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

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