Friday, 4 May 2012

Amazing Albarracin by Jen Wilby

Amazing Albarracin

From the rising rivers of Rodellar we retreated to the fantastic forest of Albarracin. Upon arrival we entered the "New Town". Dissapointment crept up, "is this it?" I thought. I'd expected more from what I had read. After a few minutes we reached the "old town". It seems I had jumped the gun; Albarracin is amazing:

Albarracin is a small town located south west in the province of Teruel within the Aragon region. It is a maze of back streets and wonky houses surrounded by an impressive wall:

Located within this maze is everything you need; banks, butchers, campsites, resteraunts and bars. Even a boulder shop! (Beware of inconsistent opening hours, especially when the owner gets caught up playing in the forest :))
Our first day was spent getting lost in the maze, drinking cervezas and enjoying street life.

Approx 5km from the town is the protected area of "Los Pinares de Rodeno" located an extensive pine grove mixed with curious red sandstone formations. This protected landscape became more relevant since the discovery of important archelogical sites, namely the first Levantin art caves in the Iberic Peninsula:

It is within this protected landscape that we find the spectacular boulders of Albarracin, also known as the "Red Gold". This red gold provides a wealth of variety for everyone; roofs, technical slabs, slopers, crimpers and traverses at all levels and blocs as far as the eye can see - magical.

Our first stop was Arrastradero which has the largest number of opened problems. On the way, filled with excitement the fact that we had been tied to a rope for the last 4 months appeared to escape our excited brains. We spotted a warm up bloc, unpacked the dusty boulder buckets, squeaked the shoes and basked in the freedom of no ropes or draws - bouldering felt amazing.

Confusion was the feeling that soon consumed us. After moving onto some harder blocs, bouldering suddenly felt very very hard. Then we remembered we had not done it for 4 months - oops - back to square one.

Arrastradero has some amazing blocs. Some of my recommendations are:
Spider Pig 6C (To be done also for the name!)
El Minuvarano 6A
El Desperation 6B
El Desano 6C
El Elejecutor 7A
Karma 6C

 Spider Pig
 Ending of Spider Pig
 Eyeing up the hold on Karma

One of my favourites so far is Rammstein @ 7B. An overhanging crimpy wall. It took me a while to be able to pull my butt off the floor, with lots of declerations of admitting defeat. However my stubborness won with the problem being ascended pretty quickly once I got that butt off the floor:
 Starting moves of Rammstein
 Crux was being able to hold the swing
 Heading up to the final moves before the jump
 Eyeing up the jump

 Catching the jump before topping out

After the struggles of the first day, what better idea could we have had than to go to Techos - the sector with the largest number of roofs, with the comment in the guidebook being "This sector is enjoyed by climbers looking for maximum difficulty". Not once did it dawn on us that maybe we should have left this sector until we had at least got into the bouldering more and got some bicep action. So off we went to Techos!

This sector does have some amazing roofs with huge Heucos. So if your after some roof action this is the place to come. Being a very poor roof climber myself, the most striking line for me was Brainstorm 7A. A very technical curved wall which can be truely frustrating until it is done:
 With a comment of "Need Biceps" in the notes section of the guidebook, we do plan to come back to tackle some of the roofs.

A great little sector for a circuit is Caberizo. It has loads of problems in the 6A to 7B range and is an awesome place to drag your mat around and climb some rocks .

As I haven't been back to England in a while, my parents decided they missed me so much that they would come and visit me here in Albarracin. So we did the usual sight seeing one would do in such a beautiful town. It is here we discovered the wonderful Spanish invention of Menu Del Dia! A full 3 courses for 10 - 12 euros. AMAZING! With a diet of pasta and rice for the last 4 months we endulged in vino and food. (Not going to help with the roofs!). It is on one of these menu del dia evenings that we spotted one of the local bars filled with people dressed as Seniors and Senoritas - it seems they were having a party. "Well its a local custom" we thought - we simply had to join in.

If you ever see me in a bar, in Spain, talking Spanglish to the locals whilst drinking copious amounts of Wiskey - STOP ME!!! Declaring to my parents that we were not leaving this party, we waved them off back to the appartment. What I failed to realise that it was already 3am...
At 6am we crashed into bed and slept for a whole 3 hours! We needed to see the parents off as they were leaving. What followed was 2 days of nothingness!!!With the local folk smiling away at us / giving us odd looks whilst aimlesly walking around the town in a coma. I'm positive no one else was drinking and I'm never doing it again, I don't care how good the fiesta looks!

The weather in Albarracin is unpredictable. In one day we have had sun, snow, rain sleet and hail and then back to sun. Which makes this an almost all year round climbing destination. If the weather does set in you can always head to the Dinasour Museum - I'm still a child at heart!!!

One of the most amazing sectors in this magical place is Terra Media "Middle Earth". It is furthest from the parking area with little traffic and course sandstone, which comes with a warning of fresh skin required. It is a tranquil place with a variety of climbing, but very very crimpy in places:
 In comparison to this sector is Parking. It is as you may have guessed the closest to the parking area. I had imagined that this sector would be over used and polished. Once again Albarracin has amazed me. Sector Parking is not polished and has some quality lines:
 Start of a very powerful 6C
 Crux move of 6c

I could continue to talk about how amazing this place is, how magical the forest is, however you and I would both be here for some time. I hope I have given you an insight of how magical this place is and put it on your list.

I usually end my blog with news of moving onto somewhere new due to uncontrolable reasons. However Albarracin is that amazing - we're staying for a while longer. 

Happy Climbing - Jen

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