Sunday, 14 September 2008

Again I find myself writing this from an airport, but this time from the check-in que, which I am in for the second time today due to pea-brained, senseless airport rules regarding credit card security, aye aye aye! Anyway...

Red Bull Psicobloc has come and gone and what an amazing time I have had. Sailing around on a luxury catamaran, rocketing over the waves on jet skis and a wild all night party are experiences I will not forget in a hurry. Oh, and the climbing was pretty good too.

Seriously, good is not the word to describe the DWS in Mallorca, it really is like a heaven. Combine the nicest flame orange limestone you have ever climbed on, with a pleasant air temperature and warm turquoise seas and you will begin to get the picture. Add to that a group of fantastic climbers and great friends, plus a load of awesome perks and you have all the makings of a trip of a life time.

I had heard various people tell of the fantastic sense of care free freedom you get from psicobloc but having only dabbled with it in the past, in less than ideal circumstances, I had yet to experience it myself and to be honest I wasn’t sure they were telling the whole truth. As is often the case, I was mistaken and I can now officially say that psicobloc, or DWS, or whatever you want to call it is pretty damn cool, that’s right, its OFFICIAL ;)

Never before have I been able to completely immerse myself in climbing without the slightest distraction. To go where you want, when you want, how you want, without a care in the world is simply incredible. Pure joy.

After a couple of really humid days where conditions were poor the wind changed direction and I found myself at a slightly damp, but very climbable Diablo. I warmed up a little before having to do a bit of inconvenient but necessary filming work with the rest of the team. Once finished I down climbed a slightly wet 6c to join a growing number of damp climbers on the dry bag ledge and began to prepare myself. Tony Lamprecht, Iker Pou and I decided to try our luck on Loskot and Two Smoking Barrels which was made famous in Dosage 2 and features a huge all points off dyno at 15m. After watching Iker and Tony fall off, it was my turn to give the route a shot and I nervously traversed towards the start. I was unsure of how I would feel about hurling myself uncontrollably off the rock at 15m but once I set off up the wall all nervousness disappeared and I launched for the twin pockets with all I had. My hand went in, but just as quickly ripped out and I squealed like a school girl as I headed towards the drink. Puta.

After drying off on the ledge, it was time for round two. I set up for the jump, and could hardly believe how far away the pockets looked. It seemed really unlikely but I went for it anyway and a second later I was horizontal, holding the swing and letting out a whoop of joy. Screams erupted from above and below, “this is the life” I thought. I was happy and relaxed, before remembering that there were still a few hard moves to go. Tony was screaming the beta at the top of his lungs and I made it to the last move. I tried to static a long reach to a two finger pocket that I should have slapped. My hand hovered 5cm below the hold but I had no more to give, the sea was calling, I picked up speed, splash.

That single moment of catching the jug was one of the best I have had in climbing and epitomised all that psicobloc is about. I didn’t try the route again, getting to the top somehow did not seem so important and I wanted to keep that moment special, at least until the next visit.

Later on that day we sailed the 7 seas to the mighty pontas. In short I was blown away by the difficulty of this line, it is a huge step up from any other DWS I have seen. However, it is possible to climb the route without the crazy dyno, making it a slightly easier proposition but the main meat of the route comes after the dyno so overall, it will still be an insanely difficult route. Maybe the future will see me return to give the line a serious effort, who knows, time will tell.

The final day arrived and a festival had been organised by the Red Bull people to take place at Cala Barques. It was a fine day, with good conditions, routes, friends and music. I tried a line called Snatch which is an awesome short 8b up a smooth concave wall on one and two finger pockets. The moves were awesome and felt highly improbable. On my flash attempt, I made it to 4 moves from the top and on my next try I got two moves further. Close but no cigar. My hands were feeling pretty sore by this point, salt water and rough rock certainly makes your skin drop off. I decided to call it a day and hopefully recover allow my skin to recover a little before beginning the second leg of my journey.

Again, despite not completing the route, I felt really content. This is unusual for me as normally I cannot sleep until a project is in the bag but with psicobloc things seem to be different. I think the real joy of this style of climbing is feeling completely free from the normal constraints that climbing can put on you. This very obviously applies to the issues of rope and gear but why stop there. There is no need to be restrained by existing routes, or lines in a guide book, climb where you want and how you want, do whatever feels the most fun at any particular point in time.

The sun set slowly over the horizon and it was time to party. The Red Bull crew are not known for doing things by halves and tonight was no different. It may have been the atmosphere, or it may have been the never ending supply of vodka redbulls, but the first time I looked at the time it was 4.15am.

We moved to another venue which was surprisingly good for a small little town, good tuned mixed well, what more can you ask for. I finally bailed back to the boat at around 6am for a steady 2 hours sleep and woke fresh as a daisy, well maybe not quite to pack my bags. Just before leaving, I got chance to see the photos from the week, courtesy of Damiano Levati ( and they were amazing. I was blown away by some of the images and found myself feeling sad that it had all come to an end. I said my good byes to friends old and new and headed for the airport. The week has been nothing but a pleasure and has introduced me to the wonders of psicobloc which I can see playing a big part in my future climbing. And the future is now, because for the net week I will be in the Costa Blanca at the Orange House DWS fest.

Now if only there was a little more water under my Devon project...

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