Melloblocco 2006, all the stories from the Val di Mello
Stories, facts and adventures directly from the third edition of the Melloblocco, the largest international bouldering meeting which took place in Valle di Mello on 6 - 7 May, organised by the Lombardy Mountain Guides. Special gallery by Giulio Malfer.
It's like chasing a butterfly. I try to picture this Melloblocco and the memories intermingle with those of year ago. It's just like in a dejavu, in something seen before but never really experienced, there's something that eludes me about the Melloblocco. It's as if it were a beautiful butterfly which, slowly but unreachable, flutters by. You watch it rest here and there. You gaze at its colours. You accompany it in its evolution. And then, just as it appeared from nowhere, all of a sudden it disappears, it flies away elusively. But you don't forget it. you can't forget it. Perhaps because you continue to follow and dream it. Perhaps because you know you'll see it again, one day. Like those many - certainly more than a thousand - who once again were welcomed by the Val di Mello. Like those countless granite boulders which skinned a thousand fingers, which you caressed with your gaze. Those minor outcrops of the splendid high valley walls which for two intense days experienced the energy and fed energy of the Melloblocco multitude.
You can't forget that multitude. They were there and it was almost as if you couldn't see them. So much so that no photo will ever be able to encompass all of them. One would have to recount them one by one, those boulderers, those Melloboulderes. Those who were there on Saturday, with those imposing clouds which failed to dampen smiles. And those (the very same ones and many more) who were there on Sunday, bathing in the sun. Every now and then they dispersed, alone or in small froups, transported by the crowd and the stream's gentle music. They set off in search of their personal rock problem to be solved. A personal exploration. A journey within a journey, between new and old boulder problems. Because at each encounter the valley offers a new insight of itself. A bit of its meadows, its waters and its emotions. But also plenty of new encounters and sensations. Capturing them is impossible, but so to is forgetting.
"What a large lens you have, Giulio!" exclaims the small girl between one boulder and the next, her irritation for her new painful shoes, and her request for something to eat from daddy. "All the better to photograph you with" Giulio replies, as if lost in thought. She smiles. She has understood it all: it's a fairy tale. There is no little red riding hood here and no wolf, but it's just like a fairy tale where at the end everyone is happy. But how can one describe this happiness? How can you focus on it between all those well-known eyes and faces, famous and absolutely anonymous alike? You certainly cannot describe a smile, a chance meeting, a boulder you've sent and another you're failed on. You cannot describe the colours of the water and the meadows, or how the Val di Mello granite literally consumes you. Or from how far a field the people you're climbing with in the valley come from, and what different backgrounds they have. you simply cannot say what the Melloblocco really is. In all probability it is something different for every one of us. But then, at the end of the day, these puzzle pieces create a wider picture, memories sharpen, and you understand it.
Melloblocco is Jacopo, inspired more than ever, who sits and watches with sparkling eyes that green meadows interspersed with boulders and climbers of all shapes, sizes and ages. It is the same Jacopo who spent has spent a lifetime following and realising his dreams on these valley walls. And Melloblocco is also Cristian in love, radiant more than ever before. It is the impeccable Alberto who, as usual, takes on the role of "milord" only to throw himself head over heels into climbing, in all its forms. And it is Nicolino who, while he climbs and while he speaks, transmits happiness just for being there, at that precise moment, to do what everyone else is doing. And it is Mauro, relaxed, smiling with his eyes, sending one problem after another. Melloblocco is that boy who walks from one boulder to the next with a wooden tube and, when asked what it is, he blows into it to produce a sound which enters straight into your stomach. it may seem strange, but it's a perfect soundtrack to the "Mello", and even more so when he explains it's a Didjeridu used by Australia's Aborigines. Yes, "Mello" is truly something strange and unique.
Just as strange and unique as Raffaella who, if you ask her how things are going, replies that things are fine and that this year she really wants to climb a lot. She's just sent a boulder problem which only Barbara has climbed, but for her it was easy: it was her problem. And there are plenty of stories like this one, perhaps more than a thousand. Because Melloblocco is also the problem you can't send which another person, one you don't know and who certainly doesn't look like anyone famous (but he is!) climbs effortlessly. Melloblocco is Luca who doesn't hold still for even a second. Melloblocco is lying on the meadow watching others climb. Melloblocco is a sea of crashpads which, put in a row, transform into a sofa 1970's style, small front row seats to admire a thousand boulder problems whilst holding a thousand conversations, in the living room of Val di Mello.
We saw it all and more even at the Melloblocco. Like Antoine, the boulderer with an umbrella who didn't fail on a single problem and re-climbed the boulder after an edge had broken off. Or Daniel who, in the end, managed to battle through a problem awhich he almost sent first go, then wanted to abandon. Or the terrible band of young ones, or rather, Gabriele, Michele, Lucas, Alessandro who never cease to have and make fun. And the band of Englishmen Garry, Andrew, Marc... who seem inexhaustible. And all those who reached, a thousand and one times, the final hold but failed to stick it. Anita who (like a thousand others) ripped a hole into her finger but kept on climbing. Giò who (heavy heartedly) fled back down out of the valley to reach a baptism in time. And we could add a whole lot more. Including those who on Sunday set off to explore the steep "Kundalini" and "Giardino" walls. And including Iris, the wise one, the trade union between the valley and the rest of the world.
We could continue. We would have to recount a never ending story. Including the boy from Poland who, after having hitchhiked from the Calanques, was going to head off home with his rucksack on his back... 55 kilos to Poland. Never ending stories just like the holds, infinite like the rugged granite crystals. Memorable stories, like the hardest problem sent which, accoring to many, was climbed (in good style) by those two crazy Englishmen who swam in the river on Saturday night. And like the unmissble headtorch bouldering session Saturday night organised by a group of irreducible... Small and great stories. Stories without an end. Just like (we hope) the Melloblocco. The Melloblocco of amore ;-)
P.S.1 Surnames have intentionally been omitted... they could be someone, no one, a thousand or even more than a thousand people, like all those taking part in the Melloblocco.
P.S.2 for those who missed out on the Melloblocco: many of those who distinguished themselves of Val di Mello's outcrops will take part in next weeks Bouldering World Cup in Rovereto... don't miss them there!