We spent the first 2 days on El Reloj (the clock) which offers vertical crimping style routes of between 20 and 30 metres in length, all of top quality, some of the best we did here were:
Codan el barbaro 6a+
El Bodeguero 6c+
Metal Y Tan 7b
Orquidea salvaje 8a.
It felt like a shorter bolted version of Etive slabs. We had two more members of the team Aitor, top guy, climber, local, filmmaker and Dario who directs Desnivel which as well as being the main Spanish climbing magazine is a huge mountain bookshop in the centre of Madrid.
Aitor recommended a route called Azul de Samarcanda a 6b+ diagonal line as a warm up! Aitor lent me encouragement on the first 3m I managed to clip the 2nd bolt with relief and thought back to Dawes words. It had felt like an e4 6b and although I’d felt good on an 8a and 8a+ I’d done the prior day I knew I was in for a Pedriza kicking at this new and very different venue.
The 2nd warm up Semilla Negra, 7a+ felt like a grit e6 6c. The next was Jartum, 7b+/c which felt like an e7 6c which is ridiculous as the bolts were really close together! La Llambria, 7c+/8a felt much the same in terms of lack of security and by the end of the day I felt mentally drained from the feeling of possibly falling off nearly every move all day.
The following day involved an hours’ drive to meet up with many other climbers including Luiz Munoz, Jesus, Carlos Lagrono and Nacho Sanchez. We went to a pretty impressive limestone bouldering venue which certainly pisses over any I’ve seen in Britain. There were some strong scenes, none of which involved me and I was instantly missing the slabs of Pedriza. People more than 6 foot 5 were trying a font 8b dyno which did look impossible. It was great to see Pedro looking steely strong, Carlos romping up an 8b and Nacho nearly doing a rather chunky looking font 8c with the last deadpoint to a mono looking particularly hard. I would have liked to have had Dan Varian and Ned there to do some ‘team sends’.
The following day with a much smaller team we headed to El Muro (E). This face offers yet different climbing again being a steep slab and offering climbing which feels just off vertical with some normal holds here and there. The top routes we did here were:
Puro Barrio 6a+
La Raya del Luis, 7a+
La Mana de Espana, 7a crack
La Correvuela, 8a
Later that day Dario made the funniest comment of the trip saying how there were lots of charismatic climbers in Britain. He obviously hadn’t spent much time in Sheffield, although with improvements in stem cell therapy there is hope yet. Dario put a few short videos of some of the climbs online which Mark Reeves commented were some of the most exciting climbing videos he’d ever seen?
Aitor had been our main friend/guide of the trip and he had suggested that spending a winter there would be a good idea, if the opportunity arises in a couple of years I’ll certainly endeavour to do this. We didn’t get to one of the major slabs where the brilliant looking Artherencia lies which looks as good a slab as I’ve seen. For climbing a great deal of stunning granite I can’t think of anywhere better in the world. It has a huge number of slabs, faces, corners and cracks, mainly single pitch that are well bolted with a good guidebook for the single pitch routes, unlike Yosemite. Aitor seemed to know of a huge number of stunning looking projects from 8b to 9a scattered around.
Big thanks to Manu for looking after me, Jesus for sending me, Aitor for being a legend, Paulo for getting me and Manu into a posh party in Madrid, Pedro for keeping me with Boreal and everyone who came to the presentations given in the worst Spanish imaginable.
Great effort from Mcmanus and Pwiddy on the Secret Passage in Yosemite as well, it sounds a serious outing.