Saturday 28th June 2014, Albarracin, Spain
And so, battered, broken and bruised, the summer trip Albarracin 2014 gradually draws to a close. Personally, it’s involved twelve consecutive days of climbing, including sixteen individual sessions at six crags, dozens of boulders and 63 problems – some of the others have even completed more. We’ve taken around 1500 photos (some still to be deleted), killed countless flies and watched more than our fair share of dubbed Spanish television. Oh and managed to learn no more than a handful of words in Spanish, the most popular of which is undoubtedly tortuga. It’ll certainly be another one to remember.
There aren’t many ways in which you couldn’t class this trip as a success. We’ve climbed aplenty, had generous and predictable conditions and had few in the way of major setbacks, if any. For myself and John, the climbing ended this morning by 1pm at the latest, while Jim and Ryan are currently off in search of one more 6b for themselves. Rich is probably sat reading his book.
The only downside (again, personally) is the lack of difficulty in my achievements but considering the circumstances involving a finger injury from April and various personal commitments that made training an impossibility, that is far from a surprise. I’ve managed a 7a+ and a handful of 7a climbs, some of which later downgraded but probably deservedly so, meaning i’m not going home completely empty-handed and down-trodden. On the contrary, I would say the trip has been a resounding success.
Would I change anything? Potentially the venue for the time of year: it has been uncomfortably hot at times and while we’ve avoided climbing in poor conditions as best we can by targeting morning and evening sessions, it has been a chore to just be here in the middle of the day. However, the nature of a summer birthday trip limits your options terribly and this is certainly a phenomenal venue to be in and a fantastic way to enter a new decade.
Would I return? Absolutely! In a heartbeat, although as mentioned just, it would be at a more favourable time of year, especially as we have been unable to go to at least six venues because of bird-nesting restrictions. There is still plenty more here to be seen an explored.
I wouldn’t be surprised to find, on my next trip, that the guidebook had doubled in size, although I suspect the best lines and crags have already been discovered. It has been a touch disappointing to get on the occasional squeezed-in line that really shouldn’t be there. Still, that’ll happen everywhere. Evidence of this is the growth of the town since my last visit five years ago – Albarracin can now boast at least two climbing shops, possibly three if you count the one at the campsite (and assuming it’s still there, I didn’t check) as well as a growing local economy proven by building work opposite our apartment. This, in my opinion, will only continue.
But for now it is time to go home and while this is a fantastic climbing destination, I am now looking forward to my flight. Other than climbing and sitting in the apartment, there is little to do around the village. Bars and shops are normally closed in the middle of the day, and while there are some walks and a trebuget park that we didn’t visit (despite my vociferous and regular requests), it does get a little old after two weeks. And besides, it is now time to rest the thin skin on my fingers, the strained ankle and hamstring of my left leg and allow the graze below my right nipple to heal. Albarracin, it’s people, it’s town and it’s surrounding countryside: gracias, adios and see you soon. In Spanish.