Monday, 21 September 2009

10 days in heaven pass all too quickly and as I write this post I am sat in the departure lounge of Palma International waiting for my flight to the UK. Time in Mallorca is always good, but this trip has been extra memorable and I really am sorry to leave.

I arrived in the evening on the 12th and coincidentally bumped into Alex Honnold, outside the airport exit, who also happened to be waiting on a lift from Cedar. Alex informed me the last time he had waited for Cedar, he sat on the road for 4 hours, and after we failed to connect to Cedars cell, I began to wonder if today would be the same?

We need not have worried, as around 15 min later we were collected by Tim Kemple and the rest of the team who whisked us off to the other side of the island with tales of what they had been up to for the last few days. As could be expected, all the beds in the house had been taken but the couch looked comfy and so I wasn’t disappointed. After eating dinner and deciding on the venue for the following day everyone called it a night and I sank on to the cushions, content at the prospect of a good sleep and a fully rested body, ready for a big day at Diablo.

As the lights went out and I closed my eyes, a high pitched hum sounded in my ear. At first I tried to find the culprit but had no luck and closed my eyes again hoping it was a one off. The sound returned again and again and it was clear there were going to be some issues. Unlike the bedrooms which were fairly well sealed, the lounge was a big open space that was now full of mosquitoes and since I was the only living mammal in there, I became target numero uno! I tried to cover up with a sleeping bag but it was so hot I had to give up. Then I decided just to man up and take the bites, but being wide awake at this point meant I could hear every little hum and the paranoia would not let me drift off to sleep. Eventually I found some trousers and a jumper, covered my feet and hands with socks and wrapped my head in a T-shirt which must have been quite a strange sight for anyone nipping to the loo in the night. Finally I slept, not well but sleep none the less.

One problem Diablo seemed to have was the lower half of the crag always being wet. I have climbed there on a few different trips over the last year, but every time it has felt greasier than a Vaseline factory! Last year I had fallen off the last moves of The Smoking Barrels (after the jump) and hoped that this trip might be a good opportunity to finish it off. After climbing in to the low caves, I was amazed at how good the rock felt compared to the past and spent the next few hours like a kid in a candy store climbing some of the routes I had not done before, finishing the day off with Loskot. What a nice way to start the trip.

Cala Varques was the venue for day 2, and we were treated to more blue skies and dry rock. After warming up in the Metrosexual cave, I wandered over to Snatch, a route I had climbed on the last trip and wanted to get on film. After waiting for the thumbs up from Tim, I suited up and set off. Snatch climbs a super smooth porcelain like wall for around 10 moves to a good hold where it is possible to either traverse rightwards into Strangers in Paradise for an easier option or continue up the wall through the top bulge. If you have it in you, I highly recommend the top bulge as the moves are some of the best I have done on the island.

Eventually you find yourself at a good flat hold where it is possible to have a quick shake before doing the last few moves to the top. However straight up is very blank and so on my previous ascent I was at a bit of a loss of where to go. There are potential options left and right, so I traversed right a few moves and then up but couldn’t help thinking I might have missed something. This time, things were different, and I had enough left in the tank to feel around for the tiny holds straight above me. It was a little precarious, but really completes the experience of the route and I was extra psyched to have got it all on film.

The next day the weather changed, and the blue skies were replaced with dark clouds and thunder. Thankfully, we still managed to climb, and although the conditions got a little worse, they were still better than previous trips so the sending could continue...

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