How times flies!
Many days went down since my last blog! There are two reason for that fact. The first is that we had one of the worst winter seasons ever. The weeks before Christmas has been wet and warm, therefore everything was soaked or completely unclimbable. After this period the cold came and there was also no chance to climb more than one minute in a role. There has been temperatures around minus 20 degrees and every day a strong wind. Each rock was dry and the countryside looked magnificent. I gave it a try once and realized very quickly: “Everything feels like glass and yes! It´s dry now but it doesn´t help at all!”
The only opportunity to get in contact with non artificial climbs were the holidays (ok, maybe I’m to soft now for the minus 20 and I’m sick of driving for hours and hours through the Frankenjura to climb at one dry square meter of natural rock). In hope for sunny days and good conditions we started in direction to Ticino. It´s nice to have the opportunity to drive to an area like Ticino just for a few climbing days! Especially as the weather situation is normally much better in this season. It could be possible that the Ticino area is the only area in most parts of Europe without permanently rain during the winter time, at least for a few days in a role.
I make it short! Since New Year’s Eve I´ve been to Ticino twice. In December/January I stayed around 10 days and in February 6 days again. On our first visit the weather was unpredictable and if one had luck the good days were the climbing days and the rainy ones the rest days. I was in between but had still enough good climbing days to be satisfied. The first problem I did was “Second Life”. The rock quality is not the best but the line is amazing. It´s a huge boulder and the line takes all the way from the right side to the left top through a 30° shield. The crux is to be able to grab slopy holds at the end of the problem after powerful big starting moves and a burly middle part. I think it could be around 8A+. Because of the rain it was better to think about climbing in the sunny parts of the valley. I Portici is quite new added to the valley by Fred Nicole and without any doubts one of the best, although it isn´t a boulder which stands alone. The problem is part of more or less a bigger slab and forms the right finish of it. The climb itself consists of two different parts of climbing. The first one is much harder than the second endurance part. The variety of holds is huge. Every style and shape is given. For God sake with one exception: Pockets, no pockets! At the beginning you must climb on slopy holds and using good toe and heel hooks to squeeze them together. A weird jump (you can´t see the next hold while initializing the jump) leads into the finishing part. I was really surprised to climb it first go since the start felt so uncontrollable. I think Fred didn´t gave it a grade and so do I! The line stands for its own. I finished my first trip with one first ascent in the neighbor valley “First hell second toe” 8A and a repetition of “Dreams are full of maybes”. The second one is a really cool crimpy wall with a perfect height. Congratulations to Gu for this first ascent!
The same I must say about “San Ichiban”. It´s also a hidden gem apart of the main roads of Ticino. I really love the granite with its big and rounded features which I had the pleasure to climb on at the second trip. I did a first ascent variation to the original problem that goes to the left into a high and slightly dangerous top out. The two boulders are totally different! San Ichiban is shorter and involves powerful moves. The variation is more an endurance climb. I think both deserve the grade 8A+.
Another thing I am a bit proud of is my repetition of Blocks Addictions. Although it´s only graded 8A it has a deeper meaning to me. I tried the problem many years and had no glue how to do the two-move power sequence. Without the internet maybe it would stay a secret to me until the end of my days. The solutions I saw was so logical to me and I said to me: “Come on, try it again”! The method suites me perfectly and I was able to climb this boulder after many years.
This is climbing!