Monday, 10 December 2012

Spain so far

'Dream of white horses' a welsh classic
Climbing in the UK is very different from climbing here. The UK has its climbing steeped in tradition. Nearly every route you step upon has been climbed back in 1962 by a Brit with a level of fortitude, confidence and pure gristle that allowed them to reach the top no matter what the heavens would throw at them. They would don their rough woolen jumpers and attach a set of nuts (as in nuts and bolts) tied on rope to their harness. Then add to these a set of steel carabineers, a hemp rope tied around the waist thirty times and a set of hob nail boots. Then these men would climb up routes even now we struggle to comprehend. There is not much tougher in this world than raw iron or a climber of that era. I am friends with men like this, they still do it well today.

Chris Roberts and me on the dream belay
- maybe not showing enough fortitude
Me on the crux pitch of dream
Times have changed but climbing remains the same... only harder and safer. I have come to Spain with a selection of the most high-tech equipment you have ever seen. My harness is super-light weight, the manufacturers even went to the extent of removing some buckles. My rope is dynamic, it stretches, and is as thin as floss compared to the ropes of those who founded the sport. My shoes are made of what seems to be the stickiest rubber ever invented, able to stand on the smallest of edges. Despite all this, climbing stills holds difficulties to challenge us all. Although the equipment is now up to date, the climbing has come a long way also.

Showing my new found resilience on
Memoirs of a lunatic - e5 6b'
another route done far before it should have been
Spain has an ethic of bolting all their climbs, they drill incredibly strong bolts into the wall for you to clip to. Although they are safe climbs it is worth me mentioning that those bolting the routes are not the richest people in Spain, the bolts can become very spaced. Despite this the challenge is now in difficulty... who can bolt the hardest route. My love of climbing has changed over the years, it is no longer just a passion of the open air, but also a true love of the movement required to reach the top. The finite difference between reaching the next hold, or not.

So I have set myself my first project of the season: 'Mama Endika - 8a+'. It is a challenging 35 metre blank face, leaning barley on the steep side of off-vertical. There is just enough holds to make it climbable. The moves are a constant barrage of micro edges, big pulls and pin point footholds. I am working it with a close friend who has a life most would only dream of, Tom Ireson. More about him and our progress later. These routes may be safe, they might also be a step up in difficulty for gristled 60's climber, but I still know I have to finish it before one of those old boys decides to have a go.

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