Old Dogs New Tricks – Catch-Up Blog #1 Otinar – Training week 3 / Overall week 4 (Feb 22nd – 27th)

Ok so here’s the first of my ‘retro-blogs’ as a catch up to where I am at with ‘Old Dogs New Tricks’…

Otinar – Training week 3 / Overall week 4 (Feb 22nd – 27th)

Ok so we left our hero (me btw) on the horns of a dilemma – a late, light session on my board the day before I was going away had left me with a very sore strained arm (or worse).  So the question was; to travel the 700km with the injury or to cry off and stay at home doing a  bunch of stuff that you need to get on with:  we were due to move house and I needed to finish my new book, so the temptation was pretty high to stay.

However, on the other hand I’d been climbing for 5 years with Jairo and never been on a trip with him…could I let him down at the last minute…??? Fuck!!

So I went. And we headed down towards Jaen – a short 700km or 9 hour drive – in Jairo’s motorhome. My arm was sore, strained and un-relentingly not good so I spent the time on the back watching movies being pissed off and massaging with my ‘Arm-Aid’ which seemed to help…

The team...Jairo, Juan and me...

The team…Jairo, Juan and me…

What made it doubly bad is that we were heading for Otinar and I’d been super-psyched for the trip. This is a ‘new’ venue which had a bit of a reputation, a mega steep cave with a bunch of 7s and 8s and nothing easier than 7a+ across the crag. With air cold, crisp and spring-like the 5 minute walk-in was get everyone breathing hard and there was a tangible excitement in the air. There were 6 of us and I’d decided to be cameraman for the day to rest an arm that seemed no better – a sore ‘pulley’ from the palm to the elbow.

EL COLETA 8a

The crag was very, very, very steep…Jairo on La Coleta, 8a,

On arrival the crag was decidedly well, brutal, not to put too fine a   point on it. It was really steep, even the warm ups were really steep and the hard routes were super steep. It made my arm twinge just looking.  However, the guys dived right in and set about mauling the warm/ups…then set about the main course.

Not the most aesthetic of venues set mainly above a huge goat pen the routes were very steep and it was inspiring as Miguel first then Jairo set about some of the most overhanging lines. My palms were sweating as Jairo gamely battled his way up, via a biiiiiig pump, a 7c which overhung 10m in it’s 23m length…I decided to make the most of the day and get some photos as I’d brought my ‘proper’ camera but after 4 shots the battery went – things weren’t going my way..

Day 3 started better and although my arm felt really sore I was determined to give it a go…then came a migraine so I went back to the van to lie down. Three days in and I hadn’t touched rock…after a sleep and a rest i felt a bit better and so wandered off and stretched in a ruined barn…the glamour!!

My 2nd 'rest' day...a bit of stretching...

My 2nd ‘rest’ day…a bit of stretching…

Day 4 – The dark side - After more ‘arm-aid’ i was ready to climb – and climb I did, like a big fat spanner. Warming up on the 6b+ part of very steep 7c (the easiest stretch of rock by far) I was nervous, static and slow. Feeling every day of my age I felt terrible, heavy and dulled – and somehow disappointed that the three weeks of training I’d done hadn’t turned me into a worldbeater. Then I pulled stupidly, forlornly onto the 7c, and ‘dogged’ the moves…it felt too hard, I felt too old and my frustration at my injury boiled over into cursing (not been known before) as I slumped on the rope. After I rest I then found myself falling off the next easiest route – a 7b which took an unlikely line – and a dark cloud descended!! Bad day at the office…

The bright side – However, I took solace watching an incredible French couple: him a 60 year old ‘lean, mean climbing machine’ and her a female version. They’d been there a few days and their modus operandi was clear and precise, he’d try and onsight and if he fell, work the route perfectly and send first RP. Then she’d go next following his instructions to normally execute a perfect ‘beta-flash’…now none of this would be of interest except that they both looked as old as the hills, they were doing this on routes up to 8a+ and they climbed so efficiently that it was a joy to watch. Very much a lesson in clever climbing and what you can do despite a few years…

55 year old French woman takes on silly steep 8a route and wins...

55 year old French woman takes on silly steep 8a route and wins…

Day 5 – Felt better. The clouds and cobwebs of day 4 had gone and I made a determined attempt to warm-up at the crag…And after some stretching a bit of use of Jairo’s mobile fingerboard and some rubber bands I got back on the warm-up – which, to my astonishment actually felt like a warm-up! Psyched I did it again and then climbed on into the 7c – carefully, testing all the holds for maximum efficiency and best body position – trying to channel Jerry Moffat’s matra ‘work it hard – send it easy’.

A redpoint ensued but cold hands put paid to anything and the rest afterwards only really made me more nervous. It was burly 7c and the likelyhood was I wouldn’t do it…however, as I launched into the crux sequence – a series of (for me) long snatchy moves off good holds – it just about clicked and despite a few, almost costly, moments of hesitation I slapped, stupidly pumped, onto the last jug. I’d got a send!! (something I’ll come back to in later Blogs).

I chilled for a bit and enjoyed watching Jairo send his 40 metre 8a with numb fingers and a lot of work, amazing effort.

The last night became more fun, I’d done summat so could relax a bit and as the G&T’s went down and the night grew longer the injury faded from my mind and the whole trip became better!

Ticks/Points of interest: 1 x 7c for 1500km of driving. And a typical ‘me’ route, bouldery and very cruxy and short…fun but nothing gained apart from the knowledge I hadn’t improved after 3 weeks. Watching the French couple showed that there’s life in old dogs and that clever outweighs strong!!

Lessons learned: Mates are more important than climbing and if you go you will get something done…and even if you don’t, go for a run, take photos, belay your friends and enjoy seeing somewhere new…oh and make sure your battery is charged…and use your mates for motivation and if you are injured don’t bring them down by moaning…

Score – 1 x 7c…Weight – 72.5kg

Did you know your mates laugh at you if you warm up at the crag...

Did you know your mates laugh at you if you warm up at the crag…



Caldueño – new crag in the east of Asturias…

There are loads of great new crags which have been published for the first time in any guide in the new edition of Roca Verde.

Caldueño is one and I am happy to be able to do so as I climbed there quite a bit before there were any topos. So thanks to the equippers Dani Bajo and Jorge Fernández there’s a great new crag close to Arenas and Llanes.  There’s a summary here but you can get it all  in the new book bit.ly/BuyRocaVerde2

Dani Pego Bajo, The Late Show, 6b+, Sector Dos Setas

Dani Pego Bajo, The Late Show, 6b+, Sector Dos Setas

Recently overhauled, though opened a long time ago, Caldueño is a good all-round venue with perhaps the highlight being a bunch of long slab routes. One attraction here is that there’s shade across the day so you can move between sectors to make the most of the conditions. Aviados and Pared del Sol are very accessible though the approach is steep, while the sectors set higher in a big gully are a bit of a hike.

Richie Patterson, De clavijas a chapas, 6b, Pared de Sol

Richie Patterson, De clavijas a chapas, 6b, Pared de Sol

However, there are enough decent routes to make the extra ten minutes worth it. The rock is generally very good but it’s worth noting that on Dos Setas it feels a bit suspect in places. Overall the bolting and belays are very good too with the odd exception. The crag needs traffic but once clean offers good climbing.
The situation is superb and the tranquility of the valley makes it a great place to spend a day – it’s well worth a visit.

Children: Although a bit of a steep walk both Aviados + Pared del Sol are ok but the rest are steep underneath.

Unos de los sectores de Caldueño, Dos Setas.

Unos de los sectores de Caldueño, Dos Setas.

Season: Due to the variety of orientations this is a good summer venue, and because it’s also quite sheltered it can be good on sunny days in spring and autumn. The slabs stay pretty dry and are ok on sunny winter days too. However, Ombligo and Dos Setas do get wet.
Bird Restrictions – climbing is banned on all routes from 1st March until 31st July.

La guia nueva de Roca Verde...the new Roca Verde guide...

La guia nueva de Roca Verde…the new Roca Verde guide…

 

Escalada en Caldueño – nueva escuela de escalada en el oriente de Asturias

Caldueño es una de las escuelas que no habían sido publicadas hasta ahora en ninguna guía. Y porque he escalado alli muchas veces antes que habia croquis estoy tan feliz de estrenarlo en Roca Verde edición 2…gracias a los equipadores Daniel Bajo y Jorge Fernández. Comprar Roca Verde edición 2 aquí..

Dani Pego Bajo, The Late Show, 6b+, Sector Dos Setas

Dani Pego Bajo, The Late Show, 6b+, Sector Dos Setas

Caldueño es una escuela considerablemente buena y muy versátil. Situada bastante cerca de Arenas, un poco más al oeste y hacia el norte (muy interesantes para los escaladores con base en Llanes o las costas), y hay cinco excelentes sectores reseñados  todas ellas con vías de grado variado.
Una cosa muy importante hay prohibiciones por nidificación en todas las vías – 1 marzo hasta 31 julio.

Jorge Fernandez, El Tendal, Sector Pared de Sol

Jorge Fernandez, El Tendal, Sector Pared de Sol

Aunque no es nueva, recientemente ha sido rescatada del olvido. Tal vez lo más destacado sean las excelentes y largas vías de placa. También es interesante por su orientación, que permite escoger entre sol y sombra según el sector.

Richie Patterson, De clavijas a chapas, 6b, Pared de Sol

Richie Patterson, De clavijas a chapas, 6b, Pared de Sol

La aproximación al Aviados y Pared del Sol es bastante sencilla pero empinada; para llegar a los sectores situados arriba en la ancha canal hay que caminar 10/15 minutos más, pero vale la pena por la cantidad de vías buenas. La roca es en general excelente, aunque en Dos Setas a veces no lo parece. Los seguros y reuniones están en buenas condiciones, con alguna excepción.

Aunque harán falta más ascensiones para que las vías queden limpias, la escalada está muy bien, y además cabe sumar la fantástica ubicación de la zona y la tranquilidad de este valle, que bien vale una visita. No hemos incluido todos los sectores ni todas las vías.

Puedes ver la location de la escuela aqui…

Unos de los sectores de Caldueño, Dos Setas.

Unos de los sectores de Caldueño, Dos Setas.

Niños: Aunque el camino es un poco empinado, Aviado y Pared del Sol están bien, pero en los demás el pie de vía hace bajada.

Época: Debido a las distintas orientaciones de los sectores, se puede ir en verano, pero también en días soleados de primavera y otoño, ya que está bastante resguardado. Las placas suelen estar secas y se puede escalar también en invierno al sol; en cambio, Ombligo y Dos Setas sí que se mojan. Aviso: Prohibiciones por nidificación en todas las vás – 1 marzo hasta 31 julio.

La guia nueva de Roca Verde...the new Roca Verde guide...

La guia nueva de Roca Verde…the new Roca Verde guide…

Descargar la mapa nueva de las regiones ‘Roca Verde’…

Mejorado, más facile leer y entender,  la nueva mapa de Roca Verde tiene todos los sitios que aparecen en la guía nueva.

Hay 6 nuevas escuelas que no habían sido publicadas hasta ahora en ninguna guía, un par que se nos olvidaron en la primera edición, así como muchos sectores nuevos añadidos a las escuelas existentes. En total, más de 500 vías nuevas.

New Asturias Map

Y recuerdas que puedes comprar el libro ahora aquí…

Comprar Roca Verde edición 2…