Tag Archives: spanish bouldering

Stress, Excitement and Climbing

“Tomorrow” in the last post was now several days ago and i’m back in damp, cold, blustery North Wales. This trip was a whirlwind of stress, excitement and climbing that both seemed to last for a long time and fly past in an instant. In the end, there were a total of two full days and an hour on the third in which to send something. That something didn’t disapoint.

Two in Two

The only problem i had in mind in the build up to this trip was the one that got away last time: El Orgasmo 7a+ at La Fuente. In a nice twist of fate, it turned out Sally’s other project was also in La Fuente and i was definitely psyched to head back up there.

El Plus de Autobus 7b is another roof problem for which Albarracin is famed. Thankfully, with giant holes in the roof, it was exactly the type of problem that wasn’t aggrevating my injured elbow; especially with tape around my arm both above and below the joint. The top, however, was slightly crimpy and more technical but did have the benefit of being a separate stand up problem at 6c+, meaning i’d likely leave with something for my efforts. While i’m not a huge fan of splitting a problem in half to create two climbs, it does have it’s benefits and for someone operating at (in this case) 7a, would give them the chance to complete at least one climb.

What made it all the better was that my ascent of the stand start actually came from the theory i’ve been developing on climbing movement. My left hand was a sidepull pulling towards three o’clock, my left heel holding me up and i realised i needed a right foot on something to comply with my ideas of opposing forces and stable positions (blatant self promotion: book a session to find out what the hell i’m talking about here…). The second i realised this, i found the perfect place for my right foot and a move that would’ve been insanely powerful on an injured arm suddenly became a simple step up. It seems the ideas i’m peddling hold water!

My goal was most definitely the sit start though and i was now fighting with my poor fitness levels after weeks of resting my poorly arm. Getting the resting periods just right proved a struggle, just as on the day before but soon enough, i clutched on to the higher holds and pulled through the same (now easy) move to reach the top and the blank walrus-style top out.

Now time for El Orgasmo and i was optimistic. Surely with my increased levels of climbing and my heightened tactics, it would likely go? One less project left lying around Europe somewhere, that would be nice. Only those poor fitness levels seemed to rear their ugly heads once again and the grapple with the lip on the problem proved to be my undoing. Perhaps i could’ve fought my way through it with sheer belligerence but it would’ve killed me and probably not gone anyway. Besides, the theory wasn’t really working as well this time and i’ve got some more thinking to do once the feet get high up in the air.

I was right to leave it alone as i tried pulling on a couple of other nearby problems only to find myself exhausted the second i stepped off the floor. It seems i was done for the day, not that i was complaining! Two 7bs and a 7a+ in two days was much more than i expected this week and ensured i made the long drive home with a smile on my face.

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The one that got away again; the climb, not the guy. I mean, Pedro is super cool, super chill and great to climb with but it's what he's climbing that I really wanted to do. El Orgasmo was one that we tried back in 2014 and it was the only think I really wanted to get while there. I did give it a damn good go but again, no joy, I was too tired after climbing two 7b roofs! Another amazing photo from @sallylizzle who is on an epic Spanish climbing trip and is well worth following. . . . #Spain #spanishbouldering #albarracin #bouldering #bouldering_pictures_of_instagram #rockclimbing #grimpeur #escalada #escalade #Climbing #climbing_photos_of_instagram #climbing_is_my_passion #climbinglife

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Friday morning, i awoke early, showered and packed quickly (i didn’t exactly have a lot with me for a week in a hostel!) and headed for one quick last blast. But with aching shoulders, i was never going to do much, especially in that last hour before my time was up. Nevertheless, it was nice to stretch the muscles and say goodbye to Sally. I owe her an enormous thanks for getting me out there for what was a stunning week; one i’d dearly love to repeat!

I’ve grown accustomed to the idea of staying local for the foreseeable and this week reminded me of the joys and excitement that can come from visiting foreign fields. Granted, that comes with it’s fair share of stress but in the end, these are the experiences we can’t buy and ones that remind us of the millions of fantastic people all over the world. I am so grateful to Sally for reminding me of this, no matter how brief it may have been.

Making the best of it

My travails in Barcelona – as enjoyable as they were – cost me a day of bouldering. With not being able to collect the car until 1pm and a five hour drive at least, by the time i got here, found the Airbnb, met up with Sally and ate, it was practically the middle of the night again with nought but a glance at the amazing red sandstone blocks i hadn’t seen since the week of my thirtieth birthday.

However, given our collective crippled state, this didn’t turn out to be the crisis we thought. My elbow has deteriorated again and i was nervous i wouldn’t be able to climb, while Sally – on her extended Spanish adventure and the reason i flew out here – had strained some abnominal muscles and wasn’t climbing for a couple of days anyway. Another rest day wouldn’t hurt. Getting stuck in might. Besides, that gave time to build a plan and some psyche…

I’m actually here to coach, not just on a jolly and arriving to find your client is crocked is not ideal. Instead, we decided to chat movement theory, goals and objectives with a view to seeing if any of it worked in practice later. With clients, i’m generally available any time people wish to chat so running over various ideas in person passed the time nicely.

There are several theories and academics related to climbing that i have developed and Sally is just the right type of person to take it on board. She’s also just the right one to tell me if i’m talking total shit and so far, seems very taken with the ideas; able to confirm through her own experiences or question when something doesn’t seem right. Not being able to climb sucks but  i think we are making the best of a bad situation.

The late night led to a late start which was no bad thing! Once up though, i headed into town for supplies, including food and some chalk from the excellent Sofa Boulder. They had not long opened when i was here last in 2014 and are just as friendly now as they were then. If you’re here, check them out.

After several cups of tea, in early afternoon, we finally headed up for a climb. I say we, i was the only one climbing and even then, i was being very cautious not to overdo myself and make the trip effectively pointless. A few 5s in and no pain, the tape holding my arm together and everything seeming pretty good.

A couple of 6bs and a 6c in and i tried the 6b stand start to some more appealing lines. However, when i paused mid route to assess my options (and test my ideas of movement theory on a wall) a nearby Spaniard mistook my musings for confusion and ran over to give me some beta. I wouldn’t ordinarily mind but the beta he was spraying me with was wrong and wasn’t going to work, confusing me further. Eventually i ignored his suggestions, pulled off a slightly harder-looking move and topped out to a round of applause that made me feel slightly embarrassed. 6b isn’t exactly that challenging for me (not that they were to know that).

Given all of this, they must have seemed slightly surprised to see me pull on to the 7a+ sit start version. From the noises they were making as i crept through the crux moves, i don’t think they were expecting me to get that far on El Rompededos. The look on my face at the top probably suggested i wasn’t either.

Sally had missed this taking a phone call and once she returned, found all the stuff had been moved around the corner. We’d looked at Eclipse 7b on our way in; the problem being one of Sally’s projects and she was keen for my beta. I quickly glanced through the moves again, dropped pads down and within about ten minutes had done it in about three sections, working out how to cope with my own issues and apply my own style.

Annoyingly, i mucked up the one attempt that felt like it would be fluid and easy, leaving my foot on a hold too long before it snatched from the hold and smacked the floor. As i rested, Sally grew cold and increasingly frustrated – not at me, at the fact she couldn’t climb – and eventually decided to call it a day, relieved of spotting duties by a group of Germans who had just arrived. If only she’d given it five more minutes, she’d have seen me fight my way through the roof and on to the top. Not a bad return for the day and with next to no pain to speak of!

Certainly psyched for tomorrow.