Sunday, January 29, 2017

Spain: Villanova de Meia, Roca Del Arcs

the center of La Cupula, with Rey del Mambo at left. 
As I was finally starting to get over my cold, we checked out Villanova de Meia, where one finds some of the best multi-pitch sport climbing, as well as a few wonderful small sport crags. I wanted to onsight El Rey del Mambo, 7b (12b), but settled for a 2nd go redpoint.  There was a tiny sleeping bat in one of the key positive holds just after the powerful deadpoint crux. I had to adjust my beta and skip this hold, not wanting to disturb the animal or create the need to go get a series of painful and expensive rabies vaccines. On a power-endurance route like this, sometimes skipping holds is actually a benefit, and gets you to the good rests more quickly. At the good rests higher up, I was still so pumped that I almost managed to fall off.

La Cupula (which i think means dome) was a small crag (15-20 m) but was stacked with beautiful tufa routes and steep horizontal jug rails. As far as I could tell the first few layers of rock were some kind of calcified sandstone, which gave way to perfect limestone. While the sandstone (or quartz conglomerate or something) would have been a bit friable normally, it was coated with colorful tufas and climbed like an absolute dream. This is an old and forgotten crag, and while some of the routes haven't been updated for 30 years (the bolts are getting pretty rusty), they are not polished since this spot isn't on most visitor's destination lists.
Erik on El Rey del Mambo, 7b, winding up for a deadpoint
Erik leading a 5.11- pitch up on Roca del Arcs

After our day of cragging at La Cupula, we decided to do a really long (220m?) route on Roca Del Arcs. This wall has a ton of great multipitch routes from 5 to 7c. These routes were amazing, with long sections of steep jug climbing, and some sporting runouts over safe air. I'd highly reccomend this cliff to anyone in the area. And this is one of the best camping scenes we found in Spain, with lots of free spots with great views, clean springwater, and quick access to the cliffs.
Roca del arcs, one of the best bigwall sport cliffs. 

Erik leading off into super-steep jugland on a 5.11- pitch somewhere on Roca del Arcs
Erik following
some of the calcified sandstone, or fine quartz conglomerate, or something that appeared in repeating bands aroudn Villanova de Meia. It sometimes climbs like sandstone or quartzite, with steep horizontals of jugs or patina crimps appearing frequently. Then it would quickly depart from that style, giving way to tufastone and finally layers of limestone with perfect pockets. One of the strangest and best cliffs I've been to. 

at La Cupula, steep horizontals and tufas gave way to slabs with some of the most PERFECT limestone i have seen..

the Pyrenees from the top of Roca del arcs

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Spain: Terradets, Bruixes

infinite rock around Terradets
It started to rain everywhere, and we had a forced rest day where we spent 8 hrs in a cafe in Tremp, mostly binge watching streamable shit.  We discovered an abandoned railway stop with an awning to keep the tent dry. This has been a classic (sketchy) free camp spot for climbers for a long while.

Our next stop needed to be steep, because given another day it was still raining. We showed up at the Bruixes cave. My friend Lucas told me about this spot, one of the best for Tufa climbing in Spain. Many of the world class areas in Spain don't feel that unique for myself, being fortunate enough to live in Lander. If you visit Margalef, you'll encounter steep, powerful pocket climbing, or if you go to Siurana you get good edges and pockets, and technical face climbing. These styles are prevalent at wild iris and sinks, and while the walls in these classic Spanish areas are generally steeper and taller, I wasn't in the kind of shape to experience that difference, which really only becomes apparent on Grade 8 (13b and up) routes. What I really wanted to experience was tall endurance climbing on Mediterranean flowstone, something really special that climbers often need to travel great distances to find.  we weren't in shape for that either, but that didnt stop us from sampling some of the best 7as and bs at Bruixes.

Erik in awe at the living wall. We don't have alot of Tufastone in america, so for us Bruixes was really special. You pretty much have to climb 5.12 all day if you come here. The routes are typically 30-40m and don't let up at all, Tufas often give way to perfect sculpted edges and great vertical face climbing at the top of routes.
the cave at Bruixes. routes here basically start at 8b+
Many routes in spain with names along the lines of "fuck the system", maybe there's one here. anyway I share the sentiment thoroughly...
selfie on the approach. still feeling sick. 
we found free camping in an abandoned train station, where we pitched our 20€ Spanish tent. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Spain: Margalef

the village in Margalef
the Laboratori
I was feeling sick and worn down after getting wet and cold every day in Slovenia. Team Steve House tends to work us pretty hard, and I wasn't going to kick the illness if I kept doing 4am alpine starts and 1000m vert on approach everyday. 

Erik and I decided to go to Spain to sport climb in the sun for 10 days. This is something I've always wanted to do, but put off because: I'm not good enough yet, or any number of other excuses.  Really there is no excuse, cost of living is cheap there, rock is pleantiful, Food and wine is incredible, and there are routes for everyone, from quality 5.9 to world class power routes to pumping enduro lines where you need a 100m rope. And all of this on a wider variety or rock types than I had imagined. 

Next time I hope to do some training first; going straight from alpine mode to full on try-hard-face is not very easy, and I had to (of course) adjust my expectations, let go of my ego, and just have fun exploring new places. 

We started out in Margalef, since it was one of the first stops on our way through Catalunya from Barcelona.

a guy trying First Round, First Minute.

First Round, First Minute and La Ley Innata at the Laboratory

A good crag to check out, if you on-sight 8a most of the time...
40 m enduro pitches, cobbles and tufas.

Pared de Espadelles with a few people trying sortof hard: (hangdogging the shit out of stuff)
one of the best sunny walls, 20-30m routes, way above town and stays out of the fog. 
Conglomerate cliffs lining the valleys.
Erik after our first good day of climbing
Tufa on cobble at espadelles

Romanesco Broccoli
Wine country, cheap wine, really good wine

A church in Munich before we flew to Barcelona. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Slovenia: Kristan North Face

approaching a 400m face. high quality limestone, confusing routefinding, and lots of blank snow-on-slab cruxes. The compacted and transformed snow from october made for perfect neve conditions on the face, sticky one swing ice. some of it even took good screws. 


once on the face, we soloed steep neve through improbable passages and traverses to work our way up.
we finally got out the rope for the crux, a 10m traverse on blank rock slab.

Anze led a huge simul-block through an ice runnel.

leading a surprisingly hard slab pitch on the ridgecrest. photo Anze Klaric

photo Anze Klaric
on the summit

photo Anze Klaric


the mountain next door, a wierd sea of choss and neve.

 downclimbing to "the dick" photo Anze Klaric
rapelling off of "the dick".
Anze rapelling next to "the dick"

a phallocentric composition proudly displaying:   The Dick!