Rain, rain go away, come again another day……oh you did. Well go away again and come another day…..oh you did, again…..can you see where this is going? No? Maybe stick to the Hungry Caterpillar then matey yeah? If i could sum up my recent excursion to Spains’ version of North Berwick in one word, that word would be ‘moist’.
It would be fair to say that on those particular days when we 4 noble Englishmen graced the shores of the lands that gave us bullfighting, siestas, cervezas and….er….other such things the old adage that ‘the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain’ could never sound less apt. Or maybe it could because technically the rain in Spain did fall on the plain…..and the woods, hills, mountains, bulls and beaches too.
Having spent a drizzly first night bivied under Sector Can Megashite (not it’s real name apparently) we awoke proper psyched out of our little minds and crushed the fuck out of everything we saw, i did A Muerte 2nd go, George moved in for the flash and Sam turned the bitch into dust. So with everyones main goal for the trip done we decided to warm down with headtorch onsight solo’s of La Rambla and Golpe de Estado. I then climbed a super sick, awesome new trad line up the left-facing corner crack opposite Espero Primavera called Mother-hubbard Bitch-slap (E14 8a) and we went home. The End………..Naaaaatt. You idiot did you really think that happened?? No? Oh just me then. Wishful thinking i guess. Yes it’s all bollocks (apart from the headtorch solo of Golpe de Estado….i fell off on the 2nd move….it’s well hard).
We awoke slightly psyched in the steady drizzle and hunted about like a dog with 6 dicks for something dry to climb. Negative. We settled for the super-hard testpieces at Can Megashite, except there aren’t any so we just did a couple of easier 6’s to get used to a) the rock and b) climbing in general, the 3 of us having had a bit of a lay off for a while. I can’t really remember a huge amount of what happened in the first few days except that we got on whatever was dry and dodged whatever was wet. We lived in luxurious squalor at L’Holla (which ALMOST never gets wet….more on that later) and flailed on the climbs round there….well i did anyway.
On the 4th day God sent down upon us a horror of which we never thought to see, namely the arrival of Robbo who, after a wallet-rapingly expensive journey from the airport, brought with him some of the sunshine from home. Literally not metaphorically cos he’s basically a bastard (joking, i love him dearly). We celebrated Robbo’s arrival by sitting in the town square all day waiting for the shops to open until boredom took over and we developed the art of shape-making (see pic – all photos Sam Farnsworth and Ben Robinson – lovely jubbly).
The locals were SOOOO impressed and serenaded us with shouts of pure glee, they even opened their shops early for us and gave us an harem of concubines to accompany us towards our next destination….Montsant.
Getting a lift up the road with the friendly neighbourhood taxi man was an experience. We had no idea what he was saying and he had no idea what we were saying…..Gawd bless ‘im. Somehow we managed to get dropped off roughly in the right place and started on a frantic ‘freestyle-night-sprint’ through a 2-mile thick wall of thorns until we came upon a flat bit of less spiky ground to spend the night (see pic below). We decided to do some exploring about the place in search of some more cover in case it rained (as i heard it does every now and then in Spain) in the night and took upon a touch of midnight caving. It was all jolly, we found a whopper boulder, climbed down into its underbelly and began climbing out again. Me and Robbo were last out and just as i was yarding up on another bomber pebble lodged into an equally bomber massive jammed boulder the whole fucker made a downwards movement towards little Robbo’s upwards scrambling head. Shitters. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and Robbo’s will to survive is now as strong as it can be no doubt! The rest of that night passed without so much drama, we were lucky enough to see a moon-halo which was incredible and inspite of finding a potentially suitable rain-cave we all decided a night under the stars was safer.
In the morning we slogged it uphill with the sun on our backs with the aim of getting a team ascent on an awesome looking multi-pitch way up where the falcons live. It was a bastard epic! Of course Samwise and the Ullrich beasted it, making it look piss. Sweet. Me and Robbo semi-waltzed up the first couple of pitches all totally (French)free (check the crush on the pic below – complete with ‘Tssaaaaaaaa’) till , with one pitch to go, we decided it’d be better to take a diversionary line up the right arete of the buttress, a line that ominously disappeared from view just two bolts up. Hmmm!
Big frickin’ deal how hard can it be was mine and Robbo’s unanimous decision. One hour later with Robbo desperately reversing back to the belay with tales of monster run-outs, no bolts, tied off tat (basically tying off a tie off!!!!) and hella loose rock we decided that the more regular finish to the route was a wiser choice to make.
We carried on with our nomadic existence and later that day had a wander over towards Montsants most famous area – Raco de Missa. A whole 90 billion miles away. I hate walking. Anyway we found this beeeeeeeoowwwwwwtiful boulder to kip under and serve as our base for the next 4 days, or until our food ran out.
We again lucked out on the weather and headed up the hill with a raging sky inferno threatening to kill us all. However we made it and all was good again. I learnt some valuable lessons up at Raco de Missa. Firstly Raco de Missa is INCREDIBLE and secondly EVERYONE in Spain regardless of nationality speaks English better than we do. The first lesson became apparent on the choice of warm-up, an incredible 35m 6b+ on immaculate pocketed limestone. The main difference between Siurana and Montsant apart from route length (Montsant being generally longer and more endurancey) is the state of the pockets – Siurana being VERY fiddly and tweaky and Montsant being very not any of those! The second lesson came into being at the base of said warm-up when a hot as fuck Slovenian chick commenced to drop her trousers RIGHT in front of me revealing an ass the likes of which i have never before seen and may sadly never see again. It was positively angelic; magical and mythical all in one. It can be described as the truth, the knowledge and the power. Trust me on this one it would make your eyes water and your knees buckle. So i did what anyone in my position would and proclaimed it’s wonders to all those around me. In retrospect this was a mistake. She, of course, spoke excellent English, as did her boyfriend, all 12ft, 8d+ crushingness of him. Cue embarrassing crag chat as we all tried to ignore what just happened. Whaddayagonnado?
We decided for the next day to just chill for a bit and bum around on the routes at the boulder (not literally). Not a huge amount went down, by now it was a minefield getting to and from the cave cos of the various ‘chocloate satchels’ dotted about the place, so that was entertaining, and Mr G Ullrich von Liechtenstien went on a crushing mission on one of the beastmaker routes in the cave. I’m not sure i’ve ever seen anyone (save for Johnny G and the Notorious G) crush this hard (see pic).
Unfortunately the plan to have a ‘rest’ day down at the boulder in order to return fresh for Raco de Missa coincided with the last dry spell we had all trip and the end of our food supply. Shitters. Subsequently we boosted back to Siurana and into the warm embrace of our home from home – the L’Holla cave. What was i saying earlier?? Ah yeah that cave NEVER gets wet…..
Imagine then the surprise when i woke at 3am to find myself literally, figuratively, metaphorically and hilariously floating past the Ullrich on a tide of rainwater that was flowing freely into one side of the cave, straight into the path of a conveniently placed waterfall that was, by this time, cascading over the top of the crag to land pretty much on top of where poor Samwise and Robbo were a-kip. All together now…..shitters! We were queueing (as all good Brits do) at the door of the campsite bar come 9am.
Contrary to belief, and as if aware of our fragile mental state, the weather for the next couple of days after that actually turned nice. By this time we had cut our losses and purchased a caravan on-site to sleep in….it was a beauty, known simply as ‘The King’ (see below for the sexy interior).
We spent a lot of time when not climbing, or avoiding the rain, or getting into the background of Dave Mac’s new climbing film, idolising one Mr Ben Heason aka Uncle Ben. He took us under his wing and chauffered us about the place in his love-wagon. What a hero! It was after one such lift that we managed to get a sustained bout of climbing done, down at Espero Primavera, a crag i’d all but overlooked on my last visit the year before. It’s ace. Home to some of the best routes in Siurana for the average bumbly like myself. Here we learnt the joys of the Swedish language, watched a French dude properly nearly deck from the anchors at the top of a 35m route after a miscommunication with his belayer and witnessed some hardcore crushing from all members of Team Britain. Georgey Ullrich destroyed a load of hardcore 7’s cos he just felt like it, Robbo blasted the fuck out of a 7a as if it was soft bread and, while i don’t like to brag, me and Samwise just mothertruckin’ crushed.
Unfortunately cos of the weather and other things we didn’t manage to get a fully productive trip on the go, but thats all good. Montsant is definitely on the list for future visits and we learnt some valuable life lessons about the joys of caravanning etc. Got a lift back to the airport from some dodgy ass Lithuanian dude who thought we wanted apples instead of the airport?! So if you’re planning a trip to Siurana best check the weather and pack a brolly…….just in case.