Tuesday, 12 April 2011

La Ola

Day 1:
We set up camp in a small farm by the side of the road, at which you can buy stuff for sale: sheep and goat skins, ceramic pots, stones gathered from the hillside by the farmer's many children,freshly-made goats' milk cheese. We shared the site with a number of goats, chickens, turkeys, dogs, and the many children. Unfortunately I was struck down by illness on our first morning at La Ola, the sort of illness one doesn't want to have to deal with the encumberance of a climbing harness, for the comfort of all.  So I took the morning off, chilled out in the sun and chatted in bad Spanish with three of the farmer's children: Jonatan, Azul and Ailen. They were fascinated by my Spanish dictionary and we had great fun translating Spanish words into English and then learning how to pronounce them.

Towards the end of the afternoon I decided I was probably well enough to risk a visit to the crag, at which I did two routes with Chris from Wales, at 5+ and 6a.  La Ola is all about either very steep overhanging rock or slabs (otherwise known as slabby shit) - rock at a gentle angle but with few holds for the hands or feet and so demanding balance and technique from the climber; as the former were rather hard and perhaps a little risky I stuck to the slabs, something some of you will know is not my favoured terrain.

Day 2:
Sadly still a little ill but much improved, so Some climbing from the start, at La Ola sector, a venue comprising a horrid-looking slab topped by an overhanging wall. Martin and I warmed up on a couple of slab routes at about 5+ - teeter, balance, trust those feet on the that minute granite crystal when using another to pull up on with a finger held in place with the thumb, feel really brave doing this way above the bolt (well, maybe a couple of metres anyway), why does this slab feel like a wall?, arrive at the top having forgot to breath for the last 10 minutes, clip into the top with a sigh of relief.

We then attempted to follow Manuel up Thor, a 7a up the upper overhang.   Unfortunately he was unsuccessful on the final moves; Martin had a go and then I managed to complete all the moves necessary to retrieve the gear - but this involved many rests and lots of grunting and cursing.  Then across the road to the Ultimo Sol de Marzo sector to complete an easy 5+ and afterwards the return to the truck to pretty much chill out for the rest of the day - too hot, then  (inevitably) couldn't be arsed.

Day 3:
Feeling much improved again I returned with Martin to the Ultimo Sol de Marzo sector to have a go at a couple of routes - 6a (yeah,right, really off-balance move followed by a rightwards leap to a three-finger side press), 6a+ (if one is tall - mega egyptian then full stretch with the right hand to a small sloper along whihc one had to finger right to a better purchase - but only if one had that extra reach) and then finally (a properly-graded) 6a.  Once again the heat drove us off the crag so back to the truck then back onto the rock with Ee Fu for three more slab routes in the evenig before returning to the truck for cook duty, from which I was banned due to my recent illness and so ended supervising from the truck.  Macoroni Cheese with cheese.  Took ages.  Troops restless but appreciative in the end.

Day 4:
Back to La Ola with Martin for some more slabby shit.  Following advice to do stuff I am averse to.  4 routes, actually quite good, between 4+ and 6a(+?), all somewhat precarious and again I felt really brave teettering above bolts on microscopic fooholds and slippery rounded handholds.  Too hot again, back to the truck for guard duty and cook duty, from which I was again banned.

Day 5:
Breakfast was an experimental pasta milk pudding - some ill-placed complaints from the customers I felt, but also some positive feedback.

So, despite illness, 17 routes in 4 days with 4 different climbing partners.  Not too bad a visit.


  1. Hope you are feeling better now. Good to see you are getting on the slabs - you know it will be good for you. Anita says your pasta milk pudding sounded very 'special'! I don't expect you will be eating much pasta when you return.

    Have a great time in Rio and please send more sunshine over t'internet.

  2. I hope Anita's comment wasn't in any way ironic or sarcastic...

    It will be holiday week in Rio so should be lively. Plan is to do one route up Corcovado and so over the tourist balustrade at the Cristo Redentor.