Showing posts with label Mallorca. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mallorca. Show all posts

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sport Climbing in Mallorca


Much has been written about the incredible deep water soloing in Mallorca, but what many seem to forget is this Mediterranean island was once a famous sport climbing destination. European climbers have been coming here for decades and after years of indecision we decided it was finally time to take a risk and check it out for ourselves.





What we found was an island lush with amazing stone. As you drive the incredible mountain roads, vast walls of tufa-streaked limestone poke out from the many valleys and sheets of grey, water-worn rock blanket the ridges and barren peaks. A friend of mine compared the climbing in Mallorca to a miniature European continent and the comparison was apt, I thought. There are many different climbing venues and all have a distinct flavour, much like you’d find travelling form crag to crag across various European countries.

 

 

Conditions play a big factor in planning a trip, and which month you choose determines where you’ll likely climb. We arrived in late September and it was hot. Aside from fantastic swimming and snorkeling in the crystal clear coves, the advantage to this time of year is the north-facing mountain crags are free of seepage and in good condition. October, strangely enough, is the rainiest month of the year in Mallorca, but this is when the temperatures start to cool which opens up more options. We experienced somewhat tumultuous weather, but in the end we were able to climb at all the crags on our hit list. Locals claim May is also a good month for a visit because the weather is stable and starting to warm, but I question how dry the high elevation tufa crags would be at this time of year – seepage can be a problem.

 

 

Despite the vast amount of rock in Mallorca, much of it is on private land, a condition that plagues local climbers. Incredible cliffs have been closed over the years and some of the best sites on the island remain intensely protected secrets due to their tenuous access situations. Unlike North America, Spain has no organized access groups to work on behalf of climbers, so good crags can be easily lost forever. The guidebook is full of quality cliffs that are free of problems, but we were lucky enough to climb at a few out-of-the-way spots thanks to the help of the friendly Mallorcans. Be inquisitive, show respect and they’ll point you in the right direction.

 

 

From a travelling perspective, Mallorca is well equipped since it’s a major tourist destination. We chose to stay in a traditional inland village and were glad we did. It was quiet and culturally interesting, yet we were only 15 minutes from a fantastic beach. Renting a car is easy, and if you stay centrally nowhere on the island is more than a one-hour drive. The Lonely Planet guidebook and Walking in Mallorca were invaluable additions to our luggage as they provided excellent beta on touring the island and exploring the fabulous network of groomed trails.





The only real downside to our Mallorcan climbing experience was the presence of corroded bolts. The maritime environment has rendered some routes practically unclimbable and this factor was glossed over in our guidebook. Luckily, the most popular climbs have usually been rebolted (sometimes two times!) and the newer areas are in better shape. For current route information, visit the Palma climbing store Foracorda. The employees are very helpful and their website, Foracorda.com, has a page devoted to topos for popular cliffs, some of which aren’t in any guidebooks.




 
Having been to Kalymnos twice, we found ourselves constantly drawing comparisons between it and Mallorca. We decided that for sheer density and quality of climbs Kalymnos is hard to beat, but for non-climbing activities Mallorca takes the prize. It’s a truly beautiful island with a rugged coastline that begs exploration, both on foot and in the water. Plus, I can almost guarantee you’ll never have to wait in line to climb one of their excellent, popular routes. Try going to Kalymnos in October and making that claim!

Marc Bourdon – Squamish, BC

Friday, October 2, 2009

Hola Mallorca (aka: probably the worst title possible.)

ANYWAY. MALLORCA IS AN ISLAND IN SPAIN, popular among German urlauber (drunk on board Berlin Air flight # 9414) for its temperate waters and beautiful beaches. It is also famous among climbers round-the-world for its temperate waters, beautiful beaches, and freaking beautiful, overhanging, seaside limestone cliffs. In recent years, deepwater soloing (or “psychobloc” in European) has become an increasingly popular, yet still exotic, style of rock climbing whereby climbers ascend seaside routes directly over the water, without ropes or any means of protection other than the deep sea below.

Having never properly engaged in psychobloc before, and because of a number of other contributing factors, I decided my next step in this Euro-journey would be Mallorca.

I arrived at Palma Airport (via Nice, Dusseldorf) with Ceuse friends, Alex and Chris, on the night of September 10. Here we were retrieved by a gracious, car-driving friend. I aimed to meet back up with my Australian friend, Chicko… somewhere on the island. According to Chicko,

“from Porto Cristo you can catch a cab to Cala Varques or hitch. About 8 ks out of porto cristo in the dirrrection of cales de Mellorca you will come across a house that looks like a castle (on the left) about 40 mts before the house is a dirt road at the end of the dirt road is a steel gate, through the gate and follow the path. at the beach on the right in the pine trees is me and a smile.”

Luckily, one of Alex’s friends knew what this meant (because I definitely did not), and they dropped me off —right at the steel gate— the next day, after inviting me to crash with them for a night and (thank you!) taking me to the grocery store for food and water.

I wielded all of my unwieldy crap the 10 minutes down this aforementioned path to a beachside campsite in two trips, spoke immediately with someone in the campsite who knew Chicko, and found him playing in the ocean shortly thereafter.

The next few days we spent in sunny paradise, deepwater soloing and generally absorbing the Spanish maritime paradise. A contributing factor to the utopian aura of the place is definitely the campsite –we sleep in a breezy pine forest immediately above a turquoise cove and white sand beach. Also, the majority population of this campsite is… (surprise) Spanish!

This (being a minority tourist among Spanish locals) has been a genuine treat, as, unlike my last time in Spain (El Chorro, December 2008), I’ve actually been immersed in the language, culture (albeit in the form of dirtbagging on the beach), and the sharing of food, jokes, etc. I've even been getting Spanish lessons in earnest from a Uruguayan here. With paper and pens and an English-Spanish dictionary.

All temperate waters, sunshine, and tropical beaches aside, the last few days have been, eh… a bit trying because, though the area is beautiful and, though it statistically never rains here in the summer, it has, in fact, been raining hardoff and on for the last four days. Which is less-than-ideal on a steeply-sloping campsite that easily becomes a river of mud and pine needles, soggy food bits and other rubbish. An aging tent (with large, new hole in the rain fly), and sub-tent river have severely dampened nearly all of my belongings, and the persistent precipitation has not allowed for any drying of these… Needless to say, everyone else in camp is suffering under the same dampness and, though solidarity is high, morale is generally low.

On the bright side: we have enjoyed a staple of grace from newly-made, local friends and acquaintances. A shower one day and a dry couch one night have made a world of difference in the otherwise clammy mud bog of the last four days.

Climbing-wise: I’m not there yet. I’ve had a high rate of painful falls into the water. Odd belly- and face-flops, thigh slaps, wind-knocked-out-of-me’s, sinus blasts, etc, etc… are making it very difficult for me to properly wrap my brain around this particular style of climbing... needless to say, four days of off-and-on rain haven’t eased this transition for a number of factors (wet rocks, chilly weather, and sometimes simply unclimbable conditions). But I’m convinced that I’m just slow in getting used to it. So… whenever the weather clears, I’ll keep chipping away at this problem. Given deepwater soloing’s popularity, it can’t be all that bad. I think the responsibility is with me and that I’m just an awkwardly-falling, high-surface-area wuss.

But anyway. I definitely can’t complain, though I do look forward to hitting my stride again with climbing (in terms of mentality and volume), and hope I can get some of it done soon.

Next stop: Rodellar!
-Christine Balaz