For once Placas del Sol didn’t live up to their name. A light blanket of cloud in the afternoon made the day, although hot, very bearable turning this latest visit into my longest session at the crag.
I had joined a couple of guys who were staying in Casa Quiros after they’d chosen the crag to make the most of the morning shade. With a pretty impressive plan of starting at Placas then going on to Planeta X I was psyched to meet up and climb with Conor and Sean.
I had recommended Placas for its brilliant routes, general lack of traffic and the fact that it’s always shady until about 1.30.
Being Brits Conor and Sean were already stuck in to the ‘warm-up’ when I arrived promptly (well just after 10), though to be fair they’d had 10 minutes drive from Quiros while I’d been an hour in the car. Psyched I stomped up the hill and arrived out of breath just as Sean descended, so I tied on and scooted up the ‘Minimum’ 6a+ for the third time.
They’d both enjoyed this tricky, but fun, slab and, enjoying being ‘ringmaster’ I set them off on the next route, the beautiful groove of ‘Empezamos bien’ 6b+. They were both pretty keen, Conor going first, and although I warned him about the thin, techy start he got out of sorts and slumped rather inelegantly onto the rope.
‘Drat’ he said (I may be paraphrasing) then got back on and scooted to the top. Mood improving as he really seemed to enjoy the delights of the climb Conor topped out happier. Sean’s more measured approach paid dividends and he ascended pretty smoothly making light work of the start and only pausing briefly in the middle section. I followed and doing it for the third time still found the start hard, but got up OK.
Next it turned out to be sandbag time as I set Conor off on a pretty brutal 7a+ called Ojos caprichosos…I’d been pretty much spanked on it but presumed Conor leaner physique and lack of years would triumph…Hmmm, not be. Equally chastened on the grim pocket pulling start Conor quickly bagged it off and we retreated to the more favourable angle of Distrito Apache a very good 7a on the first buttress
Having done it before I put the clips in and watched as Conor managed somehow to drop it on the last few moves (actually understandable as it’s a bit thin and unobvious) and then Sean ‘suaved it’ afterwards for a pretty good flash.
It was my turn to actually put some effort in next and I was desperate to slay a mini-nemesis in the shape of Karicaturas, 7a+, a brilliant pitch which takes a very blunt tufa to a challenging headwall and move that had repelled me about 20 times on the previous go. This time went better on the tufa below, which is remarkably sneaky, and I was fully psyched to make the move above, though very pumped, and caught it spot on; latching the crozzly crimp well enough to get through. Very pleasing.
After that Conor decided to finish Distrito and smoothly sent it while Sean dozed beneath…it was packing up time more or less when i was suddenly shocked by the fact that a route I had always fancied – that took a great line through a roof was actually a 7b not a 7c.
So sod it, off I went on an ‘eyes bigger than belly’ on sight attempt and after sending the first roof with a lot of effort I found myself in a ‘no-mans land’ trying to rest in a big hole. Not getting any less pumped I decided to soldier on and little by little with some big pulls and breathing like a cow giving birth arrived under the top roof.
Just one move to go and I would have on sighted my first 7b of the year – only a week after doing my first 6c of the year!! Gingerly i flet round the roof and at first couldn’t find anything, but, calming my breathing and looking a bit harder a small slot appeared and I was able to grab the top jug.
This was a very good day out and for once as the placas didn’t live up to their name and frazzle us after 2pm we could have a full day there and enjoy everything it had to offer!