As I mentioned in my last post; the real red-point. I got very close on Fabelita on new years eve, falling basically fresh at the endurance crux, just slightly missing a hold..
Then January arrived and despite my efforts I felt worse on the route. Obsessed with the project and unable to really focus on anything else the month then just seemed to pass me by.
There were however a precious few days of respite, days where I for one reason or another got away from the cave and managed to at least partly enjoy myself climbing on something different.
The first of these came with my friends and team mates Ole Karsten and Olav coming down for a weekend trip from Sogndal (Norway) psyched on seeing the awesome cliffs of Terradets and Margalef.
Having thought Fabelita would be in the bag long before they arrived, I had casually volunteered to act as a guide showing them around.
Initially leaving the cave when conditions seemed good felt every kind of wrong, but inspired by the older guys youthful enthusiasm, I found myself enjoying a bit of a break.
Terradets turned into a pretty good day, including a surprise send of Trecking (8a+) in the sun, before a rushed return to the cave and a decent attempt on Fabelita just at the last light was fading.
"The classic wall of Bruixes in Terradets, here in a photo slightly fucked by blogger..."
"Olav on perhaps the best route on the wall, Energia Positiva, 35m, 7c+"
"Olav nearing his highpoint on Energia, again photo for some reason a bit fucked by blogger..."
"Olav testing the final heartbreaker moves of Energia, Ole Karstens highpoint"
After the day in Terradets bad weather struck and we once again found us returning to the cave.
Conditions were however far from prime so both Magnus and I spent the day training on routes we had done before instead of getting shut down on the projects.
"Roger observing how a tufa that was dry earlier in the day now seem to be leading a small waterfall, Olav and Ole Karsten climbing on a bouldery 7b+ in the background"
Bad weather, often a source of much frustration, has at least for the photographer in me it´s brighter sides. When the rain finally stops these beautiful light conditions sometimes appear, natural phenomenons better described through the camera then with words.
"The rainbow graces the cave with it´s presence, a sight I´v´not seen before in my 4 season here"
"The rainclouds dissipating in the surreal light of the setting sun"
"The humidity on the ground rising up to form the fog "la niebla" over the Santa Linya village in the foreground and Avellanes in the background. 30-ish sec exposure at around 3 in the morning."
Despite the heavy rain of the previous day, Ole Karsten and Olav were psyched to go climbing. With basically everything wet, we got in the car and drove down to Margalef, about 1,5 hour with me or Magnus behind the wheel, but more like 2 hours++ with Ole Karsten driving like an old lady.
Once there, we found the valley soaked, so like everybody else we ended up at Espadelles. Magnus rapidly onsighted the few dry routes we could find, a brand new 7c+ with no chalk and holds breaking left and right, and a super cool 8a that I should have done, but didn´t, falling several times at the last hard move trying to find a small blind pocket.
Ole Karsten and Olav also managed to find a piece of almost dry rock, Olav getting very close and Ole Karsten sending.
"Olav on the first boulder crux on a classic short semi dry 7b+"
"Ole Karsten, having stuck the move, manages to go all the way"
Ole Karsten and Olav then returned to their grown up jobs in Norway, leaving Magnus, Roger and me once again alone in the house.
With the cave now dripping wet, Neanderthal was as it usually is when Magnus is here, more or less impossible, so we got back in the car and headed up to Oliana for a day.
In Oliana I had a surprisingly good day, on-sighting both a tricky bouldery 7c and a technical endurance 7c+, in addition to playing around a bit on Marroncita (8b).
Roger had a great warm-up flash attempt on the first 7a+ part of Marroncita, but as the day went on seemed to get more and more tired, getting to the same place, but unable to go the last two meters to the anchor.
Magnus, continuing his string of bad luck, warmed up on-sighting a new 8a+ and then struck out. First by falling off the on-sight on Gorilas en la niebla (8b+) some 40+ meters up on the upper slab. With all the hard climbing more or less behind him, he found himself out of quickdraws in a maze of similar looking tufa blobs where the rain had washed away all the chalk.
Frustrated he then got on China Crisis (8b+), but after a good fight struck out again on the last move of the crux mid section.
"Magnus on his on-sight attempt on Gorilas en la niebla 8b+"
"Magnus 40-ish meters up on the final slab of Gorilas en la niebla 8b+"
Now based on these pictures and short stories it might seem as we got around and climbed a lot, but the truth is that this was 3 days in a month, the rest being spent getting shut down on the projects in the cave..
"Roger setting up for the crux on his project Arqueologico (7c) in the cave"
"While Roger chills in a knee-bar, I contemplate changing my barely 2 month old Sportivas.."
"Having gotten through the hard lower section of Arqueologico for the first time, Roger, having recovered as much as possible in the knee-bar, is faced with the final steep 7a section to the anchor"
Despite wet holds Magnus kept trying Neanderthal, 95% of the time getting up to the dyno just to slip and slide and fail to stick the move.
Like last spring it turned into a sort of routine, one go in the evening, slippery and wet holds, falling at the dyno, going down or pulling back up and easily linking the section.
"After having pulled back up Magnus sticks the dyno every time, here on on a rare in the sun attempt before the rain came."
"The normal conditions on Neanderthal, black tufa equals wet tufa, here from last spring"
At some point the collective then gained a few members again when my polish friend Matheusz and his friend Wojciech moved in for a few days.
"Primo and Gonzalo, living in their cars down at the parking, joining us one evening. Almost a party, just missing the girls.. From left to right: Roger, Magnus, Primo, Gonzalo, Matheusz, Wojciech"
And just like that, january was gone. Except for what I´v written above, a vague memory I barely recall.
Luckily february was coming up, a month I´v always felt better. But since this was about january, february will have to wait for the next post :)