I'm just back from the trip of my life...climbing in the best crags of Catalunya! For fun we called the journey No Siesta Spain Trip and we made a cool blog(unfortunately only in italian) about it.
This time it wasn't the usual two weeks trip like I had every year around Christmas/New Years!
I have been planning this trip for a year or so togheter with my buddy Silvio Reffo. This kind of experience was new for both of us since we have never been on a climbing trip that long... Silvio was a full time physio student until a few months ago so he has never had the time. By my part I might had the time since I'm a full time climber but unfortunately I've never found the right people to do this kind of thing!
I think Silvio is one of the best trip mates I could have asked for... strong,motivated,quiet and of course a good friend!
Another new thing for us was that we travelled in a van... a very big one! Three beds,kitchen,shower ecc and we had the opportunity to stay in one spot for as many days as we wanted until the projects were done!
And last but not least we have been followed by a filmaker for the whole trip! Our friend Mauro Giordani is a very talented filmaker and always psyched to jumar some ropes and film some action!...
We uploaded some short clips during the trip but the main idea is to edit a longer movie about the trip, our climbing experience and eventually show the final product togheter with some lectures at various events during the year...
Let's talk about the trip now! Writing about two months of travels,climbs,rocks,friends etc is pretty difficult so I will try not to be too boring!
After an endless 15hours journey started in Novara on december 8th and finished in Oliana at 4.30am the day after, we finally got to the parking lot, tired as hell especially after the last bit of road, driving through the Pyrenees,during the night with frozen roads... But we arrived at our final destination safe and sound and we were so psyched that me and Silvio couldn't sleep much!
The beginning of the trip in Oliana has been all about ups and downs for me...
We spent about ten days enjoying the beautiful routes and landscapes. We also spent good times with great friends like Graziano,Bernardo,Paolo,Chris,Daila,Anna and many others!
The “down part”of this start of the trip was that I noticed that my level of fitness was horrible!I always felt tired at the cliff and I couldn't sleep well at night.
I had to imagine it since my preparation and resting before this trip has not been the best and before leaving I've been climbing short routes or boulders non-stop.
So I took this first ten days taking it easy and getting ready for the second part of the trip in one of my favourite places on earth... Siurana!
We arrived in Siurana some days before Christmas and immediately we met up with some good italian friends who were staying here for the Christmas holidays.
Here is Siurana I defenitely had the best times of the trip! Every day was waking up,breakfast at the panaderia in Cornudella and climbing a muerte with the rest of the crew... then beers,dinner and some more beers and parties in the evenings!
I also started to feel much better and fitter and in a few days I was able to climb one of my projects of the trip...
Jungle Speed is a 9a route opened by Daniel Jung a few years back and repeated a bunch of times by other makinas... I worked the route one day with Dani Andrada and Oscar Jimenez who gave me perfect beta. After a few tries I made a couple of close attempts falling at the end of the hard bouldery sequence and I thought I was ready to take it down! But as usual I started to punt and I wasted some more tries! Then on a very warm day everything clicked and I easily climbed the rig!
Silvio also finished his 9a project Estado Critico in the same day so I let you imagine the amount of party we (not Silvio...me and the other italian homies!)had that night!...
Funny thing is that the day after, of course with a bad hungover, I re-climbed the rig for the video and felt it pretty easy!... As always I have no idea about the real difficulty and I doubt the grade 9a... but as always I don't really care since it is a sick route and the quality of the rock is one of the best in Siurana!
The rest of the time here has been all about New Years celebrations, a couple of days to recover from it and some good punting on one of my nemesis rigs A Muerte at Campigui Pugui! Like every year I felt really close but then I started falling over and over at the same hell of a move and left it for the next times...
A week or so after New Years Eve, the climbers started to leave the Siurana cliffs and Cornudella de Monsant returned to be a ghost village so it was time to leave and move to Margalef!
When we got to Margalef it was pretty warm, so we thought about checking out the cliffs in the shade.
Silvio wanted to try Era Vella, one of the most famous and repeated 9a in the world.
I got to the cliff without any projects in mind, but previously Chris Sharma tell me about a beautiful route he put up called La Nevera Severa graded 8c+/9a in the sector just next to Era Vella...
This is not the common Margalef route on pockets... it is something odd, very original and challenging! Actually what I was looking for since I was not really attracted by Era Vella. Of course it is a beautiful route and the wall is very ispiring but at that moment I was not really psyched to test my level of fitness and just pull on good holds for 45meters...
I needed something different!
This rig is crazy! It consists in a 7a start to a ledge. Then a little boulder problem on pinches until you get to the best tufa feature you can imagine! At the bottom is like a normal double tufa feature then after some meters the two tufas become a unique thing and shape one single fat “tube-like” tufa feature that gets wider and wider!
At the top the tube become so big that you can't reach the sides so you have to stay on the right side of it using some bad side slopers and flat edges.
The climbing on the route is very demanding, physical and technical at the same time and the slaps have to be done precisely. It's a compression testpiece actually!!
During the first tries on the route I was getting mad finding the right grips and the bad feet on the tufa...
Finally after some days of work I could see the light and started to make some good links.
And of course before finishing it I fell a few times at the top on the final technical crux...
But then in a day with perfect temps, with a great fight against the fatigue I could do the crux move and kept it togheter till the chains!!
Climbing this amazing piece of rock has been one of the most satisfying climbing experiences I had. If you want to climb this route you need to put to the test your physical,your technical but especially your brain skills!!...
After the send of La Nevera Severa I felt fresh and fit but I didn't want to project anything for more than two days.
I've been climbing a couple more weeks between Margalef and Siurana and I was able to do some good onsights till 8a+/b and a bunch of 8c's with the quickness!
Once I climbed this 8c called Lola Corwin in the Siuranella South sector of Siurana I decided to put some bolts on a direct and more logical start of the route... Daniel Jung told me about this new possible line a year ago but I didn't have the time to put the bolts on.
This year the line was still virgin so I took my drill and added five bolts on the new part!
I cleaned it a little bit, put some chalk on and immediately started to figure out the sequences. The new rig is in perfect Siurana style, this means super bullet grey rock with tiny crimps, slopey pocket and even a few monos!The new part I bolted could be 8b+ itself, very bouldery and with very small grips. The crux of this part is a very weird move to get a sharp mono! I fell here repeatedly until I splitted a tip and decided to let it go and try it again once the finger was healed!
This means it was time to move back to Oliana! Silvio finally sent his project Era Vella so we were both “project free” and ready to bounce again!
Second time in Oliana was much better for me. Finally I had some resistence and I could try more seriously what I left uncompleted at the beginning of the trip: Joe Blau, an amazing 50meters long 8c+!
Joe Blau is a sick route bolted(partially)by Joe Kinder! Basically there was an already existing 8b+ called El Gran Blau that starts from another 8b called Marroncita. At about midway the 8b+ goes right and follow a perfect line on sculpted pocketed rock with a technical and pumpy finish...
Last year Joe bolted the most logical straight line that joins the 8b+! The part Joe bolted it's alone around hard 8c with some of the best moves and kind of holds you can find everywhere!
Well this time I didn't punt much and after only a couple of days and without falling at the end I finished this great rig! It's defenitely one of the longest hard routes I've done in my career and I was pretty psyched to finish it!
Joe climbed it as well... he put alot of work on his route last season but he couldn't finish it and left Spain empty handed. But this year has been different and he finally finished his opera!! Mission complete dude!Props!
Days in Oliana have been great! The crag was always packed with lots of people from all over the world! Adam and Chris were in the house too working on La Dura Dura and the climb on it is actually one of the most impressive things I've seen. The route looks ridiculous like 9b or so in ten meters then another ten meters of 8c+ and more 8b climb at the top... New Level!
Funny thing was that everybody was psyched and couldn't wait for the “Dura Dura Show” to start! And when the two climbers were off trying the rig the audience was quiet watching the show and cheering their favourite one...
Unfortunately I couldn't watch the final episode! Adam finally climbed La Dura Dura the same day we left Oliana! Good job dude!
But beside the two super heroes I think the most impressive ascent has been done by Silvio!
Last year when I came back from a couple of weeks here in Oliana having climbed Mind Control,one of the classics of the wall, given 8c+ at the time,now 8c, I met Silvio some days later and told him that he should have tried it on flash... I know him pretty well, I know what he is capable to do and this route suits his style perfectly so I was pretty sure he would have had a good chance to flash it!
Well my prediction was right and Silvio, with the perfect beta from Ondra Benes and Barbara Raudner and some help with the translation from myself executed perfectly all the moves and casually flashed the route!!! Very inspiring to watch and pretty intense moment for me as well since I had the big responsability to instantly translate and give quick indications about the moves...
After the great successes in Oliana the days were quickly coming to the end and we only had a couple of days left climbing in Siurana and by my part trying to finish “La Carriola Project”, the direct start of Lola Corwin I bolted some weeks before.
I felt really good that day and the conditions were okay. Cold, cloudy and a bit humid but at least it was not sunny and there was not too much wind. This route needs cold temps in my opinion, the sun makes the blue rock too warm and the wind makes the rock too dry and glassy... So that day was kinda perfect for my tastes!
I gave one first try to put all the quickdraws and getting the whole thing dialed again. Next try I fell one more time to stuck the mono due to a little foot slip. Next try was luckily the last one, I climbed perfectly the first part but got into the crux of Lola Corwin a bit pumped. But with the last power I had I did the crux boulder and clipped the chain of this new amazing route I named La Carriola!!
What a huge relief having completed the process just before leaving.
I'm really proud of this route, I think it's a new good addition in the Siurana hard routes and I can't wait to hear about someone trying it and maybe repeating it!
The grade I gave is 8c+ but I'm free to listen other opinions.
The math is not good for this route since the first half of Lola Corwin is about 7a+ and only the second half gives the 8c(maybe a soft one?)grade...
On La Carriola I personally think the first part is about 8b+ and the second part is basically the 8c part of Lola Corwin... and it makes 8c+!?! I have no clue but this is the grade I felt when I climbed it!...
Well I hope you enjoyed this post... It's really hard to explain all the mixed emotions I felt during this two months but finally I can say it has been the best trip/experience of my life!
Living in a van in contact with two good friends like Silvio and Mauro and our van neighbour for two months Graziano, passing the best times during Xmas/New Years days with the homies: Petardo,Thomas,Guido,Pietro,Vieri,Claudio,Stefanino,Luca..., improving my spanish and learning from the experience of Bernardo and Jah and of course passing great times with Chris,Daila,Anna,Paolo,Joe,Colette,Barbara,Hannes,Primo,Adam,Kubo and all the people I met during this couple of months!! Gracias!
Now it's time to chill out a little bit and getting ready for the next trip!...