Back in Spain – more of the same!
I hope everyone is having a great Winter. I know all of my New England audience is probably bummed on the lack of snow, but there are some good aspects of that aren’t there???!!! Like winter CLIMBING???!!!!!! Pawtuckaway in NH is one of the best spots for winter bouldering. Mark my word… you will not be sorry on a sunny day. Or how about Lincoln Woods in RI? That has to be THE best winter bouldering spot in the North East?! Maybe….?!
It always feels great being in a place you love and it feels even better revisiting year after year. Last year, Colette and I blogged from Rodellar. This year, we’re in Catalunya, Spain which has easily become one of our favorite destinations for climbing and lifestyle. The terrain here is dry, open and littered with cliffs. Cliffs covering mountainsides so dense it’s almost frustrating. I think one of the reasons we love Spain in particular is the people. Spanish folk are sincerely some of the most down-to-earth types you will ever meet. There is very little ego and they have so much passion for life that it really reminds you how to enjoy yourself.
We have been climbing and pursuing projects at two different cliffs lately. Oliana and Santa Linya, which are polar opposites in terms of style. Oliana is a giant wall with some of the most unique and RAD features. The cliff is and orange wall capped with blue and white limestone. The orange rock is smooth and less aggressive, while the blue is weathered with tufas and has an embracive texture.
This is one of the best single crags in the world and is the reason a U.S. citizen will travel to Europe for climbing. It’s an epic place to climb and can be downright intimidating. When you go up a route for the first time it’s pretty hard not to be gripped. There are large run-outs between bolts and potential for HUGE falls. This is just part of the game with the climbing in Oliana. I would like to say you get used to it… but damn… I am still waiting for that. The routes are long and require an 80-meter rope to lower off, so they are HUGE. Your send- satisfaction is a heart-pounding, cotton-mouth, head-spinning, marathon when you clip those chains. THE BEST!
Santa Linya on the other hand is not 45 meters of climbing, but does pack a lot of athletic-punch. It is more along the lines of power-endurance climbing and I love it!!! It’s the steep physical climbing of Catalunya and LOADED with hard routes. I would compare St. Linya to an outside climbing gym. The hang is pretty comfortable as the ground is flat from end to end. You are basically road-side, and on the weekends you will likely see 40 people in the cave all screaming encouragement like VAMOS!!! and VENGA!!!!!
Santa Linya is another famous crag. A hero of mine, Dani Andrada, put up most of the routes and they call the style resistancia. The Spanish resistancia style is something like power-lifting until your head explodes! I think every one of my friends who has climbed there still has a lot of unfinished business. The cave is hard climbing routes start at 8a (13b). It’s also a testing ground for the strongest climbers in the world. You will see many pros, high-end sends, and a lot of sports action on almost any day of the week. St. Linya is an example of modern sport climbing, route development, and a new level of grading that is hard to argue with.
I absolutely love the climbing at both areas and for a while was interested in alternating days so that we could attack hard routes at both areas. This was going well for a couple of weeks, but I wasn’t completing any routes at that time. Honestly one of the most important things for me in climbing is clipping chains, completing your project, and getting to the top! With spreading ourselves so thin it was hard to do this. So… we zeroed in at Oliana. And within a couple of days I had completed two amazing routes called Fisheye 8c and Mind Control 8c+. Both of these rigs are HUGE and eat up an entire 80 meter rope when you lower. They climb with the combination physical and technical style and are EPIC!!!!. And when you get to the top of the wall… you really feel like you’ve done something meaningful for that moment. You feel like you are the top of the world… Fisheye and Mind Control are some of the most satisfying routes I have done in a while and it felt good to redpoint something again! Now I need MORE!!!
Clipping chains is really important… even in a place as relaxed as this. It isn’t always about the grades and difficulty, it’s about the style. Regardless, I am super excited to up the ante now… 9a and 9a+ routes are everywhere here… and that is the next step. The time is now and now is the time… LETS GO!!! VENGA!!!!
Stay tuned for more Spain updates. Things seem to keep getting better here with the more time we spend. We are even looking at a little real-estate for an investment! LIFE IS GOOOOOOD!!!!!!