Friday 13 November 2015

Earning my Santa hat immunity

Pleased to redpoint Aitzol 8c. Definitely my first 8c warm-up!

After a long drive from Magic Wood we arrived in Catalunya feeling a bit tired. I had a bit of realisation that going from pulling on for a couple of seconds on a Font 8C to trying to do stamina routes in Margalef was maybe not going to be easy, especially as I still couldn’t pull on pockets properly after straining a lumbrical in Magic Wood.

My goal for the week was not too ambitious. All I wanted to get was revenge on Aitzol (soft 8c). In late 2013 I was here for a week with Alicia. We’d had the trip booked for ages and in the interim period I needed to get my second ankle surgery and the date for that fell just over two weeks before the trip. Not ideal. I said I would still go and just do what I could - probably just belay and feel sorry for myself.

I arrived in Margalef still barely able to walk 100 yards and still taking antibiotics for a painful wound infection. On the first day I was almost in tears just walking from the car 100 metres to buy the guidebook. I limped up a 200m approach and just belayed Alicia and popped painkillers.

After that the tide turned on that particular recovery. And quickly. The next day I did one 6c. The next a 7a+. The next an 8a redpoint. Then on the final day I got 7c+ onsight, 8a+ redpoint and almost managed to redpoint Aitzol 8c.

I fell just after the crux but couldn’t really make the most of the heel hook rest and couldn’t do any drop knees. It was fantastic to leap back trough the grades day after day and switch from delicate surgical patient to rock climber again. I knew that my next time in Margalef I would be straight back to try and finish Aitzol.

I had a couple of tries in awful conditions and although the moves were no problem, I was getting pumped after ten seconds on the rock. But after a rest day the rock was drier and I returned and started up it straight away, opting to just work the moves a bit for my warm-up. I arrived at the heel hook rest feeling quite good, so decided to continue. Next thing I was through the crux. I was definitely feeling quite warmed up by then.

I climbed all the way to the anchor without really getting that pumped. At the start of the trip I bought a silly Santa hat in Barcelona in prep for Christmas family silliness. We a pact that if I fell off a 6c or failed to get overlapping halves on Aitzol, or if Alicia said ‘take’ on lead, we’d have to wear the Santa hat for the next three routes.

After my 8c ‘warm-up’ I was chuffed when Alicia announced that I’d earned full immunity from the Santa hat for the rest of the trip. With my project done in the first ten minutes of the session, we headed off for a brew and then got on Llamps i Trons (8c+/9a post hold break). I certainly wont be climbing that in our last couple of days here. But I think I have a new project to return to Margalef for.

A lovely day filming Alicia with the drone on her favourite run in Serra de Montsant.

Alicia enjoying the last morning in Magic Wood before the monster drive to Catalunya.

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