Let’s start with a little moan, the bloody weather! I mean what the hell? I’m in Spain, and it’s starting to feel like I’m still in England!
Anyway moan over!
We left Portugal in horrendous rain, and in two days we made it to a small town just on the outskirts of Madrid, called El Escorial. I pulled into a large car park late at night on the outside of town, only to find one other car there, with a guy inside with the light on. He watched our every move, we were joking that he was a murderer just waiting for some customers… who knows, but either way we survived the night. The next morning we were awoke by a bright light in the sky, the sun! I had nearly forgotten what it looked like it’s been so long!
We met up with our friend Carlos and his partner Raquel, and took a walk around the local bouldering area, with their five dogs, which was entertaining, as ever we enjoy having dogs around! We only walked around and did not climb, however we took in all the key areas, looking at routes and discussing the different moves required!
Following this, we went into town and after trying a few different locations, ended up at a Japanese restaurant that they frequent, it was nice and different to what we usually eat, so made a good change! After refuelling and with the weather holding out, we headed back up the hill to actually get on the rock!
We went to a different location than we had been on the morning walk, sector La Puerta. We started on an easy section, although I felt like the problems were either very graded or undergraded, with little in between. The first a grade 4, was pretty simple. However the one next to this was a different league and anything but a 4 graded climb. Me and Carlos worked the route for a while before cracking the sequence. Talking of cracks the next route, Fisura Ines, was a tough finger crack, with terrible feet! I felt the burn on my finger tips that were locked in tight, only for my feet to slide off, and it felt like sand paper on my finger tips as they scraped out of the crack! It was hard work, however I eventually got this problem done, and it was as hard as the previous climb, only graded way higher. The final problem on this block was an arête, graded at 6b I expected a tough climb, only to go and onsight it? Easiest route with the highest grade!
After this it was starting to get late, and one of the dogs was wrapped up in all the layers to keep warm, however we had one last crack at a problem over the road, a fantastic cluster of boulders stacked atop of one another. The line we were attempting was called El Filo Del Monstruo, at 6c+ it was way above my usual grade and if I was not with present company, I might not have tried it at all! As it turned out, we did not get too far, although we managed to start linking the first few moves, it did not get much better than this. One day I would like a descent amount of time at a location such as this, and just see how far I can go!
That night we capped off a good days bouldering with a couple of beers! We all piled into a fiesta, four bodies and five dogs and headed to the pub. It was a good laugh and within a couple of drinks, I reckon we were all a little tipsy and definitively defining me as a lightweight!
The following day we were invited over to Carlos’s place to hangout as the weather had returned to its usual rain. We managed to make this a minor admin day by getting our sheets cleaned and grabbing a normal shower! Little treats that go a big way! We were also pampered a little, as they cooked us a lovely lunch of fresh mussels! I think the dogs were enjoying their lazy day and all the extra pampering they got from two fresh faces who don’t mind giving out a little fuss!
The next day was a working day, and even the start of the next day jess had some work, however as it was the only day of the week with good weather, we could not miss an opportunity to climb. Once we arrived we headed to sector Karmita, and was soon joined by Carlos, Raquel and their five dogs! We immediately set to work on the problem La Nariz (6a), which started on a pair of awesome underclings. The crux was moving from the overhang, getting your legs high to then finding a potato hold. It took a few goes, however I soon found the limits of balance and managed to snag the potato hold. Luckily on my first go to link all the moves I got it, but not without a slip to shake me up a little.
We stayed in the same area and both me and Carlos tried a route called Suyapa (6b) which started with a jump start to land your foot on the smallest crystal foot hold, once there it’s a simple task of rocking over on the crap hold, whilst manouvering your body and weight on two fingers. It’s fair to say, we gave it a good go, I’m not sure how many times between us we tried, and although we were close we just never quite got the lip at the top, which would have opened up the rest of the route.
We climbed one more route together on the same block, the arête, which had two large potato hold, well spread out, that required a revering of hands on the first, to push up and gain the second! A tough move that I managed quite quickly, somewhat to my surprise! Jess nearly me it time and again, and Carlos got it in the end. This was enough to call time on the day, and so we headed into town for some lunch, conversation and a well deserved drink.
At the end of our second day bouldering and post beers and food, I did not feel like I would be able to achieve much, however I managed to send Al Lado de Invertidoso after a few attempts at the different sections. It was quite a tough climb, as it had a great hand hold ledge, that also become foot holds in the form of heel hooks. Once this is traversed you climb higher and using the arête and an intermediate hold I was able to reach high and grab a jug at the top, one of those ‘oh yes’ holds! After this, the rest was a formality, a good end to a great days bouldering!
That night we wild camped at the car park, there is one section that is flat enough, but that’s enough for us. So far, I have enjoyed it here, and the hospitality of friends has been amazing! Hopefully we will have a few more adventures in the area before moving on, depending on the weather, logistics, plans etc all going off without a hitch? We shall see what happens, either way I think I will be happy if I get to have another crack on the boulders as they are that good!