Caminito del Rey – Finally Being Fixed

After many false starts, the world-famous Caminito del Rey is finally being made safe so that many more people can enjoy this thrilling walkway – thankfully we got to bag this a couple of times over the years by using our Via Ferrata and Climbing gear to gain access, we were able to enjoy this unique place.

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Chrimbo Dinner 2013

Another great christmas dinner at the Olive Branch courtesy of Patrick, Roy and the rest of the team. Catering for 47 was never going to be an easy task and having been told dinner would be served at 6pm (we were also told this last year, we ate gone 10) Patrick sagely suggested we would be eating within an hour of 6pm!

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Arriving pretty much on time, the team produced a great spread with all the trimmings.

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Everyone had a great evening and stuffed themselves silly – almost everyone was leaning back on their chairs nursing stomachs!

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Unfortunately, no presents from the boys though do have some waiting for me in the UK.

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Weather is much better today, the sun is shining and we’re soon heading out to complete Caminito del Rey which we postponed from yesterday due to the heavy rain.

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‘…You’re the two that like the really easy climbs…’

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.

'an Miguel, Siwan & Don Simon

‘an Miguel, Siwan & Don Simon

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+!

Siwan with the two Dutch Girls

Siwan with the two Dutch Girls

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

Strength of a Swan, Grace of a Bull…

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…

'an Miguel & Don Simon

‘an Miguel & Don Simon

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…

Mountain Walkers

Mountain Walkers

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 the Austrian

Harry the Austrian

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.

'an Miguel up on 5+

‘an Miguel up on 5+

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.

Heading back to Base

Heading back to Base

And this next track is for my climbing partner Tug, he climbed well and got there in the end…