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Sweating on Swiss boulders
The end of November 2012 was nigh when my wife and I slowly left the many Czech breweries and approached Swiss granite boulders. Before coming to Switzerland, we had stayed in Petrohrad for two weeks with some friends from back home. Unfortunately, climbing was virtually impossible because of all the late autumn snow. You can imagine that the beginning of my “serious bouldering” in Switzerland was far from easy.
First stop: Murgtal. This is a narrow valley, some 200 km north of Ticino. I wanted to try Entlinge 8c there, even though miracles were not to be expected since all we did in Czech Republic was drink beer and play games. Nevertheless, I felt the rock in this 60º overhang and expected my fingers to refuse to obey me. This, however, was not the case. The problem was my knee – in the fourth or fifth try something cracked! I could hardly move for the next two days and I began to panic: “Fuck, what if I won’t be able to climb at all now on this trip?!” It was a good thing that the weather was bad the next few days and my knee had time to heal.
So, here we are: Chironico! I was getting more and more into shape, but I was still worried about the harder problems. I didn’t get much chance to climb hard boulders this year and I didn’t exactly feel “Olympic”. Nevertheless, the list of conquered boulders grew rapidly, from numerous easier problems to 8bs. Let me just mention a few: Bridge over trouble water 7c+/8a, Rosswell 8a+, Conquistador 8a+ and Shadowfax 8b.
I missed the company of other climbers quite often or at least when I needed great motivation for harder boulders. It is somehow easier to engage with a boulder if you’re surrounded by fellow climbers, even though it is you that has to climb it in the end.
After a successful weekend spent in the company of six climbers from Slovenia, we moved on to Valle Verzasca, a valley that stretches all the way from Lago Maggiore up into the snowy mountains along the Verzasca River, full of polished granite rock and turquoise, crystal clear and ice cold water. The climbing area Brione lies in the village of the same name. The village, surrounded by all the rock, is a real Swiss jewel. The granite here is much finer than in Chironico or even Cresciano. After ten days of climbing, I was now quite fit. I managed to conquer Disney production 8b and Amber 8b, both in one day. It was a crazy day! I believe in following the principle of climbing one day, resting the second day, then climbing again on the third day. I feel I am most productive this way. After my rest day, I attempted to climb General disarray 8b, which really wasn’t my style. I am apparently too short for this one. An excellent problem has the same starting point as General disarray: Marilyn Monroe 8a. I conquered Marilyn in just a few tries. After lunch, I approached Vecchio Leone 8b alone and with just one crash pad. I had tried this one a few years back, on another trip around Europe, I was, however, unsuccessful. I had a bad feeling about it now as well; I hadn’t even managed the hardest move yet. I said to myself: “Are you a man or aren’t you?!” and rested for 10 minutes. My fingers were now really cold, so I pressed the “Record” button on my camera and tried again. I succeeded! I couldn’t believe it! Three 8bs and one 8a in just two days of climbing! Excellent!
After this, we headed back to Chironio, pausing in Cresciano. My new project was La Proue 8b, which I climbed really fast so that we could get to Chironico as soon as possible. “Flowers” were waiting!
I had battled with From dirt grows flowers 8c when we first came to Chironico already. Quite successfully actually – I had managed to do all the moves except for the last one. This time, I was even better. The last move was mine; the time has come to do the whole thing from the beginning. After some unsuccessful attempts, I understood that the problem wasn’t all that problematic for me, except for the top-out. Each and every climbing attempt was good, but not good enough. I fell from the last hold so many times … All I’d have to do is reach out and grab the next hold and an 8c would be mine … Maybe some other time then.
The last month of our ten month trip was, as far as climbing goes, really successful! I am very happy to have climbed all those boulders, even though the list does not (yet) contain an 8c.
3 months later …
In the first weekend of March 2013, I returned to Switzerland with six other Slovenian climbers. We decided to spend our weekend there, get some sunshine and feel some rock (there has been no rock climbing for me for at least a month). In the morning, we climbed in the Paese sector, shirtless since the sun was so strong. In the afternoon, we decided to check out the Schatental sector, home of my “flowers”. I said to myself that it can’t hurt to at least try, since we’re already here. The first attempt was actually very promising. After a 10 minutes rest, I tried again. I had to work hard towards the end of the problem and I fought with the top-out like crazy, but, in the end, I SUCCEEDED! I finally picked those “flowers” and made myself a lovely bouquet!