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Insanity of Grandeur

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Insantiy of Grandeur, 8C – Chironico. Pic by angelawagner.ch

Already back in 2004 I was sitting underneath this big boulder in the 101-area at Chironico. I wanted to try the newly established problems “Einfisch” and “Delusion” but unintendedly tried them from a lower (and much harder) start. I could not do one move from that lower start but also was unable to climb more then a few moves from the existing problems. But from the very moment I was hooked up by the features and the lines on that impressive boulder, it looked just too good not to be climbed.

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Insantiy of Grandeur, 8C – Chironico. Pic by angelawagner.ch

In 2009 I was back and managed to send “Einfisch” – and started to have a look at that low-start again. It took a while. After a lot of puzzle-solving and many falls from the very last moves I manged to establish “Der mit dem Fels tanzt, 8C” in late spring 2012. Right after this ascent I had a look a the logical other line to this funky and powerful lowstart. Trying to exit straight over “Delusion”. I made good use of my form and was getting close but injured myself pretty bad on another project. Meanwhile visiting strongman Dai Koyamda did the first asent of the line and called it “Insanity of Grandeur, 8C”. After one year of rehab I was back and getting close again but then winter hit and it was just too cold. Next spring I managed to fall twice a day two moves from the lip and injured my hamstrings because of pulling too hard with my leg.

Insantiy of Grandeur, 8C – Chironico. Pic by angelawagner.ch

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Insantiy of Grandeur, 8C – Chironico. Pic by angelawagner.ch

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Insantiy of Grandeur, 8C – Chironico. Pic by angelawagner.ch

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Insantiy of Grandeur, 8C – Chironico. Pic by angelawagner.ch

Coming back last fall I felt and climbed really strong in November. But I kept freezing off for weeks just two moves underneath the lip. Then it got bit warmer and I managed to climb twice up to the lip but still had very cold and went down twice on the mantle with frozen fingers and cramping forearms. I knew I could climb this boulder any day but the odds seemed to be against me. Winter was finally knocking on the door and after three months of climbing constantly on and above my physical limit I could feel like my form was going down and my body and my mind really needed a rest. But when you are so close – you can’t just walk away can you?

So I went down to Ticino again for that one last day before winter would hit. On every single drive over the last two months I had been a 100% sure I would send the very day. This day I was not. I felt sore and tired and it was one of the rare days my psyche was not really there.

Down there I was. Winter one day away. So I just went for it again. You never know until you tried. But before I set off for another try I went back to check that mantle again. After climbing for so many years you can “feel” when a move does feel “right or not”. And this mantle felt “ok” but just not “right”. After another ten times mantling over the lip it suddenly clicked. The mantle suddenly went so smooth I could just not believe it. All I had to do was to move my body a bit different. To fully trust my feet instead of crimping down that shitty sidepull like a madman. More power is always much apreciated but dont’ forget to step back from time to time. After all the years on this boulder I still found better beta. It’s definelty worth to watch others, get new ideas and let your creativity do the work. Climb and train hard – but always smart ;)

After I found this new beta I immediately wanted to give it a go. But I knew it better and for one last time I had to keep my calm. I waited for my friend Ronny to arrive for an afterwork-nightsession. With his help I did not had to carry a chalkbag (with a hot stone in it) and no head torch as well. Neither did I had to worry about flying over the pads and down into the woods (what I did once on a solo mission; scary if you are all alone, especially in the middle of the night…). And as much as I like to climb alone, the presence of a friend can give you just that little bit of extra motivation.

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Insantiy of Grandeur, 8C – Chironico. Pic by angelawagner.ch

So I waited and it was totally worth it! On my second try of the day I was lucky enough to make it trough the bottom-part and I did not let go anymore. I climbed very well, not one little error (for once) and was not tired at all arriving at the first “rest” (after twenty moves). But while resting I could feel that I was not as fresh as I thought I would be but I still could feel the holds (Thanks to that hot stone in the chalkbag, thanx Gabri!) so I kept going. Everything went great but while setting up for the move to the lip I could feel how the fingers of my left hand just started to open their grip. I panicked and pressed my thump over my other fingers forcing them to keep holding the grip. But I could feel that everything was pointing down into the pads. Nevertheless I went for the lip – my body went back – I hit the lip with just three fingers – but somehow stayed on. I crossed for the match and now the fingers on my right started to open. Just barley I made it. Needless to say I was super tired. Remembering the two times I was up here before I knew there was no sense in resting too long at all. I got some chalk, “closed my eyes” and went for my new mantel-beta. And the mantel went very smooth, it went down perfectly as did the slabby topout into the dark… Sitting on top of that proud boulder in the middle of the night was just THE perfect ending - another EPIC put down to rest – one more to go. And as I am not getting younger it is really time to get strong… ;)

I just read this nice blog post from canadian strongman Sonnie Trotter. He describes what happens when you set off into the unknown and/or when you test your limits. There will be no such things as two-day-epics. You may have to invest a bit more, failure could be your steady partner and you never know if you will ever make it. There is no other way to find an answer to that question then to go out and go for it.

And these words are very true no matter if its a small granite boulder in Ticino or a bit of a bigger junk of it in Yosemite, or any boulder you want to do in “real” life. It is a very personal process about turning something impossible into reality, see how far you can push yourself and how far you are willing to go and how much you are willing to take… and its about discovering and climbing “the perfect beta” which makes the moves not just possible but smooth and elegant. As “I really love to master my climbing” (that one is from Frederic Nicole) it is this process I enjoy most. quite often even more then the actual send. And last but not least; even if its a “solo” sport and it’s all about you if you punt or succeed, without some good friends I would have never climbed (all my) this boulder and the experience would just not be the same. “Happiness is only real when shared” (Christopher McCandless, Into the wild).

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Insantiy of Grandeur, 8C – Chironico. Pic by angelawagner.ch