Thursday, 15 March 2012

Heat Wave in Siurana, mystery of Margalef by Jen Wilby

In my last blog, I spoke about Santa Linya, about how physical the climbing is and about how much I love it but struggle with getting constantly shut down by it. Siurana couldnt be more different, vert dirt = vertical rock on small holds! I have to admit I was quite excited at the prospect and thought Siurana would be the place to push my grade. Heat wave struck - with hot climbing shoes and swollen feet - Siurana was not to go as expected. Rather than bore you with the details of unfinished routes due to heat provoked laziness and make you jealous with how good my tan is getting, I'll talk a little bit about Siurana itself - should you wish to visit.

Siurana is split into two main climbing sections, the village and the valley crags. If you stay in the campsite just before the village you can walk to all of the village crags. The first sector you arrive at is Can Melafots, which has some good warm ups with the most striking lines being on the right hand side, such as Hostia and Pizza De Pinya. Worth the walk though is Sector Campi Qui Pugui, which is a striking orange and grey wall.

For me, the best crags were the valley crags which are a little further down from the village. Wild camping options are available if you have a van. The first valley crag is Sector Sepero Primavera, which has some really cool longer lines. Also worth a visit is El Pati - which again as some longer lines such as Viagraman.

Further along you have L'Ollya which has some amazing short, steep lines! Including the striking Bistec De Biceps and Pota D'Elefant. Robbie Phillips is currently out in Siuranam last seen trying his project at L'Olla - check out his blog to find out how he's getting on.

Siurana village itself is beautiful - make sure you walk to the end of the pinnacle to get a fantastic view of the valley. We didn't find any shops in Siurana, but it has a number of bars and resteraunts including the Refigio which is built into the rock. The nearest place for supplies is Cornudella, which also has a climbing shop, but I would recommend a big shop in Reus or Lleida before your visit.

We didnt spend long in Siurana, so we decided to head to Margalef. We heard a lot of negative reviews about Margalef so we were quite sceptical of what we would find - all about pocket pulling! I dont know anyone who has been to Margalef and I dont know why - its an amazing place with a phenominal amount of rock!!! You can be decieved - the rockfax giudebook suggests there isnt much here but the local guidebook which is available at the new refugio depicts how much is here. Its developed by the local climber here and he uses the funds to bolt new lines, he also updates it when new lines have been done - which is awesome. There is currently a new guidebook being developed - I'd recommend getting out before it gets crowded!

The first section we went to is Zona Del Panta which is accessed before the village of Margalef and has 40 crags with more unexplored rock than the eye can see!!! There is also a "free" camping area which has stone built BBQ's and running water and if your lucky you'll meet some amazing spanish folk who provide food and vino and toast to "sex, booze & rock n roll". From here you can walk to all of the crags in this zone, including El Labatori which hosts th famous first round first minute. This crag is short, steep and hard - a good work out. If you fancy some longer routes, head up to Raco De Les Espadelles. This is an amazingly long crag with a huge mixture of grades and styles - Margalef is pocked filled but its not dull!!

The 2nd sector is Zona Ermita Sant Salvador, which is just to the side of Margalef village. This has another 10 crags = amazing! One of the largest being Raco De La Finestra. This crag has a mixture of orange and grey limestone and is worth a visit. We were lucky enough to catch big up productions filming Sharma on his latest project - very inspiring!

The thing about Spain is - Siestas exist - they are real. Margalef has a few cafes and resteraunts and one small shop - open 6pm - 8pm - yup for 2 hours only! Don't expect anything before 6pm in Spain!

What I want to share with you now are goals, how to use them and how to over come seemingly impossible things. I've had a lot of time to think during this trip and to explore how I send my projects - what works and what doesnt.
When I pick a route I want to do, it has to be visually appealing. It has to be a clear line with some stand out features. Its important that I love the look of it (goodness knows how long I am going to be spending staring at it!!). I spend some time looking at the route from the ground, can I spot potentially hard moves/rests/specific features? Then I split the route up in my head, it might be a boulder problem to start, then a rest etc. Rather than looking at the chains as being the goal, I use the sections as my goals "If I can get to that rest I have a good chance of doing the next section" etc.

Then you have to commit and move. Sometimes things work out well, if not, now is your chance to improve and learn. Use your time on the wall to gather your beta and split your route up into the sections / short goals. If you've come off at the first bolt - dont dispare - you have so much room for improvement"

If you are struggling at a certain point, sometimes what works for me is to walk away from the route for a day, visualise where I was stuck and if there was anything I was missing. Banging your head against a brick wall can block your imagination from being able to figure out the moves.

Return to your route, rested and fresh - if you have your beta go for it - keep trying! If you don't complete the route, but have made progress - use it as a positive and keep working at it until it goes - it will go.
Having a positive attitude make a significant different and allows you to unlock what at first seems impossible! If anyone has any other methods - I'd be keen to try them!

The weather has warmed up here - and with the free camping, van life has been sweet - safe to say I am not missing UK life yet. With tendons screaming, its time for us to move on in search of some physical climbing.

Happy Climbing!

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