Was what Tug and I were told the first time we met Siwan – a London-based, Welsh woman! This was a good couple of days back now and since then with been stepping up with our climbs – progressing up to 5. Yesterday though, Siwan asked if she could spend the day climbing with Tug and I, we readily agreed – it’s always good to climb with someone better, receiving good advice along the way.
So setting off, we headed back to what is now becoming our favourite spot – Sector Sergio on Escalera Arabe.
Siwan had been teasing us both re our ‘Project,’ the majority of climbers based here their own personal project and keep working the climb until its bagged. In the main, they all seem to be graded between 7c and 8a! One thing they all have in common, is that they’re several rungs above our 5+!
It was really good to spend the day climbing with Siwan and having previously been told that ‘…we like the easy climbs…’ set about putting in a little more effort in than usual bagging the project along the way. With Siwan leading we then bagged several climbs graded 6a – 6a+, we were really chuffed and finished the day off eating tapas and drinking cold beers!
In honour of our achievements, Polish Pete played the following several times, throughout the evening…
Bagged, 2nd January 2013:
Yo y mi Resaca (5+)
Sergio y Antonio (6a)
Blobby Right (6a)
Blobby Left (6a+)
Chocolate Orange (6a+)
Sector Sergio, Escalera Arabe
If truth be told, we’d both become a little frustrated with our climbing – I was struggling and had to pick up some antibiotics from a local farmacia as my cold dropped onto my chest, even walking up a slight incline was difficult and climbing nye on impossible (that’s my excuse!)
Last night we decided that come what may, we’d be up on the hill, trying a different area – an area called Escalera Arabe, initially climbing in the Suiza Area. Before moving across to the Sergio face. The crag being just behind our hostel and we’d been told that the walk was good forty-five minutes up hill, through the national park…
In preparation for the day, Tug aka Lionel Ritchie set off the day before to recce the route meaning today we could crack straight on with the climbing – our aim being to progress up to grade five climbs. The walk through the park was really beautiful, nicely shaded from the sun with the smell of pine greeting us as we turned each corner, gradually getting higher and higher…
After two hours(!) we finally arrived at the wall and set about our first climb of the day, quickly bagging a quick 4 (el Artista) before tackling the very hard 3 (Go On) which Tug led and I refused to climb – having climbed steeper stairs in the past I opted to relax. It was at this point Harry turned up. Harry is an Austrian guy whom we’ve become quite friendly with over the last week, he’s been here a few weeks having cycled from Austria to Barcelona before heading this way and is here til sometime in February…
Harry offered to set up a top rope on a climb graded 5+ (Yo y mi Resaca)- a significant step up for the pair of us but certainly manageable whilst top roping – he also gave us some excellent tips on falling, our training being climb about 20m up and fall backwards, trusting your belay partner to be on his game. We practised several times which really helped as we’d become hesitant because of our fear of falling off, was one of the things holding us back.
Having watched Harry climb, I was up next and with real sense of trepidation set off to climb the route. I’ve noticed over the last week that whilst its been frustrating, both Tug and I are starting to climb with a greater awareness – concentrating more on where our feet go and using our hands more for balance – Tug commenting that we’re finally getting the ‘Grace of a Swan, Strength of Bull’ (we’d been relying on our strength for too long and today was like an epiphany for the pair of us.)
I went straight up and then after a small rest, cracked it again – my climb becoming more and more smooth as I progressed. Already being high up in the mountains and then being 30m higher, the views were absolutely stunning – you could see for miles and miles with vultures circling above, with falcons hovering above searching out their next meal.
Whilst we didn’t bash loads of climbs out we both had an excellent afternoon and feel like we’ve both learnt a lot from Harry – small tips and things, we both have big smiles on our faces and already looking forward to tomorrow.
And this next track is for my climbing partner Tug, he climbed well and got there in the end…
This gallery contains 14 photos.
Adopting our new Monikors, Don Simon & an Miguel(!) – (just for this trip and probably the only time we’ll be using them,) we were pleased to find that we’d been booked for Christmas dinner which was scheduled to take place at 9pm, Christmas evening.
So following our earlier walk, we arrived back at the Olive Branch, taking it easy for the rest of the afternoon in anticipation of the big night ahead. worryingly there seemed to be little action going on in the kitchen which given they were cooking for 50 heads we did wonder whether we’d get to eat…
There was no need to worry – food was served about half an hour later than it would’ve been but was well worth the wait – the food was exceptional, without doubt one of the best christmas dinners I’ve had in a long while – to a man (and woman) every plate was licked clean!
Following dinner – there were various thank you’s with the biggest cheer of the night going to the chef who was absolutely hammered and had been for the whole day – a kind of climbing version of Keith Floyd, in fact the owner Gary strongly believes that this guy should’ve his own cookery show!
It actually rained this morning and I’m pretty sure it’s because all our friends and family were getting a bit cheesed off by our various messages re the glorious weather and chose rain as our Christmas presents!
Still it’s cleared up and whilst cloudy, its been quite a nice day.
To be honest, today has been a bit surreal – climbers as a whole are not very sentimental, there were a few ‘good mornings’ and ‘happy christmas’ muttered but other than that, today could be any other day of the week though we’re having a big dinner this evening – they’ve catered for fifty so should be a great night.
Anyway back to today – Tug and I set off around noon to go and walk the Kings Walkway again, the famous Caminito del Rey…