Sunday July 7th - I feel like I’m finally climbing in Spain
For the past few days, we’d all been searching through the guide book front to back. Getting ideas for where to go next. I turned the page and saw a picture that instantly made us want to go. A tall white and orange wall with water grooves, caves, and tufas at the top. Oh man, it looked sweet. We jumped in the car and headed to Puig de Garaffa.
Warming up at sector Duck (best sector name ever by the way) we hopped on some easier warm up routes, all of which were extremely fun. Hooters (5+) with its orange tinged honey comb shape rock, was one of the coolest routes of the grade I’ve been on. I realized that I was saying this same thing about everything I got on. Everything you touched was a classic though, even the less popular ones. It was such fun climbing.
While the girls were finishing up one of the routes, I walked around the corner to sector To Pa Ti. The wall that drew us to the crag in the first place. Once around the corner I saw this beautiful wall starring back down at me. Whoa... thats incredible. Rushing back to the girls nearly tripping over every rock and tree stump, we gathered our gear hiked around to corner and set up camp under the wall.
The route that struck my attention first was Na Rua (7b). A absolutely beautiful pitch. Following a curving water grove all the way to the top. After climbing this, it was truly the best route of the grade I had ever climbed. It just had everything. The way you worked the groove was a different style of movement the whole way up. The route was filled with such exciting and gratifying climbing. The move that stood out to me the most was a drop knee off a side pull, to reach a far away edge. Moves like that, pulling your body into the wall to statically grab something are so fun. Also, there was a crack system at the top, on which I had an incredible finger locking good time. The moves, the rock, the line, damn... I cant say enough good things about this one. A real route.
The girls had their eyes set on another route. To Pa Ti (7a) another great line. After a tricky start you follow a seemingly blank white wall that makes its way past two full on caves. I really enjoy when you can crawl inside a cave while climbing to just sit and look at the view. The views from caves are always awesome. While up there (at least for me on these kinds of routes) is such a incredible/silly thing. First the view is amazing and you get a chance to really take it all in and appreciate where you are. Then you think, what am I doing up here? Im sure if someone who didn’t know anything about climbing would think I’m either ridiculous, stupid, or dumb. Any of those actually.
The girls had their own opinions about the route. Alison was immediately struck by the beauty of the line itself. It snakes up the left side of what is truly a beautiful wall. Once she got on the route she formed her own opinions about what 7a meant to her. With two big rests on the route sustained is one of the last words that comes to mind but for Alison it is mental stamina that makes the route 7a. The moves are big and the caves make for some serious run out. For her this project was about marrying trying hard physically with keeping it together mentally, a task that is easier said then done.
Like Alison, Maddy also so the beauty in the line. After hanging the draws on the route she had a new outlook on what was possible and sending 7a became one of her goals for the trip. For Madeline confidence is one of the most limiting factors in her climbing. Her relatively short history of climbing as well as a lack of outside experience are both contributors to her lack of confidence while climbing. That being said, her potential once she over comes these factors is boundless. For her this route was proof to herself that she could climb 7a. The tricky start is a perfect way to get her focused before the lower crux right before the first cave and after resting there the moves ease up but she has to climb efficiently in order to avoid pumping out before the top. There is no doubt in my mind that before the trip is over Maddy will send 7a.
The rest of our day was spent climbing here. Such a beautiful place. We had lunch, and enjoyed the late shade the crag gave us. We would definitely be coming back. The girls would want to get back on their project and there were still a few more routes I wanted to try there.
Tomorrow, we would be going to the airport to get the last member of our trip. Felix, who had just graduated high school and was one of the kids I had coached on the climbing team back home. This year he was getting ready to move out for college and also planning a graduation trip for the summer. While I was talking to him about this, he told me he was thinking about going to Spain for a few weeks. I began to tell him about my own trip to Mallorca and told him that if he was going to go somewhere in Spain, he should just come climbing with me. He didn’t even hesitate on the question before saying yes.
Monday July 8th - The tassels of our Mallorcan tricycle arrive.
Today was the day Felix arrived. I called him the day before to touch base before he left on his flight. The main thing I had to tell him though was to sleep as much as he could on the way out here, because we would be going climbing as soon as we picked him up. Deep water soloing to be precise.
We rolled into the airport not knowing where parking was. I decided just to get out and go wait for Felix inside. The three of us figured we’d all meet up somewhere eventually. I headed inside and looked around for a little while. When all of a sudden I heard my name and turned to look. There in the distance was what seemed to be little boy in a flamboyant striped shirt rushing towards me. I stood there dumbfounded until what I thought was little boy stood up straight. Shockingly I saw it was Felix. He isn't the smallest kid ever, coming in at 6’4. As soon as he stood up I was a little startled. He gave me a hug and we went off to find Allison and Maddy. After a “small” search around the airport we all finally met up. The girls greeted Felix and we headed to the car.
We decided to take Felix deep water soling for his first day. For one, it’s kind of the reason most people come climbing here, and the other was that it was a perfect blue sky day. In the car Felix entertained us with his travel stories. With rushing from terminal to terminal not to miss flights, it sounded like he went through some of what Maddy and I had gone through. Maddy instantly started telling him of our travel stories. Felix who thought he had the worst travel experiences, respectfully tipped his hat to us saying that our story made his trip seem stress-free and easy.
The spot we took Felix was Cala Magraner. The first deep water soloing spot that we’d been to days earlier. After an easy hike in I could seen the excitement building on Felix’s face as we got closer and closer. We went the the Metrosexual area and soon as Felix saw it he jumped right into the water. Almost forgetting to take his pack off with all his camera gear inside it! He loved it already and hadn’t even climbed a single thing.
We spent the day climbing and swimming. The girls working on another 7a (Hercules) and I showed felix the route I was most psyched on when I first went there, Metrosexual (7a+). Felix Really enjoyed it, not minding at all the few splash downs he had. On one of he last attempts I thought he had it, before falling at the top out. Nevertheless, he was still psyched and wanted to come back again. I was interested in trying Solecito (7b). A route that started across the cave from the line Metrosexual but moved across the opening but sharing it’s finish. The toughest part though was the start. A dyno off a small edge to a hold that was almost at my full wingspan. I didn't have much luck with this one, but I got close a few times. Oh well, something to come back to I suppose.
After a day of climbing, swimming, sharing stories with other climbers, and exploring the grotto we ventured back home for the day. The drive gave Felix a chance to entertain us with more of his ridiculous stories. He’s such a funny guy and a great addition to the group. We got home, showed Felix around the house, and went to go get wine. Spending the rest of our night enjoying yet another amazing dinner made made Allison, looking over the guide book, and recounting everything that had happened that day. Our bottles of wine were empty, our stomaches full, and we were off to bed.
Tuesday July 9th - Well, it all can’t be great.
Finally a complete team, we were ready for some climbing. Having four people there would greatly increase our efficiency. Our plan for the day was to head back to Puig De Garrafa. A beautiful crag. We had such success on our last visit, we figured it’d do us well to go back.
The drive there is very pretty. Different than the drive to our deep water soloing spots on the southern end of the island. Not as mountainous as the more northern crags. Located on the western end of the island the landscape catches the end of the Tramuntana mountain range before sinking into the Mediterranean. While navigating to a new crag there seems to be a recurring thought, “Am I trespassing?”. It’s always the right spot though. After a maze of different paths that all disperse and then rejoin, all of a sudden you’re at the crag!
We decided to start at Sector Corral. Madeline and I warmed up on a (name?) 6b+. Great line. Moving up slightly leftward, you follow a orange corner with fun technical movement. At the top, the route moves out left onto a very cool feature. Moving up this ramp you then make your way to the chains. Great way to start the day. Great for Madeline as well. This was her first 6b+ on-sight and a proud one at that. She climbed with confidence making quick work of it.
Next line was something that had really stood out to me. In the middle of the crag there is a giant cave with a route that follows the right corner and then pulling the roof to the chains. At 7a+ I figured it wouldn’t be too much to handle. Making my way up the wall, I instantly fell in love with the giant tufas you climbed just before hitting the roof section and the crux.
As I made my way further and further away from the last bolt on the vertical wall; and further and further out onto roof that kicked back about 12 feet I wondered were my next clip was. It would have made sense for it to be on the roof to keep from any bad falls, but there were none. Pulling the roof was the crux. A bad right hand crimp with a good thumb catch to a bad left hand sloper over the bulge. Throwing over the bulge and onto the sloper I saw my next clip still 6 feet or so away. This was getting a little too run out. Not wanting to back down I tried my luck on moving off the sloper only to come back to it each time. I was stuck. I saw what was a good hold far away but had no desire to throw to it having such a runout. I decided against moving on and took the fall. Swinging back into the corner I just missed the first ledge at the start of the route and swung into the corner. I was fine. Madeline did exactly as she should, and kept me off the ground. With no bolt on the roof there was an unavoidable run out. This set me up for a fall that meant swinging into the corner regardless.
Frustrated, I went to go cool off. Not frustrated at Madeline, but on how poorly the route was protected. I have no experience bolting a route so I really have no right to complain, but the rock was featureless under the roof and looked solid to me. It just seemed very unsafe not to have a bolt there. Torn between wanting to climb such a fun route and the danger of the situation, I realized it wasn’t worth it. There was much more to be climbed.
After trying a few, less than stellar routes, we headed back over to Sector To Pa Ti to lift our spirits. The girls had their 7a project and I had another line I was interested on. Sergi (7b+) just left of the amazing line I climbed the other day. Much of the same start as the line I’d climb at this crag days before, but instead of curving out right this one went straight to the top. Passing the first big cave on the girls 7a and through a triple tufa section before the finish, it looked awesome. I racked up and began.
The start was familiar and reminiscent of Na Rua. Only approaching it from the left instead of the right followed by a very cool knee bar then leads you out left into the first cave. After that, the route kicks up the heat. Very powerful movement with some awesome foot work into the triple tufas. The best part of the route. If you haven’t gotten it by now, I love tufas and this one was awesome. Above there was a ledge with two edges for both hands. Having a heel toe cam in the tufas I rested and assessed the finish. I was psyched, the anchors only 10 feet or so away. “Wait, where’d all the holds go?” The wall got blank fast. Nothing to be seen at a first glance. There I hung trying to unlock the finish getting more and more tired. Until finally letting go in frustration. After that, I proceed to the top. I figured the move out, but it was hard. Holding a left hand mono I raised my heel to the ledge my right hand was on. Pulling on my heel and the mono I could raise myself up just enough to grab some crimpers to finish it off. Wow, this line was awesome.
It’s hard sometimes when things don’t go the way you want. Dealing with failure is hard for anyone in any aspect of life. In climbing knowing when to back down is one of the hardest decisions to make. Thats what climbing at your limits is about though. It’s just as much as a mental struggle as it is a physical one. There is a lot to overcome in both of these factors and sometimes, it doesn't come as easy or as soon as you would hope. The girls got to learn that today. The 7a for both of them was their first experience on what projecting something means.
Giving all the had at each go, their attempts turned up empty handed. Still, after each attempt they would always take something away from it. Whether something simple as a foot switch or a mental breakthrough into what is possible. Thats just the way it goes sometimes. You try and try, learning all you can, and giving every last bit of strength you have. Until, there’s that moment where everything comes together.
All in all, it wasn’t a terrible day. We might have thought that at first, but come on. We were climbing in paradise. We got on some very fun lines and maybe a few we wish we hadn’t gotten on. We might have not succeed at projects, but we’d be back. You could count on that.
Wednesday July 10th - Cliffs, sun, and water. What more could you ask for?
A new day, a fresh start. I was ready to climb. My companions though.... not so much. A rest day was in order. I don’t blame them either. I’ve been climbing for much longer than all of them and am use to this pace of climbing. The others needed rest. Hating the idea of just laying around the house (I’ve never really been good at sitting around doing nothing) I began to ponder options. Then it hit me. Cala Magraner. A crag that literally drops into the sea. What a great place to go. The others could rest and swim (and ever so graciously give me a catch or two).
The sector I had in mind was the Cueva cave. A giant tufa covered wall with a daunting overhang that engulfed the whole sector. It was my style of climbing. I had two routes in mind. Dingo (7c+) and TNT (8a). Some British climbers we met while deep water soloing told me that their friend had climb TNT and it was and absolutely amazing line. I’d glance at it in the guide before but now after hearing this I was determined to check it out.
Feeling psyched I warmed up on Dingo. An amazing line. Maybe not quite 7c+ but what do I know.... Regardless the route was spectacular. Really my style. Feeling good I moved to TNT. Wow, what an incredible line. The movement was fantastic. Starting off a hard bolder problem you climb out of a small cave making your way onto the wall right before it kicks out. From there the climb really shines. Dynamic movement to a...... double toe hook above your head!? It was something you’d do in the gym. After a big move your feet vanish and you’re left with a giant hole out left and above your head while your route continue up right. Feet swinging, you throw them into the hole and secure yourself to the wall. Bumping your hand to eventually reach a deep two figure pocket out right where your feet cut once more, swing, and continue up through still difficult moves to the chains. Trying it just a few times, I decided to keep it until later in the trip for another try. I didn’t want to burn myself out. For now, it was sun bathing time.
On the shore we enjoyed burritos we had brought from home (delicious). Continuing to enjoy the rest of our day sun bathing and swimming (which I am not the best at, as any one in our group could tell you). None of us had ever been lucky enough to have climbed at a crag like this. Climb until you're too tired or hot then jump in the water. Such a great place. We chilled there for the rest of the day.
Sitting on the beach we discussed what tomorrow would bring. We all knew where we were going to end up going. A crag we’d be dreaming about before we got on our separate planes to this island. Alaro. A crag that looked like it was not from this world. 30 meters of melting tufas (and when I say tufas I mean it!). The whole wall was covered with them. That being said, It was settled. Tomorrow, we would go to Alaro.