Just back from a couple of weeks in Mallorca. ‘Fresh' off the plane and loving this weather that we're being treated with. It's nice to think that after nearly 4 months away there's been no change to our tradition of rainy summers....see, there's nothing to worry about from this so-called ‘climate change'!
I didn't get long to sleep off my jetlag when I got back from the US before getting on another cramped flight back overseas to help film the final part of ‘Call It What You Want', Dave Gill's new film due to premiere at this year's Kendal Mountain Film Festival.
Mallorca is amazing! We were there last year for a month and just had to get back so booked the flights for 3 weeks in early August. In retrospect it's just a bit too hot at that time of year! In fact we spent the entire time hiding from the sun under bushes and in over-priced cafes. Still though when we did dare to venture out (at around 4pm most days) the crag at Cova del Diablo had only just managed to get rid of the grease that builds up overnight and throughout the morning. Hmm maybe August wasn't such a great time of year after all for yet another reason!
Our well organised camp hmm.. (© George Foster)
We didn't have a huge amount of money so kipped at the top of the cliff, not the comfiest way of sleeping but then the best things in life are free!? Likewise a tip-off from Eddie Barbour who we me out here last year proved pretty fruitful in getting us some free food. It only took a little bit of a white lie to get us in on some free guests-only buffet action at a nearby hotel, though technically we didn't do anything wrong as they never asked us if we were staying there or not. Although after 2 weeks I think things were getting a little suspicious. Jokes on you boys!
A few days into the trip my mate George flew over from the UK for his first DWS experience so it was cool to see what he thought of Diablo. I think his words were ‘F**k me that's awesome'. Yup, just about sums up the place!
It was really cool to be climbing on that amazing pocketed wall of Diablo again. I just can't get enough of ‘Loskot and Two Smoking Barrels' and thankfully Dave wanted lots of shots of it so he didn't have any problems with trying to get me to climb it again and again. Hooray! The climbs there are just sooo fun. The crag's about 22m high with the crux's for most of the routes around 15 to 20m up so you get a pretty full-on experience! But it's almost totally safe and definitely the best form of climbing for all out fun by a long way, unless you enjoy the prospect of a 22m fall onto trad gear....in which case you're just mental. I managed to feel more comfortable on some routes from last year that had felt desperate last time round so that's progress I guess!
George Latching the Dyno thread on ‘Loskot and Two Smoking Barrels'
We didn't spend too long at Diablo in the first week, partly ‘cos it was too hot, partly ‘cos Porto Cristo is really boring (!) and partly ‘cos we were really psyched to get over to check out a place called Cala Barques a few kilometres south of us. Barques is almost the total opposite of Diablo. It's got three main caves that max out at about 15m with loads of easily accessible climbs all above the bluest water I've ever seen! It's pretty much a climber's paradise when you whack the secluded beach and totally chilled atmosphere into the equation. It does suffer from the odd sun-bathing cow that likes to rampage through your food. True story! It was cool to get some shade during the day and slackline on the beach whilst waiting for the cooler temps in the afternoon. Definitely gets you more psyched when you're in total sloth-mode for most of the day waiting to get out and ‘ave it'.
The cow that stole all our food for the last two days on the beautiful beach of Cala Barques.
(© George Foster)
We spent a lot of the climbing time in the ‘Metrosexual' cave which has some of Barques' best DWS routes. Got worked by Bandito 8a that I did last year, took ages to work out how the sequence went again and when I finally got it dialled I fell off the ‘easy' finishing. Ah well though that's the fun bit about DWS it doesn't matter if you fall off....well most of the time anyway! At least I didn't cry though!
George coming to the crux of the very steep ‘Bandito', Cala Barques. (© George Foster)
We got some pretty interesting chats going on for Dave's film about style, ethics and risk in between burns at Diablo and Barques. There's nothing like a bit of DWS to make you realise that climbing should first and foremost be about fun. Everything else comes second to that I reckon. Who cares how you do something as long as you enjoy doing it (within reason obviously....I mean I don't want to be responsible if someone goes and bolts Pavey.....don't by the way).
Dave Gill slacking by moon light on the insitue slacklines at Cala Barques.
It was cool to get to work on some projects like one of Sharma's grade 8's up the left side of the Diablo face with a BIG move at about 20m. Came close a couple of times but it's sometimes hard to fully commit when you're that high ha. Scary! In fact everyone was gunning for individual projects, Dave actually wetting himself when he latched the crimp at the start of the crux sequence for ‘Loskot....' and George taking a bronze medal winning backflop after greasing off ‘Afroman'.
George getting psyched to climb by the crashing waves at the base of Cova del Diablo!
We celebrated these high points by hitting up another of the local hotels for a shower (the first in over a week....don't tell mum) which, by again letting them think we were guests, gave us free access to the attached fitness centre, complete with sauna (marginally warmer than the outdoor temps), swimming pool, gym and steam room. Not bad, not bad. This helped blur the time and it was soon that we had only a couple of days left. Wah wah wah! The only thing to do then was party and would you believe there was a ‘huge' club DJ playing in one of the local Porto Cristo clubs on one of the last nights. Coincidence? I think not.
Anyway that's me back in the UK now. Excited for some more Trad climbing if the weather ever breaks for the better. Starting at Bangor Uni in a few weeks and thinking about planning a trip to the Cirque de Unclimbables next summer. Psyched!