This past week I have been climbing in Margalef, Spain, and filming with Big Up Productions (Reel Rock Tour) and 3Strings Media (Adidas Feature Video). Within the Cataluna Region of Spain there is a plethora of world-class routes to try. Chris Sharma established a beautiful route called Era Bella, 9a, in Margalef, which he suggested that I go and try. With this encouragement, I departed from my brief stay in Oliana to check this test-piece out. Upon arriving at the route, I knew that it was something special. The route seamlessly follows a 140-foot orange and blue streaked prow. Small pockets and cobbles concentrate the steep face. The line looks proud and daunting – a journey.
The breakdown of the route roughly follows this description; a slab section to a ledge before a roof, then a few long, powerful moves out of the roof to a decently sized ledge, then a long and steep powerful headwall.
First, I spent time on the route working out beta for the individual moves and figuring out the best, most efficient sequences. When I had the route’s beta in segments, I began looking for the best positions to clip my rope into the draws from and finding places that I would be able to rest. Then, I began trying to link bigger sections of the route together and breaking the route into smaller sections that I could try and quickly achieve.
My progress was coming along well and each effort that I put into the route felt as though it was enhancing my process and contributing to my goal of achieving the route in full. However, with the more work I put into the route, I was quickly losing chunks of skin and bleeding in more places. My muscles were tiring and despite muscle-memory, moves began feeling harder than necessary. With time counting down, I was trying to fight the urge to need too much rest; however, this did not heal my skin, nor relieve my aching muscles. The progression I was feeling through long links started to reverse and I started to be shut down. On the last day, I eagerly hiked to the route, tape on every other finger, and was ready for battle… A last hoorah before leaving. I was pushing myself to perform physically and I was putting a lot of mental pressure on my mind. I really wanted to succeed. I felt the route in my realm of near possibility and I knew I could do it.
I fell. And I tried again, biting the sharp pain cutting into my wounds, and I fell again. Despite how badly I wanted to clip the anchors and feel the sensation of clipping the anchors, I couldn’t that day.
I’ve never had a long-term project. Putting more than just a few tries into a route is something that challenges me, frustrates me, and intrigues me. Finding a project at a foreign area during a shorter-term trip is risky because time is of essence and you run the risk of having to walk away. However, the beauty of climbing outside is that you can always return. This trip I have to walk away from Era Bella without having clipped the chains; however, I am excited to return as soon as I can and to continue my fight. While my trip is over, my journey is just on hold.
I suppose projecting a route parallels anything in life that you have to work towards. The more effort - blood, sweat, (and hopefully not tears), you put into something, the greater that something will feel when you achieve it. I can’t wait to feel this on Era Bella :)
Hasta Luego Espana, onwards to Sweden!!
Motivated by my Passion!