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I am not sure if my recent trip to Spain was the best I've ever had or the worst. There were points during the 2 week holiday when I was convinced it was the worst, and that was definitely reflected in my mood (sorry Stu!), but looking back on it things seem very different.

[caption id="attachment_5922" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Sella village Sella village[/caption]

After a year's hard graft, training my ass off every day at the Foundry in an effort to get better, we decided to go to the Sella area, Sector Wild Side to be precise, to see if all the hard work had made a difference. My focus this year has been on improving at doing quick ticks, routes in a day, as this was an area of climbing I really struggle with. I had in the back of my mind that I wanted to try for an 8a in a day, and my expectation was that if I tried a lot of different ones, found one in a crimpy style that really suited me and got a bit lucky then I might pull it off.

[caption id="attachment_5916" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Cabezón de Oro Cabezón de Oro[/caption]

Holidays are always tricky. Do you ruthlessly stick to your goal, whatever the consequences, or be more flexible and concentrate more on getting specific routes done. I've always been of the mindset that you should go big or go home, and so throughout the two weeks I found myself walking away from unfinished route after unfinished route, in order to pursue my 8a in a day goal. At the time I did find the failure hard to take, but I also had some amazing days climbing. Highlights included coming whiskers away from doing Watermark (8a) in 3 goes, and falling off just near the anchors on a flash attempt of La Sensación de Pinzar (7c) at Cabezón de Oro (this route is absolutely stunning - 40m of tufa pinching that just goes on and on and on. It totally blew my mind how cool it was).

[caption id="attachment_5921" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Oceano (7b/+) Oceano (7b/+)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5920" align="aligncenter" width="399"]Oceano (7b/+) Oceano (7b/+)[/caption]

The last 2 days of the trip, with an 8a tick still eluding me, I got on Mediterraneo. Another fantastic line, this route starts up a tufa-y 7b to a no-hands rest, and then presses on up through big moves on good holds to a chain at 30m. On day one I felt close, but an annoying foot slip cost me dearly. The final day dawned, and I was absolutely shattered, but I found a new sequence through the crux which felt very steady indeed. Sure that this time it was on, I set off for a burn but having got safely though the crux my fate was sealed as a torrential downpour had soaked the top of the route. There was nothing for it but to strip it and go home empty-handed. Gutting!

[caption id="attachment_5919" align="aligncenter" width="399"]Mediterraneo (8a) Mediterraneo (8a)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5918" align="aligncenter" width="399"]Mediterraneo (8a) Mediterraneo (8a)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5917" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Gutted! Gutted![/caption]

Having got over the disappointment of ticking no more than a handful of easier routes after such high hopes for the holiday, I actually feel really psyched with how things went. Something I was not expecting at all was that my level seemed to have improved in all styles I tried. I felt I could hold my own on hard routes in a variety of styles, and not just the ones that really suited me. I've been working really hard on strength and power endurance with my coach, as well as trying to improve my technique on steep rock and I was really taken aback by what a difference it seemed to have made. News flash: training works! I feel much more confident in myself as a result, and psyched for what the coming year may bring.

The only negative from the trip was an issue I had with an 8a+ I tried called Tirali Valent. After a few days on it I almost got it done, falling on the easier ground just below the chain. For some reason though, the pressure of wanting to do it got to me and I subsequently developed "stopper-move syndrome" on the crux. I made the decision to walk away, and I am glad I did. This problem I have with the pressure of mini-projects (and maxi-projects) is something that keeps cropping up, but I decided the time to address it was at home and not on holiday. It's not a decision I regret.

So that was Wild Side: 100% progress, 0 ticks. I guess climbing is just like that sometimes!

Jules Littlefair

I am not sure if my recent trip to Spain was the best I've ever had or the worst. There were points during the 2 week holiday when I was convinced it was the worst, and that was definitely reflected in my mood (sorry Stu!), but looking back on it things seem very different.

[caption id="attachment_5922" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Sella village Sella village[/caption]

After a year's hard graft, training my ass off every day at the Foundry in an effort to get better, we decided to go to the Sella area, Sector Wild Side to be precise, to see if all the hard work had made a difference. My focus this year has been on improving at doing quick ticks, routes in a day, as this was an area of climbing I really struggle with. I had in the back of my mind that I wanted to try for an 8a in a day, and my expectation was that if I tried a lot of different ones, found one in a crimpy style that really suited me and got a bit lucky then I might pull it off.

[caption id="attachment_5916" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Cabezón de Oro Cabezón de Oro[/caption]

Holidays are always tricky. Do you ruthlessly stick to your goal, whatever the consequences, or be more flexible and concentrate more on getting specific routes done. I've always been of the mindset that you should go big or go home, and so throughout the two weeks I found myself walking away from unfinished route after unfinished route, in order to pursue my 8a in a day goal. At the time I did find the failure hard to take, but I also had some amazing days climbing. Highlights included coming whiskers away from doing Watermark (8a) in 3 goes, and falling off just near the anchors on a flash attempt of La Sensación de Pinzar (7c) at Cabezón de Oro (this route is absolutely stunning - 40m of tufa pinching that just goes on and on and on. It totally blew my mind how cool it was).

[caption id="attachment_5921" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Oceano (7b/+) Oceano (7b/+)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5920" align="aligncenter" width="399"]Oceano (7b/+) Oceano (7b/+)[/caption]

The last 2 days of the trip, with an 8a tick still eluding me, I got on Mediterraneo. Another fantastic line, this route starts up a tufa-y 7b to a no-hands rest, and then presses on up through big moves on good holds to a chain at 30m. On day one I felt close, but an annoying foot slip cost me dearly. The final day dawned, and I was absolutely shattered, but I found a new sequence through the crux which felt very steady indeed. Sure that this time it was on, I set off for a burn but having got safely though the crux my fate was sealed as a torrential downpour had soaked the top of the route. There was nothing for it but to strip it and go home empty-handed. Gutting!

[caption id="attachment_5919" align="aligncenter" width="399"]Mediterraneo (8a) Mediterraneo (8a)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5918" align="aligncenter" width="399"]Mediterraneo (8a) Mediterraneo (8a)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5917" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Gutted! Gutted![/caption]

Having got over the disappointment of ticking no more than a handful of easier routes after such high hopes for the holiday, I actually feel really psyched with how things went. Something I was not expecting at all was that my level seemed to have improved in all styles I tried. I felt I could hold my own on hard routes in a variety of styles, and not just the ones that really suited me. I've been working really hard on strength and power endurance with my coach, as well as trying to improve my technique on steep rock and I was really taken aback by what a difference it seemed to have made. News flash: training works! I feel much more confident in myself as a result, and psyched for what the coming year may bring.

The only negative from the trip was an issue I had with an 8a+ I tried called Tirali Valent. After a few days on it I almost got it done, falling on the easier ground just below the chain. For some reason though, the pressure of wanting to do it got to me and I subsequently developed "stopper-move syndrome" on the crux. I made the decision to walk away, and I am glad I did. This problem I have with the pressure of mini-projects (and maxi-projects) is something that keeps cropping up, but I decided the time to address it was at home and not on holiday. It's not a decision I regret.

So that was Wild Side: 100% progress, 0 ticks. I guess climbing is just like that sometimes!

Jules Littlefair

I am not sure if my recent trip to Spain was the best I've ever had or the worst. There were points during the 2 week holiday when I was convinced it was the worst, and that was definitely reflected in my mood (sorry Stu!), but looking back on it things seem very different.

[caption id="attachment_5922" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Sella village Sella village[/caption]

After a year's hard graft, training my ass off every day at the Foundry in an effort to get better, we decided to go to the Sella area, Sector Wild Side to be precise, to see if all the hard work had made a difference. My focus this year has been on improving at doing quick ticks, routes in a day, as this was an area of climbing I really struggle with. I had in the back of my mind that I wanted to try for an 8a in a day, and my expectation was that if I tried a lot of different ones, found one in a crimpy style that really suited me and got a bit lucky then I might pull it off.

[caption id="attachment_5916" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Cabezón de Oro Cabezón de Oro[/caption]

Holidays are always tricky. Do you ruthlessly stick to your goal, whatever the consequences, or be more flexible and concentrate more on getting specific routes done. I've always been of the mindset that you should go big or go home, and so throughout the two weeks I found myself walking away from unfinished route after unfinished route, in order to pursue my 8a in a day goal. At the time I did find the failure hard to take, but I also had some amazing days climbing. Highlights included coming whiskers away from doing Watermark (8a) in 3 goes, and falling off just near the anchors on a flash attempt of La Sensación de Pinzar (7c) at Cabezón de Oro (this route is absolutely stunning - 40m of tufa pinching that just goes on and on and on. It totally blew my mind how cool it was).

[caption id="attachment_5921" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Oceano (7b/+) Oceano (7b/+)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5920" align="aligncenter" width="399"]Oceano (7b/+) Oceano (7b/+)[/caption]

The last 2 days of the trip, with an 8a tick still eluding me, I got on Mediterraneo. Another fantastic line, this route starts up a tufa-y 7b to a no-hands rest, and then presses on up through big moves on good holds to a chain at 30m. On day one I felt close, but an annoying foot slip cost me dearly. The final day dawned, and I was absolutely shattered, but I found a new sequence through the crux which felt very steady indeed. Sure that this time it was on, I set off for a burn but having got safely though the crux my fate was sealed as a torrential downpour had soaked the top of the route. There was nothing for it but to strip it and go home empty-handed. Gutting!

[caption id="attachment_5919" align="aligncenter" width="399"]Mediterraneo (8a) Mediterraneo (8a)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5918" align="aligncenter" width="399"]Mediterraneo (8a) Mediterraneo (8a)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_5917" align="aligncenter" width="450"]Gutted! Gutted![/caption]

Having got over the disappointment of ticking no more than a handful of easier routes after such high hopes for the holiday, I actually feel really psyched with how things went. Something I was not expecting at all was that my level seemed to have improved in all styles I tried. I felt I could hold my own on hard routes in a variety of styles, and not just the ones that really suited me. I've been working really hard on strength and power endurance with my coach, as well as trying to improve my technique on steep rock and I was really taken aback by what a difference it seemed to have made. News flash: training works! I feel much more confident in myself as a result, and psyched for what the coming year may bring.

The only negative from the trip was an issue I had with an 8a+ I tried called Tirali Valent. After a few days on it I almost got it done, falling on the easier ground just below the chain. For some reason though, the pressure of wanting to do it got to me and I subsequently developed "stopper-move syndrome" on the crux. I made the decision to walk away, and I am glad I did. This problem I have with the pressure of mini-projects (and maxi-projects) is something that keeps cropping up, but I decided the time to address it was at home and not on holiday. It's not a decision I regret.

So that was Wild Side: 100% progress, 0 ticks. I guess climbing is just like that sometimes!

Jules Littlefair