It all begin with some pictures and videos of Christian Core on Gioia from a few years back. I remember seeing the images and being amazed at the perfect shield of rock that he had climbed. After spending many seasons bouldering in Switzerland, I vowed that this year I would make it to Varazze to give an effort on this boulder.
I plan trips far in advance. It is cheaper and it allows me to schedule myself out so that I can look forward for what is to come. It was about one year ago now that I decided I would spend a few weeks during the Fall of 2012 in Varazze. I had heard great things and needed to check it out for myself. After a Summer in South Africa and a rainy early Fall in Innsbruck, I eventually made my way to the beautiful sea town of Varazze in Northern Italy. This was my first time climbing in Varazze and first time climbing in Italy.
On my very first day, I drove to the parking lot of the Druidi Boulders and found myself, to my surprise, only a stone’s throw away from the climb I had traveled the world to get to. As I walked down to it, I could picture both Christian and Adam trying the boulder in both photos and videos i had previously seen.
Without a crashpad (long story), I began to warm up on some of the moderates in the area. To my pleasing, the friction was good, the wind was blowing, and I felt good. I again walked down to Gioia and thought to myself that I would try the moves just to feel it out since I did not have a pad. I did one or two moves but felt a little apprehensive to continue trying without proper protection.
As soon as I took my shoes off and thought it would be a day of moderates, a family showed up and were more than happy to lend me their two pads so that I could give the boulder a few attempts! I was so psyched for the opportunity and began putting my Solutions back on and putting the pads down. I tried once from the beginning of the stand start and fell on an awkward cross over move. I then did the top out once to see how it felt. The friction felt great and I felt confident. A few moments later, I again chalked up and climbed Gioia from the stand start! I was pretty happy on how quickly it went for me. The family was ready to climb for themselves so I handed back the pads and put back on my hiking shoes. We had arrived to the boulders a little bit late so I ran up a few more moderates and then made my way back to the car. The rest of the night I thought about the boulder and how much I was looking forward to trying the entire line in the days to come.
The next day, I was still without pads, so I took a rest and ran some errands to get them over with. The following day, I was to meet up with Christian to get some pads, but to my surprise the weather had made a change for the worse. It no longer felt like prime sending conditions but rather a day to relax on the beach and go swimming! The temperature gauge in our car read 20 c (nearly 70 degrees F). I could not believe my eyes! This was about 12 c too hot for trying anything hard let alone one of the crimpiest and sharpest boulders I know of! I headed back to Druidi and still had a fun day but toned down my climbing a lot. I did not get the chance to try Gioia, as I did not want to wreck my skin for the days to come. The next day was 18 c degrees…. UGH!!!!!! Again, wayyyyyy too hot. I thought it would be cool to try to check out an area higher up on the mountain in hopes of finding cooler conditions. I unfortunately never found the area and retreated back to Druidi after 4 hours of searching. I found a nice boulder in the shade that had some bad but not sharp holds on it, “Gandalf il Grigio,” 8B+. I quickly did the stand start and managed to figure out a good sequence for the bottom. It soon became dark and extremely humid, so I packed the bags and headed home for the evening.
The last climbing day was Thursday. I woke up to clouds. I thought it could be good. it had cooled down to a frigid 16 c degrees (HAHAHAHA!!!). I packed my bags and headed out for Gioia. After warming up and feeling the massive amount of humidity in the air I still decided I would give the bottom moves a few goes. I was able to dot he first and second move on my first attempt but was unable to do the 3rd or 4th. These are the crux moves and feel hard! It was quite hard to guage how they will feel in better conditions but I believe they will be feasible. I pulled on the crux holds a few times and gave an effort or two but gave up when my skin kept rolling and i could foresee a split in the future. It was definitely saddening to sit under Gioia, a problem I had really wanted to try for a long time now and know that it just was impossible in these conditions. I carried onward to “Gandalf il Grigio” and managed to send the full line quickly. It was nice to finish it off but more than anything I just wanted to be trying Gioia not feeling like I was living in a lukewarm fish tank. I climbed another great “font-esque” moderate and called it quits.
Yesterday was bad conditions and I needed a rest day anyway. Today rain:( It is looking like 4 or so more days of rain 😦
The psyche very much still remains high. I am here until the 7th of December and will be trying my best to complete this amazing boulder! I just hope for my sake and the sake of other’s climbing in Varazze that the conditions make a change for the better!!! Alas, life is good, the food is incredible, and the people are nice. What more can you really ask for in the whole grand scheme of things?
More to come soon 🙂 Happy Holiday Season to all!