Spain February 2011
I'll try and be positive but really I have to admit this was quite a disappointing trip. We started at the awesome Mas Riudoms on a busy Sunday. The only free route was the left-hand 8a, which I had failed on before due to a massive reach at the start. Surprisingly I hadn't grown but the rest of the route was good and it was possible to start up the 7c+ to its left instead. We cleaned off the 8a+ extension, to give a monster 50m pitch, but unfortunately, Steve had to clean out a crucial pocket which was going to take a few days to dry. This was frustrating as I climbed it clean with a quick pull on the draw to bypass the pocket, and would have given me a nice 8a tick with the LH start.
Since the temperatures were set to rise (and it's a real sun-trap) we decided to head up to Siurana instead. I've had a few climbing days here on various trips in the past but have never really got into it. We bought the new guide and had a pleasant day checking out some easy 7's at various sectors. The next day we decided to have a look at the classic 8b Zona Zero. Although I managed all the moves I knew my power endurance was seriously lacking and it wasn't a route I was going to do in a couple of days. The fingery nature of the climbing wasn't suiting my sore fingers, one of which was really giving me some aggro, so I persuaded Steve to head further north with the promise of getting back to Siurana next time.
Next stop the ridiculously steep Santa Linya. I had a couple of days back on Airline but it was so hot it wasn't going well. The mid-height jump felt hard, although the rest of it seemed less powerful than before. With the weather set to warm up even more we headed over to Bruixes as you can get some shade here at the beginning and end of the day and there's more chance of a breeze. After a false start at the very steep RH end and a very pleasant day over at Villanova de Meia we both jumped on Maneras de Vivir (8a). This had a good sequence of long moves which pushed my power endurance, followed by a big run-out then more reasonable climbing to the top (although there were a couple of big moves thrown in to spice it up). It went well and I got it on my second day.
I then jumped on Flix Flax (8a+) which I had dismissed in the past due to a hard crux and a jump higher up. This time the crux went okay but the jump still didn't suit me (bit of a theme here). I decided I would stick with though as the rest of the route felt ok. However, the next day at the crag the opportunity to try for the flash on Orient (7c/7c+) arose so I went for that instead which was a good move. I didn't feel particularly fit so found it a bit pumpy but was able to keep it under control which I was pleased with. Unfortunately this was the last route I did as the next day I couldn't actually wear my rockshoes as the pain on the back of my heel was horrendous. Just touching it was painful so crushing my foot into tight shoes was out of the question. It appears that wearing the same tight shoes (I always wear anasazi velcros) had caused a rub (rather like a blister under the surface) and the tissue was really inflamed. This put an end to my trip so I just belayed for the last week.
Steve was going well and was so close to Golpe de Gas (8b) but the warm conditions were against him and he kept greasing off the crux sloper. We had hoped to finish our trip with a couple of days in the Basque Country as we were sailing home from Santander. However, the weather turned pretty wet which put an end to that. The bad weather also meant the sailing was very rough (poor Steve was incredibly seasick), but it did stop us from eating too much on board!
Well to be honest my climbing has been a bit haphazard since we got back from Spain. I had a sort of plan leading up to our February trip which involved some bouldering then moving into more power endurance training. It started well and I certainly felt stronger into the New Year, however suddenly life got very hectic, I ended up doing too much bouldering then tried to squeeze in a couple of routes sessions when I was tired and ended up doing too much really. I've now got a sore elbow again and two sore fingers, not the sort of preparation I really wanted for my trip. However, before it all went wrong I did manage to climb well at the latest Climb Newcastle comp, flashing 30 of the 35 problems and grabbing another fourth attempt. They were an interesting mix with no long reaches – always a bonus.