Catalunya. I'm back.
Feels a little more like home this time around. I know where the highways go, I know when the stores are open, I know a few more words than before. I really love this place. As I planned, and as I usually try to do, I hit the ground running here. After over 5 weeks of training and preparing I was ready to try hard.
Unfortunately the weather was less than desirable. When we first arrived the temperatures were still soaring into the mid 20's (C) and for a south facing cliff like Oliana, this is... no bueno. Sam Elias and I were too stoked though. Climbing in the sun, climbing with a headlamp, trying to make it work.
Sharma on another project... Joe Mama...
Sam was equally motivated and despite the heat we started making a little progress. Some nights it was still too hot even hours after the sun left the wall. Our skin got thrashed. We worked up a nice little November tan.
Our friends from Catalunya convinced us that this was 'the week before winter' essentially there is a week in mid November that is always oddly warm before the real winter sets in. We had a tough time believing after experiencing how laughably inaccurate the weather forecasting was here, but we hoped that it could be the truth.
It was true. Like magic, over the course of a few days winter literally settled in. Frost in the morning. The breeze turned cold and strong. Straight from too hot after dark to climbing with pants and shirts in the sun. Now our progress was rapid. I was trying 'Papichulo' 15a and Sam was trying the notoriously hard 'Joe Blau' 14c. We both one-hung our routes. I sent. Sam sent the next day. It was awesome.
At this point we were only 11 days or so into our multi-month trips. Both so satisfied that the training paid off and grateful for the opportunity ahead. That feeling of an 'open book' after you complete your goal and suddenly you can see and imagine the other lines on the wall. Walking up to the crag and wondering... 'What will I try today??' It's a very nice feeling. Naturally it was not long until we went full force into the next route.
Up until this point I had only climbed on Papichulo and the 5.12 warm ups. I was eager to start a new hard project, but also maybe it would be cool to mix things up a little? I onsighted an amazing crag classic with 'Marroncita' 13d, and then decided I was ready to invest myself again. Short break from repeat failure but that's why I came here!
Next I needed to say goodbye to Oliana and Catalunya for several days. I wandered over to visit an old friend of mine; the Verdon. This place is truly something magic. It's powerful, dramatic, intimidating and strikingly beautiful. Being here I feel a lot of things - inspired, afraid, humble. It was a long few days working on a video project (details to follow next year!) but it was worth it.
Back in Oliana I felt a little derailed from my main objective after 5 days of 'rest' and several of them uncomfortable and downright bone chilling. After the seven hour drive I met Sam who generously drove down to help me get a few pitches in and I flashed 'Los Humildes pa Casa' 14a, a lifelist route, a total surprise, and a memorable level of pump. I was... wow... pumped. And now after another day on my new objective I am feeling a little more grounded back in my mission here and stoked for the next month. Just the simple climbing life and trying hard until Christmas. I love it.... !!!