Feliz Navidad and Happy New Years (don’t know how to say it in Spanish)!
After the last competition I decided to take a break from climbing. It was only supposed to last a couple of weeks, but turned out to be more like a month. I was not motivated to climb in the gym. And I had to do some work before my annual escape to Spain. I did a slideshow and some lectures in Sweden, and 10 days of route setting in Bergen.
But now I’m here reunited with my project, which brings back a lot of memories and the mixed feelings that comes with them – First and foremost frustration and disappointment. Having rested for such a long time prior to this trip didn’t exactly make it easier to get back on it. But I knew I had to go through it the first day, just to see how it would feel. Surprisingly enough the sequences felt easy, though my endurance was just as bad as I had anticipated. So I got on easier routes for a couple of days, in hopes of building more endurance. Yesterday I got on Neanderthal again, this time trying to link as much as possible. I got through the whole first section and fell one move before the crux. Pumped out of my mind, dizzy and nauseous. But the psyche is high and I don’t think it will take long for my endurance to be back to where it was. Motivation is higher than ever before!
Not much has changed in Santa Linya. Though the house has gotten some upgrades. New TV and sofa.
Playing poker for the dishes. The looser obviously has to do them. The winner gets a free pass the next day as well. The photo is from the only time I actually won, though I have not had to do the dishes so far. My game plan has been to play safe until one has lost, then take more chances.
The dishes I’m working so hard to avoid.
This fall I went to Bohuslan, Sweden for one day of trad climbing. Last time I trad climbed was in England a couple of years ago. Forgot how much fun it can be. Scared myself a on a poorly secured 7a+ Onsight, as well as some other routes. Of course without rappelling down looking at the holds from above or anything like that. Very pure form of climbing. See for yourself!
Before I left to central-Europe where I’m currently stationed, I got to spend a couple of days in Flatanger with my sister and her boyfriend, Kenneth. Though it was short, it was sure worth the it. Being able to briefly take my mind off plastic training felt like a smart move.
I did not try anything very hard. My goal was to be able to finish what I got on in the short amount of time I had. First I got on Eye of Odin 8c+, which I had tried last year. Beautiful route consisting of four very different types of climbing. First there is a steep powerful part, followed by a more technical traverse to the right, into a powerful undercling part where the eye is and a last awkward part getting into the last crack which you layback all the way to the top.
After sending Eye of Odin I went through Muy Verdes, also 8c+. The draws on the route would not open after having spent the winter in the harsh remote area. So I put up my own draws, so that everything was ready for the next day.
The evenings were spent fishing to 4am (midnight sun), drinking whiskey and whine and eating steak. Clumsy me managed to splash fat all over my left forearm that one day I was helping out with cooking. Never doing that again! Beside that we watched Ted, a movie I had already watched, but was just as hilarious the second time.
Fun days are often tiering days though, and I did not feel like a happy camper on the last day. On Muy Verdes I needed quite a few tries to stick the big move down low by the 3rd draw going up to the crimp. Though once I stuck that I managed to pull it together all the way through.
Explanation: If you hear me saying freestyle, I mean finding new beta as I’m sending. I found one new kneebar on each route as I was sending. Helped me a lot, especially on Eye of Odin!
All in all, a great trip!
Now I’m in Innsbruck, where I have climbed plastic with Jakob and Mario. Tomorrow I will do my last session before the European Championship in Chamonix. After that all I can do is rest and hope I have done enough to be as good or better than last year. The first comps of the season always bring out more nerves. I have been feeling strong lately, hopefully my head will cooperate so that I can get a good start.
On the last day of my one and a half month long trip to Spain, I decided to leave the Neanderthal project for some on-sighting in Rodellar.
Rodellar is a place I have spent a lot of time in over the years. Usually it offers cooler temperatures than other climbing crags in the area, due to the altitude. The sector Piscineta is one of the newest sectors in Rodellar, yet in my opinion the best one. I had been there only once before. Back then I took the one hour long trail over the mountain, this time we wanted to try going up the river with a little inflatable boat we bought at a supermarket.
I didn’t know when the sun would hit Piscineta, but I knew it was a morning crag, the sun would hit sometime during the day, so time was of the essence. We got up relatively early for what we thought would be a 1,5 hour drive from Santa Linya, but roughly 5 kilometers before Rodellar we had to wait an hour due to roadwork on the narrow mountain road. Not a good start. Getting up the river proved to be a cold affair. After 10 minutes on a trail alongside the river, it suddenly stopped. There were 20-meter cliffs on both sides of the river and we could not see the end of it. The little rubber boat could only hold one person and our bags, and the rest of us would have to swim, for how long we did not know. As I was the one to suggest Piscineta, I felt it was my responsibility to swim first. It proved to be only 200 hundred meters, but felt like ages. I had to grab on to some holds I could find on the way just to catch my breath and get my body above water for a few seconds. The fact that we swam against the stream made it even worse.
After getting to the other side, I could only wait for the boat to come with my warm clothes, hoping that this was it, and that there would be no more swimming. Luckily there wasn’t, but on several occasions we had to walk up the river with water above our waists. When we finally reached the 55 meter long cliff of Piscineta two hours later I was both freezing and sunburned at the same time. We sat around for almost an hour to dry our clothes and gain energy to climb. Surprisingly enough my body actually felt pretty energized and awake after the cold swim. I started warming up by onsighting the first pitch of Black Pearl 8a+. Things felt good, despite the epic journey we had getting there.
As usual I went there without any plan but as I was feeling strong and psyched I wanted to give something really hard a good insight burn. My eye was set on Cosi fan tutte. In my opinion the best line on the wall; 55 meters of overhanging climbing.
The first part of it is 8a+, which I managed to climb without any difficulties. I got through a wet part of it without hesitation. The first part was followed by some easy climbing before I got up to what I thought was the physical crux; a section of some small, but positive holds. Again I didn’t hesitate. I got through the part, by looking at it, choosing a sequence and sticking to it. I started getting pretty pumped, but got it back on some jugs higher up. I was now on the very top of the route, all that remained was getting around the lip and a few meters of slab. I stalled as I couldn’t see any obvious holds. From a good undercut, where I could rest, I grabbed a two-finger pocket and reached as high as I could in hopes on finding something to pull on. Many times I retreated to the undercut. The sun was shining directly on the slab and in my eyes, making it even harder to see where I was supposed to go. After repeating the process of searching for holds and resting I knew I had to do something before getting too tired to have any chance. So I grabbed the pocket, reached as far as I could. I only got two fingers on a sloppy edge, and thought I was going to fall. I then bumped to get my remaining fingers on the hold, before I jumped to a dice looking hold. My feet cut, and I desperately got them above the lip. I grabbed some sloppy crimpers without any chalk. Then reached out to the top hold, thinking I could fall at any moment. Not until I had clipped the chain I was safe.
It was truely satisfying to for once win a desperate on-sight battle!
While waiting for Neanderthal to dry up I did another hard route in the cave. Ciudad de Dios 9a/+. It was captured by Henning Wang, who agreed to release the footage as a teaser for his film project; The Santa Linya collective.
Time is passing by quicker than ever before. I feel like I have fallen into a routine. Two days of climbing one day off, with an occasional double restday. I try to climb on Neanderthal as much as possible. Though it looks like the route is not yet ready to be climbed. The weather keeps preventing me, testing my patience over and over again. I’m not exactly known for my patience, though I haven’t had a single day of restlessness. That is most likely because my stubborn side has taken over. I have come to ease with this lifestyle and pattern of days being very alike, yet interesting in their own way. I will do everything I can to do this route before the season here is over. If that doesn’t happen I will come back next year. Though I really hope to get this done now that I’m so close. I have stayed strong even during some of the most wet days and doing good links, so that I’m prepared when the window of good conditions open for what might be the last time this season.
Neanderthal. Photo: Henning Wang
The tufa I keep complaining about is the only good resting point and has been wet for a week straight now. Photo: Henning Wang
Putting up a new bolt that was sticking out. Hanger fell off it when I pulled the rope one day. You climb 8 meter above the bolt and it is pretty far down to the next, so that could have been bad. Photo: Henning Wang
Margalef, Terrence hill 8b+ Onsight Photo: Henning Wang
Some days we go climbing easier routes other places, mostly for the change of scenery. The picture above is from one of our adventurous days, having to cross a flooded river. All the time spent in the cave climbing on wet holds payed off even here in Margalef. The top crux of Terrence Hill was wet. Having to do a big move off of a one finger pocket proved to be no problem. I have found out that the key when it comes to wet holds is not to hesitate and not chalking up, as it only makes the rock more slippery.
Crossing the flooded river Photo: Henning Wang
The restdays are usually spent on the world wide web at the local cafe. Ordering countless numbers of “cafe con leche” to justify spending so much time there and slowing down their already very slow internet.
Due to some heavy work being done to the street we live on we are woken every morning by a very large machine digging up the 600 year old street. Who said the Spaniards were lazy? They start working at 7am, and rain don’t seem to be any excuse to give us some quiet.
Our very efficient alarm clock. Photo: Henning Wang
I got a one way ticket to Spain this time. The plan is to spend this whole month here. I want to finish Neanderthal. Norrøna joined me the first days to document the life down here. The gypsy lifestyle. Now they have left and it’s time to get back into sending mode. But first I need two restdays, starting today. Yesterday it started raining and I’m a little worried it will seep through. The game plan is to do one day on my project, one day climbing on easier routes and one rest day. That way I can maintain the level of skin, fitness and psyche.