Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Seasonal Soft Rock

Dave on 2 x 30 (F8c) at El Pati

Back home in Aviemore, back to work, back to the cold. After a week in Siurana under blue skies and perfect climbing temperatures it’s a bit of a shock to be thrust into the frost and the dark.

Our wee trip was no-where near long enough, but it was definitely enough to get me psyched to get in on this Euro-sport climbing thing. A leisurely start, a brew, read a book, stroll to the crag, climb, belay, rest, chat, climb, stroll back, have a brew, make some dinner, sit about, chat, play some chess, sleep. Repeat.

Shoes: Check. Harness: Check. Rope: Check. Banana: Check. OK, ready to roll.

Siurana itself is a tiny hilltop village, surrounded on almost all sides by limestone cliffs looming out of a sprawling pine forest. It’s the perfect playground: a mixture of adrenaline-pumping psyche and awe-inspiring beauty. There’s just so much rock, with over 30 separate crags within walking distance of the village, and with grades spreading from F4 to F9a+. On first arrival and the first flick through the topo you can’t help but be bewildered. Luckily for me though, most of the folk I was with had been here before and cherry-picked the best crags and routes to try.

Siurana village

I won’t witter on too much about routes and grades, but for me the tip was a success. I somehow managed to flash a F7a (Ramena Nena at Espero Primavera) and managed the goal I’d set myself of redpointing a F7a+ (the brilliant Cromagnon Climbing at Can l’ Isobelle). Mind you, these pale into insignificance when surrounded by the other folk on the trip. Among the highlights were Euan flashing a F7c and redpointing an F8a+, Blair onsighting at least one F7b everyday, Dave ticking an F8b+ and Jenny taking her first airmiles. Other things that impressed me were Tweedley’s ability to climb everyday with tips held together by a cocktail of superglue, tape and dried blood, Donald’s ability to spout utter nonsense for a full 45 metre pitch, culminating with cries of “that’s the jigger” as he clips the lower-off, and Dave’s remarkably accurate impression of a pheasant trying to cross the A82.

Tweedley gets to grips with a F7c


So, I imagine that rounds off the Soft Rock adventures of 2009 (unless something exciting happens next weekend). It’s not all about numbers, but at the start of the year if someone had told me that I was going to onsight E3, headpoint E7, flash F7a, redpoint F7a+, onsight VI and come 9th in the OMM Elite Class, I’d be a very happy bunny, so I guess I should be. All these personal successes have come with their own ups and downs, stresses and strains, and all have formed and shaped the rich tapestry of the past twelve months. Here’s hoping all our explorations and adventures continue to grow in 2010.

Merry Xmas y’all.

The sun sets on another perfect day

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