Thursday July 18th - Hard work pays off
We awoke to yet another gorgeous day here. The wind was blowing, the birds were chirping, and the guidebook is sitting out on the table. Time was starting to run out for our friends Alison and Felix. In less than a week they would be leaving and headed back to the states. We had to start picking wisely the places to which we would be going for these next few days. We wanted to make sure everyone got a chance to do what they had in mind for the remainder of their trip. The night before, we all had written down our own “Top 5” list. The top 5 places that we wanted to go before our trip was over. Madeline and I would be staying longer after Felix and Alison had left, so it was really just about crossing off Felix and Alison’s lists. The crags that were chosen were Puig de Garrafa, Arta, Alaro, and.... a shopping day for Felix in Palma (not extremely excited about that one).
Puig de Garrafa would be the crag for that day. Everyone had plenty of projects they still wanted to get on one last time. The drive to Garrafa was starting to become second nature to us. It would be our 5th time to this crag. Pulling into the lot and piling out of the car, we all took off towards our respective goals for the day. Alison and Madeline would be heading over to their 7a project, To Pa Ti after a quick warm up. I really had nothing that I was too psyched on at the crag so I’d be Felix’s belay bitch for the day on his 7a+ project, Columna.
For Felix, climbing this route was his goal for the trip. He had never sent 7a+ outside and this one fit his style (minus the birds currently dwelling in it). The plan was to hang the draws as a warm up then go for the send. On his first go while hanging the draws, he almost sent! This drove his desire for the day even further. He saw how possible it was. Trying it a few more times, he kept falling close to the finish. It wasn’t a strength barrier but more of a mental one for Felix. He just had to believe he could do it.
My plan was to take a rest day but seeing Felix climb, who was I kidding. I wasn’t not going to climb anything. Come on.... I am in Spain after all. The route that caught my interest was right next to Felix’s. Cafe Solaris (7b+). A great looking line with a noticeable blank section. Well, of course I had to go see what that’s all about. The climb was incredible. Superb bouldery movement down low that lead up to a sustained finish. The thing that made this route so incredible was one move on it. A mono undercling! Whhhat!? I thought that only happened with the Cobra Crack. It was such a fun move to pull and surprisingly comfortable. Normally the idea of a mono pocket send chills through my tendons and sets off red flags in my brain. This, was awesome though. Making a long move off the “monocling” to a two finger pocket, I then made a desperate throw to a sloppy block. If someone were to describe that to me, I’d say no thank you. I’m so happy I got on it though.
After we visited the girls (mainly to steal granola bars) we came back and he jumped on his route. With determination and smart climbing he sent his first 7a+. Felix was stoked to say the least. After I lowered him down, he told me that he could go back home now. Felix wasn’t the only one to send their project that day. Heading over to the girls again to tell them about Felix, I soon found out the Maddy had sent her first 7a and I just missed it. I was disappointed that I wasn’t there to see her gain such an accomplishment, but my disappointment was overshadowed by happiness for her. I could tell from the look on her face just how much sending that meant to her.
Once you complete something that you have put some much thought, pain, and determination into, you take away so much from it. What you take away is generally the same but is different for everyone (if that makes any sense...). People climb for different reasons and have projects for different reasons. Whatever that reason may be the one common thing you get out of it is a sense of accomplishment. All the doubt that you may have had in the past is gone. You’re left with the feeling that you can do anything that you put your mind to.
Friday July 19th - YES!! ARTA!!
You can probably tell that I'm pretty excited about this one from the title. Arta is such a beautiful crag and if you’ve ever been there, you’ll agree with me. The best in Mallorca in my opinion. Alison felt the same way too. Which was good. It was because of her that we would be going there for the day. See, back when we made our top 5 list mine wasn't the most popular. Which is completely ok. I would be there for another week so I’d get to go where I wanted to eventually. My love of Arta though was shared with Allison. The one place on my list that someone else wanted to go.
After another drive through the town of Arta, home of the worlds tinniest streets, and up the winding roads to the mountains, we made it to the crag. I was super stoked to get on Piltrafill (7c+) again. I spent most of the day on this route. This made for a very frustrating day.
I climbed the route maybe six times. Only to fall off at the final moves every time. It was all in my head that day, and I was letting the frustration get the best of me. After my 3rd go I found new beta (which was a relief) for the final pull over the roof through the blank white wall. Now I knew it was going to go. After a few more goes though, I still hadn't sent it. Falling right off the finish hold I knew I wasn’t in my right head space, and Alison was getting equally as frustrated on her route.
We decided to take five and hike up to the top of the hill that the crag was on. After a 15 minuet scramble we were at the summit. Looking around I was speechless. The view from the top was truly beautiful. Everyone was silent. We all just took in the view for awhile. Up there I had time to think. Well, not think. I realized that I was letting something so silly get me all worked up. I forgot that I was in such a beautiful spot. I sat up there for while just enjoying the view.
Eventually we made our way back down. It was getting late, and I knew I had only one more attempt for the day. I tied in and set off with a new mindset. No expectation just climb. Pulling the roof I made my way to the red point crux. Taking a short rest I fired through refusing to give up. I grabbed the finish hold with pure determination this time. Clipped the chains and it was over. Finally after a full day of frustration and failure, I managed to send it. I was so ecstatic. Sending that route meant a lot to me. When you have the desire and the passion to do something great, you can achieve it. You need to push through that frustration pain and doubt. Nobody likes to fail, but failure is what drives us to get back up and try again in this sport. In the end you'll get it when you least expect it.
Saturday July 20th - A shopping day for Felix.... I guess.
Waking up, most of us were tired as we crawled out of bed. We knew Felix wanted to go into Palma again, to get something for his girlfriend. So we figured we’d give him one more day of.... tourists things. Something I’m not really fond of, but my skin hurt from climbing anyways. So a day off would probably do me some good as much as I hate the idea of it. After we slept in for most of the day we got in the car and headed into Palma.
As crowded as Palma is with all the disney families, it really is a cool city. We spent much of the day going in and out of old churches, shopping and even bumping into the Prince of Spain. Well not literally but he was there, for some reason or another. It was cool to see him though and everyone there seemed to be extremely psyched on it.
Something really cool about Palma is all the street performers. People doing all sorts of stuff. Statues that move around, levitating genies, dance crews, you name it. We had a great performance in a little square park during lunch. This guy was hilarious and did all sorts of ticks. Balanced bikes on his chin, juggled, and even rode a crazy tall unicycle. He interacted with the audience a bunch and threw us through one surprise after another. I really respected the fact that most of these people make their income from this. What they’re doing to is truly a form of art.
With our day coming to an end we went home and enjoyed another amazing dinner from Alison (we’d for sure miss her cooking when she left). Three more days and Felix and Alison would be leaving us. It was sad to think about. Sitting there though we realized just how much we had been doing. Over glasses of wine we recapped and remembered all the fun things we had done and things we still wanted to do. We still had two more days of climbing....
Sunday July 21st - The crag with spaghetti tufas.
Alaro. Home of the tufa. Today we’d be revisiting the coolest rock I’ve ever climbed on in my life (and probably will be forever). This cliff was truly just incredible. I get excited every time I start talking about it. It makes for such interesting climbing. With an early start we took off. Today we would be exploring a new sector of the cliff we had not yet been to. The routes there look super cool and super tall.
Superchorrera (7b) is the first route that caught my eye. The guidebook told me all I needed to know to become instantly interested. “Struggle up the inner thighs of this elegant route” and struggle I did. After 15 meters of delicate slab climbing you make your way to the base of two huge tufas (the thighs). Pressing out with you're hands and feet you make your way up in between these giant tufas. I’ve never climbed anything like this before. It was a full body workout. I struggle on this one, a lot. It was such a physical climb and my whole body was tired. I tired another route next to this one, Therapy (7b) (and I’d need it when I came down). It shared the same slab start. Balancey climbing on little nothings. Moving you feet up high and making progress slowly. Another struggle this one turned out to be. Very sustain climbing to a very hard move and the top. I did not climb so well on this route, and a few moves were quite desperate. This one really psyched me out for some reason. Poor as I performed it really didn’t matter, I was just glad I got to experience them. They both were unlike anything I’ve climbed before. Such an incredible full body/mind workout. They were both so fun.
We headed back over to Sector Chorreras where the route Buf (7a) was. Alison wanted to get back on this one. It was her personal goal to get to the top of this climb one way or another, and she did. She was so inspired on this climb. Even though she didn't send the route, she was so psyched on the experience and chance to climb such a world class route. There was another climb there I wanted to try. Pilar (7b). The last route right in a series of three climbs after Buf. I had climbed the other two and really wanted to tick this last one off. I shrugged off the weight of the last two climbs hanging on me, tied in, and took off. Such amazing sustained climbing on this wall. Moving up on vertical tufas you transitioned from one to the other trying not to pump out while you pinched your way to the top. I clipped the chains and gazed out onto the town of Alaro and out as far as I could see. Its such an amazing thing to look back at the view once you’ve climbed something.
Felling much better, I lowered off and set my sights on another climb. Ali-Up (8a). This sector really seemed to be my style and I started to play around with the idea of trying it. I kept making excuses in my head and then Maddy told me something. “You know you want to try it, just get up there.” She was right. So I didn’t argue and headed over to the route. On my way to the climb however, I saw something that scared the shit out of me. At the base of the scramble that leads to the start of the route was a tree. In that tree, no more than 5 feet from my face, a goat’s head decaying on a branch staring at me. Holy shit!!! I damn near pooped my pants right then and there. Fleeing for my life I went up to the start of my route.
After my horror movie like experience I began to observe my route. More tufas lead to a blank bit right before the anchors. I didn’t really know what to expect, so I had no expectations and just tried it. Moving up tufas and transitioning between one to the other I made my way up the route. Pinching my way up the route I soon entered the blank section before the chains. One big move separated me from on-sighting this route. Well one big hard move. I fell there, so close to onsighting it. I wasn’t upset though. I really had no expectations for this one and was just so stoked I made it all the way to the last bit on my on-sight attempt. I worked out the last four moves of the route which was one hard move and the rest were easy. I didn’t get back on this one though. My skin was tearing and I needed a break. I knew too, I probably wouldn’t come back to this crag for the rest of the trip, but that was ok. Just gives me a reason to come back some day in the future.
Monday July 22nd - Sea cucumbers...
Today marked the last day for Felix and Alison. It was sad to think about, but we’d made so many amazing memories on this trip that we’d never forget. The beginning of our day was mostly spent doing.... well nothing. We all slept in for a bit and just enjoyed relaxing and reading in our apartment. I’ve never been much of a reader (unless it’s a guide book) but on this trip I really got into it. We all read a lot. If we weren’t climbing, we were probably laying around the house with a glass of wine and book in hand. It was so peaceful there. That’s mainly why I was able to read so much. No distractions like I have back home.
We couldn’t just sit around all day though. It was the last day and we had to go somewhere. Felix was really amped about deep water soloing one more day. I’d be taking a rest day, so hanging out by the water sounded like a great idea to me. We drove over to a new DWS spot. Cala Sa Nau. We arrived first at a more popular beach, but then veered off onto a trail that leads to another point on the coast. Crossing over a landscape of rocks, we then peered over the edge of the cliff and down to the waters below. The waves were crashing into the cliffs below. Way too ruff for me. DWS is fun, but I’m not the most experienced swimmer. I grew up on a farm...
Felix and Alison being the better swimmers were still psyched and jumped on into the waters below. They climbed around in the Virgin Area all day. A very featured vertical wall that lead into a cave. Felix had met some climbers from Colorado and was climbing the route Virgins are only Human (6a+). I watched from across the cove. It looked like real fun climbing. Pulling out of roofs is my favorite type of climbing. Alison played around with the moderates to the right of the cave and it looked like she was having a blast.
I myself ventured over to the Hupolup Kempf Cave. Even though I wasn’t climbing that day, there were still some routes from the climbing movie Perfecto I wanted to go look at. The Weather Man (8a+). This line looked incredible. I hope to someday get on this line. Maddy and I explored throughout these caves. We squeezed through tiny passage ways (expecting to run into some sort of Gollum creature) and explored a tiny tide pool. We were fascinated with that tide pool and we found all sorts of crazy little creatures. Fish, crabs, starfish, and a sea cucumber! It was fun just to explore around for the day. Maddy and I sat underneath The Weather Man and starred out into the sea. The waves were crashing and the cool wind was blowing off the water. We sat there together for some time just enjoying each others company. We realized that tomorrow our friends would be leaving, and soon after our time would come to leave this beautiful place. It was sad to think about, but it made us think about just how many memories we had made on this trip. Maddy and I both knew that we’d never forget this place or the experiences we shared together. We made a promise there, that one day we’d come back to this Island.
Tuesday July 23rd - Our Mallorcan tricycle disbands.
An incredible trip was coming to a close. Today our friends were leaving us. Alison was the first and she had to leave early. Way too early for my liking. We’d celebrated that night for our last night in Mallorca all together and like I said..... It was way too early to get up from that. Five in the morning, Maddy and I drove her to the airport and bid our farewells. It was sad to see her go. If it wasn’t for Alison, I don’t know how Maddy and I would have survived. From her translating, to her spectacular cooking, and just being an amazing friend who was always psyched to go climbing. we’d miss her. We went back home and were able to sleep for a little while before having to take Felix to the airport. Dropping off Felix we bid our farewells once more. Felix was great kid to have on the trip. A little frustrating at times but then again, who isn’t. He’s such a funny kid, and we owe most of our laughter on this trip to him. There he went. Then there were only two.
Madeline and I were sad to see them go, but we still had an entire week and a half left and we were excited to have a little time to ourselves. We drove home and relaxed for the rest of the day. Taking naps, reading books, and planning out the rest of our stay. We still had a lot to do. There were projects that still needed to be done, places to go see, and most importantly our multi pitch routes. We’d been preparing for that for some time before our trip. We’ve both never done any before, with the exception of a few two pitch climbs here and there. We were lucky enough to have had such a helpful friend get us ready for it. Brian who works with us at the climbing gym was all about helping us as soon as we had told him our plans. A very experienced and knowledgeable climber, he had much to share with us. Every question you’d throw at him he’d respond with at least 10 different ways to go about it. We would stay after closing in the gym and practiced everything we needed to know. Now Maddy and I felt prepared to tackle such a feat. We were so excited for what the rest of the trip had in store for us.