Saturday, 16 May 2009

Time to back off?

I love Siurana. There isn't much to do there but climb, but that doesn't matter. It feels comfortable and familiar now. I hope to go back, sooner rather than later, too, but for now I'm left wondering whether it's time to give climbing a break for a while. I've been to the wall only a couple of times since we came back, but haven't felt inspired to even try. I'm wondering what's wrong with me, wondering why something I have had such boundless enthusiasm for is now almost doing nothing for me. In the same millisecond, I think about how not climbing will leave me with no strength, back on the bottom rung of the ladder, out of the gang. I remember the frustration that causes, and how soul-destroying it is to be relegated to the second XI when all your mates are still in the first XI. Climbing at North Berwick a couple of weeks ago was fun, despite the post-wedding fatigue. Our trip to Helpburn last weekend was also fun, despite the coffee-shakes I had. I realised then that already I am out of practice. Tenacity seemed to take over, replacing all traces of technique and strength with lots of wild flailing and slapping. Training indoors just isn't happening. At all.

I keep thinking of those sunny days we had in Font on September 2007, and the routes we cruised in Orpierre and Siurana, even the warmth of Northumberland the other weekend, and I wonder whether it's about the weather. Maybe I'm just not into sports climbing for now? Maybe I just want to climb outside and the incentive to train indoors has gone? Maybe a trip to Font would sort me out? Then I wonder whether there's something else wrong that I haven't managed to identify yet? Do I need to change jobs? (yes) Do I need to move house? (no) Would retail therapy help?(no) Should I get my hair cut?(ummm) Do I need a holiday?(always, but who doesn't). Other Things seem to be taking over so much time at the moment, maybe I just don't have the energy to climb right now? So many ridiculous possibilities. I never ever thought I would be bored with climbing, never. Could I be? I don't want to be....

Is this normal?

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Soggy Siurana

Having just returned early from a wet and disappointing trip to Siurana, I am struggling to maintain any enthusiasm for rock, plastic or pulling hard.

Our first day in Siurana was beautiful and we were pretty excited to be back in such an inspiring place. I had my eye on Mandragora at Sector Espero Primavera, a long striking orange streak visible from the road. I'd had a bolt-to-bolt effort on it in November and managed all the moves at least, albeit feeling a little lacking in strength. But for our first day back on the limestone we stuck with easier stuff.

Lucy Creamer on Kalea Borokka (8b+), El Pati

The following day required a trip to the supermarket (we were pretty hungry, having arrived late Saturday night and everything in Spain being closed on Sundays), so we only managed a couple of routes later in the afternoon. Then the heavens opened. Tuesday was torrential rain; Scottish rain. We'd inadvertently brought the damned stuff with us. We walked around the reservoir, got soaking wet, skimmed stones, took pictures of various bits of vegetation. Siurana has never looked so green, or so soggy. Over the next few days the reservoir filled up; rivers appeared where no rivers have been before; amorphous piles of rocks and earth slid onto the road; routes were put through the car wash.

Can Melafots in the damp mist. This quickly turned into Can Megaflops for us.

We entertained ourselves bouldering under the very narrow overhang at Can Melafots, inventing eliminates for feet, and eventually taking up Dave's idea of ledge crawling, also known as the Belly Traverse. Yes, we were frustrated, not to mention cold and damp.

Dave doing the horizontal version of the traverse

Diff bouldering under the mini-roof

We had a beautiful sunny day at Margalef, confined to the road-side of the river, because the river had suddenly appeared with a vengeance, asserting it's right to roam in no uncertain terms. The 7a tufa route over the road I tried in November was running with water; driving the car underneath it was like driving through a car wash. I held out little hope for it drying within the week.

Then it started to rain again. To cut a long story short, between rain showers, we searched for dry routes between the wet patches, and ate a lot of pancakes. Brief trips to Mussara TV, El Falco, Arboli and Margalef gained us about 20 routes over the 10 days.

Roof-tastic at Mussara TV


Wet pebbles on the riverbank

As the weekend neared, Kev decided he was heading home a week early along with Diff and Andrea. On Friday, Dave and Mike decided they too would head back, both happy to sit out the rain, and Dave even working 8c in a downpour (reason no.1 to climb hard - steep overhangs are more likely to stay dry!), but both also having other things to pull them homewards. With half our party disappearing, my psyche to climb plummeted. I resigned myself to just trying to keep my leading head together, aiming for mileage rather than meeting goals and hoping to spend some dry time outside. Eventually, Caroline and I also decided to bail early and switched our flights to the following Tuesday, leaving 4 days earlier than planned.

Mussara TV... with wet streaks

Hiding from the rain at Sector L'Olla

One last thing. What on earth persuaded anyone that it was a good idea to have "Pure Dead Brilliant" written everywhere at and about Prestwick Airport?? There's nothing pure about an airport; dead certainly isn't a word I would want to associate with an airport; and Prestwick sure is not brilliant. It's a phrase which doesn't translate south of the Border, let alone into Spanish, German, American, Swedish, Hungarian, Swahili or any other language! It means nothing to the people who pass through the place, and even those who do "get it" are wondering why the hell it was used as a slogan for an airport. Maybe there is something to be said for a BAA monopoly after all......