Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rodellar and Riglos

It seems my time in Europe is quickly coming to an end. I have rejoined Will and visited the famous crag of Rodellar. I had heard mixed reports about the area and I left with mixed feelings. During the first couple of days both Will and I got shut down on climbs we expected to do easily. We had both heard the area was soft so our egos were bruised when we started having troubles. I would normally say I am ok at steep limestone but wrestling with tufas or doing big moves between chipped and glued jugs is not my style. Will got sick for a bit while I wore myself out trying routes that were too hard for me. I still had fun trying classics such as Pata Negra 8c, Hulk 8b+, Geminis 8b+, and Phillipe Cuisinere 8b/+ and the experience of trying hard is probably what I need. We decided since we didn't have long left in Europe we would go somewhere we knew we could perform and since I love my pockets we decided on the conglomerate of Margalef. I should have given the area more time as after a week and a bit something clicked and I sent two 7c+s and a 7c/+ in quick succession. I'd suggest for other visitors not to have too many expectations for the first week or so here while you get used to the style.
Awesome limestone formations at Rodellar. Will is working El  Delfin 7c+ on the roof of the far arch.

Me on the classic of Rodellar, El Delfin 7c+.
In Rodellar we met Matt from the Blue Mountains who is also travelling over here at the moment. I managed to get him psyched on trying an easy multipitch on the conglomerate of Riglos. I have been wanting to do a route called "Fiesta del Biceps" for ages and it was on my all time list of classics to do. Will wasn't keen so Matt and I did a day trip to climb it between Rodellar and Margalef. It was amazing! 8 pitches of steep jug hauling, all bolted!

Riglos! Fiesta del Biceps is the main chalk line  just right of the central arete.

Matt following the 8 pitch white ladder of Fiesta del Biceps 7a, Riglos.

Monday, September 10, 2012

My Silhouette is famous!

A friend spotted an old picture of me on the frontage of MDs garden city (Cheers Mickey!). The route is Burnt Offerings 7a+ in Thailand and the photo was taken by Greg Tossel around 2001.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Gorge du Tarn

What an amazing place! The Gorge du Tarn and connecting Gorge de la Jonte are packed with limestone crags over 50m high. Short steep routes are also on offer and rest days can be spent canoeing down the river that runs through the Gorge du Tarn. Even better is that the climbing is mostly holiday grades, meaning soft! There are exceptions though and the one route I wanted to do was one of those. The Tennessee wall is one of the most amazing crags with routes up to 55m long. The route "Tennessee" blasts straight up the obvious arete in the middle of the wall and was my main attraction to the area. I had one attempt when I arrived in the Tarn and it was nails. I dont think I had the time and definetely not the belayer to siege this route so I let it go.
Rob and I had arrived in a heatwave so not much climbing was done at the begining of our two weeks here. Often I would get to the crag early with only an hour of cool weather before temperatures sky rocketed and I would get one shot for the day. Over two mornings I managed to send "Le Ailes du Desire" 8a second shot which is an amazing 55m pitch up Tennessee. Robs old elbow injury flamed up again so sport climbing was off the cards for him. Instead he decided to head somewhere even hotter and flew to Egypt to see the pyramids and dive in the red sea.
A contigent of Perth climbers had turned up so I joined Remi, Delphine, Brian and Gesa in a nice gite above the gorges. Remi and Delphines family were also there and alot of time was spent at the dinner table eating five course meals! The good food, a real bed, and great company meant I started to hit form. In five days, one of which was a rest day, I managed to send four 8as and one 8a+. Brian also managed to get his first 8a which was motivating to see while Remi, Delphine and Gesa all did personal bests for the trip.
Brian testing out a hard sequence in the crux of "Tu me dezolve" 8a at the Muse sector, Gorge du Tarn.
Evening shot of me on "Tu me Dezolve".
Giving beta to Remi.
The final day before everyone went their seperate ways we spent in Gorge de la Jonte. I was knackered so I just chilled at a small crag at the base with Gesa while Remi and Delphine, Brian and Eric (a friend from Montpellier) formed teams to climb one of the most famous routes in the gorge. The "Arete Ouest" is an exposed three pitch 6a in a stunning position. It was great to sit back and watch them cruise up while Vultures soared in the space around them.
Brian (top) and Eric (bottom) on the "Arete Oest".
I have given back my lease car and downgraded the amount of gear I have so I now live out of two backpacks. The next stop is Rodellar after a couple of days in Barcelona. I have heard mixed reports about Rodellar this year so am excited to see what the scene is like. Will is joining me again after having some party time in London so we should get some good projecting done in the coming month.
Hands free at the begining of "Les Nouvelles Plantations du Christ" 8a.