‘Wow! A lifetime would not be enough to climb all the rock in this place!!’ – that was my thought when I first arrived in Asturias, a region in the North-West of Spain, in June this year. I have now just come back from a second trip, and I want more already!!!
My love affair with Asturias dates back to a day in mid-May when I was googling somewhere cheap to fly to in Spain at relatively short notice, to climb, of course. I stumbled upon Asturias on skyscanner.com. The flights were cheap! Even for the May bank holiday weekend, the return tickets were barely over £100. ‘I wonder if there is any climbing there?’ I thought to myself, so I looked around and came upon this article on UKC…and I knew straight away I had found something pretty damn special!
I had always wondered about these goofy-looking belay glasses that people sometimes sport at climbing gyms – I didn’t even know what they were at first, then I tried a pair on and felt vaguely dizzy.
The idea behind them is that you can see the climber above while belaying without having to lift your head and strain your neck for hours to keep an eye on them. They have special lenses that allow you to see like this.
This weekend I went back to Tintern Quarry, where I have already been before, but somehow it felt massively different and I liked the place so much more this time around. Everything worked together this time to make this weekend a breakthrough moment in my outdoor climbing so far this summer.
Tintern Quarry lies on the east bank of the River Wye, not far from Chepstow and just over the Severn Bridge if you’re driving from London. The Wye Valley will always be memorable to me as the place where I did my first trad lead, but the sport climbing in England hasn’t really managed to find its way into my heart until this weekend. Continue reading A breakthrough weekend→
This post is a little late – my trip to Portland was over the first bank holiday in May, but better late than never!
Both my knees are bruised and scratched, my hands look like I’ve had a fight with a tiger, and it really hurts to walk…a sign of a good outdoor climbing trip! Or rather, a sign that I have experienced a number of moments of desperation, and fell quite a few metres to smash my body into some rock.
The first days of May mean only one thing to a climber – the start of the outdoor season. So we forget indoor gyms, where we climb on colour-coded plastic in the winter, and migrate to real rock.
On the first bank holiday in May I went to Portland for some sport climbing – a rare luxury in England, where most climbing is trad. Despite a shoddy weather forecast for the bank holiday weekend, we managed to get in two days of good climbing in the (occasional) sunshine. Well, mostly in the sunshine, actually!
One minute we were cruising along the M4 on the way back form a day of climbing in the Wye Valley, talking about where to find the best pizza in East London. The next the car suddenly lost power and a putrid smell filled the salon. We only just managed to make it over to the hard shoulder. So much for an early return back home to London!
My climbing trips are always a (mis)adventure of some sort, which I’m sure regular readers of this post are more than aware of, but this one I’m not going to forget in a hurry. I’ve experienced my fair share of breakdowns (once even also on the way back from a climbing in the Wye Valley), but it has never previously amounted to five hours of waiting by the side of the road and a night spent in a hotel. In Gloucester, of all places.