Do You Spain?

Camp in Margalef
Camp in Margalef. ©LightShedPictures

When we got home for Christmas in December, I was really, really happy to be there. Our first stint on the road for Epic TV was a lot harder than we expected – we got a lot of rain, the workload was bigger than anticipated, and van life in Europe was proving to be trickier than it had been in North America. After three months we were pooped and homesick. But reminding ourselves that this was still the opportunity of a lifetime, we forced ourselves back into the van and onto the motorway. And so far, life has been a lot more fun this time round.

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Getting into routes again.
Getting into routes again, slowly but surely…

Is this because we started this stint more aware of what we were driving into? Or is it because we started in Spain? Spain is a lot of fun – the Spanish are a friendly bunch, they’re happy for you to park your campervan almost anywhere, life is pretty inexpensive, they have welcomed the invention of Wi-Fi and there is SO MUCH CLIMBING here it’s mind-boggling. I was never that bothered about visiting Spain before, I imagined it as hot, dry and orange. But so far we have camped next to a picturesque waterfall in the beautiful valleys of Margalef, one of the loveliest pine forests I’ve ever wandered through in Albarracin, the sandy trails next to olive groves in Chulilla and been nestled in the foothills of some serious mountains amongst possibly the most rock we’ve ever seen in La Pedriza. We’ve had sub-zero temperatures and unbearable heat, downpours and snow, 80kmph gales and everything in between. And of course we’ve barely scratched the surface here.

The canyons of Chulilla.
The canyons of Chulilla. Definitely worth a visit!
Interview time...
Interview time… so best smile.

Looking back so far, it’s easy to tell which places we loved the most because of the amount of pictures we took there. Albarracin, for example:

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©LightShedPictures
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©LightShedPictures
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©LightShedPictures
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©LightShedPictures
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Just a couple of things to carry with us… ©LightShedPictures
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El Plus del Autobus. ©LightShedPictures
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©LightShedPictures

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©LightShedPictures
albarra_projects
©LightShedPictures

A few years ago our good friend Gemma casually told me off for always over-looking Europe in favour of Canada and the states – and she had a point. Since then Al and I have often talked about exploring Europe one day, somehow… it seemed silly to miss what’s on our doorstep. My point here is I finally feel like I’m relaxing into this job and lifestyle enough to be able to appreciate that we’re finally doing it.

Back to photos though, we liked La Pedriza a lot too! It definitely helps you get to know and enjoy a place when the local climbers are as welcoming as these guys were.

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Robin ©LightShedPictures
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©LightShedPictures
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Talo Martin on the first ascent of Kampala, 7b, and the first free ascent of the Elephant ever! ©LightShedPictures
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©LightShedPictures
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Little Dalton, 7a+ ©LightShedPictures

I thought I’d climbed slabs before, but then we got a lesson from Talo – watching his first ascent of Kampala, 7b, and then learning from his cruise up Equilibrium, just a little 8b he put up a few years ago. Al top roped the 8b to see what that felt like and I top roped an 8a to see what that felt like – intense and hard! But the advice we were given has been useful since – move quickly onto the next foothold no matter how bad it is, and you’ll just see the next ‘hold’ as you go. And don’t forget to have a little Pedriza faith – it works!

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Talo in his element. ©LightShedPictures
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So that’s what 8b slab looks like. ©LightShedPictures

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We’re across the border in France now after six weeks of Spain dwelling, and I really felt sad to say goodbye. Hopefully we’ll be back soon. But for now, check out our Epic TV series and thanks for checking out the blog!

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