Thursday, September 29, 2011

Traveling light...

Wall in Figueres

when god lets my body be
from each brave eye shall sprout a tree
fruit that dangles therefrom
the purpled world will dance upon
between my lips which did sing
a rose shall beget the spring
that maiden whom passion wastes
will lay between their little breasts
my strong fingers beneath the snow
into strenuous birds shall go
my love walking in the grass
their wings will touch with her face
and all the while shall my heart be
with the bulge and nuzzle of the sea

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Calladeta fas mes goig...

From long routes to short routes, from granite to conglomerate, from easy onsights to hard project work.  The good line remains what attracts me to climbing steep and hard.  Calladeta is one of them, an old friend by now.  First tried with Juanjo last spring, I courageously put it up with clip stick and then fell in love with the second half, a technical slab that goes on relentlessly for 3 endless draws, and finishes with some psycho-time on the last roofs.  I hated the first part though.  I still do - first jump that people with just a couple of centimeters more do in static (mmm Dani, you ARE taller...) leading to the roof, where a physical 3-move wonder finishes with a mini-rest, and then another 4 moves finish with a real rest.  So far I have fallen many (and I mean MANY) times on this sequence, although not more than 7b, but as hard as anything for me.  Not sure what made me finally stick it - the pull-ups I've been relentlessly working on since July, the little contortionist rest after the clip I came up with lately, or just seeing all those other guys (Jose, Bernat, Pau, Dani) fly over the starting moves without even realizing any of it could be hard.  But I did.  Now the falling is happening higher up, first on the traverse, now on the final slopers at the last hard sequence.


Today it rains across the beautiful Catalunya, the project stays lonely and untouched.  With another glass of wine, I celebrate the half-way point, the usual state of climbers, of life, - half there, but not yet.  Almost done it - but not quite.  Looking straight at the arrival point - but always falling off at the last mile.  Dreaming my dream and wishing upon a star, nothing changes, all changes, clouds go by, nights go by, projects stay.
Climbing stays there, the only tangible, grounded reality that keeps the (in)sanity going.  As long as motivation stays, sending will come, - if not this month, then the next, if not now, later.  If not in the real world, than only in my head.

In the meantime, thanks to all the people involved with my climbing lately, - Juan, Txema, Dani, Juanjo, - for their tireless belays and encouragement on the project during the many spring, summer, and autumn months, as well as to the prospective belayers to come, if ever I am to clip the anchor on this one...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Deja-Vu on Capucin

Capucin South-West face, Deja-Vu line in the middle

What better could one do after four days of training?..Climb and climb once more.  Full of excitement and expectations, I keep checking the weather forecast.  It looks awesome, the summer is still with us.  It's been a while since I first saw the picture of Deja-Vu, on top of another Pirineos guidebook by tireless Luichy, but since then that picture stuck in my mind with a persistence of true challenges and a smell of hard work.  What a crack!  For crack-lovers there is nothing like seeing such a picture.  Any true aficionado will remember and start dreaming about lines such as Separate Reality, Supercrack, or Endurance Corner after a good picture or an awesome video.  Deja-Vu is one of these crown jewel lines of the Pyrenees, maybe not that well-known, but oh how inspiring. 

Dani jamming hard, 2nd pitch

Hidden in a seldom-visited cirque in the Eastern corner of Aiguestortes National Park, 1,5 hour away from the Amitges refuge, Capucin is one of several towers in the middle of the cirque, in front of Basssiero Towers.  On the approach one is immediately struck by the polished, vertical face, interrupted by the crack.  THE crack.  After the easier and well-bolted first pitch, the business starts: jamming (or laybacking, up to you) for a sustained and what seems infinite 30 meters of pure granite crack climbing.  It's been a while I haven't used my jamming gloves and technique, and this was it.  Happily clipping a couple of bolts on the line, and putting in cams in between, my day was accomplished when clipping the anchor on this one.   What a pitch!  Dani effortlessly came up and led the next pitch, that seemed a bit easier than the supposed 7a+. 

Following pitch 4, the hardest and last one

The last pitch had us a bit more worried, and I was wondering where the crux would be, heading up for a short traverse, and then a diagonal undercling-layback off the fingertips test-piece.  However, the problem came later, on the slab, when a move probably no more than 6c made my head crazy, my feet clumsy, and my fingers powerless.  Downclimbing twice, I gave up, and Dani again faultlessly flashed the pitch to the top.  Seconding the pitch, the moves revealed themselves to be more of a head game than physically hard.

Mountain tribe on the top

The day after, to rest a little, we explored the nice-looking South Face of Petita Agulla d'Amitges, first warming up on Dedos de Luz, good orange crack, and finishing the day up Anglada Guillamon, a dihedral-chimney fun up the Agulla.  Several good lines remain to project on this sun-bathed wall, such as a possible 7c line to the right of the Anglada's first pitch, and an incredible crack, apparently freed this summer at around 7b, on the left of the rappel line between Agulla Petita and the Casco.  Life goes on, full of climbs to be enjoyed, places to visit, and people to meet.  Thanks Dani for encouragement, company, and finishing the hard pitches for me, ninja power! 

Monday, September 05, 2011

Back to Spain

After our memorable Gore-Tex Tour, thanks as well to the clothing from Mountain Equipment, the scratches from the big wall are slowly fading. In the meantime, maybe awaiting next summer, I am preciously guarding the memories of the fjord-filled country and its impeccable granite.

Dave, Helena, and myself at the base of Blaamann, picture by Paul Diffley

Now back to Spain, a new life, my old life, all over again.  One year after first visits to Rodellar with Pau and company, and first painful struggles up the powerful routes there, I have come back with enthusiasm, determination, and new company: Dani and a couple from Cadiz.  Just before Norway, on an impromptu visit with Sarah, I got back on a couple of lines I had in mind and figured I could start having projects in Rodellar too, especially now that I am concentrating on pull-ups and endurance as part of my training schedule.  Unfortunately, one of them, the first pitch of Ironman, will probably be wet for some time now.  However, seeing Carlos Llogroño float over the wet line made me think anything is possible.  Anyway, the first objective has been the ever-bouldery, polished, and overhanging Pequeño Pablo.  It had me rather scared and feeling incapable last year, however this time it went quickly, although in full sweat, with encouragement and inspiration from Dani.  Thanks, bou!

Colorful Egocentrismo

I also left my quickdraws hanging for a day on Maria ponte el harnes, another classic and awesome line that might make me come back as quickly as next w-end.  Seeing the almost-locals Rodri, Eli, Marieta, Esteve, and Xavi left me with the good feeling of coming back to a place I enjoy.  Despite the tourists and the (already smaller) crowds, there is something there in Rodellar, the atmosphere, the canyon, the zen spirit, and so much peace of the place that keeps me a little enchanted and dreaming of more lines, more limestone, endurance, and pocket-pulling action.  Thinking about moves, projects, and new friends.  Maybe paradise does exist?

Discussing moves with Marc-bou, Rodellar 2010