Colette and I have visited the crag of Santa Linya on and off for years. One of my favorite things to do as a climber is revisit spots you have tested routes previously. I have always been in love with the style of this place and its inspired me since the first time I read about it online. I remember hearing about the activity of Dani Andrada putting up 9b routes, the size of this cave, and all the potential routes. For me this was a new moment in climbing. Climbers from all over Europe started making more trips to the Lleida area for the new 8c+ routes and it became the birth of the modern Catalunya craze.
When we first visited the place it was 2005 and Colette and my first trip anywhere. We were living out of a tent, barely scraping by with money, and seriously slumming it. We had saved just enough money prior, quit our jobs, moved out of the apartment… and just kinda went for it. (When I think about it now, that is a perfect metaphor for my life actually. Taking chances and not looking back.)
That trip consited of climbing time with Dave, Klemen, and Keith Ladzinski and Nelson. We spent TONS of time at the comfy crag of Terradetes and my projects were in the 8b+ range. I was so easy to be psyched with all of the new buzz going on and the newest/hardest routes in the world being sent. Each day we would get news that Dani sent a new one, or a new project was bolted, or news that kept the intrigue high.
When we walked into the cave for the first time I went BONKERS…. running around screaming and almost crying. I think Colette was looking at me like I was truly crazy. I was just flipping out from seeing it for the first time after reading about it so much. In my mind at that point that cave was THE SH*T!!!!!!!!!!!
What’s so cool about the cave is that all the routes are so inviting. It’s simple to test out anything you want. Most routes have draws, bolted simply, and just plain accessible. It really is like a giant gym and it’s RAD!!!!!!! Up until this year my hardest in the cave was an awkward 8c called Ingravid Skerps, which I did on that first trip. I worked the piss out of that route and the day I sent (after two weeks of effort) Pablo Barbero walked up and hiked it right in front of me on his second try. He killed it and campused through sections I had to tech-the-fu** -out, which wasn’t just an impressive display of climbing, but a realization for me and for Colette… The feeling was: We were far from home and far from what we were used to. That was a perfect example of the sort of action that you come across while climbing here in Spain. The standard of what’s difficult here is SO much higher than the USA it’s sad. Daniel Woods!!!! Make your plans and come visit man!!!!!!!!!!
So fast forward to now. I am older and traveled more. I have a lot more routes under my belt and have learned how to climb better in terms of focus, energy, and prioritizing. I am able to literally enjoy rock climbing more than I used to. I can see through the haze of doubt. Maybe it’s because I am past the youthful-proving-myself-phase? Maybe it’s just because I have grown and become less impressed with things? Or possibly it’s just the plain old narcissistic-self-obsessed-climber-approach that is just inevitably present?
This year I have approached the whole endeavor with a new game and it’s actually working. I have come with a little strength and I am using it. Sending is actually occuring, my strength for this specific wall has increased, and the harder routes look a LOT more do-able. Confidence in climbing is so important and being able to see through routes and know you will climb them is a moment in time to relish in. As climbers we are always up and always down and this is just the natural cypher. I am at the crag almost every day, I climb all year long (yes I am VERY fortunate) and this is my experience. The lower you are in your climbing levels the more hungry you are to get stronger/better/faster/whatever. The higher you are in your levels the more trust you have in yourself and your success. The big questions is how do you regulate yourself? How can you determine when you will operate your best?
I know that my whole approach to climbing is the most effective when I am excited about the route, area, stigma, whatever. My friend Dave Graham is the same and surely with Chris Sharma too (two climbers I observe and look up to). The mode of operating at your peak performance always stems from a love, a sincere drive and a clean and simple motive that involves nothing other than you and the challenge. If course you have the contrary as well which is training, eating, analyzing, and all of the technical aspects that the competition climbers use, but I would know nothing about this sort of thing.
It feels great when your climbing levels are up and right now I am eager to take advantage of it. Usually when we come here for climbing it’s an act of bouncing around and hitting up this crag or that spot and working like 8 different routes. I love that style for a shorter trip, but to invest and actually climb your hardest routes you need to hone in and that is why 9a look so much easier than normal. Or even lining up two other 9a+ rigs that I just might climb…. this is an exciting moment in my climbing life and I am happy I can share it with you all…
Thanks for reading everyone. Much love.