After enjoying tough Easter European climbing in Osp, we went back home for a couple of weeks to discharge the batteries. On the way back, we got an instant dose of not so repetitive techno by Paula Temple and Ancient Methods in Berlin. Sleeping in the van at Kreuzberg was a new experience for both of us.
Home time was great - family, friends and … fast internet. However, to avoid a real danger of getting used to the sneaky comfort, we set a deadline for the end of the stay.
By the end of November, we were back in the van and heading south to Catalunya to hibernate for the winter.
The journey from Lithuania to Catalunya (~3000km) took us so long that the van seat almost became an integral part of my body. To ease the pain, we made a quick detour to visit Aistė and Povilas, our friends who are still stuck in Stuttgart.
During the insane ride it was raining heavily. “Why is our bed wet?” asks me Laura. Damn! The roof is leaking. Not so nice for the start, but fortunately it is kinderleicht to find materials for repair in a country which is fond of engineering.
First climbing stop was in Siurana which always associated with sunny, long, vertical and technical routes. However, this time they were not so sunny. It was subzero during nights and sometimes so cold during the day that even a few warmup routes in a row did not warm us. Luckily, they were still vertical and technical which I find more and more fun.
Unfortunately, Laura managed to partly rupture the A2 pulley of her middle finger. Trying to climb the very crimpy “La Crema” (7c+) to check whether her finger is doing right ended up with a visit to a hand doctor who suggested a surgery. After reading a handful of resources on such injuries (this, this, this and this) she decided to take a conservative approach - rest and start slowly climbing to increase the blood flow in her fingers to foster the healing process. Anyway, at the time of writing her finger is getting better and she can cruise 7b’s. Strong and tough as always.
Meanwhile, I was enjoying tons of technical 7a/+’s and a lot of attention from my less-climbing belayer.
Getting bored after staying at the same place for two weeks becomes a new norm (we both suffer from ADHD). So, an escape was made to Margalef.
Margalef is an antonym to Siurana - short, steep, bouldery and full of pockets. A common thing these two crags shared was a bloody coldness. No sun meant no climbing, and in total we only climbed one day there. Bummer.
While being in Margalef, we got a message from our friends Anna and Tadas that they were going to climb with Tomas somewhere not that far away from Margalef next day. Tomukas and Tadukas - two legends of Lithuanian climbing. Even such climbing dinosaur as Laura started climbing way later than they had their first adventures on rocks. So, the decision was obvious.
Climbing took place at a secret spot bolted a month ago. I have never climbed on such a virgin rock. Breaking holds, no footmarks or chalked holds contributed to the awesome outing, and we all got to experience the real onsight climbing.
The end of the day was not less memorable - watching stars literally in the middle of nowhere through telescope made by Tadas. Sadly, moon was new, so Tadas couldn’t show it.
Next stop was Chulilla. We both are loyal to traditions, so not only we spent New Year Eve there, but also got sick. Totally the same as last year.
This year there was even a bigger crowd - Mykolas and Gabrielė, Anna and Tadas, Vida and Jacint, Povilas and Aistė. Vida and Jacint even joined the campervans family with their white VW - a must if you live and climb in Catalunya.
My recovery from sickness took part on tufas at the Chorreras sector. Long pumpy routes and Vida shouting “venga!” made me sweat a lot, so next day I was healthy again to try something harder.
After Povilas, Laura and me flashed 40m long “Maricon El Ultimo” 7b, three of us jumped to project “Nibelungalo” 7c - 35m long polished and slightly overhanging fight against lactic acid in muscles. Finally, probably due to the motivated partners, I became less hesitant to try 7c. Fun fact was that everyday we met someone else climbing the route, and their belayers were climbers whom you can see on TV.
Povilas, as usually, was impressing us with his no bullshit approach to climbing - 100% concentration, no lame excuses and “just do it”. After maybe 4 hard tries on the project, he asked us to show easier good climbs while we were thinking about calling it a day. We pointed to “Camino de Leche” - 40m long 7a+ with the crux at the very top. 30min later and Povilas is at the crux, bing bing bong and he is already in the air. At the bottom he asked about giving another go while it was getting dark. Damn, such motivation (and determination)!
The last day conditions were perfect for the route - low temps and strong winds. I could literally feel how my shoes’ rubber sticks to the rock. Just after Laura clipped the chain (on her 4th go), owners of the quickdraws placed on the project showed up and without any hesitation skipped the waiting queue. Such maneuver quite pissed me off as according to my climbing ethics nobody can “reserve” a route for themselves. Just wait in line as others do, or don’t go climbing on a busy day. Unfortunately, it was too late after they finished, so no send this time for me and my buddy.
We had another arrangement made to climb with friends. This time in El Chorro which is reachable from Chulilla via Costa Blanca - yet another climbing paradise in Spain. We had a few days to explore this region.
We picked Gandia - very easily approachable wall surrounded by trees full of oranges ready to pick. Some parts of the wall very steep, and we enjoyed pumping the iron on it. Both of us managed to clip the chain of the sustained “Enya” 7b.
Next, some multi pitching…
Peñon d’Ifach is a big wall located near a very touristic city of Calpe belonging to Costa Blanca. The iconic wall was on my list since I had seen this trip report.
The route we chose was on the south face of the wall and it was called “Mare Nostrum” (7a+, 240m, 9pt) - well equipped and well exposed.
The day was full of cruxes, none was actually a climbing crux: finding a toilet in the morning, hanging belays, avoiding flying bird poos.
The first block was led by Laura, the second by me. While following the second pitch (6c+) I got very pumped and concerned about my block and its very last crux pitch - overhanging 7a. Luckily, I managed to shake my hands off, and all the multi pitch went free.