17th January 2009.
As I write this, I am in France. After returning from Margalef in December, I had a relapse on the lurgy front and from Boxing Day onwards have been quite under the weather. New Year was a non-event, as both Tim and I didn’t really feel like doing anything and since then energy levels have been very low. This bug really is virulent but somehow I feel it’s linked with the UK because it seemed to come back with a vengeance as soon as I arrived. I could feel myself descending into a low energy, demotivated blob, so I decided to take action.
Having spent 3 weeks doing absolutely nothing and losing all the gains I’d made in Spain, frustration was rising so I decided the only thing for it was to head back out to Spain. It had been cold and grim at times but I was able to climb and I was happy. So a week after I decided to go, Kodo and I were on a ferry to Dunkirk. We left the UK on the 12th Jan and did the long drive down through France.
Before I left I had a window put in the sliding door of the van. I found that I was spending a lot more time inside the van due to the cold (normally we are travelling in warmer weather and you tend to sit outside a lot), so it was a bit dark and dingy. The addition of the window is great and our scruffy little van now looks fantastic.
Unfortunately though, our former lovely reliable van has become an unreliable heap of metal. It is sitting in a garage waiting to be fixed. The journey down was ok to start, and then problems developed. It got to the point where I was driving at night and I realised I was struggling to see the road. Then the speedo stopped working, the indicators gave up and eventually just as I pulled into the services, the lights died- nightmare!
Next day I was recovered to a garage and the mechanic convinced me that the battery was dead. I was dubious, as the battery wasn’t that old and had never shown any signs of dying. But, hey what do I know; I’m not a trained mechanic. So I bought a new battery and got on my way. I was heading to John and Anne Arran’s new minor estate (Chez Arran!) in the Pyrenees. I had room for some of their stuff from Sheffield in the van, so thought I could drop it to them on my way to Spain.
So I got to their place and to cut another long story short the van died again and it turns out that it’s not the battery (very very annoying as I’ve wasted money on a new battery that could’ve gone towards the work it needs now). The alternator and some other part that I don’t know need replacing and I’ve been quoted 800 euros!! Well I am fairly depressed at that and because my French is limited, it’s very difficult to discuss technical car terms and get to the bottom of different options. But now I have decided to just get the alternator done and hope the other problem will wait until I get back to England, we will see.
31st January 2009.
Some time has elapsed and I am now ensconsed en Espana!!
The van was obviously fixed and at the slightly cheaper price of 500 euros, not as annoying as 800 but still a bit gutting. Oh well, I now love it again as it’s become my trusty little home.
Before the van was fixed, I was shown some of the Arran’s local climbing spots. It was a real bonus to be able to climb while I was semi stranded and most of the time we were climbing in t-shirts but surrounded by snow! They have a great collection of crags within 10 mins drive from where they are and I did some great routes. The climbing style kind of reminded me of trad but with bolts. It was very varied and good fun and in fact it was a great way for me to get back into climbing after my lazy xmas break.
Anyway, I headed straight to Margalef from there and met up with Norwegian Steini again and quickly got back into van life.
After a couple of days I had redpointed an f8a+ and then after a rest day I onsighted a f7c+. It seemed I was getting back into the swing of things- yahoo.
Well, as the part mission for this trip was to try and redpoint an f8b+, it was time to find one. I had heard about an amazing crack line in Siurana called Kale Borroka. Some other friends of mine were climbing over there, so I decided to head over and check out the route. That was two days ago. I am now sitting here feeling despondent, partly because it’s raining but that’s not the main reason. The reason is, is that the route is WET, goddam. I went up it a couple of times pulling on all the wet holds but totally felt it was possible for me to climb it (with a bit of work obviously). I got excited as I really liked the route but also there was a good chance I could do it. Anyway, Tony from the campsite was there and he said that he has only seen it as wet as that once before! I held out hope to have a go the next day but unfortunately it was even wetter. So… I am now faced with a route I really want to put some effort into but it looks as though it will be unclimbable for a few weeks, ahhh!
I am going to try and find another f8b+ to get involved with but I fear because of the time of year, I have limited choices. Finding dry rock and longer routes isn’t easy at the moment, so maybe my wish to climb an f8b+ might not be realised this trip.
I am going to head off for a wet walk soon with Kodo and Fortunata (a Spanish friend’s dog) and get rid of some pent up frustration. Hasta luego.