Happy New Year everyone, I hope all your climbing wishes come true in 2016! To update you all about the last 2 months or so since I came back from Smith Rock at the start of November, I started a period of exclusively bouldering at the Rockover bouldering centre in Manchester (which is 5 minutes' drive away from where I live) in the evenings after work. I combined this with weekend sessions bouldering in Parisella’s Cave on the Orme outside Llandudno. My aim was to increase my power levels in order to prepare for my objectives for the coming year, which are Just Do It at Smith Rock, True North at Kilnsey and Evolution at Raven Tor and also to prepare for a forthcoming 8 day trip to Suirana I had planned with Ally Smith.
|Give me more of that orange stone! Mucho Troncdo poca Madera 7c, El Pati, Suirana (the onsight that got away!)|
After 6 weeks of pure bouldering I was starting to feel reasonably strong and was coming close to ticking Hatchatrocity, a tough Font 8A in the Cave, falling off the move to the final pocket several times. However, it wasn’t to be after some seriously heavy rain beat down in late November/ early December which meant some key holds required drying before each attempt, which didn't help matters.
|Something to train for! Pocket cranking on the steep start to Magic Festival 7c, Raco de Tenebres, Margalef|
Also, unfortunately, I sustained quite a bad ‘category 2’ sprain on my left ankle in mid December after bailing out from the Cave one Saturday morning after arriving to find it was completely condensed out. On the way home, an awkward, twisting fall at the Boardroom bouldering centre onto quite a hard mat resulted in a trip to A and E, a precautionary x-ray and 2 weeks of exclusive beastmaker training while the swelling gradually went down. Oh well, take in on the chin as they say! This meant that I had to alter my objectives for my Spain trip. As the first 10 days or so involved getting back to walking normally, hard climbing would have to take a back seat for a week or two. I had intended to try Migranya, a tough 8b which I had tried on a previous trip and which is a powerful number. However, after a trip to my physio, Cathy Gordon of Romiley Physio (see www.romileyphysio.com if you fancy an excellent service in the Manchester area) and getting the all clear to go, I was keen just to see how my ankle would fare and trying more vertical, less intense climbs seemed a sensible plan.
|Ally on La Seconella Direct 7a+, Suiranella Centre|
As it worked out, 2 weeks off actual climbing coinciding with the Christmas festivities meant that the first couple of days were spent getting back into the groove and the ankle felt pretty weird and weak at first. Just scrambling in to the crags over rocky and uneven paths without tweaking it was a challenge. I was climbing with a baggy boot on my left foot and a neoprene ankle support to protect it. I was therefore reasonably satisfied to redpoint a 7b+ on my second day.
|Ally at Suiranella Centre|
On previous trips, due to quite a few days spent redpointing Zona-0 and Ramadan and trying Migranya, I hadn’t made it round to the Suiranella crags before and I was keen to change that and sample what they had to offer. We ventured round to Suiranella Centre on the 3rd day and I managed to onsight a 7b+ without any problems. The following day, I was starting to feel like my ankle was getting back to normal whilst climbing and I managed to bust out a couple of 7c onsights at Raco de la Finestra, a superb pockety crag in Margalef.
|Pockety fun on Magic Festival 7c Raco de Tenebres, Margalef - don't forget the kneebar ;)|
After a rest day, and not having a 2 day hangover for a change ;), we decided to hit up Suiranella Centre again. After warming up onsighting a 7b+ and fluffing a tricky 7c, I decided to have a go at Memorias de una Sepia, a crimpy looking 8a after watching another climber crush it and taking mental note of all the foot bumps on the crux. There seemed to be a left foot heel hook move using some poor slopey crimps to deadpoint for some better holds leading into a scoop by the 4th bolt. I had been informed that from here to the top is 7b+ so I knew this should be doable. The heel hook crux went exactly as planned with a few desperate slaps and was the first heel hook since my sprain so I was psyched it still worked and there were no ill effects. Getting into the scoop was satisfying but the rest wasn’t quite as good as I had hoped. Nothing for it but to quest on upwards! Knowing that an 8a flash was on the cards if I could keep it together was a great incentive to keep cranking and I took my time over the next 6 bolts, milking the rests and trying to keep my cool on the last redpoint crux, a crank on some tiny crimps with a left foot jam in a crack leading to a monster jug and easy ground. I was made up to be back climbing nearly at my best onsight/ flash level so soon into my ankle recovery.
|Victory pose after flashing Memorias de una Sepia 8a, Suiranella Centre|
To celebrate, I redpointed a tricky 7c, Matarrates, further left on the same crag and eyed up La Crema, a famous 7c+ wall climb I had wanted to try the next day.
|The bulge of Matarrates, a quality 7c at Suiranella Centre|
After a few beers in Goma Dos, the new local bar for climbers in Cornudella, the next day, I warmed up on a 7b and then set off on my onsight attempt of La Crema. It all went well with some tricky, technical moves interspersed with good shakeouts (so much so that I had to force myself to leave them at times). A total hands off rest 3 bolts from the top is the nail in the coffin of the route being 8a (it isn’t, despite the abundance of 8a ticks on scorecards out there ;)) and allowed a complete recovery before tackling the top crux. This involves a few intense cranks on some tiny crimps on a slab which allow you to do a hopeful rock-up for some more positive crimps and the jug of glory! I was pleased with this one as while on paper it was my ideal route being a crimpy, vertical wall climb, it still has to climbed at the end of the day. Setting off is the hardest part as always and once into the rhythm of climbing, I enjoyed every minute until the chain was clipped.
|Onsighting La Crema 7c+ Suiranella East|
Unfortunately, I split a tip on the top crux and had to tape up my right index finger for the remaining 2 days of climbing. This didn’t stop a productive day at Margalef however during which I managed to flash a 7c, La Corva de Felicitat at Raco de Tenebres, a cool, steep conglomerate/ pocket crag and redpoint 2 others including Tsunami, a powerful short one that had got away on my last visit to the area in 2012.
|Tsunami 7c at Sector Laboratori, Margalef (no walk-in required!). Brian Weaver climbing in lower picture|
On the final day, we both felt quite tired but last day psyche kicked in and we both managed to redpoint La Ardilla Roja, a tricky 7c right of Zona-0 at El Pati after we had failed to onsight it. With an hour to go before we had to bail to Barcelona airport for our evening flight back to Manchester, I managed to onsight a 7c at El Primavera Sector to round off a highly enjoyable trip.
I was happy to be back climbing after the ankle incident and whilst the swelling is still there and I am not allowed to jump down from boulder problems for another 10 days, I am pleased with progress so far and psyched to get back to bouldering training. Interestingly, I have always found that a fitness trip like this usually kickstarts my bouldering for some reason, no idea why, maybe a break from a power cycle or something rests the muscles!? I will leave that one to the training boffins out there J Happy climbing folks.
|Suirana Village from Suiranella Centre|
My Trip Ticklist above 7b+
Memorias de una Sepia (flash) Suiranella Centre
La Crema (onsight) Suiranella South
Antologica (onsight) Raco de la Finestra, Margalef
Festa Fotre (onsight) Raco de la Finestra, Margalef
Estratosferica Suiranella Centre
Matarrates Suiranella Centre
Mucho Tronco poca Madera El Pati, Suirana
Magic Festival Raco de Tenebres, Margalef
La Corva de Felicitat (flash) Raco de Tenebres, Margalef
Tsunami Sector Laboratori, Margalef
La Ardilla Roja El Pati, Suirana
Hijos de la Pedri (onsight) El Primavera, Suirana
Teoria Punset Suiranella East
La Refinaria (onsight) Suiranella Centre
Berrio Cabrero (onsight) Suiranella Centre