To start with I was only managing a few routes a day in the 6a to 6b range and left feeling broken.
My skin hurt. My fingers hurt. My back hurt. My arms hurt. My feet hurt.
After a few days of this, I began to feel frustrated - I was desperate to get back to where I was before the injuries, illness and van building duties that kept me out of action since September.
I was throwing myself at the rock with gusto, but the climbing here is very technical; Finale rewards patience (and footwork) over enthusiasm.
The frustration ruined my crag psych, which spilled over to affect Clare as well - I wasn't a fun person to climb with.
I should have known better, I've been here before.
After a bit of "heated discussion" on the matter, on Tuesday I realised I was behaving like a child, and resolved to try harder to relax and enjoy where I am, instead of thinking of where I want to be and immediately things began to improve.
On Wednesday we went up to Falesia della Luna - a short crag with quite cruxy routes that didn't really suit my style - and onsighted six routes up to 6b.
After a rest day, Nic appeared in town for the weekend, so I headed up with him to Bric Scimarco - Superior for a Friday evening climb. Nic's non ti prioccupare attitude to climbing (and life in general) was just what I needed to help settle me down, and the sector proved to be an ideal place to show myself I wasn't doing too badly.
After warming up on a couple of long easy routes, I went for Tutti Questi Temerari Uccelli - a 32m 6c. It was more my usual style of climbing with a steep, powerful crux on good holds.
On my onsight attempt I lost composure, concentrated too much on my hands, cut loose, tried to campus, and failed.
Getting back on I tried the same sequence, but took the time to really place my feet well; I comfortably reached over to the jug at the end of the crux. There was a bit of climbing left, but nothing too difficult and as I clipped the chains I was a little annoyed: Just a bit more composure, or a bit more finger strength, and I'd have onsighted that!
By the time I reached the ground I was already in a better mindset; I read the route well and picked the right sequence for me at the crux, and in a few weeks time my composure will be better, my fingers stronger and my footwork tidier; in fact it was good that I didn't have the strength to campus - I wouldn't have learned anything from it.
I sent the route first redpoint, which left time for one more line. Nic went up Hyperzot (34m, 7a) and watching him climb I tossed up in my mind - have a go or take a sensible warm down?
Nic got to the chains and asked:
"What do you want me to do?"
"How was it?"
"Crux is tricky but I think the rest is quite climbable."
"OK, leave the draws in and I'll have a go."
Having already watching him climb it, I pumped Nic for the beta and went for the flash. The crux was high on the route with a rest immediately below, and I climbed everything up to it pretty cleanly.
I phsyched myself up and went for it - some crimpy moves round an arete, then a reach to a tufa blob at the back of a dihedral. I set my feet well and stretched over. As my left hand touched the rock, the fingers of my right hand popped off and I was in the air.
So close, yet this time I was not annoyed. I'd read the footwork correctly, kept my composure, and executed the moves well - I simply didn't have the strength to stick it.
That will come. Just like a route, project Get In Shape needs a little patience - and if there's one thing I have a lot of right now it's time.
After another rest day to let the fingers recover, we joined Nic and Simone at Placca dei Maleducati - another new crag for us, this time just down the road from our home base at Monte Cucco.
Clare and I started on some shorter lines to the left of the crag - these were quite dirty, technical and hard. One line - Via Centrale (6b) - defeated me and I had to pull on a draw to finish and clean the route.
Further along the routes became longer and better, but still with a very technical style - Nic tells me the alpine club take students here to learn footwork and I can see why.
Il Falcetto Picheitto E Il Mangiatore Di Mosche was a beautiful 20m 6a that made me think a bit at times, then next to it was K-pax (6b+, 20m). Simone had some difficulty working the crux, and as I tied in to have a go he said to me "let's see your style". I immediately felt under pressure to perform, to make a good impression on the locals.
Once I got under way however this fell away, and I climbed with much more freedom than I have to date. I nailed the crux, and apart from wasting energy stopping to clip just before reaching a good rest, I knew I was climbing well. I clipped the chains and let out a whoop of joy... the numbers did not matter - I was as proud of that onsight as I would have been on a steep 7a.
I may seek out some "harder" lines in my style again before I leave Finale, but for now I'm going to stick with the technical climbing - see if I can learn to climb these 6bs like a local.
First lesson learnt.
|Crux of K-pax - photo by Nicola Ciancaglini|
|Then a super-strenous clip, two moves from a jug... D'OH! Photo by Nicola Ciancaglini.|
|Simone on the super-wild looking Les Couleurs d'un Autre Monde (6b)...|
|... and sending in style.|
|Bit of rest day fun...|