Impressions from the Melloblocco. Questions, just as many as the boulder problems you'll never solve. Colours, so many that the eyes bulge to register them all. The valley is dressed in calm, tranquil colour tones. From the surreal green fields, capped with boulders. To yellow, yellow, and yellow once again. All identical yet all unique, like the thousand and one climbers dressed in yellow. And from high above there's that immobile white, a precipitating line that twists, cascades and turns. Have you ever seem a waterfall that curves before straightening out and falling headlong down into the valley? Have you ever heard water that plays a tune just for you? For the thousands close to you?
There's something that cannot be grasped in the eyes of this valley. Something you perceive and feel in the eyes of who looks at you, of who tries the moves, who caresses the holds. You try to understand. But there is nothing to grasp, nothing to be resolved. All you can do is look. And find the sequence that leads you to the top of the boulder, perhaps even only in your mind. A thousand plus glances that cross each other. So many thoughts. Words. A thousand plus "hi-how-are-you" interlace, embrace, find each other once again. And you discover that you still smile, that the others smile too. And then, how silent it all is! A comforting, tranquil silence, full of discussions just touched upon but which, for once, you feel you comprehend, accept. Slow rhythm. Mellow. Melloslow. Melloblocco for all. For those who enjoy the sun and for those who slowly walk up the beautiful path the leads into this Eden of fields and boulders.
Today belongs to the boulderers... There were a thousand and one crash pads, all ready to soften the landings from the innumerable falls. There were a thousand and one crash pads without a name, free for all. Hands that spotted, without needing to be asked. All there to protect who was trying to find their sequence. It was irrelevant who the climber was, whether the problem was difficult, whether he was a friend or she was one of the a thousand plus. Not too many questions were asked at the Melloblocco. And the one thousand and one seemed to be in no hurry whatsoever. They had no time limit, they were simply driven by the music of the valley.
They are ageless. The boulderers at the Melloblocco are aged two to sixty. And are a thousand and one years old. They come from many different countries. Some have chosen the valley as their home, others see the valley for the first time. They come in all shapes and sizes (tall, short, chubby...), climb all grades currently on the bouldering scale (easy, mid, difficult, impossible...) and all are great because everything is relative here at the Melloblocco. The mythical figures are here, those that you've only ever seen in photos. And there are those who are mythical because you don't understand how they manage to climb the problem that you (30 kilos lighter, 10 years younger, and much, much more experienced) can't even begin to comprehend.
There are many of us yet we don't seem that many. Every granite sculpture, every boulder has its own story to tell, they are all niches for small communities that form, dissolve and re-form. The corners of this paradise are slowly discovered. The treasure map is carefully analysed. A beautiful map, as incomprehensible as the moves that continue to repel you, as clear as the boulder you've just climbed. The pilgrimage is relentless. Chance meetings continue. And repeat themselves. And every time is just like the first.
The air that surrounds the Melloblocco brings with it whispers, as elusive as rainbows. Brief flashes from the Melloblocco. Like the smiling spirit of Simone, who you meet for an instant whilst he wanders, invisible, to look at the boulders he's invented. Like the many anecdotes you'd like to recount. Such as the four youngsters beneath their boulder problem. The oldest starts off first. Handhold, foothold, just as she lifts off... the smallest whispers to the others "go on, perhaps you'll become world champion..." And as it happens, the reigning World Champion appears on the scene, ignorant of what has just happened, glissfully enjoying the sun in the Valley.
Climbing the boulder problems seems to be the least important thing, even if I'm unsure as to whether anyone really knows what is really important, other than what they really want today. Perhaps it's that boulder that everyone manages to do, and at the end of the day you try but fail. Perhaps it's all these people - perhaps it's this inexplicable calm. This inexplicable kindness, gentleness. There are no answers to these questions, or perhaps the answers lie hidden in some unseen problem, untouched, never yet dreamed of.
One thing is certain after my first trip into the Valley: the Melloblocco and Val di Mello cannot be forgotten. It's for this that a thousand and one of us came here.
by Vinicio Stefanello
photo Melloblocco 2005 from top: Crash pad (ph G. Malfer); All together (ph C. Piscina); People (ph Planetmountain).