Tuesday, 24 January 2012

There and back again

So on the train on the way home from the airport I get a call from the boss telling me they hadn't managed to find cover for my shift, so, having not showered for a week, fingertips in tatters and on a few lousy hours sleep at the airport I drag myself to the first of many all-day shifts of climbing instruction. As I belay yet another youngster up 'the green route', I reflect on the abruptness of this sudden change; for the last 49 days my sole focus had been total leisurely pleasure; climbing for myself, that's a given, but also the whole lifestyle that goes with the travelling ethos; the coffee and smoke in the mornings, the lazy hammock-bound afternoons and the liquor-filled melons at night. And suddenly here I am in a dusty climbing wall, the golden pocketed limestone and silvery sandstone replaced by multi-coloured blobs of plastic on ply. I try and reassure myself that this day was always coming, that the lifestyle isn't sustainable, if I was always on travels then I wouldn't appreciate it as much as I did, and that it will soon come again. All true, but it still doesn't stop me yearning for more, so if you'll excuse me I'll just take a minute to do some serious reminiscing!

Her Majesty, Cova del Diablo
Ahhh Majorca... More than a few people have told me that it was my kinda place. And as sure as shit floats to the top, I was in love! It was my utopia, the promised land to which my long-awaited pilgrimage was destined. The deep water soloing there is off the awesome-scale! On my first day I made my way across the island to Porto Cristo and, following the sounds of power-screams and splashes, I headed straight for the majestically imposing amphitheatre of Cova del Diablo, dumping my 30kilos of baggage in a bush and meandering in on the wondrous low-level traverse of White Hopes, a 5+ featuring everything that all the mega-classics have (apart from stupidly overhanging rock), making the perfect introduction, warm-up and access to the cove. Wanting to take in the surroundings and find my dws feet a little (not atall because I was intimidated by the imposing scale and prowess of the Diablo...) I decided to stick with the low-level traversing and try my luck at Superwoman 7a+, and promptly taking my first few splashdowns of the trip.
Me on the crux dyno of Ejector seat

Great success!
Flashing ejector seat, courtesy of some superb German beta

The first few days of deep water soloing are where it shares the most aspects with trad; you feel exposed, its not so easy to climb relaxed, you're scared bollockless to fall off, and at the same time falling off is where it's at! A few days into the trip, and with the reassuring company of George to bolster my confidence, I started to get more into the deep water solo flow. Thats when it becomes more like sport climbing and bouldering, going at hard moves with gusto, with sustained pumpers like Bandito 7c, or low-crux boulder problems like Strangers in Paradise 7b+ (maybe font 7a+ish), an absolute gem in the Snatch cave at the magical bay of Cala Barques, with its handful of caves, each individual with their own styles and different atmospheres; the bouldery Snatch cave to the towering Tarantino cave, or over to the sociability of Sa Cova with its perfectly formed bogey-tufas and relaxed have-a-go feel.

The laidback lifestyle of Cala Barquez.
Yep, we're carving spoons.

Food fit for a king, including pan-made pizzas, onion bhajis,
and enough chocolate spread to give any normal man type II diabetes.
And it's not just the climbing at Cala Barques that makes it such an amazing place, it was also my home for the 3 blissful weeks I was in Majorca; a shady forest for my hammock overlooking the lapping waves of the Mediterranean and soft white sand of the beach peppered with sunbathers, slackliners, titties and todgers, waking up to some of the most magnificent sun and moon-rises I've ever witnessed, all in Majorcas perfect climate; 24 days of sunshine and 1 of rain (a powerful thunderstorm that saw 20 naked climbers all dashing for a mid-storm swim in the sea during the monsoon shower, awesome!). To leave this place was a real wrench, but leave I must; it was time to chase the cooler conditions of October in a little forest called Fontainebleau...

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