Living the Life…

I’ve been living in a tent for the last 3 weeks in Camping Siurana. The journey up to this point has been a very interesting one. Before the trip began I was in Cape Town with Yvette for a week.

It was really special to be at two of my really good friends’ weddings so close together. I felt very privileged to be able to spend the time with Yvette and witness two unforgettable occasions!

 

I worked out of the Cape Town office during the week but thanks to the long days was able to get in some bouldering up in Echo Valley.

 

I got back to Joburg after the time in the Cape feeling a bit stressed. Things weren’t quite where I needed them to be before going off for a month. With some sort of a miracle, I managed to fix everything that needed to be fixed before saying good bye to Yvette and starting the journey to Spain.

Grivin and I flew to Abu Dhabi, where we had one of the longest layovers in history. This was my fault, but I couldn’t do anything about it. 19 hours in the airport really was unpleasant. By the time we finally arrived in Barcelona, I’d been up from Thursday morning till Saturday afternoon. I was starting to fall asleep on the drive and I was driving.

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Hmmm, I’m in the airport and this is all I can think about!

It really was a full on epic to arrive but we are finally here. We found the ultimate campsite and poached as many chairs as we could find so that we could be awesome. Besides, no one else was here.

Grivin and I started our climbing bright and early on the Sunday morning, neither of us were capable of climbing on the day we arrived. We started off climbing some easy stuff, up to 7a+. Then we got to check out this awesome sunset!

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It was fun to be able to onsight a whole bunch of new stuff. I quickly found my rhythm and was onsighting 7b+ and 7c in no time at all. There have been a bunch of close calls on 7c+ onsights but nothing just yet.

I have met a bunch of cool guys in Spain, one of which is an 18 year old Scotsman on a gap year. Callum, is onsighting 8a and 8a+ on the pocketed rock at Montsant and is quite a beast.

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Expert belay skills coming through

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He was there when Grivin gave us the fright of a lifetime. I think he took a few years off my life when he reached up to that first draw and came tumbling down to the ledge and then rolled off it. I thought he was simply dead, but then he started screaming violently. By the time Callum and I reached him, I feared the worst. He was laying in a very contorted position with his arms and legs twisted behind his back. I rushed off to get my phone and call for a rescue. He had just fallen 12m and done a backflip off the ledge in the process, the madness!!!

 

Some of the locals came around and were amazing in the assist. The Catalonia Fire Department came in a blazing and very dexterously dealt with Grivin, who was now sitting upright and joking with us. He was carried out in a basket and rushed to the hospital for x-rays. 

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After a ride in the ambulance and a scintillating time at the St Joan Hospital in Reus, I drove Grivin back to the campsite where we drank beer and celebrated life with no major injuries for the Grasshopper, now known only as FIRST DRAW. The legend of first draw has spread far and everyone now thinks of the young blond guy before removing their draw from anything they climb. The legend even reached South Africa where people are now saying, “Don’t do a Grivin, be careful at that first draw.” I’m just glad he’s ok. The only thing that is still bothering him is his heel, but it’s ok, we’ve got an Ausie to help with that!

20151231_132151Enter Les McNicol, a very cool climber who’s spent the last two years working in the UK. Never have my sides been so sore from the hysterics in the campsite. He’s the stuff that legends are made of, and he brings the psych with him! Talented photographer and all-around good guy. Fantastic to keep the psych high on a trip like this. 12486103_10153847575416613_4843680125270005195_o

It’s been fantastic to be based in one area, we have spent a few days in Montsant as well and I find it very challenging. A sea of pockets on 60m walls on which one can drown in waves of pump before sinking on to your ropes, screaming. I tried to onsight an 8a and 8a+ there and found myself way out of my element. The technical 50m 7c on the other hand was right up my alley and Les was there with the lens to capture the moment and the sunset.

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Kamaleon (7c) — 50m of technical pockets and slab at sunset

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Falconetti (8a+) – Burly!

This brings us to the New Year, it was strange indeed for us foreigners — not a single bar or restaurant opened till after midnight. Fortunately for us Camping Siurana was open and leading the way for the celebration. At midnight we ate 12 grapes and shared in sparkling wine to toast in 2016. I started to feel absolutely rotten that night, I think I caught the plague from our Ausie friend! Fortunately, the beer and huge shot of warm tequila killed the plague and brought me back from the brink!

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This is how we prepared for the new year!

I met a few awesome people at the party! Great contacts that I really hope to host in South Africa someday! Got to love Facebook! Well, now I’m about to wrap up my post and go try one of Toni’s new projects with him — So much for resting. Psych is just too high to handle the down time.

 

 

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