Alphane Moon 8A in Chironico,
pic by Aldo Tonazzi

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Crack way

The last weekend we had stable cloudy weather without any rain, although the weather forecast had predicted rain for the whole two days. Because my girlfriend had spent the entire weekend with friends in Milan, I was not able to make use of these nice conditions.

On Sunday evening then it started to rain. Ohhh man!! Nevertheless, I was hoping for a dry Monday and the possibility to make use of the still cool temps in the evening. Luckily the rain had stopped in the morning and in the evening, when I arrived in Morschach, I found perfect conditions (dry 8-10°C) for a possible last go for my project up there.

Who knows… now, by end of April, it’s getting warm pretty fast. Today we already have up to 17°C, tomorrow 21° and on Thursday it will have up to 24°C. Way too hot for Morschach. ;)

So then… the omens were good. I just had to do it. Firstly a warmup and about half an hour later the first real attempts. Unfortunately, I didn’t felt better than the last days in this line and I had still problems to link the moves together. After a few more bad than good tries I was forced to look for a simpler solution and tried some new beta without much success.

Then the brainstorm…! What a stupid idiot I was…!!!! Since days now I was trying an unnecessarily complicated solution. Why the hell I didn’t realized it earlier!!!! Anyway… four attempts later I reached the target-hold and freed the Snow White from the deep sleep. Yesss!!

As I know, this line was never climbed before. If someone knows it better, please send me an info.

Six days of work for the “Crack way, 7C+”. Five of the six days I simply tied a stupid beta. I’m pretty sure I could climb it in one or two days, if I would have been able to recognize the only logical solution earlier. Anyway… now it isn’t an 8A or even harder, it’s “just” a 7C+ in the end or even 7C (not sure)… but a really beautiful one. 

little change...

...big difference. ;)

With the name "Crack way" I wanted a link / reference to the original line "Crossed road". In the end it’s the same boulder without usage of the arete on the left, but only with the crack itself.

Still undone is a sit start to both of them. I had already a (very) short look to it and I think that it should be possible, but very very difficult (~8B)!


Wednesday, April 17, 2013


The last days I went up to Morschach, which is 5 minutes away from my home town. The time window to visit this area is very small. In spring the temperatures are fastly above the "good conditions" and in autumn you have to wait quite a long time until the temps are low enough for a visit. Additionally all the boulders are in a forest. After rain it could need up to two or three days until the boulders are dry... depending on wind and sunlight.

Anyway... the last weeks we had really nice conditions up there and I did a few nice boulder problems of medium difficulty.

Up there is a classic boulder from Fred Nicole, which is called "L'ame soeur, 8A+". It starts at the line "Vocis terra, 7C", but traverses to the left after the first moves and goes up to the top in the middle of the boulder.
Firstly I climbed "Vocis terra"... a fantastic line!!! This one follows an about 5 up to 6 meters high arete with a tricky move to the top. It would be definitely one of the famous classic lines in Ticino, if this one would be down there.
After my ascent I started to work on "L'ame soeur" and managed to do all the moves until the three. The problem is that you have to do a huge dynamic move to a far hold from there, directly between the rock and a three behind you. If you fall at this move, you may will have a problem then. That could very likely end up with an injury. It is definitely not possible to spot there. This may be the reason, why Fred climbed the line toprope and no one has repeated it since then.

To have a look to this move you must have a partner and try the move one a rope. Unfortunately I wasn't able to have a look on it... but no matter, I'll give it some tries next autumn.

Afterwards I started to work on an undone line directly to the left of "Vocis terra". The original line is called "Crossed road, 7A" and follows the arete on the left together with a small crack on the right. I started to try the line without the left arete just using the crack. It is a three-move problem with some tricky foot changes and every move is getting harder than the one before. As I know this variant is still undone and it seems that this line will be pretty hard.
As I started to work on it I was fastly able to climb all the moves expect the last one. So I thought that it will give a quite short story. By now I was five or six days in the line and I'm still not able to climb it. I had some good looking days as also some really disappointing days. The last one was the worst one... I was even not possible to do the foot changes after the first move, which I did without any problems the days before. And the real crux is starting only then. ;)

body position after the second move...

I'm starting the boulder with a stand start. A sitstart should be possible... but i'm pretty sure that a sitstart will be extremely hard (~8B+).
Even the standstart feels very hard. Fristly I thought that it will be about 7c+ to 8A. Now I'm thinking more in direction of 8A+.... no idea. It is really difficult to assess, due to the few moves, but it feels definitely as one of the hardest I've climbed the last time. BUT... it is absolutely possible that someone is coming, which is climbing it the first try and grade it 7C...!! Veni vidi vici... ;o))

a) Crossed road   7A
b) L'ame soeur   8A+
c) Vocis Terra   7C

Anyway... now it changed fastly and the temps (24°C) are too high for that boulder, respectively for the whole area... at least at the moment.
Let's go back in autumn... now I like to restart some projects up at Murgtal.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Diagnosis

O.k. then... looks not too bad my finger. But also not good.

I was now at two different specialists. One of them is close to my hone town and usually my first choice for troubles with my fingers. Dr. Lacher is a hand specialist and -surgeon. The other one was a proposal from Martin Keller. Thanks again! His name is Dr. Andreas Schweizer. He is chief physician of the "hand department" at Balgrist University Hospital in Zürich. Probably one of the or THE ONE specialist for climbing injuries on the hand in Swizzy. He's pulling very hard too (up to 8c climbing) and also makes research on the biomechanics of the hand while climbing.

Anyway... in the end I got two different diagnoses.

Diagnosis of Dr. Schweizer (on 3. April):
Arthrosis at my age would be very atypical. Also atypical would be a strong degeneration of cartillage. In general climbers usually get rather a thicker layer of cartilage, as also stronger bones at their fingers. He just knows two or three examples (climbers) with arthrosis. If their arthosis is coming from climbing is still unsure (is usually genetic).
Arthrosis usually starts in the older age of 40 or 45. This nodules on my joint have nothing to do with arthosis... but with an adaption of the bone to the climbing.

In this picture you can see a usual joint (blue). Special at many climbers is the adaption of the bone in red. In the beginning this is still cartilage. After many years it hardens and becomes bone.

The following picture shows, why the bone adapts. The contact surface is getting larger with this additional bone mass, if you bend the finger.
The "problem" is that if you unbend it the cartilage can be pushed back (black). If this happens often, you can get an inflammation.

In the radiograph nothing was visible. I have still enought cartilage (still big enough joint space). But some additional bone is already visible (first picture).


We also made an ultrasound scan of the finger. The additional cartilage (red part above) was even better visible. But because of the fact that most of this adaption is still cartilage, it is just visible in the ultrasound scan. 

The conclusion of Dr. Schweizer:
I can climb! No Arthrosis! Usual for climbers. Just some inflammation because of the reason mentioned above. It may be that the pain goes away soon, but it also may be that I have to climb the rest of my life with some pain. 

The reason for my huge pain some weeks ago was the fact that a part of this additional bone (still cartilage / red part in the drawing) was broken off (visible in the ultrasound scan). This is no problem and it will grow back.

The second doctor, Dr. Lacher (on 4. April), just told me that it is arthrosis in the initial stage. He just had a look to the radiograph and didn't made any further inspection (ultrasound etc.). As I told him the outcome of my visit at Balgrist he just told me that this could be... but in the end it is still arthrosis in the initial stage.

The conclusion is the same in the end. It's not possible to do anything. I can climb and should enjoy it as long as possible. If the arthrosis is getting worse (in a few... or many years, who knows), I just can stiffen the finger.  

Funny... two doctors - two different diagnoses...!!!
To be honest, I would rather believe Dr. Schweizer. His diagnosis sounds better and is understandable, he also did better research (ultrasound) and has a lot of experience from his own climbing, as also other climbers and their problems.

Since some days the pain is back on a similar level as before my last entry (the huge pain). I can climb and crimp... but I should be careful. Extremely overhanging routes with ultrasmall crimps are "passé" I think. The pain then is too big and it makes no sense to take some additional risks... !!

BUT the most important outcome is definitely that I can go on with climbing... AND that I can go for my revival-trip (after 2005) to the Rocklands in July this year. YESSS.... ;)))))