A Bad Days Climbing!

After what was a great day out on Toix the day before, we were to have a trying day on Mascarat. We woke up to an overcast day, and decided that a trip into Calpe for some supplies would give us time to gauge what the weather was doing. After this little jaunt the weather seemed to have improved with the sun poking its head through intermittent cloud, and this was when we decided to head to Maskerat and climb a route called GEDE. At 6a+ it was at the top end of our grade again, however we fancied a go as the position of the climb over the Gorge and bridges that cross over it looked spectacular.

As it turned out I felt as though the best thing about the whole place was the atmosphere, from the first moment you step out you feel exposed from the hundred metre drop below you. The route itself was a mixed bag, all the pitches I climbed were fine, nice moves with descent holds. Unfortunately, these were overshadowed by the struggles I had on the other pitches and the bloody cold wind. On the first belay I was seriously getting cold, the wind cutting through the gorge at a rate of knots, I was regretting being on this climb, even this early on in the route. A long grove/chimney was one of the easier pitches and it felt harder than anything I have climbed before, I ended up wedged in, sometime with hands, feet, knees, elbows, back, shoulders, helmet all in contact as I squeezed inch by inch upwards. I was suffering, this pitch took it out of me and I feel as though I lost my mindset from this point onwards. I led the next pitch, and even though it was harder on paper, I breezed up the the next belay.

Now this belay was hanging, and all the slopey footholds were polished to death, the bolts had also started to rust, all not good news. I ended up with a spiders web belay, using every piece of protection I could, and was still uncomfortable. Jess came up and luckily led the final 6a+ pitch, she found it tough but worked her way up well.

I followed and like a shower of shit, scrapped my way up the face. I got two bolts up, and started to shout to ‘take in’ as I was pumped and needed a rest, as well as a recce of the next few moves. The rope stayed loose in front of me. I was really starting to feel the strain and with one hand locked off on a beaut of a hold I hung for a while, ever shouting for the slack to get taken in. My fear of the fall was exasperated by the ledge below, that I judged I would hit if I let go with the slack in the system. Getting panicked, I was shouting more and more. In the end I climbed up to free the hand I had wedged and lowered myself using the QuickDraw as a hold, even still as I lowered there was still some slack. Eventually I had to let go, I bounced off the ledge and no damage. So basically at the start again, and feeling pumped to the max. I ended up aiding this pitch here and there and again, climbed really badly until at the belay with jess. I could not get off this climb quicker, I was not having a good time. With the high winds, even stood next to each other we could not hear, so no wonder jess could not hear me at the other end of a pitch.

The next pitch was more of a formality, an easy bit of trad that was as sharp as the previous pitch was polished. We simul climbed in strong winds across the ridge until we saw it was fit to unrope and walk down. Compared to the day before, this had been a shit day for me, the weather did not play ball, mainly cloud with occasional sun, and a ball breaking wind that was freezing me on every pitch and belay. For the first time in a long time, I was climbing and wishing I was somewhere else.

After this climb we had a couple of days off, struggling on this climb has knocked my confidence somewhat. I have spent months building up to a decent grade and it seems this climb has shattered that work a little. Even after a couple of days I could not truly be bothered to climb, although set out a plan to climb Puig Campada, a long, but easy graded route with a more mountain feel to it. Due to the commitment in length and descent. We parked close and got up before the sun, all ready to go, we parked up and all around us were piles of auto glass, four that I spotted. After a quick chat we decided to not risk being broken into and to sack off the climb. Once again this brought on my lack of giving a shit about climbing, I would have been happy to have another day off! However jess had other ideas and soon the guidebook was out and we decided to drive toward Alicante and Murcia.

The more we drove, the more the wind seemed to get stronger. We arrived at one crag and it was rocking the van at the foot of the cliff and we decided to move on. The next crag called Marin, seemed a better option as the cliff had routes on both sides, so hopefully one would give us shelter from the wind. As it turned out, after a quick recce one side was nicely sheltered and we set off for the central sector that had a cool cave feature, and loads of high stared routes. We only managed a couple, as I started to get a trapped nerve in my shoulder. Although the routes were high stared, I personally felt that there was not much to them, apart from a super cool belay in a cave!

That night we wild camped at the same location, and at times felt like we would end up in Oz as the wind was so strong! It was the next day when we had a better day at the crag. We started on a descent three star route, and quickly followed this with a five plus. All was going well and so we thought we would try one of the routes in the cave, it was not in the guidebook, but looked a reasonable climb, although a little bit steep, and steep it was. The holds were great, you just had to find them, and a mixture of heel hooks and grit determination, eventually got me to the top, all nicely rounded off with a Rockover. We later moved to a new sector and climbed a couple more routes, both 6a, that worked there way through some cave features and were both great fun. By this time the weather was waning, and so we called it a day.

Even with a good couple of days climbing I’m not quite back on the horse, and feel that this lull in enthusiasm will dissipate over time. It’s a shame to be aware that I’m on an amazing trip, doing what I want nearly every day, and still I’m finding it hard to truly be there in the moment. At times I’m nearly outright negative towards the whole trip.

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