Leaving Spain

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Over the last two weeks we have driven the length and bredth of beautiful Spain. We left Siurana and drove down the Eastern Coast (Costa Blanca and Costa de Almeria). Dramatic limestone cliffs, turquoise water, sleeping in the car and near-misses with the civil guard were amongst the interesting experiences we had.

We left the Eastern coast, driving inland to a world famous climbing area called El Chorro. Here we bumped into some Kiwis (Phil & Tom) we´d met previously at Siurana. They showed us some beautiful routes on the one day we had climbing there. Very reluctantly we moved on to the central western area of Spain, known as Extremedura. Extremedura is a massive area, and as such the variety of landscapes we saw were mindboggling. One day we were watching hundreds of vultures circling limestone cliffs in a gorge, and the next we found ourselves in falling snow as we drove North.

Last week we were in Cantabria (the North West area of Spain), exploring sea side villages, and making attempts at absorbing Spanish Culture - most of which failed pretty miserably! On Friday we drove to Vitoria, in Basque Country, to meet our friends Ander and Olaia. For the last two nights we have stayed in their home, and they´ve shared with us a side of Spain we previously just could not break into! Basically the language barrier makes it impossible for us to know what´s going on anywhere, but with Ander and Olaia, it´s wonderfully easy! We´ve been out for peitxos (tapas in Basque language), drinks, been to Bilbao to see the Guggenheim, they´ve explained traditions, politics, history, how to swear in Spanish... it´s been the such a rich, fun experience. And then there´s the fact that we have had a warm, soft bed to sleep in for the last two nights - muchos lujoso!

It´s now too cold to sleep in the car, so our drive through the Pyrenees to the French Alps is going to be a quick one. We´re hoping to stop in Andorra for some tax-free ski gear on the way.

Its been quite a whirlwind tour of Spain. Over the next week or so we´ll post photos and more stories from our travels over the last two weeks.

Simon and myself with Olaia and Ander - The most welcoming of people! In case you were wondering, Olaia is wearing a wig, and Ander´s feet are enourmous.

Reunion, Recreation, Relocation.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dani finished up in the UK on Friday, and we had a disgusting romantic reunion in Reus Airport. Dani's loving the fresh air and the sunshine, although is still coming to terms with the temperature of tent life.

For the last few days we've been climbing and exploring. On Saturday we went for a hike to a part of Montsant, a amazing conglomerate range not far from Siurana. The walk featured some exciting "Via Feratta" and grovelling along ledges to get to bigger ledges with great views.

Today we did a epic 6b (21) 85m three pitch route in Siurana, the first multipitch we've done here. It was super exposed as the whole crag was vertical, if not overhanging, with several sections of climbing in bottomless corners. Fun!

We were hoping to go to Morocco next, but further investigations suggested it was going to cost too much for the short amount of time we could stay. We only have the car for another two and a half weeks, so we've decided to leave Siurana on Wednesday, and explore more of Spain and Portugal.

I'll wrap this post up with some of the photos I've shot recently around Siurana, and some of the climbers I've been hanging out with.

Rupert redpointing a 7b+(27)

Robbie onsighting a 7b+(27)

Third tier of climbing at Sector Barrots, Montsant, a giant conglomerate outcrop.


Barrots, Montsant
Dani in a gully in the guts of Sector Barrots, Montsant.

Dani in Siurana
I farted just as I took this photo, hence the expression on her face.

Morera de Montsant
Dani took this on our visit to Montsant.

Cranking at the crag!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Grumble grumble. Just saw Dani´s canapes and my stomach just about ate itself. I´ve had the same mystery pasta meal for two nights in a row. The closest supermarket is so crap and operates such weird hours, it's hard to keep my groceries stocked! All I've got left is a can of Ravioli.


On the plus side, it is sunny, and theres less English people here (woops!). I've been climbing with a bunch of hardouts - Robbie, who is regularly onsighting 7c (27) - Eric, who can´t climb harder than 7b+ (26) because his finger is buggered - and Kat and Rupert, the super-climbing super-parents, who some how manage to look after two kids and crank hard at the crag as well!

Yesterady I worked on a 7a (24) and tooks some great shots of these guys climbing. Unfortunatly Dani´s got the computer, so I can´t show you any just yet. Today I managed to send my hardest redpoint, at 6b+ (21/22), then followed that with my hardest onsight at 6c (22). I have a 7a (24) and a 7a+ (24/25) lined up for a redpoint later in the week.

Will try and find a way to get some photos online!

Translation for those non-climbers;
  1. Onsight - To complete a route clean, first go, without resting on the rope, with no prior information about the route, placing protection on lead.
  2. Flashed - To complete a route clean, first go, without resting on the rope, but with prior information, or seeing somone else complete the route.
  3. Redpoint - To complete a route clean, without resting on the rope, but having practised the route before.

Camping to Canapes

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Eek, back in civilisation. Sleeping in a real bed, clean clothing, showering more than once a week...it's pretty different!

For the next two weeks I'll be based in the UK, where I'm attending a pre ski-season cheffing course.

We had our first day of the course today, canapes were on the menu. At right, you can see my pea soup shooters, herbed goats cheese rounds, and meditteranean vegetable bruchetta. I've never created food this fiddly before! My diet for the last two months consisted of pasta, baguette, and budget chocolate. Suddenly it's olives, cheeses, deli meats...yum!

Meanwhile Simon is back in Siurana, eating pasta. On the upside, he does get to climb every day under the Spanish sun. I miss him already, we haven't actually had any time apart for about 6 months (is that a bit sad?!). It'll be great to see each other again in two weeks, I just hope he doesn't mind if I've gained 10KG from eating cakes and canapes every day!