Monday, 19 January 2015

The start of a year climbing!

I'm starting this blog a month into our holiday. I had an opportunity given to me that I couldn't refuse, as a climber, the chance for a year off from work is something that should never be turned down. Fortunately for me, my Girlfriend Jo had long since decided to quit her job as an optician, that's correct, she's also a climber.

Keeping our Xmas tree alive in the Spanish sun
The idea has been brewing since we first met, but the opportunity had not come around. I would like to say how hard it has been to get here, that we have sweated and toiled over every detail, panicked about work and nearly never made it... but the reality is, it was fun. We painted the van, minimised our lives to a couple of bags of clothes and some climbing gear, then set off. If you find yourself in a position where you can leave to climb for a year or more, then come back and return to normal life fairly easily, then surely it's a no-brainer, it was for us at least.

Christmas in the van!
You don't need a lot of money, but you do need to be careful with what you have. We eat things which are in season and cheap, stay only in free parking, wash with a solar shower and buy minimal luxuries. Chocolate must be less than a Euro, and wine no more than 1.20, that's always a fun gamble! We took all the underwear we could fit, now we only need to wash our clothes every month or so. The van has everything we need to live, it is our kitchen, bedroom and living room, for everything else, we use nature and trowel. By no means is this life a rough one, it's as good as home, better in fact, because everywhere you park, you can also climb.

Playing accordion by Gandia main crag with our friend Helmar
Jo starting up Perpetum Mobile 7c @ Gandia Bovedon
We are now pit stopped in Gandia, on the South Eastern coast of Spain, The gem of this area is a cave called El Bovedon, it's routes range from 7b-8c. The crag is steep enough to have in-situ quick-draws hanging down on nearly every route. The steepness also cramps your neck into a crooked lean after every belay. The routes seem tough for the grade too, you waltz upside down to nearly reach the anchors and some success, only to have a move so hard it makes your forehead vein pulse and stops your breath before you can clip the chains and lower back with your route in hand.

Helmar looking strong on another Bovedon hard start
The grading in Spain falls mainly, everywhere... Some places you will fly up routes, some areas you won't make it off the floor without swearing at least once (Margalef springs to mind). El Bovendon is the latter, We have not made it to the top of one route without a good purple knee, smashed elbow or blood, from somewhere you only discover when you touch the floor and have time to look. “oh it was my index finger... and my shin... that explains the wet feeling around my ankle..” The rock is featured and brilliantly hard. Small caves inside the roof allow you to knee bar, shoulder jam, and get your bearings before you plunge upside down again and carry on your fight to the top.

Knee-bar for recovery on Miedos Cultura - 8a @ L'Ocaive - Costa Blanca

Jo locking off the crux of a powerful Bovedon 7b+
Our first day here had us working together on a steep 7c "Perpetum Mobile" on the outer walls of the cave. The route led its way up a giant overhanging flake, big enough to lie on and catch your breath. The top had a move so wide your face scrapped against the wall as you lunged for the hold, the final boulder problem crux that came when you were just tired enough to fall. I managed the route fourth try, with a couple of foot slips at the top that made it even more exciting. Jo had most of her hand ripped off by the move, but once her hand is healed we will go back for more! My skin held for a while, I tried an 8a+ with a boulder problem crux off of a small, vicious pocket. I managed the move on my first try working the route, but I knew it was only because my skin had been wedged deeply into that little sharp hole. On my second go my finger slipped out, leaving most of my hand with it. That was the end of that day for both of us, in pain, but wanting a bit more from Bovedon.

Taking a rest on Perpetum Mobile - 7c @ Bovedon Gandia

The routes may be mean, but the bolting here is friendly, or rather, good. On some routes you go a distance, but that's only because nature hasn't yet worn a hold deep enough for you to hold on comfortably and clip your rope, so the equipper didn't put a bolt there. El Bovedon has been put together just right. The shade appears early in the day so the routes are cool enough to climb on for many hours after. If you use the Rockfax guide then I would recommend adding some routes from this update below many routes are missed out, as is admitted by Rockfax, but this fills in the gaps. The walk in is also closer to 15mins than 5, but it's on an easy uphill path.

(Image curtesy of -
15.- SN 8 (6b), 16.- SN 9 (7a),17.- SN 10 (?), 18.- Lobos (8a), 19.- Ave Roma (7b), 20.- Ave Eva (7b), 21.- Depil man (7a+), 22.- Trasnochando (8b), 23.- Ferrer y sus cobardes (7b), 24.- Perpetuando (R1 7a, R2 8a), 25.- Perpetum mobile (7c), 26.- Chikara (8b+), 27.- Larga, dura y caliente (8a+), 28.- Felicidad (8a+), 29.-Arcadia (7c), 30.- Carnicero de Castelnovo (8a+), 31.- Abracadabra kaka de kabra (7c+), 32.- Armando sigue desplomando (8a+), 33.- Malsoñando (8c), 34.- La Negra (9a), 35.- Mestizaje (8c+), 36.- SN 11 (?), 37.- Troglobio (8b), 38.- Benito Camela (7b), 39.- Matrix (?), 40.- La antorcha humana (7a+), 41.- Chocho pocho (7a), 42.- Tuli punk (7b+), 43.- Rica chona (6c+), 44.- La Bovedonada (6b+), 45.- Quin Tomás (6b), 46.- Hernia Fiscal (7a+), 47.- Tambors Llunyans (7a), 48.- Escalada lechunga (6a+), 49.- Quinto pino (6a+), 50.- La de Javi (7c), 51.- SN 12 (6b), 52.- SN 13 (6b), 53.-SN 14 (4)

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