A group of English, making just one more climb on their way to the airport.
Our last climbing day this holiday. We were not quite sure if this could beat the Toix climb, which was perfect in every way. Today, we were going inland, climbing Marin near the twin-town of Elda/Petrer, an hour drive from Sella. Parking the car on a broad col, about 2 km from the main road, we noticed the number of cars: it´s buzzing here! It took us ten minutes to walk...whoaaah, that´s not bad at all. We were in awe....here was this big round buttress, dominating the valley below.
A group of about twenty people were climbing and waiting for their turn. It appeared that they were English, just taking one more climb before their flight home.
We had to wait, till the couple before us finished Jhonny.
We walked around them, towards an easy climb: Jhonny! Terry was checking the tempo of the two guys who were doing Jhonny. He was looking on with some concern on his face. `See how fast they´re going up?´, he asked. ´This can only mean one thing: wind is blowing hard up there!´ So...what does it matter? our faces seemed to ask. Terry explained with that much wind, our calls should be loud and clear to be heard. Also, because of the exposure of Marin in the inland, it could be quite scary. Uptill now we had climbed in Sella, in a quite enclosed area and the Siera de Toix, which maybe looked like we were climbing exposed, but was really nothing compared with Marin. Well.... I soon found out he couldn´t be more right.
The day was lovely, sunny and bright. As good as a day can get in Spain.
Terry is leading... what´s the best route?
No worries, right? Right! Terry was going to lead and took us through the calls again. Safe, taking in, safe, climbing. He checked our harnasses, our knots and up he went for the first pitch. Tamar was second going up. This gave me a good moment to climb up barefeet, along the buttress to take some awesome pictures of her. Off course, this meant, I didn´t pay enough attention to her route. I was so much focused on taking pics and shoot some video, that the moment it was my turn, I realised I hadn´t even listened to Terry giving directions or watched Tamar struggling on the little round slab that gave some difficulty. Did she go left or right? Where did she have trouble finding a good hand hold? What ridge was Terry talking about. Stupid! The wind was blowing like crazy.
Talking about exposed. My ears hurt and I had truely trouble concentrating. I wanted to get up and up...out of the wind. Now I knew what Terry meant, when he noticed those guys going up in a ridiculous pace. The first meters or so gave no trouble, but I soon arrived at the point that Terry had called tricky. He had said something like, right foot on the pointy ridge, grab right hand in a big hand hold, feel around with your left foot and left hand...what was it? I couldn´t remember. Why didn´t I take better notice of Tamar, when she was climbing? The wind was driving me nuts. And because of the wind, I couldn´t hear Terry from above. Here I was...right foot on the big ridge (no mistake, this was the right ridge). Right hand in, again no mistake, the right hold.
Boy, am I glad I made it..the wind was driving me nuts.
...but what came next. Every time I felt I had the next move, the wind would blow more fierce and I didn´t dare let go. Five minutes...feel, you fool, they did it....you can do it. Wait till the wind slows. It won´t, get on with it. Ten minutes...my toes were really hurting now. My right leg was getting sleepy, I had to move. Get your brain working, stupid! I still don´t remember what I did, but somehow, after what felt like an hour on that pointy ridge, I was moving again. A little relieved, I left that tricky part under - and behind - me, but knowing I still had two third of the climb before me.
So you thought you did the tricky part already, silly woman? Who else but me would take the wrong side of the climb around the little platform that looked so comforting from below? Right! Here I was, standing on a little platform.
Waiting to go up for the second pitch.
I don´t even remember getting there. My back to the mountain, face to the valley. I realised it should have been the other way around, but I just couldn´t get myself to turn towards the mountain again. That little platform felt so safe. The wind was blowing as if daring me. I remember thinking, what an idiot I was, to let myself blow of this mountain. And then I met the gaze of the guy on the ground, who climbed before us. He was Spanish and looked up at me. Without taking his eyes of me, he called something to his friend. Even from where I was standing, I could see the worry in his eyes. I still remember that look. It shook me up. Did I see a mirrored panic in those eyes? Did he know I panicked? Damn´ if that look didn´t make me turn to the mountain and I felt myself starting to climb again.
A bit disappointed: we were hoping to abseil, but the wind was just too strong.
I actually imagined him holding his breath. The moment he saw I was climbing, secure and concentrated, I heard a triumphant yell from below. To this day, I don´t know what he thought I was doing up there. It sure had nothing to do with climbing. Did he realise I had let that fierce wind frighten me ? And all that time, Tamar and Terry were out of my sight, waiting patiently for me to appear. When I did, every muscle was aching. We took our time coiling the ropes for the second pitch. Very wisely Terry wanted me to go up second, behind him. Tamar didn´t seem to have any trouble with the wind. That girl is so strong... when she sets her mind to it, she´ll do it. She couldn´t understand what happened to me. Luckily the second pitch was a short one, and much easier than the first.
Scrambling down the gully on the other side.
I secured myself through the Abseil bolt on top to take some pictures of Tamar coming up. Allthough we had planned to abseil the wind was making it hard. The rope would get tangled in the bushes and it would be a very slow descent. Or had I scared him with my strange climbing moves? Terry decided we had to scramble down the gully on the other side. A little disappointed we made our way back. My Spanish onlooker disappeared, so I had no change to thank him for his moral support.
Now, you wonder of course: would I climb Jhonny the next time? Definitely! For me, the feeling when I finally made it, was so wonderful, so victorious and the view so marvellous....Oh yeah! I would definitely climb Jhonny again.