Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Siurana - Part II

After settling in our new place, we discovered that the scattered crags of Arbolí are actually just a bit further up the road and much closer than Siurana. The crags are split into several clusters of cliffs and are all described in a guidebook "Guia D'Escalada Arbolĺ" that can be obtained from the bakery in Cornudella. While lo-fi, the guidebook is excellent and up-to-date (it's the 6th edition published in 2012). We've had no trouble finding any of the routes or sectors thus far. Proceeds of sales go toward the equipping and re-equipping of the routes.

I've seen some photos online of a sector called El Falcó (we think it means "the bat") so we headed there first. After warming up on some fun easier routes at an adjacent wall, we headed to find the impressive wall of El Falcó. It's huge -- the full run is probably close to 70 meters, but most of the routes are between 25-40 meters long. Most of it is a slightly overhanging beautiful sun-drenched orange with bands of crystals and interrupted by lower-angle stripes of highly-featured grey limestone. There are lots of pockets, cracks and flakes of all varieties. I hopped on a 30-meter 6c "La millor de..." in the middle of the tallest part of the wall that had me yelping with joy all the way up -- amazing sequences followed by awesome rests, culminating in a crimpy and highly technical crux to the anchor. Really an amazing and complex route, it's got big moves on good holds and it's constantly a little run out run out so it stays exciting all the way up. The I immediately decided this is probably the best 6c in the world and possibly the best route I've ever climbed. Then I did the 40-meter monster 6c+ route ("Haber pedido muerte") just to the left -- it's constantly vertical with several delightful bouldery cruxes followed by decent rests and it just simply never ends. It follows a more obvious line of pockets, ending in a technical and thin dihedral followed by easy climbing to the top. I couldn't believe it when I finally clipped the anchor -- it took me at least half an hour to onsight it! It takes 16 quickdraws and more than 70 meters of rope -- we had to improvise a bit to get to the ground, but there is a second anchor half way up that lets you lower with a 60-meter rope. Molly followed both routes on top rope and agreed that they were pretty ridiculous climbs. In the photo of the wall below, the 6c follows the left edge of the grey band in the center-left. The 6c+ ends just below the right side of the little roof that has the shrubs on top -- if you zoom in, you can see the short dihedral section that Molly is in in one of the photos about 2/3 to the top. El Falcó is fantastic with most of the routes between 6c-7c and averaging around 30 meters in length. It easily rivals anything we've seen so far at Siurana in our difficulty range. Best of all, there was not a single other person to be seen, no litter, no toilet paper anywhere (many trails to the crags around Siurana are covered in it) and the SW exposure means that you get the pleasant late-afternoon sun. It was perfect for our marriage anniversary! Highly recommended -- we might go back for a second day later in the week. There is a 40-meter 7a+ I'd like to try and Molly wants to redpoint the 6c...

Molly in "La millor de..."

Molly in "Haber pedido muerte"

Molly entering the upper crux of "Haber pedido muerte"

Wall of El Falco with village of Siurana in the background

Siurana from El Falco

El Falco on the right and Siurana village crags in the background

Panta de Siurana -- artificial lake 

When you drive around these parts you see amazing cliffs everywhere and wonder whether they have routes on them. Then you realize that probably most of them do... as longs as they are near a road. Yesterday we headed to one of these that's just before El Falcó called Can Simiro. We warmed up on some mediocre 6a's and since Molly decided that she's had enough climbing for the day I decided to try some of the longer 7a's -- at only 20 meters they seemed rather short compared to El Falcó but they looked fun and rather overhung. I got on "No m'enganyis més" but I botched the onsight by misreading the bouldery crux. It went pretty easily eventually on the third try (my foot slipped on the last hard move on the second go). Second 7a of the trip, a pretty nice birthday present! The angle had gotten to me and I felt pretty tired, so we took a nap in the shade on the ledge... gorgeous view and again absolutely no people. Molly eventually convinced me to try the route to the right ("Agua de fuego") since it also looked fun -- I was pretty far from an onsight on that one, though I figured out the sequences pretty quickly. We hung out on the ledge a bit more and headed to the village of Arbolí for a beer and some jamon serrano... yum. Fantastic birthday -- today it's Molly's turn to celebrate and to decide what we do -- so far there's been a lot of relaxing, followed by delicious food in Escaladei and lounging in the sun underneath the massive cliffs at Morera de Montsant...