I was going to start the report positively but thought I’d give warning of what lies beyond. The big flop was another potential title. For the first week myself, Ryan Pasquil, Mina Leslie-Wujastyk, Calum and Ray shared a small cabin before me and Ryan set up our tents in Siurana Camping, the place of much wind. During our stay in the cabin Calum dealt with the cooking, Ryan the plumbing, Mina the positivity and press ups, Ray took care of the twittering and I looked after the sarcasm; as well as being overall winner of the iron bladder contest each morning.
The positive elements at the start of the trip apart from a great crowd of people shifting through the campsite were Ryan and Minas’ performances. I think it’s fair to say it wasn’t DMM climbers’ finest week but neither Mina nor Ryan had any decent quick draws so we just gave them ours and pointed them at various climbs with me and Calum shouting encouragement. Although Mina hadn’t put on a rope in ages within a few days she had great day flashing an 8a and doing an 8a+ and looking more than fresh enough to have scored a hat trick. This was combined with pretty much scoring the high point for the team on her first session on La Rambla as Mark Reeves texted me soon after, although with the spelling it was hard to tell! Mina massively reduced the drudgery of hanging out with the less charismatic members of the team and I/we were all sorry to see her go. Mina is thinking about a sport trip next autumn and I can’t wait to see what she does.
Ryan Jancyn Lankyn Pasquil. It’s hard to know what to say really. I’ve seen Ryan climb amazingly well many times and at the start of the trip he was on fire (he got a bit tired from the windy nights and helping to commiserate my side of the trip). After onsighting Siouxie and Anabolica he had 30 mins on a 9a called Jungle Speed at the end of the day doing the crux moves almost straight away. I told him there was no way he was talented enough to climb 9a but he didn’t listen. Next session on it he nearly did it and 3rd session he got the send, which I believe may be the fastest ascent of a 9a by a Brit. A few days later it looked like A Muerte was going to get the same treatment with him linking from beneath the crux to the top second session and on the 3rd he made it to the last hard move to the under cling 3 times.
He is about 6ft, has a +6 ape index, is quite scrawny with small ears and is very good at timing moves. His athletic diet is well known to those in the Sheffield scene, which is partly what blew me away with what he could climb after pretty minimal ‘preparation’. There is no doubt in my mind that Ryan can climb 9b. Fact. He did manage to put one foot wrong falling on a 7c, which both Ben Moon and I did not but I didn’t make a big deal about it. Did I mention that Ryan did put one foot wrong on a 7c...Apart from watching Ryan make short work of really hard climbs it was also great that he had a propensity for losing at cards to decide who washed up. Very good skills Ryan.
The list of debacles which went on in the first 2 weeks were too many to name, like a seismograph going from bad to worse. Ray and Calum had come out partly to support my dream, having faith in my ‘ability’ and I have no idea how I cocked up so badly. I was feeling as emotional as Gascoigne, obviously minus the tears, this may be attributed to something in the Soja drinks according to some friends but I think this is best left out of this report! On my final ‘look’ Ryan lowered me to the ground and I was truly disgusted with myself. A nice guy from Holland had asked why I didn’t do something else but to me the question was like asking someone who had come to try the Nose on El Cap, why not try one of these others. I'd already built it up too much in my mind. About 2 weeks in I gave up on the idea of getting on it again and to be honest as most people who have done it have onsighted 8b+ or harder I probs should have stopped sooner. If I get back to the fitness level I got to in 2011 I'll go back just to try and squeeze up the start.
The last night at Siurana was one of the most memorable parts of the trip. Myself and Canadian Nick kicked everyones’ arse (Ryan, Iris, Alice and Colorado Terry)at cards, we didn’t brag about it though, it was the cards, the cards were the stars. After a Paella in Siurana camping things really got going in the Barn, Adam Mulholland lost arm wrestles with both Bob Hickish and myself and turned his ire on Ryan with a Cumbrian wrestle, I’m not too certain if it was the north or the south that won but both got dirty. Bob Hickish snuck off to bed early but Bobs tent was soon found and dismantled with Bob nearly catching his first air time into the Manzanita bushes.
Camping in Siurana varied between paradise and life after the apocalypse depending on your attitude. The final night of the trip was spent groggily at Barcelona airport having been rescued from being lost on the trains by a super nice guy called Fernando. Mulling over the trip that night I tried to pinpoint the lowest point on the trip, was it day 1 when realisation that there was no chance dawned, the middle of the trip when realisation had been tried and tested to failure or the end when I became an mass of sarcasm oozing round the cliffs. Hanging out in Spain is no hardship and Malcolm Tucker from the Thick of It had correctly pointed out that you can stick some people in paradise and they’ll be walking round moaning about not having a mobile phone signal.
Only kidding. I’m off to work to do some great work now for Phil George and Plas Y Brenin.
I'll be back Ryan, just you wait!