After our trip to Yosemite, my right knee started to hurt. I kept on climbing for almost a week, but than I had to stop because it was getting worse.
It always sucks to be injured, but this time I took advantage of the situation doing a lot of campus board and no-foot training… which turned out to be quite useful, as I felt that I had lost a lot of power and core strength after my last big wall-trips.
After 10 days without wearing the climbing shoes, the knee started to get better and I decided to join Riky (and friends) for a couple of days of sport climbing in Ticino/Ossola.
After a (crazy) cold afternoon at Ponte Brolla we moved to Ossola, where we were supposed to meet some friends and climb in a sunny crag called “Osso”. I’d never climbed there before, but I heard about it because of its hardest route: “Lapoterapia”. This beautiful 20 meters-long steep crack, bolted back in the years by Maurizio Pellizon, was first climbed some years ago by the strong and reserved local Alessandro Manini, which suggested the grade of 8c. In 2013 another italian climber, the super strong Gabri Moroni, made the second ascent of the route, while many others were/are also trying to repeat the line.
When we arrived at the crag, I was surprised by the beauty of the line: I was expecting to see a nice route, but I couldn’t image to find myself at the bottom of such a cool piece of rock!
Seeing the thin crack, I immediately started to wonder if it could also be doable on gear, as this seemed pretty logical to me. I didn’t have any gear with me (and anyways I wouldn’t have started ground up just on gear!), so I decided to give it a go clipping the bolts.
The climbing was as good as the look of the line, and it involved some powerful and tricky moves, which weren’t easy to link. The crux move requires a lot of body tension, and it was really important (for me) to find the right body position in order to get the good jam, from where the route gets easier.
I had immediately a good go, but I got numb fingers and messed up my beta… and I fell. Not that bad, as we were supposed to climb in the same crag also on the next day.
Luckily, after a “not so healthy” night, I managed to climb it on the next day :-) I was obviously happy about my ascent, but somehow I felt that (for me) it wasn’t the right way to climb that piece of rock… so I drove back home thinking to come back as soon as possible with gear and pads: the idea to try to climb it on trad was just too tempting!
After just one day at home, and a physiotherapy treatment for the knee, I was already driving back to Ossola! I arrived late in the evening, and, as I was alone, I decided to rap down the route and check out the gear placements by headlamp. I wanted to save some time for my attempts on the following days.
As you can’t place any gear until the fourth bolt, I decided to use two crash-pads to “protect” that section. It isn’t super hard…but I wanted to keep my ankles safe for the rest of the season ;-)
The first crux is protected by a small but good cam (if it pops you fall straight on the ground) and the following sections by some micro cams. Doing it on trad, the real crux becomes to place the small cams before the hardest section, as the placement is not so obvious and the holds aren’t really good. From there, you have to climb the hardest section (long runout) before you can place some more gear and do the last section.
I went back to the “Hotel Caddy”, prepared some food and went to bed thinking about the route; I was still wondering if I could do it on gear, and how much time I would need to hopefully send it.
The next day I met up with Riky and Fabrizio and we went straight at the crag. I was curious to see if the route would be much harder to climb while placing the gear, and how confident I would be with the cams!
I had a couple of goes trying to understand how to place the gear and testing some falls, before I surprisingly felt already ready for a real attempt.
I felt really focused, confident and safe while climbing, but I fell going for the good jam which marks the end of the hard section. I was pumped! …but luckily the gear didn’t pop. This was how I realized that you get pumped way faster when you have to also place the gear ;-)
The real problem was to protect the crux, as the cams aren’t easy to place and you have to do it from not so good holds… and you really don’t want to place that C3 randomly, as you have to do all the hard section before to place the next protection! ;-)
I figure out a smarter way to place the cams, and got ready for another try. I had a small problem before the first crux, as I broke a nut placement while testing it pulling on the rope…but luckily the second cam looked safe and I managed to stay focus on the climb. This time things felt way smoother and I reached the good jam… but I fell right after, where I first believed I couldn’t screw it up anymore!
It was time to call it a day and, even if I couldn’t send it, I was happy to see how things were going. I was already looking forward to the next session on the route!
When you travel alone, it’s not so easy to find a climbing partner…especially in such a small crag… so I wasn’t sure to be able to climb on the next day. Luckily a friend of a friend, Matteo, was keen to check out the that crag, and we decided to team up on the next day. Thanks!
I felt super confident and this time, after a quick warm up, I managed to climb through the crux and kept it together until the top! :-) Apart from the actual ascent, what I was particularly pleased about is the mental progress I’ve witnessed. I was super focused just on the climbing, ready to commit and I felt way more confident with the gear than ever before. This gave me a lot of confidence for the future and some other projects!
Big thanks to Riky and to all the friends who had supported me during those days: it wouldn’t have been possible without you!