Albarracin Bouldering and staying plastic free.
My psyche was pretty high for this trip, my second outdoor climbing trip after our week in Fontainbleau earlier in the year and with the weather being super hot this summer I haven't climbed outdoors much since April!
I decided not to create a wish list of problems for this trip, partly due to there being less videos to watch but also so I didn't have too many expectations or disappointments!
In my head I wanted to get a 6c climb as I didn't manage any in Font, so I was hoping that the Spanish sandstone would suit my style.
Traveling down wasn't so bad as we decided to fly and rent pads once we got out there, so we left Manchester at 6.30am and got to Albarracin by 2/3pm, enough time to scout out some areas for our first day of climbing.
This year me and Matt have been on a mission to try and cut out plastic from our lives! We started with small changes like only buying loose fruit and veg mainly from a local market stall or sometimes from the supermarket, using shampoo bars and soaps, toothpaste in glass jars or cardboard tubes, filling up re usable jars and containers with dry goods from the local market to name a few! We've been managing really well here in the UK as there are a lot of resources available if you make the effort. But going on a climbing trip to a small Spanish town may prove a little more difficult, but we were determined to try our best!
We made sure we pre packed any bathroom essentials so we wouldn't have to buy anything when we arrived and we also bought climbing chalk blocks in paper which sometimes isn't as 'good' as some of the other 'super chalks' packaged in plastic bags but for me I haven't noticed much of a difference on my skin. We also took 'keep cups' for hot drinks, metal water canister, a lunch box and some beeswax wraps for sandwiches.
On our drive from Madrid to Albarracin we stopped off at a supermarket which luckily had a lot of loose fruit and veg, winner! So we bought most of our produce to last us a week or so. We also found glass jars of lentils, beans, jam and tomatoes and paper bags of risotto rice and porridge oats. Once you're in Albarracin there are two small shops to re fill your cupboards from, both of which had some loose vegetables and more glass jars with pulses. Also a bakery selling fresh bread every morning wrapped in paper, another win.
I wouldn't say we had the most varied diet whilst we were out there but all the food was super tasty and we didn't have to compromise too much in terms of being plastic free. We pretty much always had porridge and fruit for breakfast, tomato and avocado sandwich for lunch, some sort of roast veg/rice/pulses for dinner. And lots of CHOCOLATE! In the smaller shop in Albarracin you can buy a huge 1 kg bar of dark chocolate wrapped in paper for like 9 euros so we bought one that lasted us for the trip and took another one back with us :)
A few things that we had to compromise on were:
Coffee: We normally buy loose beans but we had to get ground coffee which usually comes in non recyclable mixed packaging.
Pasta: We didn't personally buy any pasta but we tended to cook together as a group and those who had bought it came in plastic packaging.
Milk: Sometimes back at home we make our own plant based milks or just used tinned coconut milk but we do still use Tetra Pak milks too as there is a Tetra recycling facility in Leeds. In Albarracin we just had to use Tetra Paks as that was all that there is available and put the empty ones into the general recycling.
So despite the challenges we were pretty successful in staying plastic free! Yes it took more effort and more planning but we didn't suffer in terms of lack of food or morals which is a huge win for me.
Also we went to the climbers bar La Zahora one evening for some food which was great as they had a few vegan options of falafel, salad, patatas bravas :) So definitely check it out even if you're not vegan as the food there was super nice.
Probably the most popular area in Albarracin and one of the bigger sections. Lots of boulders here to try!
The day started off a little drizzly but we persevered and we managed to climb for most of the day, dipping in and out of roofs and dryer patches of rock.
Matt got his project here 'El Varano' 7c+
And i bumbled about on some 6's :)
Cabrerizo and Parking
Two smaller areas with lots more problems to go at. Started to get used to the rock; definitely a lot kinder on the skin than Yorkshire grit and seemed to be less polished than the climbs in Font but i guess that is down to mileage and number of people climbing in the area. But starting to realise that ALL the top outs are basically super hard mantels, something that you don't get to practice indoors! So i'm finding that i can get to the last move on a few climbs and then struggle to haul myself up and over the top, something to work on perhaps....
Really enjoyed this crack climb! Here's my face near the top...
Super sunny today in the forest! I think today was my frustration day. One of those days where you feel like you can't climb anything remotely notable or worthwhile and your mind gets the better of you. But a bad day in the forest is much better than good day in the city right??
At least i managed to find this log to balance on...
Techos translates as 'roofs' so this area was well populated with overhanging and steeper climbs. I had a really good day in this area, and ticked some really fun problems. The picture at the top of the page is me on a pretty high 6a slab that was so good i did it twice! Even though there were some fairly decent crimps it still felt pretty sketch as I got higher as i knew jumping off wasn't the best idea. The other problem here that I really enjoyed was 'Supermafatacho' 6b, pictured below. Really good holds on a slight overhang gradually moving into some crimps on the left arrete. The top out took me a few goes, again another slopey mantel!
Unknowingly the second half of our trip crossed over with a Spanish holiday so the crags were crazily busy and we could barely get into the car parks! Entreaguas is a smaller area with less traffic so we headed there for our 6th day :).
There were some really nice climbs in this area, I topped a cool traverse which wasn't in either of the books but climbed really nicely across some slopey holds. I also found a 6c which I came back for later in the week...
La Senora Laja, 6c
Cabrerizo and Arrastradero
The weather started off a little ominous today so we weren't sure if we were going to be able to climb. We headed back to Cabrerizo to a block on its own with a cool roof problem on and then we headed back to the main area of Arrastradero to try some things we didn't get on from the first day. Luckily the weather held out until about 6ish when there was a massive downpour and we hurriedly headed back to the car.
Jake on 'Saltambanqui' at Cabrerizo
Probably one of the more isolated areas and hard to find unless you've been a few times before. It took us about an hour and a half of waking through the forest to finally find this sector! But it was super worth it! A lot more walls, grooves and slabs here and a lot less roofs. Also because this area doesn't get climbed as often as the others the rock is sharper and there is a little more friction :)
Tried some cool problems in this area and definitely one to go back to as there were a lot of blocks that we didn't even touch.
Debatable 6b+/6c with no name
Matt on 'Los Hawara' 7a
Jake going feet first on 'El Murcielago'
Our last full day in Albarracin! We headed back to Entreaguas so that I could get back on the 6c I was trying earlier in the week.
Success! I managed to send it after the longest time I've ever spent trying to top a problem out, balanced on a ledge reaching for nothing but slopey rock.
Super pleased I got this problem as I really wanted to send a 6c on this trip so that I can start to aim consistently for the 7's soon :)
We also took a wander around Albarracin and up into the castle ruins which is beautiful and you get such an amazing view from the top! A great way to take an active rest day for the fingers.
Our final day!
So we weren't flying back to the UK until the next morning but we had to get the hire care back to Madrid by the evening, so we managed to climb until about 3ish and then we headed back.
We started at Cabrerizo as Matt wanted to get on a dyno called 'Highway to Heaven' and I managed all the moves bar the top on a 6c on the block to the left.
We checked out some blocks at Arrastradero that we hadn't looked at on previous days but both mine and Matt's skin was pretty sore so didn't feel like I could push much on the boulders or try anything particularly difficult. So we finished on a couple of cool overhanging problems before we called it a day.
I loved this trip and in terms of climbing it felt more successful than my trip to Font at the start of the year. I think I managed about 36