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A short video of The Vice President, Rocklands

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RRG chapter 4: Southern Smoke Direct and the early end of the trip

As I wrote in the last post, I felt quite confident about the possibility to send “Southern Smoke Direct” after a rest day… and so happened! After the warming up I decided to do again SS, to get some endurance and to be sure not to fall on that part if I could stick the first boulder. I obliged myself to clip every draw and to climb fast without to use the rests, and I was really surprised when I reached the chain without getting pumped: that reassured me a lot, as I was quite scared to fall on the upper part, if I would have stick the bottom.

After me, it was the turn of Melissa. Two days before she also looked really good on SS; she always fell to reach a weird two-fingers pocket, but than she was able to link it to the top. This time she looked really solid: she climbed very well through this section and she finished it, fighting her way to the top!

I was very happy for her and that pushed me to do the same on my route. I made a first try, but I struggled with the feet and I messed it up; I got really frustrated, as I was always missing it for some small and stupid mistakes, but I tried to stay focused. After a short rest I gave another attempt: I struggled a lot to reach the bad sloper, but I finally sticked that move and I reached the good rail; after the last go on SS I was quite sure to be able to do the upper part without too many problems, and so after a quick shake, I climbed my way to the anchor and I clipped the chain of my first 9a. What could be better than send the same day??

It’s “strange”, but even if I’ve  always thought that that grade would have been a great goal to reach in my climbing life, in that moment I was just happy to stand at the top of another nice line, thinking at the next one!


After that we moved together with Mirko (Caballero) and his father to the “Purgatory”, where Melissa and him wanted to try “Lucifer”.

The line is really nice, but after a quick attempt I decided to not try it again, as I struggled too much t with a small two-fingers pocket and, as I prefer to have a look on “Golden Ticket”.

Melissa looked immediately pretty good on it and it was impressive to see her falling on the last hard moves already on her second go.

Unfortunately the last days haven’t been really productive on my side; it’s not so easy to climb in two different sectors in a day, especially as we couldn’t drive our RV until the parking of the “Purgatory ” and so we had to walk 30 minutes to reach it.

I took almost 3 days of rest, trying to save some energies for a final shot on “Golden Ticket” the last 2 days, and supporting Melissa on her project. The evening of our second last day, I finally made it to “the Chocolate Factory” to try the route, which was supposed to be my goal at the beginning of the the trip: I was super happy and stressed at the same time. I worked out all the moves and I immediately felt really good on it; I was quite confident to do it on the second go, so after a big rest, I gave a try.

I climbed without many problems to the last part and I felt very good; after a quick shake at the last rest, I did the hard moves on the big slopy rail and I reached the last small crimps, which lead to a good two finger pockets just before the last easy part. I don’t know how, but I forgot to grab it as side pull and I hit the worst part of the hold, falling down.

I was very disappointed with my self and my attempt, as I really wanted to do this one: its’s by far the best looking line in the Red!

We spent our last day at the “Purgatory”, where Melissa got again extremely close  to send “Lucifer”, falling almost 10 times at the second last move.

It’s always hard to leave with a defeat, but at least we have two good reasons to come back again!

I’m now in Chicago, where I dropped off the RV and I’m flying to Milano in a few hours. It’s sad to leave the Gorges, but at the same time I’m quite happy to go back to the healthy Europe and  I’m super motivated to jump back on the Saustal project!!!

I will try to reassume the whole trip during the next week…

stay tuned for more and have fun

RRG: chapter 3

Hi everybody,

our 3rd week in the Gorges is now over. We climbed 4 more days since my last post and we are now starting our last week of the trip… time runs too fast! :(

So, what’s happened in the past days…

Melissa finally sent “50 word for Pump”, after she fell on the very last move two days before; in the meanwhile I managed to climb in a few goes “Southern Smoke”,  a very nice and pumpy 8c+ just on the right of the previous one. We also visited for the first time the “Gold Cost” sector, in my opinion for sure one of the best wall in the Red, but which is quite tricky to reach with our big RV… we just did a few classics, as we had to go back early, but I really would like to go back there to try the beautiful “24 Karats”: it looks amazing!

After a chilling rest day, I managed to go back at the Chocolate Factory, where I tried a few times “Pure Imagination 8c+” during the previous weeks. After a quick warm-up, I finally understood the weird move on the lower part, where I fell on all my attempts, and I easily climbed my way up to the chain. Another “5 stars” line here in the Red is done.

After that we moved back to the “Bob Marley” sector, where Melissa is trying and getting closer on Southern Smoke; I decided to take  a look on the direct start of these one and all works well… I’m confident that after the rest day, we will both send our “projects”.

Have fun

A special thank goes to François Lebeau for the cool pictures!

Francois Lebeau Photographe(R)
phone: 917-688-5708


RRG part two

We’re already at the middle of the trip… days run so fast when you ‘re doing what you love and you are having good times.

After the hot first days, we had almost one week of crazy bad weather: Sandy, the storm which hit NY city, didn’t arrive until here, but we could feel its influence. The temperatures dropped near 0° C and it started to rain day and night; luckily our (motor)home is always waiting us just under the cliff, ready to welcome us with a hot shower and some good food. The camping car’s life is definitely very funny and relaxing: I’m really enjoying it.

It seems that everybody had the same idea for the fall… there is a huge group of strong climber here and it’s very inspiring to learn from each other and to hang out together.

Adam Ondra is also in the Red for two weeks, but after the first days he has already crushed everything and he gave an awesome show by on sighting and flashing the hardest routes of the Gorges: see him climbing Golden Ticket was for sure the most inspiring climbing effort I’ve ever seen!

On my part, I managed to climb some more classics on sight and “50 words for pump”, a steep 8c+ on amazing huecos. It was impressive to see Melissa climbing on this one, she just missed the red point for 2 millimeters… but I’m sure she will do it after the rest day.

Now I took 2 rest days, as I felt very tired and out of shape; hopefully the rest will help and tomorrow I’ll be back on the rock :)

Stay tuned