A chilly Spain turns roasting & f8a onsights!!

12th Mar 2009

Phew! A lot of time has passed since my last blog and a lot has happened, as usual. The last time I wrote, I was in Siurana and psyched to get stuck into ‘Kalea Borroka’, f8b+…but things didn’t quite work out the way I had envisaged. Having tried the route when it was wet, I was up for it and decided to stick it out in Siurana until it dried. This coincided with a bad spell of weather that lasted two weeks. The rain stopped but the wind picked up to almost gale force conditions. It was almost impossible to climb on El Pati where the route is; it was just so cold and very windy. A couple of nights, I was scared that the van was going to get blown over (yes, completely irrational) or a tree was going to blow down on top of me, so I actually moved to a different spot. These two weeks were incredibly frustrating and I really didn’t achieve much on the climbing front. I was so down with only a couple of weeks of my trip left, that I decided to extend it until April. Tomorrow I am flying back to the UK to do some coaching with Craggy Island and am leaving Kodo with friends- Ali and Xav- they are off to Albarracin for a few days and she’ll have a great time but I will miss her.

Anyway, towards the end of the windy era I managed to onsight a f7c+, ‘Siouxie’ at Campi qui puigi and realised that I was still climbing well. I also redpointed an awesome f8b, ‘Zona Zero on El Pati, these two routes lifted my spirits a lot. I had been shut down on quite a few routes in Siurana and was feeling very despondent and to be honest was like a bear with a sore head most of the time, poor Ali and Xav!

Due to weather just not improving as we kept hoping, we changed venues. Mixing it up between Masriudoms and Monsant. Wow, Masriudoms, what an awesome crag. There aren’t loads of routes there but most of them are 2 or 3 star. This place really suited me as they are more endurance based tufa-fests and I started onsighting really well. I came very very close to onsighting two f8a’s and felt like it was only a matter of time before I did onsight one. Finally up at Monsant I did. An awesome 40 metre pump fest, that was called Monocroma in the old topos but has a different name in the great new Monsant guide that has just come out. It has a pretty powerful f7c+ start, then another 20 metres of pumpy climbing with some tricky bits thrown in. I was very chuffed with myself to onsight this route as I knew I ‘d climbed well and there had been some tough sections that I’d got through. This was the start of a good onsighting period for me, where I did 3 more f8a’s and quite a few f7c/f7c+’s.

After Monsant, myself, Will and Xav headed to Les Bruixes for a change of scene. It was nice to be in a different area and climb on a different crag. I realised that it was good to get away and that I’d probably been a bit stir crazy staying in the same place for too long. I’d been to Les Bruixes for 4 days five years ago and had always wanted to go back. Again it suited me, as the routes are quite long and tufas, which I really like. The weather was pretty pants actually, a bit of rain quite cold and generally uninspiring. Also, the routes seeped more as the days went by, so it was a little frustrating but I still managed to onsight an f8a, ‘Latido del Miedo’ which was awesome. I nearly onsighted another f8a the next day but fell off at the last hard move, bums!

Oh well. It was time to pick Tim up at Reus, so I was happy about that and also it looked as though the weather was entering a more settled period- finally! We went back to Masriudoms where I onsighted another f8a in extremely windy conditions. It was a very long route, about 50 metres and the weight of the rope was making it very difficult to clip. I kept shouting down to Tim for slack but realised that when I got back down that it had been the friction from the wind blowing so hard that had made the rope so difficult to pull up. Anyway, another good day.

Then we headed back to my favourite place of the moment- Margalef. It had been a long time since I’d been here, probably about five weeks and I was keen to get back and show Tim round. He was also planning to shoot an article for a UK mag, so we were going to check out all the areas. I think he must have thought that I was making it up about how bad the weather had been because as soon as we got to Margalef, the sun came out and it was vests and shorts weather and almost too hot to climb- wow what a contrast. But this was great as it meant finally I could climb on some of the shady crags that had been too cold, particularly Tenebres and Fenestra. Again, awesome crags and routes and another f8a onsight, yay! It was all coming together apart from the dream of redpointing an f8b+, will it ever happen? I know I’m capable but it’s just getting on the thing. I’m hoping that after this short trip back to the UK that the weather will still be ok and `I’ll finally be able to put some time in at El Pati on Kalea Borroka, we will see. The one good thing about this route, apart from being totally amazing is that it is in the shade so if the weather does stay hot it won’t matter and should keep the route dry.

I actually went on an f8c at Margalef. It was a good experience, as I had never tried one before. A fantastic route up at Espadelles but it felt very hard. I am way off it but it was good to see what it felt like. It’s a long route with nothing desperate (all relative of course) but just so sustained. I would have to be so much stronger to contemplate doing this route, as most of the moves were big powerful locks (not my style) and some of the moves I couldn’t even do…food for thought.

So I’m hoping that the next time I write I will be making good headway with KB and feeling positive about redpointing it.

Overall, things have been great and I have met some good people along the way, which is all important on a long trip. Kodo has made friends too and is getting into the Spanish way of life. This is a fantastic area for climbing with enough variety of venues to keep the interest, so I’m sure by the time I have to go home, I’ll be trying to plan another trip back again! It’s funny how this year is panning out, as this Spanish trip wasn’t planned but has evolved and completely makes sense. Why haven’t I done this before? Who knows? Winter commitments in the UK, comps etc. But this is a new era and I am pleased that I feel I am climbing well again and it can only get better.

So, hasta luego amigos and I’ll write with more news as and when. LC.