Sunday, September 21, 2008

First climbing of the season

So finally the temperatures have dropped (to a pleasant 25ish degrees) which permits Spanish climbers to emerge, tanned but very weak from a couple of months sunbathing, from their summer hibernation (on the beach!). If you have been following the blog you'll know that over the summer I've done zero climbing, but in the last few weeks I realised that the climbing season was about to begin and I've been training again to get some fitness back, in anticipation of the first day back on rock.

Today was the perfect day for it, slightly overcast and with a light wind, though it's still September and that means still hunting the shade - climbing in the sun will still be too hot for another month or so at least. We drove 40 mins south from Barcelona to the Garraf national park. Those of you with particularly good memories will recall that this was the place where Djanira and I first went climbing after moving to Spain, about 18 months ago. Time flies and all that. Unfortunately Djanira was working today, so this time my companion was my Belgian pal (and fellow mountain biker, see last post) PJ. We visited a new sector, a place called Sectors Bombers (no panic, bombers means 'firemen' in Catalan) on the crag of Pic de Martell. While most of the routes on this crag are amenable trad routes of about 4 or 5 pitches, Sector Bombers is a very steep cave with a handful of harder sport routes. It's not very tall but the routes are about 20m long once you factor in the steepness, the view is unsurpassable and the routes are of excellent quality.

After warming up I managed to redpoint* a route graded 7a+, which is equal to my best efforts in sport climbing. Considering this is practically the first day of the season, I'm chuffed. I had kind of set myself the goal of redpointing 7c this season, but wasn't sure if it was too ambitious or not. The fact that I redpointed 7a+ in one day gives me a bit more confidence, but we'll see, it will require quite a bit of dedicated training. Still, it was a very good start to the season, and a good way to boost the confidence. Now where's that fingerboard...?

*non climbers note: redpoint is the term given to when you practice the route first i.e. climb a section, rest on the rope, work out the best sequence to do the moves, rest, climb, rest, climb, rest etc. until you reach the top. Then you come back down to the bottom and have a looong rest, before trying to climb the route in one go, without resting at all on the way. It's a very different style of climbing to the traditional 'onsight' approach, but it can also be very satisfying, as you end up climbing routes that at first seemed completely impossible. For more understanding see this.
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