2012 started with a day skiing, which was also my second day on skis ever. I would like to say that I want to learn how to ski ‘to improve my skills in the mountains’, so ‘I can ski into alpine routes in the future’. This is true, but I mainly want to ski because skiing is ridiculously fun, even if I did face plant on numerous occasions. I also enjoyed the steep improvement curve; on day 3 I was actually twice as good as on day 2. After climbing for 16 years, I must have lost my chance of finding improvement curves like that at age 7.
Then I went to El Chorro for two weeks. It’s somewhere I have never been before, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. We visited this awesome crag called Loja a lot – it isn’t polished at all, not busy, and has some amazing routes.
We also risked our lives acessing the routes in El Chorro gorge via the famous El Caminito Del Ray. Basically, this is a walkway that runs along the inside of the gorge about 100 metres up. I doubt the walkway was that safe to begin with, but after over 100 years of concrete cancer, the whole thing is a bit of a joke. But, it does add some spice to a day’s sport climbing, with much fun spent mocking the sketchy ‘safety’ line, body sized wholes in the concrete and parts of the pathway that had simply fallen into the gorge below. It also cements my admiration in the Spanish mentality of being way too chilled-out to both make a safe walkway and stop people using it once it has clearly fallen way below any vaguely respectable level of safety.
As for climbing… well having spent the Autumn climbing granite cracks and boulders, then having almost a whole month of rest over Christmas, I knew I wouldn’t be in the best sport climbing shape. I found that my strength wasn’t too bad, but I just didn’t seem to be able to recover, even on MASSIVE jugs. I would shake out and shake out, but get nothing back.
But, on the last day, it seemed like my body was starting to work properly again and I managed to recover in the knee bars of this really cool 40m route called El Oraculo at Makinodromo. They book says 8b, but the folk say 8a+. From my poor knowledge of this grade, I would say its 8a+, I definitely found it easier than Les Chacals (Rodellar). But, I was mainly pleased to have been able to recover on the jugs, even if I did have to wait until my last day.