Wednesday, 22 February 2012

White out - Cave Paintings - Gaudi & some Climbing by Jen Wilby

Cave Climbing
El Cogul Cave Paintings

El Cogul Boulder Field

Snow at Rodellar

Rodellar Bouldering

That's the beauty of living in a van - our worldy possessions in one place - we can go anywhere and do anything. The last blog of the 2012 road trip described the beautiful place of Rodellar and the rare heat wave we encountered. A good friend was due to join us for a short trip and we were super psyched to show him the routes and people we met. That was until he brought the english weather with him! It got cold, too cold to climb. After a number of days chasing the sun and avoiding the icy wind, we came to accept that the heat wave was not coming back and route climbing with numb fingers and toes was just not fun. (Self Discovery #1 - I cannot climb when its too cold). Although we live in a van with just the basics, we embraced modern technology and discovered ( I was pessemistic of the possibility) that there was bouldering in Rodellar (Self Discovery #2: I am beginning to love the big brother internet world). The bouldering is tucked away further down the valley and thanks to the local climbers who had decended on to the blocs we had the beta and logisitics to return the next day. Psyched to be climbing again, we returned and started to make our way around the blocs. Conditions were good, cold, crisp with the smalled of snow flakes making their way down. A quick glance across the valley showed the village under thick cloud - we were lucky not to be doing routes. (Self discovery #3: I have no skills to read the weather). Within 30mins we had 2 inches of snow and visibility was nil. We were fully aware the van was parked down a hill, it was one mad dash to get the van up that hill and back to Valle De Rodellar. (Self discovery #4: I do turn to praying in times of need).

We managed to get back to the hotel, where local climbers were gathering, only they sensibly used skies as a mode of transport. We decided our luck had run out and it was time to leave, we said out sad farewells and departed.

The hardest thing about having the time and freedom is deciding what to do with it. It sounds odd I know. With 2 days before we needed to be in Barcelona to pick up the 3rd memeber of our crew, we decided to head to the boulder fields of El Cogul.

What a different world. El Cogul us south facing amongst the olive groves - its beautiful. Initially we were soaking up the sun, however El Cogul is sandstone (Self disco very #5 - I cannot climb when its too hot) (Self discovery #6 - I am a picky climber). Following the over hanging crags of limestone in Rodellar, hot sandstone bouldering made for an amusing few hours, declaring the grades in the guidebook incorrrect - of course the heat and ability had nothing to do with it :)

El Cogul is a world heritage site and has more than blocs, it has cave paintings and aincient arabic tombs which are worth a look. We decided to go in search of more culture and heading into Barcelona to see some gaudi pieces - recommended. People think we are roughing it, byt we do have some moments of luxury. (Self discovery #7, I prefer turkish spa's to saunas).

After the bright lights of the city, with our 3rd crew member on board, Santa Linya was calling. "Of all the cliffs covered in this guidebook, none represent modern hard climbing in Catalunya better than the cova gran of santa linya". The cova gran is what inspired this road trip. I love it. (Self discovery #8, jus because I love it doesnt mean I am good at it). I've already done a blog on Santa Linya (May 2011) so I wont bore you with details again. The cova gran for me still represents what I am not good at and a world of not just physical but mental challenges. Lets just say I had some ghosts to put to rest (self disscovery #9 I am stubborn). I've had so many mental blocks in the cave and losses of confidence in my 6 years of climbing. Reading the rock warriors was and expresso lessons to help - at the end of the day you just have to try hard. Following some sad news from home,I finally put my ghosts to rest and got my 2 projects.

Van life is working out well, its all about routine. The summer is coming with evidence of less ice in the van on a morning! Evenings have turned into movie nights with the current addiction being homeland.

Its time to move on from the cova gran, with some rest for me due to odd left arm pain. I'd like to put a massive thank you out to Gaz and Kate for the loan of their gas bottle!

"Finally of course, the whole point is to improve your climbing. "Campusing" is a powerful tool for improvement, but any gain made on the board will require a period of adaptation on the rock for you to see its full value. So go climbing, have fun and remember all it takes to suceed is a mediocum of talent and a lot of dedication".

Dedicated to Kathleen Bartle 1941 - 2012.

Happy Climbing.

Photos to come once I get better internet access.

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