Tuesday, 26 May 2015

It's been a while since I wrote an update, mainly because there's not been all that much climbing going on. For personal reasons, going back to Rodellar didn't work out, and feeling mentally and physically exhausted I decided to head for the beach. I ended up in a lovely little spot called Segur de Calafell, near Tarragona.

Despite being more than warm enough to swim and sunbathe, there were few tourists around - most of the apartments were shuttered up and I was able to just park the van by the beach for about 10 days with nobody bothering me. With nothing to do but yoga, guitar and chilling on the beach, had I been in a better state of mind it would have been absolute heaven. As it was it was a great opportunity to recharge and reflect on the last few months, and some of the old behaviour patterns that I'd fallen back into.

It was also a great place to be inspired to get fit again - with people constantly biking, jogging and roller blading along the sea-front, and making use of the free outdoor gym. I strapped on the GPS watch, and discovered to my surprise that I'm still capable of running quite quickly. I guess the weight loss of the last couple of years helped plug the gap created by lack of fitness. If I stay at this light, it will be interesting to see where I can get to with a bit of CV training.

After Calafell, I went back over to Siurana. I bumped into Charlie and Gillie, and had a really nice day climbing with them, but back at their pad in the evening I started to feel quite anxious again - not really dealing well with being in company, so I jumped in the van and headed back up to the car park behind the goat farm where this whole trip began.

There was a really nice bunch of people staying there, and as the week wore on, I started to crawl back out of my shell. I wish I'd spent more time getting to know them. They all left for Margalef, but I hung around as Mike Reed was on his way back over from Kalymnos. It was good to see him again - we get on well and I find it easy to relax in his company and talk about the shit that's bothering me.

Next stop was Barcelona, to catch up with old friends Monica and Marco, and meet the new (to me at least, it's been a while) addition to their family. It was great to see them and get a look around the city.

After that I went back to the beach for some more me time, but the tourists were starting to arrive and the resort felt a bit less secure - one afternoon I was sat with the curtains drawn when somebody came by casing the camper. I guess it's one of the drawbacks of van life, your gear is never safe so you need to steer clear of nice spots that attract thieves.

I'd been thinking about St Leger for a while, so when I found out some more old friends were heading there for the weekend I decided to make the long drive up the Route National. It was a liberating feeling being on the road proper again, and arriving at the car park for La Baleine sector I found a lovely little camping spot. It was good to climb with Vlad and Aurelia again, and after they left I met up with a really nice French/Quebec couple, looking for a third to make it easy to look after their kid.

It was all seeming to click back into place - mentally I was feeling better and on the rock I was beginning to feel strong again. On my first attempt at La Chant Des Baleines (7c+) I'd figured out all the moves, so I got back on it a couple of days later feeling like it could be a quick tick. Nic offered to put the draws up for me so I could have a good go at the first redpoint, narrowly missing out on the onsight himself in a really good effort.

I made it through what's probably the crux for most people, but slipped off a tricky intermediate sloper on a slightly morphological move just after. I was pretty boxed, so even if I'd stuck it the chances of recovering enough for the send would have been pretty slim, but to even be thinking along those lines felt great.

After resting on the rope and carefully checking out the middle third of the climb, I made a mistake whilst trying to link the top section. After skipping a clip, and with the mists of oxygen deprevation descending, I forgot my footwork on the final hard move - stepping across and behind the rope instead of the drop knee I'd worked out before. I reached the next hold, but couldn't unwrap my feet and came off. Facing the prospect of a long inverted fall, I instinctively threw an arm round the dead side of the rope as I passed it; I succeeded in keeping myself upright but at the cost of a fair bit of skin, and as I was later to find out some muscle damage underneath.

I've spent the week since week pottering around Mont Ventoux resting, and although the arm is now back up to general duties I suspect it'll be a while before I'm able to climb hard sport routes again, so I'm thinking on heading up to Chamonix. Anyone fancy bagging a few 4000m peaks?

The beach front at Segur de Calafell
Looks like even the Face Man is a fan of the resort...
Katerina on the crux of Ruaxa (7a+)... Siurana has some magnificent crack climbing.
Physio in the evening sunshine.
Aurelia on a three star and hard 7b+ (name escapes me) at La Baleine
Vlad starting out on the super steep Malaxe (8a+)
It keeps going....

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