Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Ironman, 8c - Rodellar

Photography: Rob Gibson

I've been having a total blast over the last 2 months climbing in Spain and Ironman was really the culmination of the trip for me. Although i am on a nine month sabbatical from work and will be heading to Yosemite and Central and South America for 6 months now - i decided to dedicate the last 2 months to sport climbing in Northern Spain and have really surprised myself ticking a load of routes up to 8b+ quickly on red-point and on-sighting up to a few 8's up to 8a+ in a day.

I actually thought i wouldn't get an 8c ticked this trip as it has been dogged by such weird extremes of weather - it snowed twice, we experienced almost tropical thunderstorms (meaning 3 x 8c's i was trying were soaked for up to a week at a time), it reached 38 degrees . . . and I also had to return home for a month but decided to return for a week to get one done, and am so pleased that i made the effort!

Ironman is at Surgencia Sector in Rodellar. It is just over 40m high and about 20m overhanging. The route is split into two sections - a first 20m vertical technical section of about 7b+/7c and then a second 20m pitch after a ledge that's up to 45 degrees overhanging and weighs in at 8c itself.

From the ledge all the moves are big & powerful, the holds generally open-hand pinches and tufas . . . until you reach the headwall.

Here you find a technical sequence on undercuts which can easily be blown as you have to make 6 foot movements to make 2 hand-movements followed by 4 more moves on slopers for hands and feet to get into a position to clip the chain; which you have level with your face for what seems like an eternity!

It's only here why you appreciate why this route is called Ironman because it really does not give up until you clip the chain - after a knee-bar two moves into the 8c, there's nowhere to get a rest to truly get anything back because it is too steep. It's really a timing game - knowing how to pace your climbing and not letting any individual move take up too much energy that you'll need higher up on the crucial technical section.

I reached the crux - 2 metres from the chain on my first red-point after a day of work and naively thought i'd get it next go . . . but once again, that's why its called Ironman . . . those last 2 / 3 metres never ever let up and are definately the hardest part on the route especially after climbing 38metres to get there.

I red-pointed the route as it was starting to go dark on my last possible red-point on my final evening in Rodellar - it was an emotional experience!

Thanks must go to Harry Pennells for such incredible support belaying over the time i spent on it and to Rob Gibson who offered to take some shots at 6.30 am the next morning before i left Spain helped by Ramon Marin!

Thanks guy

Photography: Rob Gibson