So I didn’t get to add my next instalment whilst on holiday. You know how it is. Wake up, eat breakfast, go climbing, eat lunch, have a nana nap, sorry, siesta, go climbing, eat dinner, drink sangria. Upload some photos for home and plan to write your next instalment the following evening. Shame though that this was a continuing theme. Shame for the next instalment obviously, not for the climbing, eating schedule. There were also occasions where I inserted gallery gawking instead of the climbing. I called these rest days except that there really was no rest happening. Wore me out more than the climbing I reckon.
The last promise was to write of my adventures in Lleida and Siurana.
From Montserrat, it is a couple of hours to where we had decided to set up hostel in the Lleida region. Dot on the map said Cubells. As we drove up the highway over the hill the hostel shone its best roadhouse sign. Almost like it was just out of an american road trip movie….except in Spanish. Hostel Roma.
It was in fact the only roadhouse. Which as we discovered later, meant that it got very busy and very noisy both in the evening dinnertime and at morning breakfast. The spanish are energetic and passionate talkers. Having only minimal Spanish in my vocabulary I really wasn’t able to decipher what they were talking about most of the time. Whatever it was though, they often seemed to disagree wholeheartedly with each other one minute and then…disagree wholeheartedly with each other the next. All part of the charm of travelling on the road in Spain.
Wanting to engage in, and experience climbing situations quite unlike we have in Australia and especially Victoria, we thought we would throw ourselves into it and hit the roadside crag experience – Camarasa and the Marcant Estil sector When I say roadside, that’s exactly what I mean. Drive along the road. Stop. Get out of car. Take a few steps. Climb. As you would imagine, being limestone and ridiculously accessible, there was an issue with polished holds from so much climbing traffic. Being my first time on limestone, it was a little disconcerting putting a foot in a sloping polished pocket but like everything you get the hang of it. Despite this, I did enjoy the climbs at Camarasa. We were looking at climbing most things in the 6a/a+ region but wanted a few lower grades to warm up on. There was a decent enough selection of 5’s on offer to keep lower grade climbers happy for a bit. The climbing was interesting. Although the lower tier cliffs are only around the 25m mark, some would vary quite markedly. Starting off with technical balancy moves, moving into an overhung crank, you could then find yourself moving up a slab with one finger pockets and small pinch grips. We managed to get about 6 climbs in before the heat of day pushed us off. What I could imagine with this crag was climbers visiting it to do a couple of laps before heading off to work for the day and equally the same at night. That I could definitely get to like! There is a huge range of climbs also in the upper tiers that range from a 5 min to 25 min walk.
The namesake crag of where we were staying, Cubells, was one of the first cliffs developed in the Lleida region and since the hordes have moved onto newer pastures to develop, it was a great opportunity to jump on some rock that didn’t suffer so much from the Mr Sheen effect. We had a great time at this cliff despite the heat of the sun. We started quite early as there was no real shade. Friction was perfect and we had the whole place to ourselves. Again a cliff to suit all with climbs starting from 5’s.
In the downtime – when clever Spaniards have their siestas, Cam and I took advantage of our air conditioned car and visited some of those cliffs where the big boys and girls play. Just to look. Just to dream. Oliana. Cova de Gran Santa Linya.
Siurana, whilst close to Lleida, is in the Tarragona region. But like Lleida, an endless stream of rock. We were staying at the Siurana Camping which is owned and run by climber Toni Arbones and his family. We stayed in one of the self catering bungalows which was great but there are a variety of accommodation options, from the bungalows to just beds. Communal kitchen, as well as a cafe which serves a pretty mean Paella. Perfect for an end to a great climbing day. Siurana had it’s own version of Camarasa. Not so much on the side of the road, more like to the side of the summit carpark.
Can Melafots. Walk in time. 0 minutes. Afternoon sun. Grade range from 5 up to about 8a. Good selection of climbs in the 6-7 region. Perfect when you only have a couple of days there. Of course being so accessible it did look a bit polished. We once again did a recce of the area so that we were well prepared the next day when we finally hit rock. As it goes, we didn’t end up climbing at Can Melafots as the next mornings climbs on another tier down, had us experience more polish on a couple of climbs. We decided to hunt for a more out of the way cliff for the afternoon in order to get some friction. After lunch, we headed into the little hilltop town of Siurana for a wander before at last collapsing like a local come the afternoon heat.
Once awoken from our nana naps, sorry, siesta, we headed down past the popular cliffs to find a friction crag. We were not disappointed. I think we stumbled upon a cliff which was in the early stages of some development. New bolts, new rocks, needles for friction and very little traffic appeared to have come its way. We had a fun afternoon on climbs nothing harder than 6a. After dodging a few small pebbles that seemed to be falling regularly, we then gazed around us and saw a selection of broken rock pieces. We were right. It hadn’t seem much traffic. We at once felt warm and fuzzy that we were engaged in community service. Helping to clean the cliff from useless, loose rock. Ensuring that others after us could climb in peace. Despite the falling rock (I like to call it adventure), it was once again a great session. So the day tally ended up:. 6 morning climbs. 1 visit to local village and summit area. 1 nana nap. 6 afternoon climbs. Sangria. Yay! The next day it was time to head off. Siurana was unfortunately, a very brief stop on our climbing journey. I like to think of it as just a taster. There will most definitely be a return trip!
Excitement was already building for the next stop. Costa Blanca.