Over the past few months I have been waiting, anticipating, preparing for one thing, going back to Spain. Catalonia is the centre for sport climbing in the world and every aspiring sport climber has come to face the challenge of the areas hardest routes. Last time I had gone was two years ago and the hardest I had climbed was 8b+ but could I do one better? 8c?
The first two days were a shock but I'd expected that. I was just getting into it. On the third day things clicked. We travelled to Oliana, which is a really futuristic crag with endurance routes up to 50 metres! The route I tried was called China Crisis, about 35m of slightly leaning wall guarded at the bottom by two fierce boulder problems. On my second try I climbed shakily with my arms almost giving in on every move. I was at the last clip but I fell going to a crimp, 35m of climbing and I'd have to start from the bottom again. Next go I climbed well and efficiently reaching where I fell the go before and easily doing the moves. Yes I got it! In the evening I tried Fish Eye but got shut down by a move at the top which was pretty gutting! However next to China Crisis was an 8c called T-1 full equip.
The next day was going back to an old enemy. Rollito Sharma 8b+, this route was the opposite to China Crisis. It was about 20 metres long and really hard the whole way up it. On all the goes that day I made it to the crux but wasn't anywhere near doing it as I was just too pumped.
Ok now it was back to Oliana, to try T-1 full equip. My first go I did all the moves but up high was some desperate moves on tiny holds. Next go was a little better and I managed to do the boulders at the start where the second felt about 7B. I also managed to find a better sequence on the top although it was still hard. I wanted to do something that day so I sent La Marroncita 8b second go. With the sun dying and the air chilling off I decided to give it an all out attempt. The Spanish have a phrase a muerte which means to climb until death giving it everything and holding nothing back. I was going to go a muerte. I wasn't surprised when I got through the boulders at the bottom but I wasn't very pumped at all. I set up for the first hard crimp sequence and it went! Now I was panicking the next one wasn't as hard maybe I could do this, I slowed myself down and chilled out. I knew I could do it. Moves where previously I had slapped I now grabbed static and before I knew it I was clipping the chains! My first 8c! I was over the moon.
I didn't want to stop there though, I still had Rollito Sharma and I wanted to try to climb 8a+ first go. The next day we went to Terradets. The climbing is unreal there. A 35m leaning wall dripping with tufas situated in a gorge full of 600m walls. I started by climbing 8b which was one I'd left unfinished from the first two days. When it felt loads easier it might have been foreshadowing a great day. Next I flashed an 8a Luke had tried a couple days ago. I was just getting going next came an 8a onsight where I fought like a savage through the final crux. A friendly Spanish man was trying a 8a+ and I watched him to get the beta then I would try to flash it. I managed to get through the boulder problem start now I thought maybe I could do it. I climbed into a big pocket and pulled onto two bad crimps above it. I was stuck with a heel in the hole, above my head a huge spike! Just out of reach to get it comfortably, I jumped and felt my feet swing out wildly but the spike was good enough for me to control the swing and I stuck it. From there I was in and I climbed to the top of my first 8a+ flash!
Now the only thing left was Rollito Sharma and I took a rest day to recover. This was going to be my last chance. I was lucky the moves felt easier and I knew I had a good chance of doing it. My first go from the start I stuck the crux move but was too shocked to keep myself together and get to the end of the crux. Right I just needed to keep my head together. The next time I got through the crux but only just and now I had a brief rest. I thought that I might not be able to do the crux again so I was really nervous for the final hard move, probably the hardest move on the route. I set up and jumped for the next hold. I held it and had the power to match in to the pocket. I got the bat hang rest which was super comfy because of my Evolv Shamans and felt psyched that I was going to do it! I clipped the chains after probably doing one of the hardest routes I'd ever done.
The last few days I took easy and just enjoyed the climbing still I managed to flash Mon Dieu another 8a+ at Oliana and I dropped the last move on a 8a+ onsight so maybe that'll be the next goal!