Angelika Rainer: How I Spent My Summer

This year in Italy we had the hottest summer since records began with several weeks reaching temperatures of about 38°C all over the country and I have to admit, I really enjoyed it.

Normally in summer I focus on sports climbing, mainly around home. After very intense winter seasons, participating in the various Ice climbing World cup stages all over the world for me it is important to relax, spend some time at home and enjoy rock climbing.

I take about 3 weeks off from climbing, just running and mountain biking and letting my muscles rest from a year of climbing. For me, it’s important to prevent injuries and also to recharge mentally. That’s why some time spend relaxing at the beach, at the swimming pool or at one of our amazing lakes in South Tyrol is as much a part of my summer as rock climbing in the mountains is.

Summer time is also time to try some new climbing disciplines, like the street boulder events that are being organized in a lot of small and bigger towns in Northern Italy. Participants are allowed to climb on old houses, elegant palazzi, stone walls or even the municipality which, for the rest of the year, would usually see you taken into the police office.

This summer I got invited to another crazy event, a deep water boulder competition, organized in a local swimming pool. Athletes had to climb an 8 meter overhanging wall situated above the pool. If you couldn’t do the boulder, you fell directly into the water. If you could and arrived to the top – you had to jump into the pool as well. Nevertheless it was one of the only rainy nights with low temperatures in in the whole summer; it was fun to try something new.

climbing wall

This summer I had planned to try a sports climbing route called ‘Il panettiere’ (Italian for baker), situated in a really nice climbing crag near Bergamo. After having done most of the harder routes in this crag in the previous years, I decided to go for the hardest one, the ‘Panettiere’, graded 8b and still without female ascent.

The crag ‘Valle dei mulini’ is famous for its technical climbing, while this route is very powerful in the lower part and has then a technical exit. I could do the harder, lower part after only a few tries, but had problems with one move in the upper section, as I was too small to reach from one hole to the next.

So I had to find a new solution and try to hold a very tiny crimp. Despite trying very hard, I could not do that move, it was simply too hot. My fingers were sweaty and I felt physically weak. High temperatures are fun if you are relaxing, but not if you are trying a hard climbing project!

So, I decided to wait for the temperatures to drop a little. The first day I came back to the route it started raining already at the parking lot and I was nervous, thinking that the conditions still were not good for such a hard route.

At the first try of the day I did immediately all the first hard part and so knew that I had to give it my all. I arrived to the top feeling very happy to have done this beautiful route.

On a high after completing my summer project, I was motivated to for some more sports climbing and together with my boyfriend decided to visit some places we had never been to.

Frankenjura is probably the most famous and popular climbing area in Germany. In the Eighties some of the hardest sports climbing routes were opened here and the very strong German climber and climbing hero Wolfgang Guellich did the first 8c and then the first 9a in this area.

Visiting this place and being able to repeat one of his routes, called ‘Hitch hike the plane’, 7c+ at Krottenseer Turm, for me was a real highlight.

Sometimes you reach an achievement when you don’t expect it: without travelling far, in one of my home areas around Bergamo, I could do my hardest on sight ascent, doing the route ‘Gravity’ 7c+.

During another trip we went visiting our Croatian friends. We did some sports climbing in the very nice, and quiet new, crags around Istria region. As autumn – the season to climb with ice axes has approached – some Dry Tooling was on our program.

Next for me is a trip to England, where I will participate in a competition on the Isle of Wight, climbing on the famous white cliffs.