Tuesday, January 08, 2008

my own personal training camp

Siurana, Spain is located approximately 2 hours southwest of Barcelona in the San Padres Mountain range. It is accessible primarily by car due to its hilly landscape. Siurana was "discovered" by the rock climbing community in the 1980's and has seen a lot of development since. No wonder why - the village is perched atop a huge limestone crag and has thousands of bolted sport routes.

This photo was taken across the gully on my way to Arboli, a neighboring village. To give you an idea - a bird would probably only have to fly 1.5 kilometers to get from Siurana to Arboli but by bike it took 15k.

So why Siurana? In case you didn't know - Ryan's a climbing feign. Originally we were going to go to Thailand but due to the civil unrest and probably lack of cycling roads, we sought out another nice weather winter destination. (Not to mention this area is frequently by climbing heavyweights Chris Sharma, Piatxi Usobiaga, Graham, etc.) Toni, the owner of the camp site we stayed at, has won numerous world cups and has a nice little set up. He rents bungalows for 60 Euro a night, which sleep up to 4. Since we had 5, he gave us an extra mattress for free. Unlike previous Euro trips, this seemed like luxury. We had running HOT water, heat, a roof over our heads, etc. The only issue would be contemplating climbing back up the road to the bungalow or hitching a ride. (It was 6k from the main road from Cornudella de Montsant and gained about 500m of altitude.) Don't worry - I never hitched a ride. :)

This is the view from the road that travels between the campsite to the main village of Siurana. You can see the Montsant mountain in the distance and the windy road below. The best part? The roads were immaculate. They often hold the world cup indie races nearby (between Capafonts and Montral) and put down new asphalt quite often.

I mentioned there were 5 of us - Ryan, myself, Jesse, Sonya and Orion. They would climb all day and I would pedal several hours through the landscape. My companion was my trusty Kona. Everyday we would awake by 9, head to the cafe that served bocadillo fritta (egg omelette's with potatoes and zucchinis, sandwiched between fresh baguette bread smeared with tomatoes) and then they would head off climbing around 11am. Some days I would do a loop and meet them then attempt to climb, some days I would do a longer loop and come back to the bungalow and relax.

We had completely different vacations. I saw the entire surrounding area and they saw lots of rock.

This was my favorite village - Capafonts. It is perched in the middle of a small valley surrounded on all sides by rock formations and gullies.

From Capafonts I circumnavigated Montral - whose refugi is barely seen in the distance.

This is the view from the Montral village. Simply breathtaking.

Freshly paved roads that are barely wide enough for two cars to pass one another. Luckily I saw maybe 5 cars on each 3+ hour ride I went on. I saw maybe 5 cyclists total - half of which were mountain bikers. Honestly, I felt like I was stealing something. Everything was so clean - so carefully kept. No glass on the roads, no abandoned cars on the lands- the Spaniards know how to live.

I decided I could live here. So what if the roof caved in and there's no heat?

This is Ullemolins a terraced village on the 242 regional road.

Luckily climbers require rest days, which meant we got to head down to the beach and do some site seeing. It was warmer down there - about 12 C - but still chilly. I didn't think it was possible - but this girl managed to find boots to match her hair. Wow.

Now - back to climbing. As long as you were in the sun - you were fine. The moment you stepped out, freezing cold. But the views would take your breath away.

Ryan has been climbing for about 10 years now. (He'll probably correct me. :) He trained hard prior to setting off for Spain and planned his peak perfectly. He managed to flash at least 15 7A+ (about 5.12a). Um.... can you say, BAD ASS?

So you're probably wondering, what does flash mean? He basically walked up to the climb, with no prior knowledge, hung quickdraws as he climbed, and completed the climb from ground to anchors without falling once.

Yes, he's part monkey. But luckily not hairy like an ape.

The jaw dropping La Rambla Direct - rated 5.15a and repeated only by the worlds elite climbers. This is a view from under the climb - and the following gives you an idea of just how overhanging the route is. Other than the crack, I don't see ANY holds.

The guy hanging is jugging up a fixed line to work the upper moves. Because these routes are so long, often climbers will work the route in sections in order to master it. The hope is to be able to redpoint it - climbing from bottom to anchors without falling. This is different from an onsite or flash - because they have been on the climb before.

Of course we had to visit Barcelona on another rest day. Our mission - see as much of the city via walking as possible. Here's Gaudi's famous Familia cathedral - maybe it will help you understand the saying "that's so Gaudi!" He didn't really like details much - rrrrriiiiight.

We of course had to eat some tapas while there - but the Spaniards eating schedule is totally different from ours. Shops close in the middle of day from about 2-6 for a siesta and then they don't start eating till 11pm at night! By that point we were starving and couldn't wait to chow down on some finger food.

Because of this siesta, we would often find ourselves desparate to get some food right around 6. Corundella is the nearest village with groceries available and was a 6k drive down the road. So when we happened upon a supermarket on our rest day near Cambrils, we went a little wild. Between 5 of us, we spent 150 Euro on groceries.

Our favorite delicacy? Nutella and animal crackers. Thank GOD it's harder to find Nutella at the store. (But I hate to admit it, I found it at Fred Meyer's already and NO I did not buy any. ;)

Simply put - I have way too many photos to put up on one blog. These were just some highlights. My goal is to collaborate everyone's photos together and make them into one nice slide show. Our friends Ben and Danielle have a projection screen at their house and have graciously offered to host a showing. If you're interested in coming and seeing more of our adventure - please let me know!

1 comment:

Jimmy said...

that looks like such an awesome trip! Apparently my dad knows Orion. He has some of his home made skis that didn't turn out quite right. They look pretty cool to me though! Did you here about the big track race in Frisco? In April? Yeah, thats before either if our tracks are even open...