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    Notes and advice from Sean McColl.

MelloBlocco and Magic Wood

The past couple of weeks have been quite an adventure for me. After the world cup in hall, I went down to Val Masino in Italy for an event called MelloBlocco. This event gets bigger and bigger every year. This year, there was close to 2000 participants. The best way to describe it would kind of be like a Petzl RocTrip but bouldering. The biggest sponsors are La Sportiva, The North Face and Petzl. The town of Val Masino is very small and 2500 people coming for the festival makes it quite packed. Once you park your car somewhere, chances are your not going to move it for a couple of days or you’re going to be looking for a parking spot for a while. The competition side of the event is really fun. Sportiva puts a 500EUR bounty on a bunch of boulder problems. To compete in the ”competition”, you pay 10 EUR when you get there and get a boody bag. Inside the bag, you get a map, a t-shirt, a bunch of stickers and a nice squishy warm up ball from The North Face. The men have 8 problems and so do the women. The 500EUR bounty gets split between the people that complete the boulder. I drove down to the event from Innsbruck with Jorg Verhoven, Nalle Hukkataival and Olga Bibik. Since it was my first time going, I didnt really have any strategy. I figured I’d just go bouldering with a bunch of guys for a few days and hey, if i did a problem, I’d get some cash. The first day, we did two problems that were pretty easy, I flashed one and Nalle and Daniel Woods flashed another. We spent the beginning of the day working on a prow problem, but when the sun came around the corner and put all the holds in the sun, we gave up. The second day, we went straight to the problem labelled A. We had heard that Adam Ondra had started his previous day at this problem and it took him a mere 2 hours. Also, on the first day, Adam had managed to do 6 or 7 of the 8 problems including a couple of flashes. We spend the good part of the morning trying this problem which looked like the nicest line out of the chosen boulders. There was only one line up the boulder and they had dragged a big gymnastics pad up to it to protect the lunge for the lip and the high mantle. After a good few hours trying the boulder, we were done with it so we went up the valley to Val Di Mello. We were up there for maybe 30 minutes when it started to rain and we walked back. We didn’t even look at the project boulder up there because it was raining. Nalle and I felt close on the problem we tried in the morning so we figured we’d go back there. After another 3 hour session, I finally topped the boulder in literally the last minute that the judge was going to be there. The ”competition” is only supposed to run from 11-5, and i did the problem at around 5:45. He had called his boss, and the man said if we were psyched, he’d extend the time for up to an hour. I was more relieved just to send the boulder but knowing only 3 people had done the boulder in 2 days was pretty cool. On another note, both Daniel and Nalle were ridiculously close as well to sending the problem. The last move of the problem was the crux, you had a very bad sloping crimp and you had to hand foot match with your heel, perch, grab a thumb hold, bump to a slopey gaston and bump again to the lip and hope your foot stayed on. Daniel almost stuck the lip only to have his foot blow and go spiralling down to the big gymnastic pad. After the whole event was over, the town cleared out in a few hours. It was a eerie being there after everyone had left. Going from a population of around 3000 to a population of under 500 was a bit strange. On the 11th, I drove to Magic Wood. I didn’t have to pick up girlfriend from the airport the 16th, and I’ve never gotton a chance to spend more than a couple of days in Magic Wood. The most direct way to Magic Wood was a pass called ”Splugenpass”. I went for about 45 minutes up the road only to have it closed… I guess they don’t post signs about these things and everyone just knows. I re drove the 45 minute uphill climb and had to detour about 2 hours before finally arriving at around 3. I walked around the forest for 2 hours trying to find problems that I had tried in previous years. I ended up getting lost for most of that time and I only found the Bruno Boulder and the Pura Vida boulder… When I was hiking out, I bumped into some climbers from Belgium who were leaving the next day. I asked if I could look at their guide book which turned out to be just a printout from the Internet a few years old. They said they were leaving the next day and I could have it! I looked over it, and most of the boulders that I wanted to try were on it. On the 12th, I had one of the best days of bouldering I’ve had in a long time. I spend the morning warming up on the Bruno boulder. This is where the famous ”Never Ending Story V14” is. I did Massive Attack (V12) in about 2 hours then made my way up around the darkness cave. I wasn’t sure what to look for but since I had my new found guidebook, I headed up towards the Darkness Cave. I met some other climbers who said they were up to the ”Octopussy” boulder. I really wanted to try Jack’s Broken Heart, so i followed them. It took me about 1.5 hours to look at and do Octopussy (V11) second try, flash Free For All (V12) and flash Jack’s Broken Heart (V12). I really wanted to go and try One Summer In Paradise (V13) but when I got down there, there was no one there and since it’s a pretty long traverse, I couldn’t do it with my one pad. I’ve done the last two-thirds of this problem which is ”Pura Vida”. Pura Vida does a really hard move into the 5th move of One Summer In Paradise which starts just down and left. Last year I did the shorter one second try and fell on the last move of the long one about 15 minutes later. We wanted to check out another boulder and I was pretty pumped so I figured ”there’s always another day” and left. On the 13th, I spent the whole day in the Darkness Cave. I did The Right Hand of Darkness (V10/11) on my first try, but I’ve done some of the moves doing the left variation and to call it a flash would just be wrong. For the next 2-3 hours, I tried Remembrance of Things Past. Daniel Woods put up this line a couple of years ago and also added a sit which runs at V15. The stand starts about 7 moves in on the left side of the rood on a nice incut edge. It does 6 super hard moves out the almost roof, then traverses a bit right and tops out where everything else tops out. I thought I was going to do the problem on that day but one move in the roof was really hard. I figured I’d take a rest day and go at it again on the 15th. When the 15th rolled around again, I went straight to my project. I warmed up and tried the boulder, I fell off pretty fast with both my lats just aching with pain. Obviously my first day on the problem had made my lats extremely worked and it had taken 2 days for the pain to set in. I’m pretty sure if my lats aren’t sore the next time I’m there, I’ll do the problem on my first try. I could do the first 3 moves easily and it was just getting my right hand set in this awkward finger jug to do a hard move to the right that was shutting me down. I could never get my fingers in right from the left gaston way out left. You had to press across to the right hand finger jug that was also slightly gaston. Working this double gaston move is what made my lats impossible to climb on. If I started on the double gaston holds with my fingers properly in the right hand hold, I could climb the rest of the problem. I still tried the problem for another couple hours before giving up and going back down to the Bruno boulder. I tried the first part of The Never Ending Story for about 30 minutes before getting really tired and going back to the campsite. I dedicated my last day to doing a couple of problem around the Bruno Boulder. I warmed up and did Nana Bianca (V12) in a few hours and then went to my main goal of the day; The Never Ending Story Part 1 (V12). It was the last move that was always spitting me off. 3 years ago, during my first European adventure, I had fallen 8 times in a row at the last move of this problem. The previous day, I had added another 3. I tried it again from the start, and fell at the beginning. I spent the next 30 minutes dedicated to finding a good solution for the last move. Eventually I figured the best idea was to go right hand to the second to last hold so the last move would be easy. The hardest move for me was putting in my right foot heel hook, once it was in, the last move was easy. After doing this a few times, I took a long rest and tried it again from the beginning. Again, I fell on the last move but almost got my heel in. I rested another 10 minutes and fired the problem. Just like I predicted, once my heel went on, the last move was piss. I campus matched the last move and did a victory pull up. Later that day, I drove down to Milan, Bergamo to pick up my girlfriend Mathilde Becerra from the airport. I picked her up at 8 and then made the 3 hour drive back to Innsbruck. For the last week, I’ve just been training for the world cup in Vienna next week. I also climbed outside in the Zillertal once as well. While I was up there, I bumped into Thomas Neyer who was setting for the upcoming European Youth Championships in Imst. A couple months ago, when I knew I’d be attending this event, I sent an email to the organizers of the event asking if they needed help with routesetting or even fore running. I know how tired you get after endless days of route setting and fore running routes is extremely hard, especially for the 18-19 categories at the European Level. My email got no reply. When I talked to Thomas in Zillertal, I asked him directly and he said it would make it so much easier if someone else would fore run. Now I’m fore running for the European Championships tommorrow in Imst. I went today and ran the route I’ll be fore running. I’m fore running the Juniors second qualifyer, which is the hardest route in qualifyers… hope I don’t fall.

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Comments (1)

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    John Meget

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    Sean, what did you think overall of the boulder problems at Melloblocco?

    Also, how did your fore running go at the European Championships?

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