After a beautifully relaxed New Years day/rest day, people watching in Palma, we had planned to head to an area called Sa Gubia. This is the name of both a mountainous summit and the old dry river below. Sa Gubia is probably best known for its multipitch routes and our initial plan had been to get up and out to hit one of the longer ones. However, not quite being as organised and enthused the day before as might have been necessary and then offering to drop ‘random Dave’ off at a local town so he didn’t have to work out Palmas bus system… we weren’t going to arrive early enough to garuantee a daylight return, it looked like rain and in all honesty I was not feeling the climbing love. Which turned out (for me) to be the makings of an ideal day. Andrew got me leading on all three routes we did, including a 6a and taking a fall on a (small) overhang. We could also see the girls on the other side of the valley hitting the multipitch routes (and amusingly, due to the nature of the echoes, hear them (much better than they could hear each other at times!). The last route of the day was one of the best I think I climbed all week (and actually one of the easiest which justifies a lot of my thoughts on grade focused climbing!)
Follow this with the 2hrs in a Spa and a Lebanese dinner – sitting on a corner sofa with £5 cocktails and all my favourite food! I’d say the new year has started pretty damn well.
So with 2016 in a fine start could we top that on our penultimate day/final day of climbing? Obviously! And I didn’t even climb…
Changing our plans at the last minute to meet the girls (adopted additional members of our trip in my mind at least..) we drove up to the restaurant parking of Alaro. The combination of a tiny road, multiple steep hair pin bends and left/right issues made for a fun drive, though with me driving I suspect it didn’t do much for Andrews stress levels.. We arrived just after the girl and were able to head over to the crag with them. Which was fortunate because we’d have never found them if we hadn’t..
After a confident start the approach meandered into a series of ‘well we haven’t seen this yet so let’s keep going’ scrambles and ‘there’s a rope for safety here’ (oh holy sh*t it’s a washing line) slab traverses. After a particularly safe (death defying) traverse, when I’d decided I wasn’t going any further, we saw bolts! Then we saw quickdraws left in a route and belay anchors and the feeling arose that we must be close to our location. At this stage I’m really not convinced and looking across the stunning vista before us (oh yes all of this is completed at 600ft above the valley floor) realise we are facing south east, and the crag is on the west side of the mountain. A brief argument whilst A suspiciously confirms my orientation and it’s agreed that I’m right, we know pretty much exactly were we are and there shouldn’t be any climbing here, but there is, so we call sod it and decide to climb it anyway!
Disa, little Disa and Andrew (as the nominated loons) pick routes and head off/up. (I feel it’s unfair to have Disa B as little Disa so to even things out Disa C will be known henceforth as crazy Disa). Crazy Disa and Andrew are climbing either side of a fat tufa (giving the option of bailing out onto the other route if it goes pear shaped) and little Disa has headed up a cracktastic tufa covered overhang. Crazy Disa needs to sit at every bolt on the last half of her climb and hers is easier than Andrews route which is essentially blank at the top; he manages to get to the penultimate clip before the tearing of hedgehog sharp rock and sitting in a cold wind takes its toll. A quick rotate and little Disa manages to make good of the beta (unnecessary climbing term for route advice) on the first section and nail the last two clips. Both Disas’ reckon we have two 6b/6b+ routes and a 6c+ minimum, but in reality we have no idea what we’re climbing and it’s awesome fun (and actually far safer than the approach walk imo).
The girls rate these as the best climbs of their trip so far. This is all of course way above my pay grade and whilst I’m having great fun taking photographs and being belay monkey, I’m also freezing cold and far too stiff to risk getting on routes I can see from the ground I will struggle on. In fact I need to start heading back before the girls as I’m not confident in making the trip at dusk and A and I both head off – it not being a route to walk alone. This is justified by my having brained myself standing up underneath a tree to fast..
View was pretty good
So how does a none climbing last climbing day rate? Up there with the best. Which goes to show how much climbing is not all about the personal (selfish?) achievements. Okay the outstanding Tapas dinner accompanied by live guitarist (yes we went back to the best bar of course) helped. But being outdoors, scrambling adventures, excellent company, outstanding views, learning from the others, good groups in tricky situations, fun and friends; these things make a day.
Climbing isn’t just a sport, it’s a lifestyle and I love it.
(A post note: I didn’t think I needed this trip, but I did. So, Malin, Karolina, Kristen, Clara, Jana, Disa and Disa!; Cedric, Loic and Baptiste; all the other craxies we met; and Andrew – Thank You!)