August 27, 2008 George Foster


Went to Mallorca the other day. It’s alright. In case you don’t know i’m now trying out a new way of saying fan-frickin’-tastic and i’ve chosen ‘alright’ to express it. So yeah Mallorca DWS is ‘alright’. In fact, if possible, it’s better than ‘alright’ it’s ace of base (which is also my new way of saying FUCKING [i’m writing this at 9.49pm so you can’t sue me] AWESOME)!!

It’s really, really, really FUN but i’m conscious of trying not to get swept up in the sudden propaganda that has sprouted from nowhere about Mallorca (new guides and a whole film dedicated to it in the past few weeks!). So just to clarify we got there first! There was no film and we don’t own a guide, so you can’t argue that we were following the trend. We’re not even from Sheffield! In fact we found the place and opened all the now famous and classic lines there…..okay that last bit was a lie. But we didn’t jump on the DWS bandwagon. I honestly don’t know why i felt the need to say that but there we are. End of disclaimer!

I hooked up with my two compadre’s (?) Dave and George (of ‘Sunny Siurana’ fame) after a journey of EPIC proportions that involved lions, elephants, a yeti or two, the grinch and nearly 40 hours without sleep (which may explain seeing the lions and that)… a few words of advice Palma airport is impossible to sleep in, if you look like a sleepy contender they wheel in a guy on a drum, if you get past him on the road to zzzzz-land they up the ante to a trumpet playing dwarf, followed by a scabby dog that wee’s on you and if you somehow get through all them you’ve got the dreaded Cauldron-tapping treatment….but i won’t go into that cos you won’t be able to sleep….but you get the picture i’m sure!

Mallorca in August is face meltingly hot, which in itself is a total understatement. It makes grown men cry and dogs chase their tails. In fact it was a feature of the trip that we never really started climbing till after 4pm, instead choosing to spend the day building ‘shade-nests’ in the bushes or sitting in a local hotel watching the olympics (there really was no escape…..from the olympics or the sun). After refreshing straight off the bus with a Coca-Cola (other brands are available) and tuna sandwich we headed up the road for my first view of the Cova del Diablo. Now it was a couple of weeks ago and the sun may have distorted memory but i’m pretty sure i wet myself. It’s adjective-defyingly INCREDIBLE. Easily the most visually impressive crag i’ve seen. One of the first things you notice is how high it is. Touching the bar at around 22m, with falling from the top being pretty scary! So to conquer this we all hucked off the top on the 2nd day, freefalling for about 4 minutes (minus 3min 57secs) it’s by far the highest i’ve jumped from but it’s the best way to get used to the exposure!!

There aren’t any campsites around Porto Cristo that we knew about or would have gone to had we known about them and we didn’t have much money so we slept rough each night either at the top of the cliff or (when it became too hot in the mornings) in the shade of a wall a bit closer to the road. It’s not the recommended thing to do. For a start it’s meant to be illegal….although we actually told the police (in our various dealings with them…..more later) on numerous occasions where we were and they did nothing about it! Mañana, mañana i guess! On the plus side you can feed the local wildlife and i’m expecting a thank-you card from the million ants and mosquitoes that got their fill of my blood (keep in touch guys)!

There’s not a huge amount to do in Porto Cristo (PC) so if you can hire a car then DEFINITELY do it. It makes getting to other venues so much easier (obviously) and lets you make more of your rest days….unless lying on a beach to ‘slow-cook’ is your idea of rest-day fun. There’s apparently loads to see, especially if you can get up to the north part of the island, with Disney-style mountains (ooooo magical!) and fellow tourists aplenty. As it happened we spent a lot of time either dodging the heat or trying to find ways of getting good things cheaply. In the latter we were pretty successful, managing to get involved in a free buffet service at a local-ish hotel by pretending to be guests as well as using the ‘spa’ facilities of another hotel (featuring a sauna, steam-room, swimming pool and gym) by assuming our posh alter-ego’s…..we’re hardly on a par with the Great Train Robbers but you’ve got to start somewhere eh?

I’m afraid we weren’t very British about the weather….well i wasn’t anyway! I’ve told you it was hot and you probably get the point….but it was really, really painfully hot! I came close to tears a number of times and threatened to book flights home – just 3 days into the trip! I know, i’m ashamed of myself too, but it was just sooooo hot! Okay enough of that. Except to say it was hot. Hot. Other things were hot in Mallorca too though, namely the chicas! Know what i mean?!? Say no more.

So yeah we were getting well fed and well rested, but did we actually climb? Well yes of course otherwise it would have been a wasted trip. Diablo is perhaps not the place to go if you’re not comfortable in the mid-6’s as there’s only a couple of routes around the 4+ to 6a mark and they’re invariably the downclimbs! As we found though it’s just amazing fun to fall off anyway, which to be honest is more the reason to try DWS than to actually get up things. You get into the main meat of the cova (or ‘cave’ in English…thank me later) by a quick 4+ downclimb and a short 6b+ traverse, which should see you in the ‘Afroman’ (one of the best routes anywhere in the world) cave. From there either a jump and swim or a 7a+ continuation traverse will get you to the larger cave and platform from where you can get on the famous ‘Loskot and 2 Smoking Barrels’, ‘Ejector Seat’ and ‘Lobster’s of this world. EVERY route from ‘Afroman’ leftwards to ‘Lobster’ and indeed ‘Surfer Dead’ is a true, hands-down uber-classic!! You can get to the cruxes of most of the hardcore routes via some relatively easy climbing so for any passing pro-photographers you can look like the real deal as you do battle with the 6-foot dyno on ‘Loskot…’ or yard along the pockets on ‘Afroman’. If that’s what you’re into of course……otherwise just chill in the sun and have fun (ahh poetry).

I should at this point shamelessly advertise Dave’s film that is currently in production and due to premiere at this years Kendal Mountain Film Festival. It’s called ‘Call It What You Want’ and follows our fellow DWSer George (Ullrich…..for it is he!) scrambling routes like an egg (see Dosage V) all over the Lakes (Impact Day, Dawes Rides the Shovelhead etc.), the US (boltless on Bachar-Yerian and crazy Bishop highballs) and now Mallorca. The film covers the interesting and tetchy (?) subjects of style, ethics and risk with celebrities galore like Ron Kauk, John Bachar, John Dunne, Dave MacLeod all giving their tuppence worth. Mallorca was the last segment to be filmed before the long process of editing and has some awesome footage of ‘Loskot…’ getting lapped by George (amongst other routes) along with lots of rambling and the all important splashdowns! It promises to be ‘ace of base’ (see start) so check it out at the KMFF or buy it when it comes out late November.

Aaaaaannnnnyyyyyway back to the novel. After a few days at Diablo we hitched over to check out an area called Cala Barques a few kilometres south of PC. It was tough giving up our free food for 4 days and although he wanted me not to say Dave started to cry….his number is now deleted from my phone. He needn’t have worried though cos we were hitching back and forth after less than 24 hours for something to do during the midday anti-chill!

Cala Barques is really, really cool. A perfect, secluded cove with a small, golden beach and the bluest water i’ve ever seen. It’s just a shame they have hooligan cows who wander the beach and eat all your food!

That doesn’t detract from the place in the slightest though, it’s really incredible. You still there? Cool, well yeah there’s 3 main areas at Barques with the best of the climbing in the first two caves. We spent most of the time at the 2nd cave dubbed ‘Metrosexual’ after the classic 7a+ there. Unfortunately that’s also the cave warm-up. Hmm. Still it’s the perfect route following a wandering line of holds that link big holes/pockets maxing out at about 16m above the water (which is literally tiny compared to Diablo). The only thing you’ve got to look out for there are jezza’s! Either don’t get in the water, which is not fun and unavoidable, or swim with Dave….the human jezza attractor!! When swimming round from the ‘Metrosexual’ area to the nearby ‘Snatch’ cave (full of power testpieces) through a channel that was at most 3 metres wide Dave took the brunt of 4 (!!!!!!) stings in one go whilst me and George ‘sailed’ on through. However there is no known terror that equals the unseen jellyfish so i wisely sprayed some ‘brown sauce’ to ward them off whilst we made it safety. Phew. George kept up his crushing and ‘sent’ (wooo yeeaaaaa) some old favourties from his and Dave’s first trip last year, though not all went according to plan when he fell off the 6b finishing moves of a gnarly looking 8a. If you’re reading this….you’re off the team. Sorry.

We returned to PC and Diablo refreshed and semi-acclimatised. It was by now a week in and we stank! Something up in the sky must have had pity on us cos the 2nd of the previously mentioned hotels came to our aid with showers, saunas (ridiculous given all our moaning about the heat outside), a gym, swimming pool and a massage (apparently i have a ‘special’ back [the randy bitch ;)] and George’s back is just plain fucked!). So by just acting like we knew what we were doing and being bold we spent the rest of the trip strolling in there every lunchtime for our ‘complimentary’ spa sessions. Bunch of fanny’s!

We carried on living it up for a few days but the trip inexorably began to draw to a close. Cue the wonderful people of Mallorca putting on a special party just for us right there in PC on our next to last night! So kind but then when you’re local celebrities what do you expect? It seems to be common on these trips that we do something stupid involving drink and as much as i would like to say this is not one of those occasions, it was. We found out about a shindig going down at THE local club at around about 9pm…..just as the shops started to close. In a panic we wandered about until we stumbled (we weren’t drunk yet but it sounds more dramatic) into a petrol station selling vast quantities of the local absinthe for dead cheap! Uh-oh! We had no idea what time the ‘party’ started but as we were the guests of honour we had to make sure we were suitably pissed before we got there. We therefore did something i’ve not done in a long, long time. We sat on a bench in the middle of a roundabout and chased the bottle of absinthe with 70cl bottle of beer each. Somehow (cos me and George are girls and every shot of the absinthe was like drinking the drippings of a weightlifters gooch) ‘Clive’, who has no such taste aversions (hmm coincidence??), managed to get infinitely more drunk than we did. It was probably no surprise then that on the way to the club he decided to take a short cut over a car, with the owners mate stood chatting to us less than 2 metres away. Whoopsies! Off we stumbled amid threats that he’d get the owner and come find us. ‘Yeah right’, said we. Well ‘yeah right’ indeed cos ‘Clive’ was duly chucked out of the club followed by me and George who fell right into the path of a very angry owner plus his equally angry looking crony. Luckily ‘Clive’ was nowhere to be seen. A comedy of denials and wild-goose chases enabled us to buy ‘Clive’ some time to get clear back to the ‘campsite’. The poor lad was in no fit state to navigate and went the wrong way, collapsing by a tree in front of shocked family’s and holiday-makers eating at the seafront restaurants. Coincidently he chose the tree closest to a bar that our mate the ‘friend of the car guy’ was drinking in. We found ‘Clive’ with 2 police cars on the way and a small crowd gathered round him demanding money for the ‘damage’ to the car. After some degree of negotiation, ironically with the very same policeman who had helped us out when ‘Clive’s tripod got nicked (pikey bastard), though he failed to see the funny side, we got away with an 80 euro fine and a bottle of water. ‘Clive’….you’re off the team as well. Sorry.

The decision to drink (governed, like all our important decisions up until then, by the law of ‘rock-paper-scissors’) was a noble one in concept. We needed to unwind and have a bit of fun, it wasn’t like we were on holiday or anything after all! I do think though that we took it a little smidgin too close to the line. Actually bollocks to that it was hilarious and no one got hurt so why not?! We did of course try to climb the next day but it was useless! I kept getting shut down on ‘Afroman’ (though i got as far as Katie Brown does on the film ‘Perfecto’) and eventually got put off it after performing a bronze medal winning backflop after greasing off an undercut. George got agonisingly close to his trip project a Sharma 8a+ with a big, SCARY sideways dyno 20m up. Dave (in his other role below) gets full marks for screaming himself off ‘Loskot…’ after triumphantly exclaiming that he’d ‘Got the fuckin crimp!!!!’ at the start of the crux sequence. A proud effort.

I’m just about done now. Sorry that this is so long winded and probably pretty dull! Mallorca as i’ve said before and will keep saying is EXCELLENT. If you can handle mid-30’s temperatures then by all means go in August but it’s probably best later in the year. DWS is simply the best form of climbing you can possibly do for all out FUN. It’s great! Just ignore the desire to get to the top and just enjoy the climbing and where you are. The whole point of DWS is falling off cos that’s what’s fun, although it’s pretty exhilarating snatching through a crux 21.5m up!!

I am Spartacus!

Comment (1)

  1. Very entertaining, George! Much better than the BBC news website for a Monday lunchtime anyway. At my age (!) I’d never get away with this kind of behaviour, or usually be entertained reading about it, but you seem to have got round that problem. Still not sure you’ve sold DWS to me though… I can’t swim very well and I definitely don’t like jelly fish. And I hate getting water in my ears! Even more than I hate the BBC news website at lunchtime.

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