The decision to go to Spain was quick and without much consideration: I had both holiday and a climbing partner Jirka Bažant. We just waited if someone started to impose on us that he would like to go, too. The attempt to attract Oliváč and Lautna was not successful and the trip of Jirka, Jirka, Jirka and Jirka has not been carried out yet.
The climbing area was chosen quite easily – Margalef. Bažantik had been there before and I was told by everyone that it is my style, everything on little holes.
We left on Sunday, a day after the Ytong boulder competiton where I got a 60 meters long rope as a prize, which solved the question what rope will we be damaging in Spain. It is necessary to say that the rope Beal Edlinger, even though probably not the top-quality one (which I cannot discern), kept fine the whole trip.
First kilometres of about 1800 ones passed quite quickly and around midnight we decided to overnight in Germany. As usually, we left the highway to find a spot to sleep to get new energy for another day of travelling. After a while of driving we turned to a beaten but snowy track that began to descend and before we realized it we were at the edge of a forrest at the cross-country ski track leading along a field. The attempt to turn the car around finished with getting stuck in the snow and we could start freeing the car. After an hour and a kilometer of backing along a forrest track we were back on asphalt.
In the morning we got in the car again, a little bit worried about the weather in Margalef. We went through Switzerland to France, paying 40€ for the Swiss vignette and another 60€ for higway tolls in France and Spain. We got to Margalef at night, looking forward to the morning. The journey took us about 23 hours.
In the morning we were woken up by the sun, shining into the tent. Finally we had a chance to have a look at the nearby of the free camping site, including grills and a “scullery“. We were excited to go climbing and for the beginning we chose a sector under which we went the previous evening. El laboratori is a sector with short but intensive routes. We met Kili and Anna here and we had to smile at their two new, entangled ropes. Both temperature and climbing were perfect and we were facing about three or four weeks of our trip.
What is the perfect temperature? For us, it was sunny but not hot over the day, which we wished so that we could get tanned. It was cool in the shade and when the wind was blowing, it was really cold. In the evening we played cards while the dew was falling. Once we woke up and there was even white frost everywhere. In any case, a feather jacket and a little seat are everything!
The little village of Margalef seems to be deserted and only climbers keep some traffic, meeting themselves in the only little shop or local refuges and bars where the wi-fi is available. To go shopping more than bread we went to Flix.
We were climbing mainly in Racó de les Espadelles. As you read two LL as J, the name of the sector is Espadíjas. The reason why we chose this sector was easy: sun shines all day here and you can reach it within 30 minutes when walking from the campsite at the dam. The first day we went on foot but then we drove. We are lazy Praguers and we did not give a damn about saving money that time. To drive was about 10 minutes shorter, so it was not so much better. The rocks were quite peaceful except for the weekends when the Spaniards and also Riči with packs of dogs came. Riči´s dog wore a sweater and he was so ugly that we were sorry for him and we started to like him.
In general there was unexpectadly few fellow citizens in Margalef. We were climbing with Aleš Cegon for a while, Petr was also here and the mad Terka 9b has been staying in Spain for longer time. A group of seven Slovaks came by plane and Ála with his family and Papája came from Chullila where they left Kreveťák. Also Nellča and Michal should have come from Chullila and we were looking forward to having them for breakfast. However, their eyes moistened before we could say anything and they did not appear at all, reportedly because of strong wind. 11m/s was allright when we pegged everything down and sought shelter in the car or refuge.
I was very ambitious at first and I showed Jirka what I would try and climb, while his aim was to climb without any stress and to enjoy it. In the end I had to change for his tactics, ashamed, because in the 8b´s I tried I crapped out and my hands were full of lactate. After re-assessing my aims I got settled on 8a´s on the second try and I enjoyed climbing and nature. We climbed about 5 routes a day and it was highly sufficient to the feelings of happiness and weariness.
Spain is great and it is incredible how much climbing is all over here. Five kilometres by air line from Margalef is Montsant, 7 km Siurana and who knows how many possibilities are around. Lleida and its areas, just hard stuff. The climbing guide of Margalef was available in the refuge, where was also an updated one in folders with new routes and sectors, which number will increase for a long time.
Jirka became a Master of the WAC style, which means “Without Anchor Chain“. He performed a really elaborated try in one 7c that he wanted to flash but he got such chicken wings at the chain that he flew down.
At about half past six it was getting dark, so it was enough time to play ferbl, uno and reading books after the meals. Jirka taught me ferbl in Margalef and he wondered that after all his experience from kindergarten, grammar school and high school I was able to beat him. In the end, the series finished 20:19 for me mainly because we started playing uno with Aleš. Aleš was easy about Jirka´s “You did not say uno“ and even at +2 and +4 he claimed that he likes taking cards. In any case, Jirka was the best in uno and me and Aleš took turns in losing. Some evenings we made a fire in the fireplace or we grilled delicacies, other evenings we spent drinking beer in the refuge and I found out additionally that the quality of my stool was connected with drinking beer.
I would recommend to anyone who is going to climb in Margalef to get an emery paper and Climb On to take care of fingers, an emulsion to have a massage of painful elbow and shoulder ligaments and in particular an iron trowel to dig shits around the campsite. As for water, we drank the “no potable“ water pouring from the water taps and as I wrote before, I had problems more because of beer.
Margalef is a limestone conglomerate, a pudding stone, on which you climb mainly on holes, sometimes pebbles and rarely also on tufas. The lenght of the routes depends on sectors and your choice; you can find even multi-pitches here.
As for the difficulty of the routes, you will find everything from the light to the most difficult ones in Margalef. Therefore, pack your bag and go to try them.