Saturday, December 26, 2009

Xmas in NYC

I have been enjoying the white Christmas in NYC, the City, Big Apple (nickname popularized actally by Fitzgerald in 1920ies within a horse-racing context).  It has been cold and full of people, the usual painful crawling along the avenues and staring on the Macy's and Sacks' window displays.  After the pilligrimage to the Rockfeller center and the Tree there, my father and  I stopped at the Bryant square snowy terrace.

For a cherry on the cake of this family reunion we went to see Cirque du Soleil's new show, the Wintuk at Madison Gardens.  It was an interesting performance, a change of style to more of a street-style gang dance, that improved in the end with more of a usual Cirquesque imagination stunts using talking lamp posts, garbage-can-disguised Godo (or that's what i called him), and two big walking birds.  The commercial success did lead even the Cirque to some standardization of entertainment, unfortunate as this might sound.  Nevertheless, seeing one of their performances remains a treat.  I might use Cirque in one of my upcoming classes, so if anyone has more informaion about the company, their founder, strategy etc. please let me know! (Michel?..)

After the show, we went on traditional family skiing in one of the hard-core NY resorts, Hunter, in the Catskill mountains.  My dad proved to have better technique and resilience than myself and outperformed me on several runs!  Maybe that is why i am keeping so much to climbing lately - it is the only sport (maybe besides rollerblaing) i have ever managed to master at least slightly...

On this note, Merry Christmas to everyone!!!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Siurana - Colico Nefritico

Montse recommended this fabulous line to me, my favorite 6c in Siurana, one and only, Colico Nefritico at Can Gans di Onis.  The start from atop, after some tree climbing:

First crux - getting off the tree and through to the second bolt, exciting for the short ones:

The line, enjoying Siurana by myself (yes, the ego-istic, ego-tistic sport or pass-time of climbing...):

Done! (the crux):

Pictures by patient Josep, and belay by Pau, thanks!

Can Tonigros and long live the new project...until next Saturday!!!



This long w-end turned out to be a raid on the little village of Arboli.  This is one of the lesser-known climbing areas in the Sierra de Prades, of Siurana fame.  We started very hardcore at the Falco, an incredible wall looking directly at the Siurana village and climbing walls.  It boasts very tasty lines, although the fun starts at 6c and up.  This wall has been equipped in St Benet style, and graded consequently (some older pictures of the same in a recent Luichi post here). 

I tried my new 9.1 joker at La millor de..., a delightful 6c both of us, Pau and myself, happily onsighted.  We turned next to Jinja, a deadly 7b with 3 consequent boulder problems and a 'micro' rest in-between.  Did i mention 6 bolts in 20 meters?  It does not seem that little - but it felt and looked crazy.  Props to Pau who fearlessly put the rope up it from the ground while i froze up and looked on from the belay post.  Deciding it was definitely too hard and out of reach this year, we turned next to another incredible line, Pa ella y pa los guiris, a 7a+ crack with the crux on top.  Not figuring out this one either, the day finished with another great 6c+, Trenca'm els pinyos, where i disgracefully hanged at the crux, but enjoyed the ride nevertheless.

We liked el Falco so much that taking pictures was forgotten for the day.  The camera came out of the bag only the next day that saw us attack Can Simiro sector.  I worked a 7a called CataCrack.  People keep calling it Supercrack for a reason, and seeing the line made me concentrate directly and only on this one climb, being a crack-freak myself for a couple of years now.  The crack was sent on 3d attempt, without any top-roping, whining, or additional draws ("alargos para los alejes") required, maybe due to the Falco experience of the previous day:

Pau went crazy at Can Simiro, below he is happily leading his 6th grade 7 of the day (Agua de Fuego, 7a) with the Siurana dam in the background:

Last day, we 'rested' at the Ermita.  This is a short wall right above the Arboli village, close to the actual ermita, another mountain refuge now invaded by crazy climbing lizards.  We tried a couple of 7s there, Pau got his 7a second try, and one day i'd like to come back to send the Caipirinha, 7a+, the only one i liked of the routes there so far.  Here is Montse and the crazy sky:

To finish off sweet desserts were consumed 'en masse' at the very recommendable (one and only) bar l'Hostalet d'Arboli, also selling the topo of the area.  Great team, awesome raid, and welcome to Josep, who apparently finally discovered that sport climbing could be a rewarding experience, and also took some good pictures in the process! 

Friday, December 04, 2009

Sant Benet

St Benet is a very special place.  It is located in the heart of Montserrat, above the famous monestary.  It takes over 1000 stairs (or a train ride, but that´s not hardcore, only for the wusses) to get there, and a proud soul to start the rather engaged climbing.  It is one of the places where hard sport climbing started in Cataluña in the 1980s, and it remains special and not that visited given the amount of incredible bolted lines there.  It has also some multipitches where week-end warriors enjoy themselves and bring the girlfriends to show off the view that points to the sea behind Barcelona on the clear days. 

There used to be many hidden hermitages in the surrounding caves.  Many have been destroyed by Napoleon and his happy soldiers, some survived well into the 20th century, but now climbers occupy the refuge, an old church transformed into a hippy squat, and the hermitages remain abandoned, welcoming the passing visitors for a night of full stars, calm, and reflection.

The climbing is very technical on good rock.  Routes are generally short, Frankenjura-style, although longer ones are also there, one just has to scratch below the surface a littke.  Below is the topo from Tranki of the sport climbing at the base of the Elephant, the formation to the left of the famous Mummy (and its Brown Sugar line i still have not done).  The lines are very good, and my plan is to come back to the first thee on the right this winter...