Catalonia Road Trip

At the moment my life is changing rapidly: I finished my master’s degree in computer science and I am looking forward to my first job. But before, I wanted to fulfill a little dream of mine: another long climbing trip to Spain. With Paul Schall and Lulu Raab, I found two highly motivated friends to realize this trip.

I have known Paul and Lulu for a few years now and we were already climbing together in the Frankenjura, Southern France and in Iceland. A perfect opportunity to add Spain to our team travel list. The first destination that we wanted to visit, was Margalef – a small village in Catalonia on the edge of Monsant famous for its excellent climbing. The plan was to continue to Oliana or Santa Linya, but somehow we liked Margalef so much that just stayed there ( and it was not our first time in Margalef – especially Paul had already spent multiple months at this place). But why changing the climbing spot if it’s just perfect?

Lulu figuring out her way …

Picturesque village  and endless rock

And Margalef is a perfect place – we really enjoyed spending our time around this small, picturesque village on the edge of the Montsant national park. There is one campground with showers and a bar next to the village and a very minimalistic (but also quite cheap) one near the water reservoir in the valley. Margalef itself provides some holiday homes, a hostel, a cafe´ (with free Wifi and a shower) and a small supermarket which is opened for a few hours each day.

Some climbing sectors are located around the village, most are located in the valleys around the water reservoir. There is an unbelievable amount of bolted routes ( > 1000) and different sectors – it is worth to buy a local guide book and to support the local people which bolted most of the routes. It depends on the season in which sectors are possible to climb: in winter only sunny south-sided sectors are possible for climbing, in spring and autumn also shady north-sided ones. The climbing in Margalef is very powerful and specific with a lot of finger pockets. To really have fun, I would recommend a climbing level around 7c, even though in the last years, also a lot of easier routes around 6a to 6c got bolted there.

Drop knee to stick the crux …

Active regeneration

To explore more of the beautiful landscape, we went for a spontaneous little walk on our rest day to the next village from Margalef. Active regeneration is favorable for the best possible performance on the next climbing day. We enjoyed this extensive walk through the hills of Monsant until we decided to take an alternative way back on the other side of the valley. This spontaneous decision led to an exhausting 8km hike back through the pathless undergrowth. Returning to our point of departure after hours, we were completely done. Too much active regeneration for us on this day …

Paul sending in the evening sunset …

A story of success …

The long duration of our Spain trip with more than three weeks allowed us just to climb whatever and whenever we wanted. So we climbed a lot of hard routes, but also some easier ones each day just for joy. On this trip, two routes were outstanding for me.

The first one was „El Ball Del Triceps“ (8b). I had tried it some years ago but it felt way too hard. This time, I checked out the upper part a few times from bolt to bolt, but never was able to climb the single moves of the crux sequence at the very beginning. I imagined out a way that could work for me, figured out a plan and just climbed it in one single Go: I stuck the first three moves and just kept climbing on and on all the way up to the anchor at the top. Before I had touched the wall, I knew that I was ready for it – Paul did not and was completely speechless …

The other one was „Nacido para perder R2“ (8b). It has a super athletic, but insecure in the upper part and a really hard top out from the crux to the anchor without any rests any more. Surprisingly, I stuck the crux moves one time and realized that I was way too tired for another Go if I would fall in the top out. So I focused as good as possible after 25m exhausting climbing and fought really hard to reach the top of the wall. This route is nice to watch because it is quite exposed and has a lot of athletic moves. A lot of people were watching me and cheering me to keep on the wall. This was really motivating …

Sticking the crux there was no way back …

…. and failure

I often write about hard routes that I was able to climb. But I think it is important to mention that I also struggle in a lot of projects. I got way stronger and adopted a lot of skills in the last decades. But I still have to learn a lot like most of the other climbers …

At the end of this trip, I wanted to climb something harder and picked a stunning overhanging 35m line graded with 8b+. An absolute dream line and the route was absolutely doable. But the last moves of this route consisted of a dyno in a mono hold followed by a dyno on a sloper hidden in the top slap. I climbed the 33m of 35m around 8b quite often and pretty solid – but I kept falling at these dynos on and on. The moves were just a tiny bit too powerful. This was an absolute dream line – I was super frustrated …

Paul shows his skills on finger pockets …

Getting in touch

One cool thing about such road trips is that you meet a lot of super friendly and inspiring people dedicating their life to the pure joy of climbing no matter whether they are from Spain, Switzerland or Germany. Special thanks to Elli, Guillem, and Uri who spent a lot of time with us and made this trip extraordinary. I hope we will see you soon at the Frrankenjura …

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