For the last few years, since seeing photos of Humildes pa Casa and a clip of Chris on Pachamama, Oliana has been at the top of my climbing areas to visit. With long, distinct lines and amazing movement it’d be hard to find a route on the wall that isn’t worth traveling the world to climb.
Harder than the Bread on a Bocadillo! - Ben Spannuth
I devoted essentially all of my time in Oliana to Papichulo because it’s a perfect fit of a very inspiring and challenging line. Although we’ve since moved on to Margalef it’s definitely left me very motivated to improve and return to…or just move to Spain. Besides the line itself Oliana was inspiring just due to the ridiculous concentration of strong climbers; the standard here is higher than anywhere I’ve ever been.
Besides working Papichulo, I’ve given two burns on other routes at the stunning cliff: an onsight try on El Gran Blau (8b+/c) and a flash burn on Fisheye (8c). El Gran Blau climbs a long sustained section on cool sidepulls and edges and ends with a techy headwall that I was very excited to just barely make it through to the chains. Joe Kinder gave me the flawless move-by-move beta for a flash go on Fisheye at the end of another day that went extremely well but ended 45 m up at the final bolt. Maybe the fading light played a role but the truth is I SUCK at vertical/ slabby technical climbing and its always been a huge weakness of mine. A weakness that later reemerged when trying the stunning La Perla (8b+, probably the hardest thing I've ever tried and according to Keith, “Harder than the bread on a bocadillo!”) in Margalef.
Outside of climbing, we’ve had some great times including an interesting rest day in the country of Andorra, a fun BBQ at Chris Sharma’s house, and a new type of cuisine. Andorra is a country surrounded by France and Spain where we found an amazing old stone bridge. Chris has an awesome place in Sant Llorenc that has an old tennis court that’s perfect for a fire and outdoor gathering. I’d never tried snails before so I gave “Caragoles” a shot to feel a little like eating crawfish back in Louisiana where you have to work a lot for just a little bit of food.
After Oliana, 3SM and BigUP decided to team up to capture some unreal video of Sasha in Margalef. She put in some solid effort on Era Bella so I hopped in line with a very fun local crew for its neighbor Como Sant Pere (8c+) which I pulled off third try alongside Edu Marin and Daniel Fuertes. Jose Peinado AKA Primo, another climber from southern Spain, is ridiculously close to clipping the chains as well. Venga Primo!
After Como Sant Pere, I checked out the next route over, Politicamente Corruptos (8c+/9a), but ready for a new wall ended up getting interested in First Round First Minute to see what it’s all about and build a bit of power. Sasha is off to Sweden for a bouldering comp and Keith is heading home tomorrow but Andy and I both extended our tickets to stay in Europe a bit longer…
More about FRFM soon. Thanks to 3SM for the photos!