This first week in Mallorca has been perfect. The scenery, culture, food, wine and climbing are incredible. I've climbed some of the best routes ever and drank some of the best wine ever. This place is absolutely beautiful. Paradise. I can't wait to see what week two holds for me. I still have a lot I want to see and do.
Tuesday July 2nd - Yeah, a rest day.... that’s what it was.
I wake up, walk to my window, and look out. I was in paradise. This was no dream, this is where I would be living for the next month. No responsibilities, just climbing. I couldn’t believe this was actually happening.
That morning, the three of us walked to the local market to grab a few things for breakfast. Even though you could tell what you were buying just by looking, it was still a little crazy being in a store with everything in Spanish. Thank god for Alison being there to answer any of our questions. Our walk to and from the market was our first real time checking out the town. This place was beautiful. The architecture really stood out to me. This place was like stepping back in time. All the buildings made me want to go climb them, but I didn't know how socially acceptable that’d be. I figured I could wait. Right by our apartment is this beautiful church with a town square where people set up small fruit and vegetable stand every Thursday. It was cool knowing we were basically staying right in the middle of the town.
We made a small breakfast of toast, cheese, fruit, and bacon (which was uncured due to my lack of Spanish during shopping). After breakfast we were visited by Antonia who wanted to make sure we didn't have any last minuet question. I can’t stress enough how thankful I am for the hospitality that she has showed us. It was so nice to have her as our landlord/friend/spanish mom.
Looking over the guide book we started to plan out our week. There was so much to do. Today being our rest day, we decided to just go to the beach. We didn’t want to really do any climbing that day but I was a little too excited. I suggested Cala Barques, which was conveniently located right by a Deep Water Soloing crag (see what I did there?).
Our drive to Cala Barques was beautiful, again it struck me that we were truly in paradise. This island had so many amazing landscapes and beautiful towns. Finding the crag was easier than we thought. We didn't know how popular this place was to the public. There were cars everywhere. If it wasn't for all the people though, we might have thought we were trespassing. It’s that feeling you get when you’re trying to find a crag and you think to yourself, “I think I might be on private property.” We got there though.
The beach was packed. There were boats anchored all throughout the cove. So we went straight to the Cova crag. This was our first glimpse of what Deep Water Soloing was. We scrambled over the cliffs and down to the edge of the sea. Peering down the coast line we saw it, a giant cave. Whoa, thats tall. At 14 meters tall it was not even close to the being the tallest crag on the island but it was tall enough to make me think to myself, “I’m gonna climb that? With no rope?” There was one other person there. He was quite friendly and very helpful. He made sure to stress the fact that climbing here was dangerous and he wanted to make sure we knew what we were getting ourselves into. The first line that caught my eye was Big XXL 7a. It climbed right out of the cave through a bunch of giant stalactites to a very exciting head wall at the top. “I need to go play on those stalactites.” I thought, but hesitated for a bit before trying it. I imagine everyone is a little hesitant to try it at first, but I eventually went for it.
The climb was incredible. The formations I was climbing was unlike anything I’ve done before. Traversing to stalactite to stalactite pinching, stemming, and bicycling them. It was incredible. On my way through the head wall I made a few big moves and approached the top. A little pumped I made my way up and topped it out. That, was unlike any type of climbing I’ve ever done. I was hooked. No ropes, no pads, and no gear. Just you, rock, and the water. People from their docked boats cheered and I wanted more.
We spent the rest of the day climbing around the crag. Making up our own lines, and jumping in. This was crazy. Your first time doing it, your really just thinking to yourself, this is ridiculous.
We spent the rest of our “rest day” climbing. We eventually went home, made dinner and chatted over wine about how awesome our day had been and what we’d do next. Laying in bed that night, listening to the town out our window I once again thought to myself, “I was in paradise with my amazing girlfriend and wonderful friend.”
Wednesday July 3rd - Tufas!
Wednesday brought our first Mallorcan sport climbing experience. Cala Magraner. A cliff line the heads straight into the Mediterranean. There you climb until the sun peers around the corner, then you relax on the shore and take a dip in the water. A beautiful crag in a beautiful place... despite the fact that it may have been a nudest beach. Which isn't necessarily bad given a more popular youthful beach, but I’d rather not see old naked people all day.
We took the day to sample the style of climbing we’d be getting ourselves into for the next month. Our whole party grew up climbing in the Red River Gorge, where the name of the game is pull down and go up. Coming here though we all knew the routes were going to be very thought provoking. Something I was really looking forward to.
The hike in was a little long. Mainly because the approach calls for you to cut over an old stone wall part way down the trail. We might have cut over a little too soon. Instead of climbing we decided to play, how many ticks can you get on yourself. We soon realized we were off route and headed back to the main trail to de-tick each other. Eventually we made our to the crag passing... goats? We were up early but it seemed the goats beat us to the crag.
The routes we chose were a few of the classic top 50 routes, and a few others that caught our eyes - routes that looked like an adventure. Tufas struck me the most. I wanted to grab them all, and grab them I did. I even hugged them.
The routes were great. Fun technical climbing with a few exciting parts here and there. Some of the craziest holds I’ve ever grabbed seemed to be everywhere. Towards the end of the day I wanted to try something a little more challenging. I chose a 7a+ named.... well there wasn’t really a name for it. Just cave left... wow... very creative. The name didn't matter though. The route looked incredibly fun. It climbed out of the mouth of a cave on large wide stalactites for teeth. Pulling the roof there was a line of tufas that lead to the chains. It was a great climb. The best part for me was pulling over the roof on a tufa rail that moved upward into this curving arch to form an undercling. Such fun climbing.
Onsighting this route was a great motivation boost for the start of the trip. I really enjoyed this technical style of climbing and couldn't wait to try more. (and more importantly grab more tufas!)
We headed home and enjoyed a beautiful ride home. This island is amazing. I cant help but just stare out the window of out rental car, looking at the little towns full of beautiful old buildings, gazing into the seemingly endless wine orchards, and drooling over the mountains by our house.
At home we enjoyed a delicious dinner made by Alison. She’s such an amazing cook, and loves to do it. She had lived in mainland Spain for a year and coming here for her was like coming home and having her here made it feel like home for us too.
Thursday July 4th - Goats, our Spirit Animal.
Waking up to a good breakfast and the sun starting to rise, we were ready for another day of climbing. The mountains were looking more and more tempting. We needed to venture into them. We chose to go to the crag of S’estret, located in the Valldemossa area.
The hike into the crag was beautiful. It felt like we were in the pages of a fairy tail. There was ruins of a home and an old aqueduct that lead us to the cliffs. Along the way more goats paid us a visit. We finally dubbed this creature, our spirit animal for the trip.
We started our day with some very fun, tall, easy routes. Hanging out on a ledge, I took pictures of Madeline and Alison smiling their way up what could be the best 4+ I’ve done. I have to say though, while both Madeline and I were up on the climb I soon realized the goats would soon see Alison was alone and and see her as an easy target. Luckily, no such problem accrued. Our translator/cook would be ok.
Over at sector Cuarenton, I gazed up at a wall of high 6’s and low 7’s. The wall, covered in tufas, almost called to me. I climbed them all. All serving to be a little exciting in parts but mostly reasonable.
Bicep Blow Out 7a+ is the most properly named route ever. Pulling undercling after undercling you move up the start with technical foot work. A great great route. All of them were incredible, with such awesome movement from tufa to tufa. Each had their own way to conquer the roof and gain the last bit to the chains, and each was great.
The girls found a great project for the two of them, and I was psyched to watch them try hard and take pictures. Red Stain (6b+), a great route, with a fun crux pulling over a small roof. I had a great time taking pictures of the fun moves, being climbed by two beautiful women.
This was Madeline’s first 6b+ and I was extremely proud. It’s a great feeling to accomplish something that inspires you to challenge yourself both mentally a physically to the point of failure. To overcome those two obstacles, at any grade is the best feeling I can think of.
A great crag and great climbs. Wow Mallorca. Day three and I’ve already considered this the best area to climb ever. Another night filled with good food and wine. The winery, maybe 30 steps out our front door would soon become a common destination.
Friday July 5th and 6th - This is a silly place.
Mallorca’s main attraction for climbers is the deep water soloing and we experienced why first hand. Its such an amazing thing that can only be understood once you do it. Cala Barques seemed like a good place to revisit for the day. There are a few more crags that we didn't get a chance to go explore last time, so we knew we had to go check it out.
We you get to the beach you hit the onslaught of people everywhere. Naked again there they all were, this time more appealing at least than just wrinkly old people. We got to the cove the house our two climbing destinations for the day and saw two amazing tall caves and beautiful blue deep water below. There were a few people over here. Four or five were climbing and the rest were from a boat that was docked right by the caves. It wasn't crowded though. Most were just tanning, naked of course on the near by boat. Having naked Spaniards cheering while you climb is actually pretty fun.
The route I had my eyes set on was a 7a+ named Metrosexual. This route traversed a crimp rail that lead into huge holes making their way up the overhanging wall to a thiner finish. I jumped right on it. The movement was great, everything I hoped it’d be and more. Big moves with side pulls and underclings. I made my way to the top quite easily, but pumped out at the tricky finish. I was a little lost on where to go a threw to a hold, well... what I thought would be a hold and took my first splash down. Its such a crazy feeling falling while deep water soloing. You do so many move that you forget that you ended up quite high on the wall. The fall was clean though, and the water soft and warm. A little disgruntled I didn’t on sight, I jumped back on and sent it my second go.
Once at the top I was super stoked. My friends, other climbers, and the naked people cheered. Then they told me to jump. Jump!? It wasn't the tallest wall but a 13meter jump can start the leg shivers. Well, I thought. If I just jump once I’m in the air I cant really back out so i’ll just jump. Jump I did and fell threw the air into the water below. Such a fun jump.
We spent the day doing other climbs, chatting with other climbers, and swimming around into the nearby grotto. This place was beautiful. Its still unreal even writing this. You can swim around, or lay down and soak up the sun. It’s the greatest type of climbing you could wish for. We all had smiles on our faces throughout the day.
Deep water soloing is such a silly thing, but so much fun. You climb, you fall, and in the water you go. This type of climbing is different. No bolts or ropes to limit where you could go. You could climb anything and go anywhere. It was all superb climbing whether you were on a route or not. It didn’t matter, you just had fun.
We spent our whole day there. Tomorrow, we would take an actual rest day. Later in the day, once we were home. We looked at pictures of our day and talked all night about it. The next day we would spend sleeping in for most of it, doing yoga and just relaxing around the house and going out to pick up food and wine latter in the day. It was nice to do nothing. Usually on my climbing trips you need to be taking advantage of every day because they are quite short. Here though, we had an entire a month. As excited as we were to go experience all that Mallorca had to offer, we realized this trip was a time to relax.