I dropped Hazel off at the airport today and am now spending the day solo in Barcelona. I paid 20 Euro for a room in the Ciutat Vella neighborhood – the “old city”. My room is just barely wide enough to fit the bed, with only a small sink and light – the bare essentials and more than adequate for a solo traveler for just one night in this beautiful and interesting city. It’s a nice ending to my time here in Spain, a good pausing point for me to reflect and prepare for the next month ahead.
Hazel and I made the most of the 9 days we had here in Catalunya. It rained nearly everyday, but we still managed to climb 7 of those days, even when the rock was wet. This trip was different for me because I am usually more motivated to spend time climbing on routes that are really hard for me, projecting, and trying to send, whereas the past week was purely for training purposes. Hazel and I wanted to climb as much as we could, establish a good partnership between the two of us (we had never climbed together before), and be able to climb through the tiredness we will inevitably experience while trying big wall routes in Morocco. I’m pretty satisfied with how we did with those goals. Yesterday we managed to climb 22 pitches each, a total of 554 meters. Our goal was to cover 800 meters, but the rain had other plans for us and we ended up stopping after nearly 10 hours of straight climbing (only taking breaks to belay the other person).
I realized at some point during the last week that I haven’t really focused on simply becoming a better rockclimber in the longest time. I always focus on “training” or “getting stronger” and all the other physical elements that aid performance. But climbing is a complicated sport, and I have a tendency to forget that the secret to truly being a better rockclimber is really to focus on actual rockclimbing. For me, it doesn’t matter that I’ve been doing this sport for over half my life; there’s a certain confidence and rhythm that fades from my climbing the longer I go without touching real rock, or challenging myself to onsight routes that may or may not be within my perception of what’s “hard”. We climbed loads of 12a’s and b’s on this trip that I found incredibly puzzling and difficult to read. It’s something I need to do more often if I want to progress as a climber, even if I have to swallow my ego step down in the grades. This was a really fun conclusion for me to come to because I honestly had more fun than I’ve had in a long time just trying to climb every route at the crag, not worrying about the grade and focusing on reading it properly and moving confidently. By the end of our 7 climbing days, I began to develop a bit more of a flow and confidence in my movement. Hopefully that learning curve continues in Morocco.
I’m headed to Washington DC for a quick event with National Geographic that I’ll write about at some other point. And then to Morocco with Hazel, Kris Erickson, Rob Frost, and Alex Lowther. I’m really looking forward to visiting a new country and climbing some bigger walls Hopefully it goes well!