Sunday July 14th - Back to Puig de Garrafa.
Week three. We were starting to get accustomed to this lifestyle. It was all I’ve ever wanted. Living in a small home with good friends, eating amazing food, and spending our days climbing. I could do this for a while. Two weeks were behind us though and as much as we hated the idea of it, time was moving fast. We were basically halfway through our trip already. It was time to get moving.
Over our typical bountiful breakfast of toast and yogurt, we talked about where we’d go for the day. Sleep still in our eyes, we flipped through the guidebook (which was starting to look quite torn apart from being.... loved so much). Pugi de Garrafa was becoming one of our often visited crag for a number of reasons. Close to home, easy approach, and projects for most of the group were there. For these reasons we decided to pay the crag a visit.
That day the girls went their way and Felix and I went ours. We all had different expectations and goals for the day. Even though we were at different sectors for day we still could hear the girls faint laughter in the distance, and they could here ours as well (well... from us mostly wobblers were heard, a burst of frustration if you don’t know what one is).
Felix and I posted up in the Sombra sector. A bulging wall filled with tufas and pockets. Oh yeah, it gets shade all day too! I climbed Columna (7a+) hanging the draws for Felix. One of his goals was to send a 7a+ and this was a perfect one. Quite respectable too If I say so myself. A little stiff in the grade, mainly because most of the better holes on the route all had birds in their nests occupying them. They were everywhere. It seemed that they all had taken up residency on our route. Or perhaps they were still in the middle of there on-sight attempt nestled into their bivys. This forced us to grab the outside edge (usually quite bad) of every good hold of the route. That being said, the route was still very good and I highly recommend it, as long as one is careful not to disturb the birds in their homes. Felix spent most of the day on that route, dialing in his sequence. After several close attempts he decided to leave it for another day. Which was good, because I had plans in another sector.
Paying the girls a quick visit (mainly to steal some granola bars) we made our way to the last sector of the day. To Pa Ti. There was a beautiful line there that I’d tried a few days prior, only to have fallen off the final moves. Sergi (7b+). Another amazing line, that made its way up the white and orange wall to finish on a triple tufa! The feature that really grabbed my attention. Racking up I figured I’d hang the draws first and then give it a real attempt. While climbing, I felt good and kept moving. I made it to the final hard move before the finish. Before I knew it, I was clipping the chains. Whoa, that was cool. Half expecting to be trying it for the rest of the day, I managed to send it on my first go. Awesome! Such a great route.
The girls wandered over after that and started to work their project. I went off exploring as I usually did, and Felix.... well he took a crag nap as he usually did. Madeline and Alison really enjoyed this route. The process of working something was still a little new to them and they loved the challenge and rewarding feeling of making links. Maddy gave one real good go where a foot slipped brought her down. Frustrated as she was, she saw that she was getting closer and closer, Maddy started to see this was a very achievable goal. Frustrating as it could be at times, this was her project, and she loved it. The route wouldn't be giving up a send too easily, but Maddy was ready for the challenge. Even if that challenge included birds flying into her face out of holes she was grabbing. Which definitely happened. Reaching into a large hole a bird flew up her arm hitting her in the face. She may have screamed but held on. Impressive, considering what my own reaction would be like. I would probably have screamed louder and jump off the wall.
Once everyone was too tired to continue any more, and the sun too hot for our liking. We headed back home. Once at home we discussed over glasses of wine the plan for the rest of the week. Tomorrow would bring Arta. Another long anticipated crag of ours. Tall pure white rock. We had read that climbing was very different than any other place in Mallorca. Since the walls were so white you really couldn’t tell from signs of chalk where to go on the route. This made for a good day of route reading, and everyone was stoked for the challenge.There were plenty of routes for everyones liking. Felix was psyched on some of the very featured climbs with tufas, Maddy and Alison were excited on some more technical vert climbing, and I was hungry for the cave. Truly an amazing area and our favorite area as we’d find out tomorrow.
Monday July 15th - The white wall.
Today was personally, one of my most anticipated climbing days. As was for everyone else I think. We were going to the crag of Ermita de Betlem in Arta. White walls filled with every angle of climbing to be had. From slab to a cave, it was all there. Another early start (well as early as we could make it by getting Felix out of bed) we were off to a new area and new part of Mallorca. Throughout the trip we’d revisit lots of crags, but going to these new areas were always the most exciting. Not really knowing what to expect.
After passing (squeezing) through Arta which is home to some of the worlds smallest roads, we made our way up yet another mountain full of switch backs. On top was the parking and an amazing 360 degree view of the hills and the sea. Once we could see the crag we instantly fell in love. Looking down into a valley, white cliffs came sprouting out of the treeless hilltops high above the sea. An always present breeze flew through the valley down out to the sea and to the monastery down below. There were two sectors there, both close to each other. A lower and upper crag. The crags faced north, which meant no sun all day. For once we didn't have to worry about getting out before the sun found us and we ran the risk of becoming more of a rock lobster. This was my favorite crag.
Warming up at the upper crag a number of fun technical climbing could be found. Everyone jumped up on routes right away. I warmed up on Tato (7a+) and had an amazing time on it. Not being able to see where climbers have gone in the past, this place changed the pace of climbing. The name of the game here is proper route reading. A skill that is often overlooked since most of the time a trail of chalk will always lead you in the “general” direction to take. It made for a stronger connection between you and the route. You weren’t just blindly grabbing holds to get to the top. Here, you slowed down and would learn all about the route on your way up. No clear sign what path to take lead for some very exciting slow and controlled climbing.
Everyone was having a blast here. Maddy and Alison did some of the classic moderates the crag had to offer. Felix and I ventured towards the middle of the cliff where many tufas had formed and climbed Escarabat Pelut (7a+). A great line to add to the list. perfect tufas to grab that lead to a very fun bouldery crux. I was soon getting very restless though. I wanted to go see what I came here form, the cave. We all hiked down to the more daunting lower crag. A tall arching overhung wall drew you up towards the cave, It was truly an amazing place. Hiking up to the central cave I was in awe.
This was my kind of climbing. The route I had my sights set on was Piltrafilla (7c+). It made its way through two stalactites out onto the roof to eventually pull out of the cave on a very white and very blank looking wall. I jumped right on it. The roof section was the best part. Such fun bouldery and powerful moves on the most interesting holds. Limestone makes the craziest shapes to grab. Making quick work of that I began to work the top section. A little more puzzling than the roof. Mainly because there were no holds! I worked through it though, making a hard but obtainable sequence. After I had all my beta I began my rapid fire on it. Giving burn after burn I’d make it to the same place every time. A section on the last blank bit once you have left the cave. My beta for this was more dynamic. I took a few falls from there until I realized I had to be doing something wrong. I left it for that day with out a send, but I’d be back.
As frustrating it was not to send, I couldn't help but be in a great mood. This was an amazing crag. There was so much to offer. I dubbed it, my favorite climbing crag I’ve ever been to. The climbing was incredible and the scenery was beautiful. The shade and the breeze made for such comfortable climbing conditions. We stayed longer than any crag we’ve been to yet there. We eventually made our way back home. Back through the tiny one way streets of Arta, getting turned around on a number of occasions, but eventually back on the highway. More wine and food were to be had that night. We celebrated such an incredible day of climbing. We’d defiantly be heading back soon.
Tuesday July 16th - This will be my shortest post yet.
From reading the title of this day, expectations are probably not high and I don’t blame you. On Tuesday we did literally, well.... nothing. All of our muscles sore and skin raw, we slept in and hung around the house all day. A boring day it would sound like to some but it was actually quite nice not doing anything. For one, the temperature outside could have easily been confused with the fires of hell. Another is we all had books that we got a chance to spend a good day of reading. Plus, have you ever just done nothing all day?! It’s rather relaxing. We made one appearance outside our house that day but that was only to the cafe next door. Much as we wanted to be climbing, a day of rest was just what we needed, and we enjoyed every second of it.
Wednesday July 17th - Climbing by the sea.
After a much needed rest day we were all up early and ready to go do some climbing. The plan for the day was Port De Soller. A crag that over looked the sea. A nice day of climbing with a fresh crisp sea breeze sounded like a great way to spend the day. After waking Felix up from sleeping in again we took off.
The drive to Soller was very beautiful. Once you get into the mountains you go through a tunnel that goes on for ever. It felt like the tunnel they row down in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, though not as scary. Through the town and another tunnel, we made it to the hotel which was located right above the cliff. Parking there, we hiked down and around towards the cliffs below the hotel.
An easy hike lead to some amazing walls. Tall, featured, and another cave! There was much on everyones todo list for that day. We warmed up on the classics (Sea and Sand) and then turned our attention towards our goals for the day. Mine of course was the cave (Being the cave dweller I am) and everyone else was stoked on the famous route there Blobland (6c). Maddy and Alison especially. A stunning tall line that was covered with, you guessed it, blobs. Like I said before, climbing on limestone is amazing. Some of the most amazing features are formed on it. Blobland was just a bunch of these features that you would connect together to reach the top. I’d be heading over there eventually but in the meantime, I had a cave to explore.
The first route I chose was Phantomas (7b). A line that made it’s way up the tufa covered righthand side of the cave. Then into the roof with a cave of its own at the top. A cave in the cave. That’s right, cave inception. Great jug pulling into a fun climax at the head wall. After that I climbed Virgin Direct (7b+). Much of the same as the other, only this time coming out of the lefthand side of the cave. Sharing the same end though. I did these both first try. I was feeling really good. The other line of this cave was Virgin (8a). I looked at it after being lowered down both times. It looked really doable. The only thing was that there was a giant bees nest right above what looked like the crux. So I turned away from that one. Maybe I’ll try it later in the trip.
Felix got his sights set on a route by the cave too. Ja Som Five (6c+). A very technical looking line. Felix went for it though and made quick work of it. He commentated the whole climb. It started with the first half being the jugiest route ever to, where have all my holds gone. Still, he worked through it sending it with style.
We walked back over to where the girls were enjoying their time on Blobland. They couldn’t give it enough praise. Such a fun line. As they were finishing up I ventured off for a bit. The crag was really cool but, really dirty too. There was trash everywhere. I assumed most came from the construction of the hotel above. It was a little sad though to see so much trash in such a pretty spot. I walked over to the far left cave which is usually looked over and rarely climbed in. I think homeless people were living in it. There was beds made from all the trash thrown off the cliff and a fire pit with plates and silverware by it. I felt a little uncomfortable there (mainly because it was rather gross) and took off.
Once I got back, my turn had come for Blobland. However, I was going for Directland (7b). This took you from the start of Blobland until it veers off to the left, moving straight up the wall. This was some of the most rewarding climbing ever. After you past the start of Blobland you made your way up a fun crack into the business. From there on, after one good rest it was all tiny holds and slow technical movement. Most of the holds were not in cut and rather small. This required a lot of friction and proper body positioning. Some moves I thought for sure I’d fall off while holding onto these tiny holds with one or two fingers. I made it to the top though, and exploded with enjoyment. It was such a great route, and mainly because it wasn't really my style. No cave. Doing something thats not your style is a great rewarding feel.
Another great day of climbing. We left for home. Well, after I climbed and got some gear back for some climbers that really didn't know what they were doing. They were very gracious though and offered me free beer if I ever came to visit their bar. Maybe latter, we just wanted to go home.
At home, we all separated and did our nightly rituals. Felix and Alison read, Maddy enjoyed a nice nap, and I would work on this blog. I’ve never been much of a writer, but knowing that I’d be here for a month I figured I try my best. Its really fun actually. Recounting all the journeys you had for the day. It would be something I’ll always have to look back on and entertain other people with. When I was a kid backpacking with my dad, he would keep journals that he wrote in on all his camping trips. He’d read excerpts from them to me. I’d laugh at some of the things he’d would write about, and I won’t embarrass him by mentioning any of them but they were always very entertaining. He expressed to me the importance of keeping a record of your trips and how I’d want them when I’m older. They’d be something you’d always have to look back on, to read to your kids. Never to forget the memories you made, and this was a trip I never want to forget.