I am now back in the US after yet another amazing trip to Spain! This was my third time going to Spain this year and every time I go, I cannot wait to return again!
This past trip was relatively short but I was really happy with what I accomplished. To start, I went to Rodellar, Spain, for three climbing days.
I first went to Rodellar in 2009. Returning there feels like I am returning to a warm paradise. The whole ambiance is amazing – there are so many great limestone cliffs that just tease your eyes and beg to be climbed. There is a clear river flowing at the base of the cliffs, accompanied by a lush green landscape that surrounds the valley. Parallel to the beauty is the community in Rodellar – I am always so motivated by the Spanish Climbers’ friendliness and strength. The general “a muerte” effort inspires me to try my hardest while climbing, too.
In Rodellar I did not have a very long time so I was not sure what I wanted to try. I had done most of the routes there, and some of the hard routes which I had never tried… kind of avoided actually… are in the “Ali Baba Cave” which is not so aesthetic. The cave is really small and actually quite ugly and smelly in my opinion, and the climbs there don’t even require a rope because they are so close to the ground. However – located in “Las Ventanas,” one of the main sectors in Rodellar, are three climbs that I had not done- “Pata Negra,” “Las Inconformistas,” and “Borachos.” These climbs have some very long moves and are quite physical so I had previously spent my time doing routes that were more fitting to my style… not so many big moves.
Being back in Rodellar and wanting to climb something beautiful, I had the opportune chance to challenge myself with one of these routes at Las Ventanas sector. I chose to work on “Pata Negra.” The route is actually very long – 35 meters, so over 100 feet – of very steep, physical climbing. At the beginning there is a bouldery crux section involving mainly intricate underclings and small tufa pinches, and for me, two jump-moves in a row. Then, the intensity of the climb relaxes for several bolts up a steep but very positive hold section. Towards the end of the steep face, the climb traverses a little bit right and the holds become substantially worse for a few crux moves, then there is another recovery section that precedes a very long reach section to overcome the first lip. I was too short to span from the hold that previous people used to the undercling pocket hold that you have to turn out and reach for to position yourself to overcome the lip, so I found a small intermediate that I could use for my left hand and then put my right foot high on the hold that is generally used for the left hand. I then dynamically could reach out to the next hold, reposition my body, and jump over the first lip. Again, some recovery holds precede another very dynamic, long-move section in which I utilized intermediates and high feet to be able to execute. Apparently holds have broken at the top of the climb and this is why there are some of these very long reaches. I never tried it before the holds broke so I have no idea if I would have had such reach issues before, but nonetheless, I found the big, powerful moves very challenging personally because I am 5’2” (157 cm).
I tried Pata Negra our first and second day climbing in Rodellar and worked on refining the best methods to overcome my crux sections and to be able to do the long reaches. The third climbing day of our trip was my last day in Rodellar and I really did not know what to expect about the climb. I had all of the moves down, but the route is quite consistent and a long journey – I felt like I had multiple potential fall spots to overcome, and just trying it once to the top is tiring because of how physical and long it is. My first attempt of my third day I surprised myself, making it through the first ¾ of the route, but falling at the beginning of a section where there are 2-consectutive dynamic reaches. The next try, I fell one move higher – going for the really good hold that once you grab, it’s unlikely that you’ll fall afterwards to the top. I adjusted my beta a little bit at the top, repeated some of the hard moves repetitively to ingrain the sequences, and then sent the route my third try that day. As far as I have been told, this was the first female ascent of this route. It was atypical to other routes that I have succeeded on before because of how many long moves and powerful sequences there were, so I felt proud of my personal feat. =]
The next day I flew to Mallorca, Spain for the Balearic Boulder Master. I had never been to Mallorca before and I can easily state that it is one of my favorite places that I have ever been. There is a lot of really high quality climbing, beautiful beaches, the immaculately blue sea, unparalleled weather, Spanish culture, and just so many eminent attributes that make it an island paradise.
My first day in Mallorca I went climbing in a big cave that had features that were unlike those on any routes that I have ever climbed on before. Stalactite bulbous features and drooping tufas scattered the steep cave. There was a high concentration of hard routes there – most of which I didn’t have the opportunity to try because I was only there for one day – but I did manage to climb “Cletoropa” on my third try which I was really happy about. Again, a quite physical route that was not very long but had many long moves in between the bulb-like stalactite features. By the use of intermediates and some jumps I made it to the top without falling, but quite exhausted J
The next day, we (Sean McColl, Courtney Sanders, Guntram Jorg, Tony Marcello) went deep water soloing (climbing cliffs without a rope over the water). In Spain it is known as “Psicobloc” which really makes sense – it is totally a psychological experience. What I realized in particular was that while I am climbing, I often become so mentally absorbed with the movement of the climb that I am doing that I fade out my surroundings. While deep water soloing, you have to be constantly aware of your surroundings in case you fall – whether due to rock breaking or a hard sequence. For example, you don’t want to be climbing over shallow water at any point and you need to have control of your body for if you fall into the water.
Pointedly, I went to Mallorca for the Balearic Boulder Master, though, which was Saturday and Sunday. Saturday were qualifiers and then Sunday were semifinals then finals. The competition was run very well and there was a large, enthusiastic audience, especially for finals, which was wonderful! I love the positive energy from big crowds at competitions and finals took place at night so the event was spectacular.
Very happily, I placed first in a strong international field of women competitors. Sean McColl of Canada placed first for the men.
My next destination is Colorado for a photoshoot with Rock and Ice Magazine. Back to the rocks… J
Ciao for now….