Bouldering in Berlin

I did not expect to find myself in Berlin at the weekend, nor did I think I would still be here at the time of writing, having originally booked my tickets to fly back early Monday morning.

I came to visit my cousin to help her recover after an appendicitis operation, but this week had other things in store for us. Just two weeks after the op, she ended up having another one. Of course, I couldn’t leave as early as I had planned and ended up extending my stay, because there is nothing worse than leaving someone you care about alone in a hospital after such a stressful period.

Undoubtedly, this has been a stressful experience for me too, as anyone who has watched a loved one in pain can imagine, but apart from worrying about Eva I have had all the comforts I need – her (huge) flat to stay in for free, internet in the hospital for work, and her travel ticket so I don’t have to spend money on going back and forth from home to hospital. The only thing frustrating me in my day-to-day life here was that I couldn’t climb.

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Climbing in Italy: The fear returns

I tie into one end of our purple 60 metre rope, check my harness, put on my climbing shoes and walk up to the limestone wall towering 20 metres above me. I touch real rock for the first time in months, searching with my fingers for the best handhold, inspecting the rock for footholds below. And then the familiar fear comes.

For Easter this year, my climbing partner Valentina and I went to climb in Italy, in a region called Marche. Not very well known to climbers outside Italy, and not even frequented by the locals that much by the looks of it, this area has a huge selection of sport climbing crags and a wide range of routes of various levels of difficulty. We spent the first two days at a crag called Rosara, close to a town called Ascoli Piceno, which offers more than a 100 routes, ranging from an easy 4a to 8a.  But as expected, my return to the outdoor climbing season wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked it to be…

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Italy: A hidden sport climbing paradise

My favourite thing about late afternoons in Italy is the aperitivo. From around 5pm until often as late as 10pm, Italian bars serve unlimited ‘nibbles’ with each drink you buy. These include anything from crisps, nuts and slices of pizza, to a whole table bursting with a selection of tasty snacks (see photo below).

A mere €5 gets you two glasses of Italian wine and enough snacks to keep you going until dinner, or even to replace it. This is Marche – a region of Italy that is known to very few, but offers some of the best sport climbing (and scenery) in all of Europe, and the best value après-climbing, as I like to call it.

My hands already feel sore after our first day of climbing as I pick up the well-deserved glass of red and relax back into my chair. My climbing partner Valentina and I are in a bar called Tuxedo, in her home town of Communanza, about half an hour’s drive from the climbing crag where we spent our first day. I have just discovered this wonderful Italian tradition and I absolutely love it! Especially after a day of climbing, this feels like a welcome reward for all the hard work we put into the day. 

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Why every sport climber should do lots of practice falls

I finally manage to grab a hold on this overhanging 6b+ route that I’ve failed to manage on the last three attempts, so I frantically reach down for the rope and try to pull it up and clip the next quickdraw. I’ve definitely got my hands wrong here, as I reach down with my right to clip the quickdraw hanging on the left. It’s awkward, and it doesn’t work, so I plummet down. “Wow, that was scary!” – my belayer says, looking at me with wide eyes. But actually, it felt sort of fun…

Those who climb with me regularly will know that I’m obsessed with fall practice on lead climbs at the moment, and I can tell you in all honestly this has really improved my climbing over the last couple of months. It has been helping me to deal with my fear.

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AcroYoga: learning to fly

“If this is your first Acro yoga lesson, it has been a bit of a baptism of fire,” said Jaqui Wan, the AcroYoga teacher who had just put us through two hours of trying to do things we didn’t know our bodies could do.

It turned out that in fact our bodies couldn’t really do these things, just as we had expected. We watched in awe as some of the more experienced AcroYogis flipped each other around – or “manhandled”, as Jaqui called it.

I had tried AcroYoga only twice before, and the first time was a very short experience, but I fell in love with it at first flight, so to speak. 

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