All paths lead nowhere, choose with heart

September 29, 2010

Filed under: Climbing,Trips — sendann @ 11:25 am
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My last full day in Mallorca, but lord knows no one is this entire country can imagine climbing before 2pm, so I’m waiting for the troops to rally for a last go at Diablo Wall, the tall, steep, juggy wall over rough water. It’s the classic Mallorca spot, but man, I can only do so many 11b downclimb approach traverses in a day.

this is the approach for cave climbs at diablo.

I keep falling off the end of this classic route Afroman, which is super chill with a long move at the end that is just such a drag to miss, because you fall far and have to swim in the rough black water then exit onto daggars. A climber died doing it (the exit not the climb) years ago. I don’t know the story.

Falling off of the top of Afroman. The water is soft, but the color and motion make it intimidating, and the swim out is pretty scary

It’s so much fun, though, with huge roof moves than some campus action on the headwall, that I keep trying it. I want to finish it today then try something else there, possible this harder line out left of the same cave. I’ll probably try it once, then get owned by the swim and the raging water exit, then go home. I am so, so grateful for all the swimming I did this summer. It’s come in so handy here.

Tomorrow I’m heading to Siurana to meet up with Ryan from London, who I promised a tour of Spanish sports action after he took me to that crazy highway gym. The Christensen’s are there too. We’ll climb for about a week, then I start making my way home, which feels kind of unknown and daunting. I haven’t nailed down my living arrangement, or my Hueco plan, or anything, and I’m nervous to go back. Fortunately I have my birthday and a few days in France to enjoy before that.


the river September 27, 2010

Filed under: Trips — sendann @ 9:17 am
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In Rodellar I was walking with my friend Laurencio from Brazil, who is 22 and has been living in Ireland learning English for the last few semesters. He was explaining how much he loves the river, the Mascun I think it’s called, that runs through the canyon there. We had this exchange:

How do you say this in English, ‘to take a bath in the river’?

Um, you just say “take a bath in the river.” We don’t have a special expression or word for it or anything.

No? Well I love to take a bath in the river.


Mallorca with Boys and Team Christensen September 24, 2010

Filed under: Climbing,Picture Taking,Trips — sendann @ 11:06 am
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You know when you arrive somewhere, and it’s so obvious that you have dropped into the middle of a well-bonded group of people on a trip together? It’s a thing.

I left Rodellar on Wednesday and drove with the Christensen’s and Australian Carl to Barcelona. Carl headed to Seville for the next leg of his round-the-world adventure, a Flamenco festival followed by a hitch hiking expedition to Morocco. I think Australia’s primary export is dudes.

The Christensen’s gave me a ride to Porto Colom, where Gustavo, Matt Tscholl and some thentofore unknown dudes were staying. Andy hooked me up with them before I left, thanks Andy!  Turned out I know some of the other boys from Hueco, Mogli and Antonio. The guys have this huge apartment on the water. They’re deep into a month-long trip and are in that hilarious social zone where everyone has a nickname and there is constant singing and it is total boy world. After climbing yesterday we invited the Christensen’s to stay with us for their 3-day trip, and having Susie around has evened things out in the sense that there is slightly less farting and talk of ‘cougars’ who obviously ‘want [them]’ ‘so bad’.

It’s rainy here right now, and yesterday was cold and cloudy with very soggy holds and chilly wind. But we went out anyway and I was psyched to send a couple of hardish  lines first go, including several 11e’s. I tried a harder route called Stranger in Paradise, but even the approach was hard. I fell twice on the first big move. Here are some pictures of that.

This is the approach to Strangers. I know.

So far Mallorca is pretty awesome but like I said, conditions are a little rough. It rained all night, but the sun is out now so we’re hoping to go climb under the Lighthouse in Porto Colom. I think the whole approach setup is the toughest to deal with. It’s a lot of “jump in with a dry bag swim to that wet ledge and hang out then start the climb really awkwardly” and “downclimb a warm up and hang out on jugs then traverse over and do a route” stuff. I think we have the approach beta nailed back home with bow starts and cadillacs. Here are some more pictures of yesterday, taken by Jeremy, who is loaning me his computer after mine died its final death in Rodellar the other night, rendering my last two weeks a bit more stressy, work-wise. Thanks J!

Me, Susie Christensen and our trusty guide Antonio contemplating the approach to Strangers, where Antonio is brushing and drying the holds

Trying Strangers

Andrew Christensen on Tower of Power

Me goofing around at the Tower of Power area.

I got that bathing suit here and I am so psyched on it. Pink hot pants, friends. It is the future.

So I’m thrilled to be at the beach, with people who are very “home” feeling, and without a rope or draws. My brain is in a totally different mode too, and the things I’ve been mulling over for the last couple weeks have faded to the background a little. I think so hard about stuff, like money and relationships and the future and what to do next season, and I wish the whole time that I could just get over it and stop worrying, then suddenly I’m kinda over it and it’s like, dang, I feel a little lost without that anchoring duress. Oh well, to the lighthouse!!


America the Beautiful People September 21, 2010

Filed under: Climbing,Picture Taking,Trips — sendann @ 10:12 am
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Another climbing couple I’ve gotten to know on this trip is the Christenson’s of San Francisco, who are, apparently, a big deal in the trad world. We met in Ceuse, and have a similar itinerary, so we’ll be riding together to and in Mallorca tomorrow, and might be in Siurana at the same time in October as well. Viva the circuit!

They tell me about each other’s notable Yosemite sends, but I’ve never heard of any of them so I just say ‘wow’, because I sense that I am supposed to know what the Moonlight Butter is. Anyway, they are two lanky, gorgeous people who completely crush at crimpy face climbing. I went out with them and our friend Blanca from Pampalona yesterday.

The company was great. The climbing, ugh. I don’t even want to talk about it.

But Andrew took some nice pictures of us, including this one, which illustrates precisely how I feel while climbing on crimpy faces.

Here’s a few more. I’m wearing a polka dot tank top from Target, and these corduroy shorts I’m not sure I like yet. I got them at a clothing swap. Click the images to see them bigger.

It rained hard last night, so I’ll wait until the afternoon and probably go out with Lu and Pita. Hopefully we’ll go to this sector called Boulder de Jon, which has a few  15 meter 7a 45 degree routes, perfect to sooth my shattered face climbing ego. I know I only get psyched when I’m projecting, so I need to pick a facey project and work it, rather than just give up and freak out when I fall on the on-sight. We’ll see. This may not be the trip where I do that.

I’m heading to Mallorca tomorrow to meet up with Gustavo and company. Psyched to ditch the harness for a bathing suit and just beach for a week.


Full on Brazilian

Filed under: Climbing,Trips — sendann @ 9:45 am
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It’s my last day, for now, at Rodellar. This is probably the funnest hard climbing I’ve ever done. I am never happier than when I’m memorizing beta for a powerful, steep route. I think I tend to pick ambitious projects, and that might be part of why I rarely send anything, but I had a total victory here on a fat 28 meter tufa line called Nanuk (7c). It only took 5 tries total and two days, and on all but my very first run I went all the way to the top and fell at the end. I even managed to use 2 kneebar rests, which is huge for me because I hate to rest. On Nanuk the moves and the rests get progressively harder, ending with a few strong roof moves and an unlikely high step situation. It was a very perfect project for me in many ways, and having done it so soon after sending Jesus/Chuy is a total feat of concentration. Yes, I know that is pathetic by many standards.

Here's Nanuk, with this random Austrian underwear model standing under it. Peep those ClimbTech draws.

My Brazilian friend Luciana was working Nanuk and recommended it to me. We worked it together for a day, then both sent. Lu is from Rio, she speaks like 5 languages and is just freakishly beautiful. She’s traveling with her boyfriend Pita, and they are two hilarious people with a fun couple dynamic. Pita kind of reminds me of Capt Bastard, with his skilled climbing, enormous green backpack always full of jumars, somewhat checkered history and easygoing, self-effacing attitude. Another Brazilian climber here told me that Pita is a pretty big deal in Brazilian climbing, that he fa’d and bolted lots of stuff all over the country. He’s all about cracks, big walls, short walls, choss, he’ll climb anything and be perfectly psyched.

Pita and Luciana at Grand Boveda

He and Lu have these hilarious arguments in Portuguese while she’s climbing. “You know what we’re saying?” Lu will ask me, and I don’t. Then Pita explains, “she says ‘oh it is so much easier when I do it like this,’ and I say yes I told you do it like this three days before!” Then Lu yells, “but is better I learn myself!”  Then Pita wanders off laughing, and one-falls 8b’s for a while. Lu is the kind of girl who, once it’s too dark to get back on her project, will climb on Pita’s projects with a headlamp just to wear herself out before a rest day, then hike out in a rage wearing flip flops.

Lu has had enough

Lu's double brush action

Climbing with them has made for some of my best times so far on this trip. I’ve had good luck with other tufa climbs here, but I’m still flailing and failing when it comes to crimpy face climbs.


this is the last word on Ceuse, and we shall nevAr speak of it again September 19, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — sendann @ 8:51 am
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So now that I’ve had some time to reflect, and climb at Rodellar which is such a soul-nourishing experience, I’m getting some perspective on the Ceuse thing. It was horrible. I didn’t mention this while it was happening on account of I was embarassed, but I think I cried every day that I was there, except my two rest days, where I did cry once out of joy. I cried while climbing, I cried while trying to sleep in the freezing cold, I cried when facing the hike, I was just sad. It wasn’t even my normal frustrated crying because I can’t send big scores and I’m disappointed in myself thing. I’m kind of getting over that, and content to live in v4++ land forever. At Ceuse I was crying because I truly believed that if I fell I would die or permanently injure myself. And I can’t climb through that kind of feeling. And I don’t think I ever want to be able to. On my last day there I was mulling over the possibility of staying for a few more weeks, to see if I could get better and more comfortable, maybe send, dare I imagine, a 7a. But then as I was crying on Berlin wall over a move I had just made without a problem, I decided no. This was not even close to fun.

I was explaining this to some Australian’s last night, and one asked “so would you go back?”

“Hell no!!”

But ok I would. If I was with a partner who was super psyched, and who I trusted, and who is more experienced and comfortable than I am at that vertical angle and style, and who could handle some crying, and we stayed for a full month or something, I would go back.  Otherwise, I’m over it. Viva Espana!


espana azul September 15, 2010

Filed under: Climbing,Trips — sendann @ 7:34 am
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Dropped the boys off in Barcelona yesterday and drove to Rodellar. Here’s a tip, if you’re driving to Rodellar, keep in mind that “Huesca” and “Osca” are the SAME PLACE, so just keep followin them signs. Some people just spell it differently. Probably Catalan separatists.

Rodellar is like Ton Sai, Thailand, in the way that it seems to exist just for climbers, and is positively overrun by an international rastafari cornucopia. I was delirious when I got in last night around 11. I stumbled into a restaurant and ate pizza and bought a very expensive guidebook. Unfortunately my Spanish is just good enough so that my questions  get answered. In Spanish. Blar.

I had spend a lot of the drive thinking about my dog Ned who died last January, and I was kind of hallucinating that he was in the backseat which was weird. It’s amazing how quickly I go from feeling so psyched to be on my own, because it really is in so many ways so much easier to ride solo, to very lonely and homesick. Hopefully I can skype or ichat with someone from home soon. I’ll probably end up on video chat with Merrick for half an hour, though, since he’s the most reliable video chatter I’ve got. Jackie advised taking silly self portraits to cure the sad, and since I haven’t heard any better advice, here goes.

Ok. Got to figure out if I’m going to stay at the hostel or go camping. Might camp for a couple nights and see how it goes. Then I need some food. Then I’ll go try the belay hitch hiking thing again. This place is, climbing wise, in-freaking-spired.