martedì 11 novembre 2014

Albarracin (Spain)

Checking the forest of Albarracin (SPA). Photo Vivi Monteiro
Many magazines often speak about climbing destinations in Spain and a lot of images and videos are scattered in all the web regarding the good places that this country can offer. I have always heard stories from Spain; several climbers I know have been there, checking the most famous cliff of Europe or the cool Spanish bouldering areas. I actually don't know why, but before two weeks ago I have never been to Iberian peninsula. This is probably due to the fact that I am not so approachable with the Spanish atmosphere or with the Mediterranean culture or I don't know, maybe I simply had other plans to do before going in a bouldering area there. Anyway, I was pretty curious to go and I was totally sure that soon or later I would have been to Albarracin, maybe the largest known bouldering area of the country and probably the finest one too. In the late summer of 2012, together with Giulia, we already considered to spend a week in Aragon, but knowing about the high temperatures we opted to postpone in the future. That time we went to Wallis, a southern region of Swiss. It was an amazing week, but Albarracin was still missing in our list. 

Despite the long 6 weeks that we spent in US at the beginning of the year, Giulia was lucky enough to get another week off at the end of October. At first, we thought to go to check the boulders around Helsinki, a place where both would be glad to go one day. Unfortunately it was a bit too expensive for our current resources, so we fell back to a cheaper trip. Albarracin was another big area that tickled the desires of both, it was economic, the climate at the end of October supposed to be dry and we were both sure to find tons of boulders to satisfy our requests. Moreover, after the long time I took to recover my injury, I knew I would have not been able to reach a good shape before October. For this reason Albaracin seemed to be perfect; I would have had a lot of stuff where to climb and it seemed to be an ideal area where to take confidence back with the rock and with the climbing gesture. This concept looked to be much smarter than going somewhere to dedicate energies only to hard projects. Just before leaving, Nils told me he would have been there in the same days of us and we were both motivated to climb together again after long time.

Obviously a week ran away quickly; but once we were back home, Giulia and I discovered to have done the right choice about the crag. We were both satisfied, the desire had been paid off and the quality of the place was definitively up to our expectations. The rock is simply superb and every boulders has a medium-high quality. The marvelous thing about the place in my opinion regards the mix of the features. It can be consider like a perfect mix between the best sandstone places where I have been to. You can find the mantle and the technical stuff typical of font, the roof and the athletic lines of Rocklands and some holds similar to Red Rocks. It didn't seem real. For this reason the factor I mostly prefer was the climbing style of the area, probably the favorite one I have ever met. The Small town of Albarracin is also beautiful and characteristic, with its ancient walls and the autumn colors of the period. The wood is also pleasant, rich of pines, characterized by the Mediterranean atmospheres and the pre-historical rock paintings.

Once we got in the wood, I obviously couldn't wait to check all the problem I had in my mind and, despite the temperatures weren't the best, I was really glad to be there. In fact, for all the week the temperatures kept on 20 degrees, without the wind that we expected so much. But since the rain didn't come, I think it is not fair to complain the "warmness" but rather we should thank the dry climate we found all the days. Taking a day off turned into an intricate thing. I was able to rest just one day when I opted to brush and to check the exit of Zartako, a huge red sandstone pillar 8 meters tall that I was not capable of trying for a scare excess. 

I had a lot of lines in my mind as I said, but the top three project were "Esperanza", "Indian secret garden" and "zartako". The first one was the most beautiful one of the three: a perfect font style egg, totally red with awesome sandstone features, tricky moves and incredible slopers. It looked like a font's best, but with red sandstone. The sweating troubles accompanied me for all the week and, especially on Esperanza and Bindu, I had to fight a lot to try to overcome this negative side which I can't currently resolve. After a full morning of attempts I opted to rest until the evening, in order to get my skin dry as much as I could. Just before the attempts, the temperature dropped down of 2/3 degrees. I knew I had just one possible go, after of that my skin would have been like in the morning and I would have not finish it. The slightly colder evening, together with a lotion of alcool and pine resin, helped my skin a lot; I was searching for everything to get over the fucking high sweating. I started leaving the troubles out of my mind and I reached the crux where I fall off in the morning. The "colder" skin and the harder right shoe gave me a good help to get into the last easy part where I knew that I couldn't fail anymore. Thanks to these little precautions I was able to send.

"Indian secret garden" 8B, Albarracin (SPA). Photo Giulia Paoletti

"Indian secret garden" 8B, Albarracin (SPA). Photo Giulia Paoletti

Even Indian secret garden was mentally pretty tough. Having just a week, the time to work the lines you want to climb is really short, for this reason you have to optimize as much as possible all the processes, the sessions and the details. The first day on it I was really on the limit during the attempts. It destroyed me completely and I was pretty afraid to not rest enough before the subsequently session. Just to give a presentation of the line, it is 70 degrees steep, with pure wide compression moves and an ending sequences of great toe hooks which I immediately loved. The FA is signed by Christian Core and it is definitively awesome despite the two little sins. The first one deals of the stone on the right which is really close, while the second one is that you have to drop off once you reach the top.

The second day on it was challenging too.  When I was getting warm my thoughts were totally dedicated to this goal. Damn, I really wanted to climb that problem. I needed and I wanted to feel my body and my mind on the limit after the bad period I had this summer. I got under the boulder around quarter past nine, ready to try it. The skin was awful, but I knew that it could be decent for one attempt. I wanted to reach the upper part (where I failed the first day) with good skin in order to don't fail for the high sweating. During the first attempt this thing could happen, while other more goes would have been unuseful. Since I had just one more day left, I should have done on the first go and I was pretty tense. I tried to focus my mind on the climbing days I had last spring; in that period I probably had a step in my mental approaching and I tried to get into the most positive mood. Fortunately on the first go it went down and the biggest effort of the week was paid off by the nice climbing style.

The day of Indian secret garden got to the end in the best way; Giulia grabbed the ascent of the wonderful classic "Spider pig" 6C after the climbing of the day before, ruined by a dub caused by me. Zartako, the other main goal I had, is postponed to the next visit. After the big fall I had in September, the feelings on the highest stuff are still timid and conservatory.

The positive effect of Albarracin is still alive. During the last week of bad weather I thought a lot about the few days we had there and I felt a bit melancholic. The climbing style and the features of that place surprised me a lot and I can't wait to go back.

I fortunately had enough time to finish other masterpieces in the forest, but there is not enough time to tell about. Here a list of the problem I did in order of beauty (in my opinion). The grade opinion are personal like always.

Lamiche at mitges 8A
El Apeadero sit 8A
Esperanza 8B
Homo Ergaster 7C Flash
Klem's traverse 8A Flash
Zombie Nation 8A/+
Supernafamacho 7B+ Flash
Indian secret garden 8B
Dizdira 7C Flash
Revenge 7C+
Helicopter on the beaches 8A+
Zarzamora 7C+
Zarzaparrilla 8A+
Zatoichi 7C Flash
El Varano 7C Flash
Cosmos 8A Flash
Helicopter 8A
El Orejas de la Regletas 7C+
Bindu 8A+/B

Giulia on "Spider pig" 6C, Albarracin (SPA). Photo Vivi monteiro

"Lamiche at mitges" 8A, Albarracin (SPA). Photo Vivi Monteiro

"Zombie Nation" 8A, Albarracin (SPA). Photo Giulia Paoletti

"El Apeadero sit" 8A, Albarracin (SPA). Photo Vivi Monteiro

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