Monday, January 07, 2008

Font thirty years ago

2007 wasn’t a very good year for my climbing. 8 months of it were spent injured and an off form jaunt to font and 1 day climbing at Ceuse weren’t enough to satisfy a rock connoisseur with a weak sense of morality like myself. But on December 3rd it was my birthday and I came into some money so I decided to bunk off uni a few days early to go bouldering in Albarracin near Valencia.

Day 1
After a bladder bursting, spine twisting, Mega-Bus journey to London, a turbulent flight to Valencia and a few near misses while Clare ‘The Weakest Link’ Muir remembered how to drive (at the expense of some wing-mirrors) we arrived late in Albarracin. The next day we awoke to perfect blue skies. After a few wrong turns we ended up at sector Arrastradero which was totally awesome with loads of classics of every style and grade.
We warmed up doing a huge circuit of problems up to about v4 and ended up under the Cube Problem-a cool slopey, clampey, 7a. I managed to stand around long enough that Mike and Strong Sam worked out the beta so I could nip in for a flash. Good start to the trip.


After an obligatory foreign boulder holiday lunch of chorizo and cheese we went over to try the classic of the area, El Pais de las Bycicletas. Font 7a but about the height of Bowden and with the crux at the top... I’m maybe exaggerating a bit but it’s no lowball. I don’t think anyone fell off this but we all jumped off several times. After a few tries Mike topped out and encouraged by this I sent it next go.
The day finished for me with a flash of a 7a+ techo (roof) after employing my ‘let everyone else figure it out’ tactics and on a worse note with mike spraining his ankle.

Day 2
A bit of snow fell overnight so we headed to sector techos that was meant to be climbable in all conditions. We warmed up and did the classic Super Mafo Macho(6b) which Clare ‘meat curtains’ Muir got so close to, cruising through the crux and falling with her hand on the finishing jug. Mike did this totally amazing looking 7b slap that me and Sam couldn’t get anywhere near. Next we headed over to try the mentally gymnastic Milano Roof (7b+). By the end of the day Mike and I had fallen with our hands over the finishing jug (Mike on about 5 occasions). Just as we decided to pack it in for the day some Geordie turned up and did Milano starting about 2 feet to the right of us. It turned out this was Milano and we’d been trying some left variation. Oops.

Day 3
The weather had really begun to turn by now. It was REALLY snowy and EVERYTHING was clearly soaked but Clare refused to be beaten and revelled in a day of climbing small sections of boulder problems while everyone else became hypothermic. It wasn’t fun Clare. Afterwards we all, except Clare, agreed it was by far the most miserable day bouldering ever.

Day 4
The Weather was worse still so we headed back to Techos where virtually nothing was dry except Milano. Me and Mike both did it and Sam practically flashed it doing second go. Basically for the 7b+ you do about 2 5c moves to a pretty gnarly slap. Our left hand version was like doing 4 6b or c moves into a harder slap for the jug. Me and Mike both got it and although it’s not in the guide we figured it must be 7c by comparison to the other blocs we did.
Day 5 and 6
It was sooo wet that we even managed to persuade Clare to have a rest day. Instead we sat home and disagreed over politics, religion and abortion... actually we did this everyday and perhaps unsurprisingly the group split the same way on all of these topics.
The next day was no better but being our last day we headed out anyway but we barely climbed anything before giving up and coming home. We were all a bit depressed but Mike took it worst. When Clare and I left for the pub at about midday Mike was already in bed and had demolished a 300g bar of chocolate, a family sized bag of crisps, several beers and was reading comic books (although he gave up as Joe Sacco had made him so disillusioned with life and he just went to sleep). Next time you see Mike don’t expect the Adonis you once knew... it was pretty disgusting.
The rain it raineth on the just,
And also on the unjust fella.
But chiefly on the just, because,
The unjust hath the just’s umbrella.
Lord Justice Bowen