The Rain in Spain Falls Mainly on the Plane (not) – Week 15
Hello again! It’s another rainy day here in Spain so Paul and I are cozied up in Ben with yummy warm coffee listening to Fleetwood Mac and writing/editing. One humongous perk of traveling in a van is that we always have a warm and dry escape from the bad weather. Although, we were planning on climbing an awesome looking tower today… but that’s okay, it can wait until tomorrow 🙂 It’s been another long while since we last caught up, so I think it is the perfect day for it.
For the past few weeks, Paul and I have been climbing lots as usual.. surprise surprise! We’ve been in four really amazingly beautiful climbing areas: Camarasa, St. Llorenc D’Montgai, Santa Ana, and now Riglos. And in between those we stopped in a big city called Lleida twice to go indoor bouldering and to stop at this amazing sporting goods store called Decathlon. The forecast predicted rain during those times and we were still craving more climbing!!
The first time we stopped at the climbing gym, it was absolutely packed full of people all wearing orange shirts! We were like what is going on?? It turned out to be the climbing gyms annual bouldering competition/party! I have to admit I’m not a big fan of the huge crowds and intense atmosphere… I’m not the most competitive person, but I’d never competed for bouldering before, so we decided why not? It ended up being pretty fun despite the crowds. The best part for me was watching the finalists. They really put their heart and soul into it; and it’s so cool to watch them just completely tune in to the route and try their hardest to top out. And so inspiring, they were all so strong. We all sat on the floor, squeezing in where ever we could, drinking beer, oohing, aahing, and cheering at their every move. So intense and so much fun 🙂 Here’s a picture of Paul completing a pretty epic route!
From the bouldering competition, we drove to Camarasa which was a really incrediblely beautiful spot. So many amazing walls to climb! Although our first climbing spot was absolutely freezing because the sun never reached the wall until late in the afternoon. And I know colder temps are meant to be better for climbing, better friction and all, but can someone please explain to me how you are meant to climb when you can’t feel your fingers and toes??? I’m serious right now; I would REALLY love some insight!
We didn’t last long there and went to the south facing walls instead. We hiked to the wall early in the morning. I brought so many layers, preparing myself for the cold temps we’d had the day before, and it ended up being SO hot that I wished I brought my shorts! Haha it’s so crazy the difference a little sun can make!! But I really enjoyed the climbing there. But funny story… I was climbing up the first route warming up when I heard the British couple climbing next to us talking to Paul asking if he knew who won the election back in the US… no wifi so we had no clue. I yelled down to him… ‘Oh my gosh, tell me!!” … when he told me the result I almost fell off the wall in complete shock. WHAT THE HECK!!
But anyways… not going to talk politics on this blog. After a few great climbing days at Camarasa, we were ready for some rest and restocking. We spent a day hanging out by the beautiful river nearby, got some more groceries, and headed to St. Llorenc D’Montgai. This place was breathtakingly beautiful. We walked the few hundred meters into town along a gravel path next to a beautiful lake framed with cattails right as the sky was tainting everything with a pink haze.
We climbed here for a few days. We did one 140 meter multi-pitch… it was an interesting route. Not very well-bolted and had a crazy traverse on the third pitch. But I still enjoyed it! It’s always fun to get up high and enjoy a good view. 🙂 The next few days we spent projecting 3 different routes. The crag is known for undergrading the routes so climbing at our normal level was definitely a challenge. But it was nice to focus on a few routes and try our hardest to complete them in one go, without breaks or sits. We also had a really great afternoon run here around the lake on an amazing trail with rolling hills, through a forest, up along the cliffs, and through the village!
From St. Llorenc D’Montgai we drove to another really excellent crag called Santa Ana. This crag was known for some of the best routes in the region and I 100% agree with them. Not that I’ve been too all the crags in the region… but compared to where we have climbed, this place was amazing! We had 2 really great climbing days here! And I really felt like I had a turning point in my climbing. I can really struggle with my mental game when it comes to climbing, where as I get further and further away from the bolt, my mind just turns to fear, reminding myself how far I’ll fall if my foot slips or if I can’t hold on any longer. It can be really demotivating and can cause me to struggle up routes way more than needed. But I’ve been reading articles about positive self-talk and deep breathing while climbing and I’ve been practicing that a lot lately. At Santa Ana I almost felt like I was cured and I was able to climb really well! We’ll see if that continues 🙂
From Santa Ana, we planned to go to a place called Riglos for my birthday! I LOVE multi-pitch climbs if you can’t tell… and Riglos has some pretty cool towers and walls to climb. So we bought the guidebook, bouldered a second time in Lleida to get out of the rain, and headed to Riglos… little did I know that I was in for a big surprise!
We arrived the night before my birthday, and Paul took us to the entrance of a really quaint hotel in a town a few kilometers away from Riglos. I was totally confused about why we were there. And then he told me that my parents booked us a room for a few days for my birthday! It was the best surprise ever and completely unexpected. 🙂 The hotel was super cozy, dark wood, with lots of blankets and comfy couches, and our room looked out on the mountains in Riglos we were planning to climb. And we had the whole hotel all to ourselves so we could just hang out in the common room playing cards and drinking wine with no one else there. It was so wonderful! And my family all sent me birthday cards to the hotel for me to read! They really are the best 🙂
The morning of my birthday, we woke up to torrential rain and a crazy thunder/lightning storm. Not ideal climbing weather at all.. but we definitely made the most of it! We had breakfast at the hotel, drove to Riglos and went on a CRAZY rainy day hike where the trail literally turned into a rushing river! Then we came back and got massages and had a really nice dinner with lots of wine 🙂 Then we played cards in the living room and FaceTimed with my family. It really was such a great birthday and I felt so surrounded by love. I couldn’t have asked for anything more!
We are now checked out of the hotel, and parked in a huge parking lot in Riglos right under the mountains we’re climbing. We did a really fun 200m multi-pitch yesterday to warm up for a harder multi-pitch we plan on doing tomorrow. It has been a really great last few weeks and I’m looking forward to every morning I have left in Ben 🙂
Paul has made a video showing some really amazing views of our climbs. Check it out here! 🙂