Rodellar is regarded as one of THE sport climbing meccas. Whenever I told people I had never been they were shocked and insisted it was a venue I must visit. They were not wrong! Walking down the gorge on the evening of our arrival it felt like paradise. There is a beautiful three clad river running through the valley with amazing overhanging walls of orange limestone above, I could not wait to get stuck in.
A Cravita 8a was the first route of note. The route follows an impressive steep blunt prow with ever increasing difficulty to the crux move just before the chains. I went for the onsite but read the sequence wrong at the top and blew it. It was a formality 2nd go although my body didn’t feel all that well prepared for the long mega routes here in Rodellar, perhaps several month of boulder setting wasn’t ideal preparation. I was going to have to get fit quick.
The next day we climbed Pince sans Rire 7b+ and Gracias Fina 8a. Pince sans Rire is an incredible route, which climbs a huge tufa system with no particularly hard moves. It is a must for anyone climbing at this grade and is up there with the best 7b+’s I have done anywhere. Gracias Fina felt desperate, I had to give it a proper fight, perhaps the slightly wet holds and the fact I was on my 8th day of climbing didn’t help. I was in need of a rest day.
Unfortunately the rain started after our rest day. There were torrential downpours, strong winds, thunder and lightening. Rodellar doesn’t cope well with sustained rainfall and after a few day of this weather the tufa systems began to seep, making them unclimbable. We needed to search for a route that had stayed dry.
After several hundred meters of wading up the gorge through the swollen river we arrived at Les Chacals 8b, which, miraculously, looked bone dry. Les Chacals is different to most of the other route in Rodellar. It climbs a slightly overhanging wall on small edges, small tufas and “the ice cream cone”. The crux is low down and if you get through this you are faced with hard section separated my ok rests. On first acquaintances the route felt nails. I thought there was no way I would be able to climb it this trip. My 2nd go wasn’t much better and I was feeling pretty negative about the route, I almost stripped it but as it was the only thing dry we figured be should give it another go. This is when things changed, Ben West put in a good attempt climbing it in two overlapping halves, the psych began to build, and perhaps it was possible after all. On my 3rd go I climbed through the crux, fought my way through several hard sections before fumbling a big deadpoint move 30 meters up and just a few moves from the chains. My attempt spurred Ben on and he climbed it on his next go. Having fallen so high on the route the go before I wasn’t sure if I would have the beans for another good go. I got on it none the less and found myself easily through the crux, resting until I had recovered what strength I had, the dead point move when smoothly, just a few more moves to go. My strength was suddenly gone, tank was empty, just a few more moves to the top. The fight of my life ensued, I should have been “off” every move but somehow I wasn’t. I clipped the chains with the biggest smile on my face. This route had been an emotional rollercoaster, from feeling really negative about how hard the route was to feeling elated clipping the chains in just four goes was a great feeling. Les Chacals is one of the best routes I have climbed at any grade anywhere.
The crags were still seeping but La Kanabica 8b looked climbable despite a wet start. The route climbs a great twin tufa feature before a hard boulder on small edges at the top. Climbing this route was all about being efficient through the bottom section so as to have the strength for the top. It took me a few goes to get the bottom wired but once this happened the route was soon done.
I finished my Rodellar experience with probably the most well know route there, Coliseum 8a. This 40-meter monster climbs a steep groove in the centre of the Gran Boveda. I really wanted to onsite this route and because of this self induced added pressure I climbed really badly, got very pumped and slumped off just above half height and lowered to the ground. Disappointed but with no pressure I climbed the route second go. I felt like a different person. I climbed fluidly and decisively and clipped the chains with only a mild pump. There is a lesson in there somewhere.
On our last climbing day in Spain we drove over to Riglos to climb the spectacular and justifiably famous Fiesta de los Biceps 7a. This route sums up the word ridiculous! It is almost 300 meters high and overhanging most of the way. When you get into the steep upper pitches you are pulling on microwave oven sized boulders, which look like they are only attached with a bit of mud. Climbing this route allows you to revel in the marvelously exposed position. I literally laughed my way up it. The route is supposed to be 9 pitches long. We did it in 4 and were down in time for an early lunch. What a brilliant way to end such a good trip. Everyone should have this route on their lifetime ticklist. It is a must!