Boulder Rock Club Climbing Team Trip Report: Spain

My two weeks in Spain were filled with the full gambit of emotions: excitement, happiness, nervousness, frustration, and fear, just to name a few. Taking five kids to Europe by myself seemed like a daunting task. But as always the climbing and the kids made all of the travel, jet lag, and anxiety worthwhile. Not only was I coming from Hawaii, not Denver, giving me the full 12-hour time zone difference; but also I only had 24 hrs to re-pack, round up the team, and get to the airport on time. We made our flight, and I was pysched just to sit back and watch movie after movie on the plane.

Rodellar is a blip of a town in Northwestern Spain. There are no grocery stores, shopping malls, or ATMS. Life there is simple, and it was a perfect setting for our two-week climbing trip with the BRC climbing team. I did not have to worry about the kids sneaking away to the local disco-tek. There was only one road in town and one could walk from one end the other in 5 minutes. Known as one of the premier climbing destinations, not only in Europe but also in the world, I was very excited to bring the team here and sample the perfect limestone.

“Planes, trains, and automobiles” would be a good description of how the first day of our trip went. 20 hrs later and 8 time zones, the team arrived at the refugio, Kalandraka. We were so tired from all the traveling; the team managed a walk around town, dinner, and then bed. We were exhausted but psyched to test the waters the following day.

Kalandraka is an awesome resource for climbers to stay at in Rodellar. This place was built by climbers for climbers, and the owner Nik was one of the nicest guys you can ever meet. We had a shuttle waiting for us as soon as we got off the bus, and we arrived to a beautiful space that had full amenities. The refugio. Kalandraka has free wireless, a full restaurant, and a kitchen, climbers trying to save a euro or two can cook at rather than pay for a fabulous meal there. I would recommend Kalandraka to anyone planning a visit. It’s cheaper and way nicer than camping! We had three fellow Americans and one Norwegian move in once they realized they would save money by not camping.

After a couple of days getting over jetlag, our second day was spent mostly sleeping at the cliff. The team finally got into a groove and started putting away some climbs. Mica climbed a handful of 12’s and started trying a 13a called Made in Mascun. Christian managed a couple of great onsights on two classic 12c’s. Katelyn and Miranda were still adjusting to rock climbing again after taking time off, but they quickly began to enjoy climbing outdoors again. Dallas and I were having a little friendly competition. We both managed a couple of proud tics, but the enjoyment of climbing on such great stone has a much longer lasting memory than any number grade that we did. Dallas did manage to beat me by one route. Next time Dallas!

Much like Rifle, CO, the climbing in Rodellar is physical, steep, and three-dimensional. One finds himself climbing in and out of giant tufa drips that run down the cliffs. The use of kneepads and knee bars can really help a climber catch a quick shake or even help a hard sequence and make it easier. The routes are so steep you can get lowered out 30 feet or more from where you started. We only had 10 days there, so we made each climbing day count by starting relatively early and finishing at dark.

Family Raboutou was already in Rodellar, and it was nice to come to a foreign country and have friendly familiar faces showing up at our doorstep. Not surprisingly, the Raoutous were dispatching one climb after another there. On our second climbing day, we watched Shawn fall off the last move of a 14b, Welcome to Tijuana. Brooke was also climbing hard with her ascent of Brumisatore, a hard 13b, that I did not manage to send after two days of effort. Robyn was Robyn onsighting 13’s left and right. The whole family was on a no rest day policy. It seemed crazy to me but not for the Raboutous! The team’s rest days consisted of sleeping in or going for a run (Miranda), and spending the day swimming in one of the many swimming holes in the river Mascun.

The two weeks seemed to fly by, and we were back in Barcelona enjoying a nice dinner and reminiscing about our trip before we knew it. Rodellar is an amazing climbing destination, arguably the best that I have sampled. The scene is mellow yet motivating, and even the rest days are fun. I hope we can get another crew back next summer. Start planning your 2011 summer trip!

Tony Yao
Boulder Rock Club Climbing Team Coach & Head Route Setter

Leave a Reply

+ 20 = 29

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.