Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving

Before leaving for Spain, Ben and I started joking about me giving him the password to this blog and letting him write my trip update.  That never happened, but the idea stuck and since we had some time over the Thanksgiving weekend we tried it.  So here goes the first guest entry!

Thanksgiving.  My favorite time of year.  We get to eat, eat some more, loosen our belts, eat some more and enjoy the muffin top rolling over our skinny jeans.



Luckily, I am on the Western Slope, at the Collett's new place in Marble.  Here is the view from one of their windows.


Ben whipping up some Mexican French Toast, while enjoying the view of Chair Mountain.


After breakfast, we drove about an hour north and attempted to work off some of the lard at a rather warm sunny locale that the locals call something like poo.

The energizing sound of engine brakes combined with a nagging cold, and the fitness gained from Spain propelled me to the top of my send of the year, The Long Haul 13a.  Lungs burning and barely able to stand when I got back to the ground, I felt like it was truly climbing "a muerte".

Alas, the snow came in before I could flash Gutless Wonder 14b.  I am not sure whether it is even worth coming back for it as the send is a foregone conclusion.

Here are some pictures from the day.  Ben warming up on Traditional Values 5.7, a great bolted slab crack on the Lower Wall.


 Ben on Urban Cowboy 12a.


Ben resting below the final crux of Urban Cowboy.


Warming down on Stay True 11b, a short, technical slab on perfect rock.


A cold, but happy Leah looking forward to a warm car.


The next day was a huge change of pace. We climbed the space between the rocks at a remote, and obscure area called Escalante Canyon.


Captain Smith's Cabins.  Built around 1900.


Turkeys.


Cool dilapidated shack.


We occupied the part of the space time continuum where you properly experience both the earth and the air.  We were the fire.  It was a return to the roots of mankind with an annual trip to the desert.
 
Norie on the brutally sandbagged S Crack 10+.  Watch out for the wideness at the top!


With Thanksgiving over, it was time to start thinking about Christmas!


 Leah on Pumping for Passion 11+.  A perfect 90 foot lieback corner.


Moomin sighting!


What a great Thanksgiving weekend!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Margalef



I spent most of the picturesque 4 hour drive from Rodellar to Margalef trying not to puke every time we went around tight turn or stopped suddenly.  We rolled in around 3PM on November 1st(Day of the Dead), noticed a big party at the community center and quickly found our hotel, El Tres Pins,


which was oddly decorated(They had a couple of mounted Javalina heads),

 a bit ghetto(they had a vending machine that kids could get lighters from),



and didn't allow Wentworth(sorry Matt),


but seemed quiet.

After unpacking, we strolled the quaint, hilly streets





and checked out the Refugio/Hostel, where you can buy a Margalef climbing guidebook for 15 Euro.

They had some old school graffiti style climbing art at the Refugio.  


 This one kind of looks like me...




Life was good.

Until that night, when we sat down for dinner and realized that every evening, El Tres Pins morphs from a quiet sanctuary to a mad house complete with horrible food(like pig cheek),


paper thin walls, springy beds, slamming doors, and hoards of people that crank the television so loud you can barely think(or have a conversation).


Plus, that Day of the Dead  party I mentioned earlier, turned into a rave that blared all night long.  Until Doug stormed out of the hotel at 5:30AM, walked across town and told half a dozen teenagers to shut it down.  Go Doug!

Bleary eyed, we headed up the canyon and got out first view of this unique and stunning area.

video

After a short uphill approach, we reached the Racos de les Tenebres sector and got out first taste of Margalef climbing.  We warmed up on a couple of tweaky vertical 11's, and then moved down the hill to a steeper wall.


Here are some of the best pictures of me on a route called La Corva de la Felicitat 12d.



And Ted on Magic Festival 12d.




At the end of the day, Seth and I decided to try a 13b called Sativa Patatica.  This route follows the curving crack in the picture ab was one of the best routes of the trip!  Here are a couple of Seth.




And me on the same route.






After another horrible meal and a tough night at El Tres Pins, we went to the Finestra Wall.  This is one of the premier sector at Margalef and the crowds were crazy!  I tried El Fustigador 13c, and decided it was too hard to redpoint in a day, so I spent the rest of the day trying to onsight without much luck.

With rain in the forecast, and fully aware that more terrible food and rough nights at El Tres Pins awaited if we stayed, we decided to flee Margalef and drive North to Terradets.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Rodellar- Camino, Ventanas, Surgencia and more Grand Boveda

The next few days were spent checking out the different walls at Rodellar and set the tone for the rest of the trip.  There would be no projecting on this trip.  We were on a mad dash to see as many walls as we could!

First we checked out the aptly named Ventanas(Windows) Wall.  This area is home to the classic El Delphin 13a, which climbs through the belly of the right arch in the picture below.


Below is a close up of the arch.  If you look closely, you can see the monastery on the hill in the backgroud of the first photo.


A close up of the same Monastary.  I really wish we'd had time to hike up there.


 After warming up, we all tried El Delpin.  Here's Seth crushing.


Here's a couple of me.



Seth and I also tried another unbelievable route called A Crabita 13b.  This route follows the black streaks up an overhanging blunt arete feature on perfect tufa pinches to a crux at the end and some easy but very pumpy climbing to the top.  I was tired from all the other climbing and had to climb "a muerte" to get this one done.


The next day, we decided to warm up properly(and see another wall!), so we went to the Camino Crag, a pretty, slightly overhanging wall with very slippery routes ranging from 10c to 12b.  Below is a picture of Ted enjoying a 10d at the right end of the wall.


From the Camino Crag you can also see how El Delphin got it's name.


Since the Grand Boveda is so good, we decided to return.  Unfortunately, things were still very wet.  However, this didn't stop us from finding some great routes.  After hunting around, I decided to try El Sepes 13b.  This route climbs a very big tufa past a bush, to a large roof and then continues up the headwall to a runout finish.  Since I was tired from the day before, this was another "a muerte" ascent for me. 


 I also saw my first extreme mullet.  I'd heard stories about the abundance of funky hairdos in Spain, but nothing could have prepared me for this...


 
It was the first of hundreds and I wanted to take pictures of them all, but it just felt rude.  I am currently growing my hair out so I can return to Spain with a proper mullet.

We also watched Chelsea Rude battle for a redpoint on Geminis 14a.  Here are a couple of videos of her last try on the route(I stopped filming during rests).  Keep in mind that she's about 6 days on, tried the route about 3x's a days and has been falling off the last hard move of this 30+ meter route for a couple of days.  Plus, she never used ibuprofin!  This girl is tough!

video

A little higer!

video

So close!!!

Since the Grand Boveda was soaked, and we had heard so much about La Surgencia, we decided to check out yet another crag on our last day in Rodellar.  The climbs are up to 50 meters long and about 35 or 40 degrees overhanging.  Here's a picture, with a finger for scale.


A closup of the right side.


Most of the stuff was a bit too hard to do in a day, so we stuck to "shorter, slabbier" routes.  With the clouds rolling in and rain forcasted for the next few days, we made the bittersweet decision to leave Rodellar and seek dry rock to the East in Margalef.

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