2022 has just started but these first months have already been full of commitments and satisfactions. Usually, during the New Year’s period, I used to go to Catalunya to train and try new routes, but this year because of Covid I stayed in Italy and decided to face a new challenge in Sperlonga, on the Lazio coast. In this wonderful place stands the famous Grotta dell’Arenauta called by the climbers the “Grottone”, a rock wall by the sea that overlooks the beach below.
Inside this cave there is the “Arenauta”, a route considered very hard to do, never completed before and without a grade of difficulty, still to be discovered and tried in the past by local climbers and more recently by two other climbers: the Italian Laura Rogora and Czech Adam Ondra. A truly fascinating challenge that aroused my curiosity and a desire to measure myself, with my girlfriend Sara and some friends. For about ten days I tried to climb the route trying the various parts and looking for the right moves, hoping to succeed quickly, but also with the knowledge that in February I could have been ready to complete the climb. After the experience in Sperlonga, I moved to Rome where I attended the first meeting of the national team: it went very well and we started working already for the Paris 2024 Olympics. The qualifications will begin from next year but the preparation has already started. In France there will be a different competitive formula than in Tokyo, with a combination of bouldering and lead, without dividing the disciplines into two different races. This first meeting had a focus on bouldering, in the next few meetings we will work on the rest to be ready for the first official competitions. After the meeting in Rome, I took advantage of the proximity to Sperlonga to return to the Grottone and continue what I had left pending in January. The bouldering meeting consumes a lot of the skin of the fingertips, so I took a day off and then I dedicated myself to the Arenauta.
Detaching head and body, even if only for a day, is essential for me. So, with a clear mind, I started well right away and already on the first day I made two positive attempts that gave me great hope and mental confidence.My hopes faded when it started to rain and the water filtered into the cave, wetting the wall and making the rock slippery and impossible to climb. In particular, there were two very wet fundamental holds and I kept sliding right at that point: for about 4 or 5 days I could not try the route as I wanted, I did a section in continuity but then I always got to the same point and fell. But I didn’t give up, I took a break for a day making two other routes inside the cave: one is called L’Invidia dell’Arenauta (8c) which I immediately completed without problems, then the second route is called Piccoli Gesti (8b+) on which I struggled a bit more, but I managed to climb on the first attempt. A day unloading and training that helped me to recover mentally. In the meantime, the rock dried up, I began to try again piece by piece and after about ten days from arriving in the cave I walked around to check how the holds were and they were dry: that day I understood that it was the right one! When I started to climb, I immediately felt great. I made the right use of all the rests, especially the second one, resting upside down making a significant effort with the calves. Since I was struggling with my calves in the attempts at the beginning of January, I trained them in the weeks between one attempt and the next. This allowed me to remain in a rest position for a minute, with my legs pressed on the rock and my hands and arms free, longer than the 45 seconds of the first few times. Those extra 15 seconds were crucial. When after about eight minutes I arrived on the chain I realized that I had managed to free the route, I felt an incredible sensation and infinite satisfaction. I shared happiness with Sara and my friends, in those days in the cave there was a beautiful environment that stimulated me, we met many people, and it was beautiful. But not only that, because the day after I also met the bolter of this route, Giuliano Tarquini, who had prepared it about 20 years ago but nobody had never completed it. He was happy too, for the first time in 20 years someone had managed to climb his route. And that someone was me!