Redpointing Vox Populi, 7b, Vermell, photo by Martin
Montserrat in spring is amazing. Maybe I am too emotional and naively romantic, but it is incredible - these last days I have been coming back often and each time enjoying it more, in detail, in bloom. Seeing the tail of a goat this day, breathing in the Mediterranean smell of plants the other, touching the smooth rock and following the flight of a huge and hairy bumble bee the third. It is my type of climbing, it is my type of place. No, I don't feel like going to other places, why bother with crowded and over-trashed Margalef, popular and too-orange-for-its-own-good Siurana, or the tufa-enchanted Montgrony - when Montserrat has it all, 15 minutes drive away. I do not want to escape anymore, I want to stay. I have done my part of escaping the last twelve years of my life - and somehow the spirit has left me, the move is no more. I do not need to go far to be free anymore. I want to stay and come back, live into the habit, enjoy the feeling of touching the same rock again and again, of walking the same rocky road, uphill first, and then downhill. Of seeing the seasons change, and trees wake up from a sleep in bloom, and olives getting fat and plumply in Catalan sun.
Walking towards Vermell, picture by Martin
Then there are the people - and climbing is so much about the people as it is about the nature. Montserrat is a royal place, a wonderful island in the sea of our civilization, an igloo in the middle of polar circle. But it still would be nothing without people. Climbing is a fulfilling sport in this sense - it is so incredibly good to share it with outstanding surroundings, but especially with others that enjoy it, that are obsessed with it, whom you can stop in the middle of a walk up or downhill, and tell them "oh, look, how gorgeous", "how incredibly beautiful is the view", "what a scenery". Or simply smile and receive a smile in return, filled with the atmosphere, with the fresh air, flowers more abundant with each visit. The pink of almonds below, the blues of rosemary higher up, and other small beauties I don't even know how to name that pop out here and there, just when you think you've seen it all. It is fulfilling, it is like a prayer to me - a day out, in the sun, feeling every cell of my body vibrate to the music, to the tune of the place.
Redpointing Vox Populi, 7b, Vermell, photo by MartinAnd then there is my project - feeling my body adapt to the rock, take its shape, my fingers identifying with the crimps, my tendons becoming one with the holes, my fear ebbing away. It is again and again such a surprise, such an incredible surprise to see oneself progress on a route that seemed unbelievably difficult just a couple of weeks, even days before. Doing another move, flying off despite the instinct to hold on, listening to myself making little Sharma-cries, pushing on. From having only 1 good try a day to having 2 good tries, from suffering like crazy and having 50% chance of getting the start right to figuring it out, to breathing through the moves. From not being able to relax, to getting to the first rest in a respectable shape. To rest 2 minutes at the tufa, to rest another minute 4 moves above, to rest 1 minute before the move. To doing 1 move more. To doing 3 moves more. Only 2 moves more to go - and I might be able to clip the next draw. And then - the rock is my limit. The route is the masterpiece.
And it is same old Senglar again, again and again. I feel like home - like I have been climbing here forever and will climb more. There to the left is Ernest and Carlos trying Trenquem el Bloqueig, Pedro joining the bottom of Viatgi, the top and traverse to the right of Discordia and the ultra-hard exit to the right of Viatgi (8a+?), there is to the right Manolo and JuanAn working on Sprint Final, there is Ester, Fredrik, myself trying Ben Petat, and all the others, Bernat, Marieta, Oriol redpointing the route and showing me how it is done. There is Martin on Vox, Ville trying out Rush, there is Philip flying up my project. And there are those that came before, and that will come after.
A move before falling off Sincronisity, 7a at the Totxos, picture by Victor
And then there are other places in Montserrat, so many remaining, and calling to be explored. Such names as Xulum, Spok, or Unicorni keep me dreaming just a little more, just a little further into the wild. To see how much one can train one's body, how much one can train one's mind. How much is possible - and what is the limit. This year I managed to climb my 6b project at Sant Benet - maybe one day I will do a harder route - but oh, how good the climbing is there.
Why travel? Maybe I have arrived...maybe I just travel light lately...