I just returned from 30 days in Andalucia, Spain with my friend Primo (Jose Luis Palao). Primo and I had talked about making this trip happen for probably years and I had some time so why the hell not make the move??!!! The idea was to dive in head first and hang out with the Spaniards, climb like we do, bolt, stoke eachother up, and just be fanatics about what we love. The destination wasn’t the usual Cataluña… it was to check out Andalucia. The less hyped South of Spain that I had heard SO much about. The whole idea sounded intimidating, because I can speak a little Spanish, but honestly not that well. I knew that if I went I would learn lots. Basically, eliminating your native language entirely leaves you with the choices of sink or swim. I figured why not… I’m a survivor. Stressful? Yes. Productive? Very.
Climbing is the language we can all speak and feel comfortable so I pretty much trusted in that. The day would be filled with action at the cliff, but what about all of the other down time? Primo has never left the country of Spain and speaks absolutely no english. How would we meet in the middle? Primo has always been someone I felt comfortable speaking with. He is patient, calm, and never awkward. He’s very Spanish in that he never shows a puffed-chest-ego, he is very supportive of his friends and he is always stoked to climb. He is my friend, my partner, and someone I share a lot in common with. I also learn a LOT from him.
I love to climb my best and it’s a lot easier to reach goals with someone to motivate you, expose you to another style, level, or approach to climbing. I’ve never trained in the gym nor do I even know how to (I would honestly love to learn some training programs). The school of Spanish climbing is the best training I’ve ever known and has been the one I depend on. I’ve always put my energy into what matters to me, which is a special route or a goal. I climb because it feels good and it makes me happy. But, if you want to get better you need to “train” and progress. You can’t always expect gains from climbing without intensity and support. I make my life around the rock. I prioritize the cliff and the means of making that my life and I am very fortunate to be able to do this.
If you want to get better as a sport climber I suggest going to Spain, observe Spaniards, and keep your mind open to the hard-core–barely-rest-die-hard-climbing that I experience every time I go. This is how you will progress. You will be exposed to another world of climbing and you will learn from it regardless. If you think you try hard? Take a look at the Spanish climbers. If you think your levels are up for sport climbing? Take a look at the standard levels in Spain, it’s mind-boggling. The best training is sometimes a lot easier and intuitive than you might think. Exposure, observing, and immersing yourself into the Spanish way might be what you are looking for?
I’m a lucky person to be able to visit Spain as often as I can and in a lot of ways this has shaped who I am as a person and a climber. I hope anyone that’s eager to go… GO. Put it on the credit card. Make the move. The season is now and time is here and then gone. I encourage you to enjoy that place, go climbing there, eat there, share energy with people, and observe it all.
GO!… you will leave with something and I can guarantee you that.
AND IT’S LIVE!!! Enjoy everyone… Bearcam hooked this one up and showed a lot of the fun we had while in Flatanger. What a trip. I cannot wait to return. Thanks to Black Diamond for putting this on and being the dream sponsor that finally entered my life.
“Healthy climbing landscapes are only possible because of personal commitments to care for the places we climb.The ROCK Project brings awareness to best practices that help all of us become great stewards and leaders by example. We are proud to partner with the Access Fund on education standards that will make our climbing world a cleaner and safer place,” says Phil Powers, American Alpine Club executive director
This is it… the word is now out and everyone of you… ALL of you should commit, join, and spread the word. We are truly in a new world as climbers today and I have joined and commited to this. “ROCK Project is a new initiative that will work to infuse the climbing community with educational messages and psyche that inspires and empowers climbers to dial in their skills as climbing stewards and practice responsible Leave No Trace behaviors while climbing outdoors.”
I had to post this one up for the simple fact that Lebanon looks stunning to climb and open routes in… and for what Brittany has to say about bolting new lines. Thanks Black Diamond for the presentation.
The other day I made it! I made it to the top of my current project at my beloved Zebra Wall on the Cascade cliffs! I had been trying this rig for the better half of July 2014 and was on my mind a lot while in Norway. I know that might sound goofy, but the rig is special in so many ways. First ascents are always more involved and meaningful and with the history and controversy at this wall and my route development this route has even a greater meaning. The three routes I bolted (Joe Bunyan 8b+?, Weekend at Bernie’s 8b+/c?, and Blue Sky Black Clouds 8c/+?) are now complete and absolutely the best lines I have ever put up. The stone is perfect for the skin, the features are round and interesting, and the climbing is thoughtful and all based around sensation. I love this place and am so happy to contribute with these dime-pieces. I have completed what I started at this cliff and paid a hefty price for it all. If anyone heads up before the snow comes enjoy the climbing, but please take care and be mindful as it is a delicate and special place. I know you will.
Thanks for reading everyone.