tired after work or whatever. i did fall on EVERY single move. i had to readjust every little bit of beta till it worked perfectly on link. i even fell twice from the top-mantel and this despite having it done a hundred times. turned out it was just too hard when having cold fingers/being super tired. so i went back on the rope for 3hrs and found a slightly better micro-beta. that was the last missing part to the puzzle. next time i was up there i floated up the mantle. perfect ending to another perfect journey.

for sure it would (have been) be "smarter" to go home, train, get back stronger and just send. but then in the end its all about what your motivation is in climbing. as i was young(er) it was all about sending boulders, move on, next one... get as much as you can. but the longer i climbed the more i got interested in the process; solving a puzzle and find a sequence that not just works but that climbs fluid and nice is THE thing for me. i often climb boulders may a bit harder cause i like a particular move/sequence. i really don't mind, very egoistic i do that for myself. i do climb and train indoors as well and i even can enjoy this sessions but i want to be "outside", bouldering on "real rock". i organized my whole life, skipped a career in (big) business (thats what you normally go for with a master in business and economics) to be out there bouldering on rocks. i already enjoy the drive to the boulders, the anticipation, the warm up, the cleaning of the holds (can people please start to clean the holds before they leave!!!), the padding, to get ready for tries on my projects, to find subtle microbetas, to understand moves, body positions, to laugh, to scream, to have fun, to be angry, to be totally focused, to climb, to move. and you can "train" on your projects as well just not nearly as efficient (skin, conditions etc...).


THE one move that got the better out of me: a toe-hook from which i never could say if it stayed or came off despite me being 100% sure i did the exact same move every time. i finally found a body placement that put up the sucess-rate but then made it more difficult to get the next move done. this resulted in me slipping off from move (foothold) two again and again.


i (re) cleaned this line years ago (did not know at that time that @dave graham was already trying this for a bit back in the old days) and was trying it for a bit on and off while working on "der mit dem fels tanzt" and "insanity of grandeur". it felt quite hard and i showed it to numerous people. but nobody really was interested (may cause there was no vid, so no quick tick for quick points ;). then super strong jimmy web came a long and did the FA of the line calling it "big kat, 8B+". suddenly it got more attention and it has been repeated a few times by now. but nobody came even close to repeat it with jimmy's original beta. way too hard. and he thought his way was soft. haha. BEAST!!! the sds is still is a project though. feels nails and morpho. but should be possible for the strong ones with enough wing span. go for it!!!


because i am an old weak lad i then used a kneepad for a knee bar; you think this was an easy move then? 
well go there and try... ;)


i never ever had so many slipping toe- and heel hooks. i knew i was physically ready after the first season working it - but sometimes when i felt strong and wanted to climb it super controlled i pulled myself up too high and suddenly lost the heel- and/or toe-hooks, sometimes i was too low, then my shoe broke on the heel, on my toe... i also slipped a lot off because of numbing out, dry firing or greasing off... even a few times from the move to the lip.


next problem was the heel hook from the standing-start. this was easy for me from the standing-start, even from the second move in, but i lost this heel again and again coming from the real start and on the next match-move i slipped off again and again as well.


the solution here was that i placed my heel 3!!!cm higher before the match and it did not slip one more time!!! i tried this before but it did not work as i then lost my heel one move before. so i had to replace it in between the two moves..... micro-beta!!!!


and then you feel super strong and 100% sure you are going to send. you pull up too high and you just slip off footholds
.... haha


and so i finally was ready to send. but the next problem was the good rail where you had to match. as it was getting warmer and warmer the friction got very bad. i had a few days with super strong foen wind. but then it was so dry that my skin turned into glass and i just slipped off. watch in the vid how desperate i try to "find friction".


fighting bad conditions.


all this can lead to frustration as well. especially the slipping off (despite still having power) got me sometimes really angry. but that was lasting normally just for a few seconds. then i was all about analyzing and getting ready for next try because up to today i got them all.


to "save" your ears i disabled the sound here. its not "nice" and i am not proud of it but its part of the process and it feels so good to relief some steam from time to time... even though its not a swizzy-thing to be that "outgoing"... ;)
i really don't mind falling off boulders because i am tired or too weak. but i don't like slipping off. so this big-cat-thing was a real test. i was really close but could not send it. so i stepped back and deconstructed every move in the crux again and put it down into the ground - but there is still a sds waiting.. ;)

when you miss all the good conditions then you have to go this extra mile again. as night sessions (at 3am) and foen-wind did not work as it was just too warm in spring. the friction was really bad and i just kept sliding off the holds, even once going for the lip. so i simply went back on a regular afternoon after lunchtime and after working in the morning. it was mid may and already 20+C in chirionico at the parking. so it was way too warm. there was nobody around, no wind... but i finally had my perfect beta and the will to put this beauty (and/or beast) down before summer would hit hard with temps in the 30C range. so i did pull on - and finally did put it down into submission.

the SEND-GO was a nice one as i did just one little minor error. just loving it when the pieces finally come together and one move flows into the next :) but it was a real fight. its always a big fight for me. it never felt easy when i sent a longstanding project. never!!!

with the right beta i could have climbed this already one year earlier. but then again. i am loving the process and its also my "training" and the thing that keeps me going. solving the puzzle so every move went down perfectly and smooth into the next was what i enjoyed most. onto the next one!


finally THE send of BIG KAT  - 
a special moment when you failed for so long
- mid may, mid day - 20+Celsius - shitty friction - nobody around  - but put it into the ground
- finally the perfect go -





Monday, March 20, 2017

"Defanti" in chironico (lavorgo)

Disclaimer; I don't get anything out of this blogpost (no $$$, no nothing). i simply like the food, the place and the people running the place who are really passionate about cooking and are very kind hosts as well and also care for us boulder-freaks ;)
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spring is here in southern swizzy and ticino-season is in full swing! so where to eat and stay when bouldering in chronic and you are for once not into pizza and dirtbag?! Where to go when you quickly are in need of some food, grocery things, chalck, another crashpad, tape, headlamp or guidbook?!

cesare, owner of hotel "defanti" just purchased two saturn-moonpads which you can rent at the hotel "defanti". there are even three more pads to rent out.

well try hotel "defanti" in lavorgo. its located right at the base of the valley before heading up to the boulder area of chironico. its a nice little restaurant and hotel and has small grocery shop inside as well. i can really recommend the hotel and the restaurant. the hotel its nice nice and the rooms clean with very comfy beds (ask for the rooms with new mattresses). tell them that you are bouldering and you even get the special "boulder"-discount for your stay!




after a hard day bouldering jesse bonin (@jessejessjeh)
 enjoying some delicious desert at restaurant "defanti" in lavorgo/chironico

if you are into something different then pizza for once you have to get dinner at "defanti"! sandra and cesare really care about their place and about food. its not as cheap as a pizza, but (for switzerland) very reasonable prized. you absolutely have to try the "stone-soup" and  the dessert "flirt" (ask for it even if it is not on the menu). when you want to go for dinner on saturday may call/ask for a reservation. its normally filling up fast on saturdays.


there is also a little grocery-shop where you get everything you need. you can also rent out some moon-crashpads. get chalck, tape and the ticino's bouldering guidebooks. all you need to be and get a happy boulderer ;)



Monday, December 5, 2016

updates

well, actually a lack of updates. sorry for that, but i was just too busy (with work) the last few months. and when i have some spare time i rather go climbing then writing up blogs (not) - sorry for that ;)

i therefore decided to put up an instagram-account as its way less time-consuming. feel free to follow my climbing-adventures there (klick on the pic below).

if i manage it i will still (from time to time) put up a more into details blog-post here on my blog.

keep rocking, martin


Thursday, June 9, 2016

highlander, 8C - finally - the (s)end


2016 - what to do (change) to finally send the "highlander"?! i did make a plan - and it worked out :)
pic by angelawagner.ch

in winter 2016 i sat down at my table at home. i knew i had to change some things. i was getting 39 years old. and i could just not "afford" to go down on that last move off the "highlander" for another six years. i knew i lacked crimp-power. the short "hangboard-test" back in 2013 and in fall 2015 had shown me the potential. so i decided to go for that again. luckily my fingers managed to cope better this time. still not a 100% but better. i reduced my workload at my job for better recovery (=more sleep!!!) and more flexibility to be at the crag when conditions were prime. 

as the "highlander" is pretty long (around 30moves) i needed "endurance" as well. so i was three times a week at the gaswerk-climbing-gym for some 30minutes-non-stop-climbing-sessions. very easy routes. max 5a. it was all about active recovery and building up some basic endurance. (people were laughing at me doing these easy climbs. but i always was more interested in who laughs last. this was followed by some core-workouts, antagonist-training and stretching. the stretching was important as well as there is a crucial foot-move in the middle of the crux. with enough flexibility you do not have to pull so hard on the holds to replace your foot.

last but not least and may the hardest part; i did cut my daily after dinner chocolate-intake from 50-100g to 25-50g and went for some light running/biking three times a week. this resulted in my weight going down from 72.5kg to 69kg.

2016 - first signs of better power. first ascent of the sds to the beautiful "heritage" in valle bavona


focus
pic by angelawagner.ch

already in march we had some unusual warm weather up in the higher mountains. so off i was to sustenpass to make use of the great spring-conditions. there was still a lot of snow. so i had to walk up two hours with my splitboard and shovel off snow for hours. but it was totally worth it. it’s truly beautiful up there when the road is closed. and thanks to some nice "foen-wind" the air was not too cold but super dry. friction from hell. and i immediately could see the difference to the last years. the crux sequence suddenly felt super solid. even easy. i finally managed to step up my game and leave that five-year plateau. i clearly was stronger then ever before.

first crux of the "highlander"
- it took some time to feel comfortable doing it without a pad... pic by angelawagner.ch

this was the moment i got nervous again. i did not feel like that for years. but now i really knew this spring was different. i felt in great shape and already on my second day up there i managed to get through the crux move for the very first time ever. after falling off that move for six years this was a really surreal moment. interesting enough i still could feel my fingertips. despite just some eight degrees and bit wind.

first crux of the "highlander" - physical.
pic by angelawagner.ch

at the resting point i could feel how i got tired. so i decided to go for it. this last five-move-7B-sequence is really powerful. and almost everybody who climbs "le reve de faire, 8B" (the second part of the "highlander-project") goes down there at least once. already years ago i had sworn to myself that i would not let go there when coming from the "highlander-start". i had the beta dialed. i was able to climb it really really tired.

bad thing was i had no pinky on the second last hold and did not catch the hold perfectly. with the last remaining power i was able to match the hold. i tried to bump my left hand into the little slot but missed it. one split second later my fingers did open their grip and sent me back onto the pads. sitting down in the pads i did not know if i should be happy to finally have made it through the crux orbe angry i managed (so martin like) to go down on the very last move.

going for the move that sent me down for six years - looks easy on the picture. but it is not. at least not for me.
pic by angelawagner.ch

three days later i was back there. and sure enough it did not happen. i was failing three times super close on the crux move. then bad weather hit. snow again. lucky me the following week i had some free days. day one was spent with hiking up with my splitboard again. shoveling the fresh snow off. day two i was up there for climbing. this time ready to finish the business. 

first try was very good. i did stick the crux-move but lost my feet. i did hold the swing but dry-fired off in the very last moment. BIG bummer. this was a big effort and i was really tired. i needed over two hours of rest and lots of food. when i was somehow ready again it already was 7:30pm and getting cold at 2'000 meter above sea level. so i literally was running trough the sequences to be faster than the cold. suddenly i was up there in the crux-sequence again. the move never ever went so solid. perfect climbing. no error. i felt still strong and after a short rest did set up for that last sequence. 

setting up for the last part. easier terrain. but very physical. gets the better of you when you are really tired.
went down once up left on the last move. and was so close on falling on the very last move on the send go as well!!!
pic by angelawagner.ch

and again my pinky was not on the hold. but this time i managed to rearrange it and go for the final move. then while going for the intermediate sloper i suddenly was empty. i was hanging there. but i could feel that if i would do something with my left arm i would fall down. if i would do something with my right arm i would fall down. i was unable to move and i was laughing at myself that i would go down with the finish-jug in front of my face.

in an act of panic and desperation i bumped my right hand up out of the shoulder. somehow it stayed on the second and better sloper. now all i had to do was to lock with my right and go with my left to the monster-finish-jug. easy. but watching my right arm in pure disbelief it just did not do anything. then instincts and experience of twenty years of climbing  kicked in. i flagged my left leg and kicked it hard twice. the resulting swing got my left arm to the intermediate and finally - thirteen years after i first tried this line - into the big finish-jug. it was done. i could not really believe it. may i still can't today.

thirteen years after touching it first. finally on top of the "highlander".
pic by angelawagner.ch

arriving at the top i was so tired i had to sit/lay down for a few minutes. i literally was not able to stand. sitting there on top of the boulder all alone in the middle of this natural amphitheater of big mountains i could see the moon rising. nearly too much to take. after packing up and leaving the "highlander" i may have had my best moment in all this years up there.  the ride and hike down at 9:30pm in bright full moon light with my splitboard was just amazing. words can not describe these moments.

to finish this story i would like to say thanks to all my friends and people who i met and supported me during this journey. in the end i climbed it just by myself. but i am well aware it would not have been possible without all of you. now i can finally quit climbing and start playing chess ;)

on the approach/way down when the road is still closed. as beautiful as it gets!


this may sounds cliché. but after spending so much time up there, putting a grade to the "highlander" seems totally irrelevant to me. when you spend thirteen years of your life to climb a line it really does not matter anymore if its a 6A, 7A, 8A, 9A, 10A... it simply does not matter anymore. all i wanted was to climb that line i had imagined all these years ago. the question was: would i climb it. or not. 
  
for me it’s my hardest boulder for sure. i was not able to complete the highlander when i climbed all the other harder boulders i did in the past years. so for me it's in the  8C-area...  - ("soft" - (because i am so strong) to swing with the mainstream these days). but then i was sooooo close again and again over the years. and its not really my style. its more about finger power. and finger power is not where i am particularly strong and its pretty long. when i finally climbed through the crux-sequence on my send-go it did not feel that super hard anymore. but that was because i am clearly stronger then the previous years. not because the boulder got easier. and despite feeling strong through the crux i still nearly went down on the very last easier move to the finish jug. when something is at your limit it gets tricky. its may a big step up for me. but for somebody stronger its may just a minor step up from other problems. well i have problems myself sometimes to say if something is 6A or 6A+... ;)

so i am sure others will find this easier. may there is better beta (i will write another blog about this). and others will find it hard(er). everybody has his own perception of difficulty. and that is totally ok. grade-discussions about "norming" a grade for "everybody" therefore normally are pointless. you just can not (literally) force somebody else to how hard a route/boulder has to feel for him/her. and if you climb a bit longer you may see one day that there is a lot more to enjoy in climbing then pointless discussions (in the internet) about grades. and honestly i don't really care. climbing outdoors for me is not about others in the sense of competition. i don't want to be stronger then mister or miss xxx. that is not the reason why i went up to sustenpass for thirteen years. 

i (still) have lines in mind i want to climb. some harder and some easier. with the "highlander" it was the same. this was not about others. this was all about me and this piece of rock. very selfish i know. but i am not sorry. the question was not 7A or 8A. the question was getting up or not. very simple. finally i did get up. very simple. this fact and the journey to that special day and the lessons learnt is all that matters. even though i could have just walked around the boulder to get to the top. very strange thing to spend that much (life)time for something you could get so much easier (getting to the top).  but it’s very often the same in life. it does not matter too much what you do. but it does matter how you do it. go for it. whatever this may be for you. good thing though; "there can be more then just one... "- ...and chess can wait... i am off to scramble on some rock... ;)