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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

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