It had to happen I suppose, but I wasn't prepared in any way to endure such poor weather. I had ridden through Sheffield on the back of my golden ticket for three previous visits. I don't think many people have had such a fine run with the weather, but it's over. Officially. Four hours of climbing outside from ten days. After training, eating, drinking, hanging out with amazing friends, Sam and I made a spur of the moment decision to depart to The Spain House. Why the hell didn't we think of it earlier. I love that place so much. Good weather, great food, no people and new boulders. Ok, the South of Spain isn't exactly world famous for it's pristine bouldering, or pristine anything for that matter, but we had a trip to Switzerland to think of, and of course, free accommodation. Venga!!! We spent five days chilling, flexing and schmooling, three activities that seem very similar to the uninitiated, but are actually very different. In between reading, visiting the beach, eating and drinking Finkbraus (a waddage cheap beer) we managed to do some hard problems in some odd locations and also to visit one of the worst areas that I have ever seen, but hey, take the good with the bad. The best area is called La cabeza gordo, which translates as the fat head. Sandstone, would you believe, in the middle of a heap of limestone areas. On the first day we did a 7c (V9) and 7c+ (10), which were pretty cool. We tried an 8a, but didn't make much of an inroad, so we retreated back to the casa to further chill... Next came New Years Eve, which was celebrated in a rather surreal environment, a curry house, full of Brits, in the middle of nowhere, served by authentic Indian restauranteurs from England. At one point the house DJ played the Deliverance theme and I thought things were going to get hectic, but after calming my maniacal laughter and retreating to the car via another English pub, we laughed our way home. A great way to bring in 2012. On the 1st we rested, went to the beach, ate and walked to some random crags, but afterwards, we returned to Gordo, as we had business to attend to. It took me about an hour to figure out a killer sequence for the 8a and then I dispatched it in a couple of shots. It was a really odd mixture of technical and burly. Even I couldn't believe that I worked out the crux, a dragging toe hook as you take a boff undercling, followed by a step through utilising the same toe hook. Bam, first 8a of 2012, chamon. Unfortunately, Sam ripped his finger to shreds catching the final jug and that was the end of Murcia for us.
Next up, Madrid with my old friends Unai and Sara. I am sitting on their couch right now, listening to Salmonella Dub and drinking a nice cold cerveza. Today, we went to a cool granite area outside of Madrid, called Zarzalejo with another Madrileno, Pabi. We had a great time and did some absolute classics, including an awesome 7c, called un mundo feliz, a really long arete, which climbs onto a steep face and finishes with a big deadpoint. Amazing! There is so much rock around Madrid, it's actually quite strange that it's not more famous for its bouldering. Unai and Sara are about to open a gym similar to the Works in Sheffield. The Climb is unique for Spain, where climbing long, easy, tufa ridden, shit routes is practically a birthright. The Climb is going to change all of that, hopefully producing a stack of new boulderers to prepare the way for my next visit. Ha. Really, it's a cool place and should be a fantastic business for these guys. Buenas Suerte!!! Anyway, Happy New Year everyone, I hope y'all had a great time. Big ups to the Sheffield Massive, it was great to catch up with everyone. Can't wait to make it all happen again. Next up, Portugal and then Switzerland. Hasta Luego.