Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Se miapaga la baldufa

I don’t know why 7a is such a magic number for me, but it is. I guess 7 is a magic number for many reasons which is why it strikes a chord. Se miapaga la baldufa is a short 7a on Siurana’s Valley Crags. Having gone bolt-to-bolt up it on Sunday, I wasn’t sure I was brave enough to redpoint it properly. Dave has been telling me I just need to fall off more, so falling off this one, albeit not very far, was definitely progress and much less scary than I thought it would be. I tried a toprope ascent too, but that was difficult – it’s much more overhanging than I thought. Lowering off, I found myself about 10 feet from the bottom of the wall. So leading it was the only way forward…

The route takes a line up a corner for the first two bolts, steps right around an arête to the third bolt, and then heads up a wall on a series of small (and far apart) ledges to a big overhanging flake. There is a (very welcome) bolt in the middle of this block, and a huge pocket to pull off above it. From here, there is a strong move for an undercut pinch, a high left foot over the lip and a long cross-through reach left for another jug next to the sixth bolt. More long moves on good holds lead up to the penultimate bolt, and from here is another reach out left for a small crimp which gives a tenuous pull into the final flake on the right, at the top of which are the chains. All in all, a lovely route, but quite powerful for me, and with some holds that are a bit too big for my pixie-sized hands to grasp comfortably. Since it is a lovely route it is also fairly polished….almost as polished as Orpierre!

After two attempts on Sunday my fingers were sore. The holds are all chalky and polished but have some quite sharp knobbly bits on it. I’d also climbed two 5+ routes and two 6b routes, but was quite psyched for the 7a. I’d done all the moves in order to put the rope up, so the route was at least possible for me. It was just a question of how many attempts it would take.

On Monday I was keen to have another shot. Dave put the clips in as a warm up and showed me how to get a good hands-off rest on the overhanging flake with a knee bar. I’d never done a knee bar before and it took a while to get used to the feeling. For those who don’t know what a knee bar is (I didn’t until pretty recently!), it’s a matter of jamming your bent leg into a space between the rock and then trying to straighten your leg so that the pressure on your foot and the top of your knee holds your leg in place. From this you can then use your body tension and leg muscles to hold yourself in, while taking your arms off and giving them a good rest. The idea is that your legs are much stronger than your arms and that your arms can always use a rest! I had no idea how much pressure I needed to put on my leg to hold myself up, so it took a couple of shots to get the hang of it. What a fantastic move! I have a corker of a bruise on my left leg, but I am sure that the rest allowed me to finish the route.

Keith at the crux, missing out the knee bar

The first redpoint got me to the knee bar in one go, which was much better than the day before. The second redpoint got me as far as the last bolt, and then I couldn’t find my feet high enough to reach the crimp out left. The frustration of getting so far and falling at the last hurdle was unbearable. Yesterday was quite chilly and Caroline must have the patience of a saint to keep belaying in the cold. Third time lucky, and the route was mine. It was a bit of a fight at the top, but I was very relieved to clip the belay.

I don’t have any pictures of me on the route (since Caroline was belaying rather than shooting camera; I’m pleased she wasn’t trying to do both!) so I was going to put some up of Keith instead but the internet connection here is so flaky it won´t let me upload any pictures. As with so many things in Spain, it sort of works and sort of doesn´t....ho hum.

So what’s next? I don’t know where to start….

3 comments:

Ian said...

Sounds like our back into the swing (as it were) of climbing, after a short hiatus of not....

... and that you are enjoying it tremendously....

Anonymous said...

At Margalef next to the left of the big roof is a 6b flowstone route which is the best 6b ive ever done but to the left again is a 7a up a groove which i would recommend as it is a bouldery start then cruising pockets and pebbles to the top.

alpinedreamer said...

A return trip to Margalef is definitely on the agenda. I´ve been told about this route by others so it´s on my tick list. We just have to hope they finish the road works here quickly otherwise it will be an alpine start for a day trip there. The road is closed from 8am-1pm and 3-6pm. Ho hum...