Ambrosia, Evilution, King Air. These boulder problems are synonymous with difficult highball climbing. The first two, located on the Grandpa Peabody boulder in Bishop, California clock in at forty and fifty-five feet respectively. Yosemite’s King Air hits forty feet at the lip of the boulder. Climbing these double-digit boulder problems requires massive commitment and confidence. Surprisingly, Giovanni Traversi, a 24-year-old Santa Rosa native and Touchstone route setter who climbed these problems, claims to be afraid of heights.
“I started climbing when I was 11 years old at a friends birthday party at our home gym Vertex Climbing Center in Santa Rosa. My brother Carlo was 13 when he started,” said Traversi in an interview with the Touchstone gyms.
Giovanni began as a boulderer but when his older brother started competing in the USAC Sport climbing series, Giovanni became intrigued with ropes. There was one slight difficulty. “Except I realized very quickly my fear of heights was not going to be an easy hurdle to jump over. Nonetheless, I had to overcome it,” said Giovanni.
“My dad started picking me up after middle school and taking me to the gym where I battled with the 35 ft. walls of Vertex. I can remember leaving the gym in tears most days, disappointed in myself for not reaching the top of the wall. Obviously, I ended up reaching the top of all the top ropes in the gym after months of effort. However, I still needed to breakthrough enough to allow myself to learn how to lead climb. This also took a ton of work and patience. Once I became more comfortable and realized lead climbing was perfectly safe, I was hooked too,” said Giovanni.
Giovanni has since sport climbed a number of difficult routes in California including, Surf Safari 5.13d, at Mickey’s Beach and Judge Dredd (5.13b) at Dry Creek Sea Crag. Last month, Traversi won the Touchstone Comp Series 2015 rope finale at Mission Cliffs. “The recent TCS comp was great! Great holds, fun routes, and good vibe!” said Traversi who walked away with the thousand dollar cash prize proving that his fear of heights had improved since his early days of climbing.
Giovanni attributes his recent crushing in part to his job. For a little over a year, Giovanni has been a route setter at the Touchstone gyms. “Setting has helped me with reading routes in a comp format, because we generally only get one attempt to fore-run a climb unless it needs tweaking so I always push to send it first go,” said Giovanni. He offered a bit of advice for future comp climbers. “Really beneficial elements to helping with comp climbing include memorizing hold shapes, texture and exploring new movements, as well as training your weaknesses.”
“The job is brutal on the body to say the least,” said Giovanni of his five day a week full time setting job. “I have noticed I find it very hard to motivate for training outside of work. Some days I just have to go home and pass out.” The full time setting position has transformed Giovanni into a “muscled covered climbing robot.”
Traversi plans on putting his cyborg strength into Holy Rails a v13 in Tuolumne Meadows and checking out the fabulous trad line Oz on Drug Dome in Tuolumne. As soon as the winter season rolls around, Giovanni will be back to tackling his “fear of heights” on the fifty-foot Bishop highball Too Big to Flail.