December came finally, Viki and myself looking forward for a break from London. We both had been working hard and we deserved some time away. I had to fulfil family duties this year, having an international family as we have, for the first time in 10 years all my family was going to be together under the same roof on Christmas day. So we packed the van for every eventuality, rock gear, trad gear, ice gear, mixed gear... and even skis. But a quick look at the long range isobars sweeping over Europe it was obvious we would be burning climbing shoe rubber rather than ice picks.
Apart from the odd foggy morning in Lleida, we were blessed with 2 weeks straight of glorious sunshine. At times it even became too hot to climb as we chosen sunny sides rather than shade. On an specific still day in the Reina Mora sector in Siurana, we actually had to wait until late afternoon to be able to climb. Not that we complained though. The only complain was the huge amount of people around Siurana and Montsant, I've never seen anything like this before. Gladly we had also some blissfully quiet and gorgeous days up in St. Llorenç de Montgai and Montgrony, crags that don't seem to ever enter the masses' radars. Though writing this in retrospect, having been up in Beinn Eighe only just two days ago, I'm glad that winter climbing will never attract such hordes of people.
Below are some holiday snaps. Nothing hard got send, but loads of beautiful wine was consumed and the levels of vitamin D got topped up. Once fed up queuing for routes in Siurana, we had a really cool couple of days stop over in L'Usine in Grenoble to top-up our training for winter. We even had the visit of professional photographer Julien Ferrandez which captured some awesome shots.
As soon as I got to London, it was time to hit Scotland. A quick pit-stop to do some laundry and repack the van for the opposite type of weather I just been. I love contrasts. Little did I know that in within 48hrs of being basked in the sunshine, I would be looking up an iced-up offwidth asking myself how to stack two hexes...
The climbing never feels easy in Montgrony, it's old-skool. My first visit here must have been age 16 or 17. Shame partying took over my life then and I practically forgot all about climbing.
Never a shabby view from up here, specially taking in it in from the chapel high up in the meadow. Such a peaceful spot.
Viki warming up on Christmas day.
Always good post-climbing scenes in the van. Dinner time is always something to celebrate, specially with Montsant red wine.
Viki on a 7a in Reina Mora sector, Siurana
Raco de Misa, Montsant. It used to be a quiet place back in the day, now every single route was taken. Despite, we found some less travelled 40mts routes that we really enjoyed.
This 12 year old fella just sent 8b+ just like it was business as usual. It made me chuckle that in UK climbing 8c still makes the news.
Packed for any eventuality, Neo (the van) always provides.
Viki questing up onsight a multipitch 7a in St. Llorenç de Montgai
Chris Sharma's former home town, St. Llorenç.
A happy belayer, hanging out way above the ground.
Someone had to keep up the training for the Ice Climbing World Cup. I wonder what the other fellow climbers made out of it.
Introducing Viki to L'Usine, the world's best (and hardest) drytooling venue.
DTS style on L'Usine M11. We respected the rules and no figs were used on all these routes
Viki grinning and bearing, introduced to the brutal sandbag SAT M8