So what happens when you take 14 SMC members, send them to Spain, surround them with mountains, and give them 9 days of blue skies and perfect temperatures – a lot that’s what!
Things started with a game of hunt the villa, kicking off in the wrong town and ending up with the vanguard sat on the steps of an anonymous mansion wondering where in this small village the accommodation could be? Yep, they were sat on the doorstep. Soon inside we discovered what a great deal we had, four huge bedrooms, ensuites, balconies, kitchen with dishwasher and washing machine, dining table big enough for a banquet, two levels of cellars and our own stone bbq.
The next seven days saw our members set off to visit a multitude of crags and different rock types where plentiful routes in the lower grades were available to get some early season mileage in. Highlights included the unusual conglomerate crags at Collegats, the amazing arches at Abella de la Conca, and the 220m 7 pitch Smoking sector wall at Terradets. It wasn’t all climbing, people went walking in the famous Monte Rebei gorge and explored the local town of Trempe.
Our members were not shy on seeking out challenges too, Anna and Lou worked as a great team building confidence with early leading, Ian and Cat getting out where boulderers don’t often go – up unprotected 35m via ferrata to the Abella de la Conca Arches, then abseiling back down, and lots of folks pushing grades on great routes.
Rob and Phil went for a long but gentle day out on the impressive 220m high Smoking wall in the Terradets gorge. Alas they hadn’t anticipated some serious undergrading and guidebook errors in the 7 pitches ending up with Rob attempting to lead a pitch 2 grades harder than anything he had done before. A fantastic if challenging adventure.
A meal out and 2 BBQs spiced up the food, filling the evenings with laughter and stories.
The week saw many members finish with aching muscles and sore skin, others a golden glow and the look of a satisfied traveller. Others were so reluctant to leave they missed their flights!