Saturday, December 29, 2007

Barcelona Summary

The last ten days have been quite interesting. at the entrance of my last blog, i was in surianna. what a beautiful place that is. Ryan and i found ourselves amidst a snow storm with a weather forecast for snow and rain and more or less variable, unstable weather. At this point we had a decision to make: stay in Surianna and see what happens over the next few days, or head back to Barcelona and hang out there. Also, at this point i had caught a cold and was feeling sick. My inclination was to stay in Surianna and wait it out. Ryan wanted to head back to Barcelona, and was heavily motivated by a beautiful Spanish girl he had met prior to heading up to climb. So, we headed back to Barcelona. Over the next several days we hung out and embraced the city life. Ryan was occupied with Spanish dreams, and I explored some of the nightlife. The clubs here, for the record, are incredible. I went to one place called Razzmatazz, which is supposedly the "best club in Europe." i won't argue with that! 5 bars in one, from rock to deep house and techno, chill out to dance hard, this place had it all.
Friday night came along and now, with Ryans attention focused back to climbing, we headed to the tunnel in Barcelona with a nice girl (Joana) we had met during the climbing competition. Quite a cool place, that climbing tunnel in Barcelona.
Anyway, it seemed as if our schedules were not in congruence as Ryan and I has some conflicting ideas about timing and priorities. In the end, Ryan went climbing with a few girls we met here, and I went climbing with Joana. Not bad I suppose - both of us climbing with beautiful Spanish ladies - yet not with each other. Interesting how that all transitioned.
Anyway, on Sunday, my day was pretty incredible. I started the day in a quaint Spanish town (cool) with Joana (hot) and we drove to Montsurate (incredible), and then I rolled back into Barcelona to see a sold out "match of the year" futbol game (incredible).

On Monday, Christmas Eve, Paul and Cody arrived. We went to Christmas Eve Mass at midnight, and proceeded to party and dance (Prax you would have been proud) until 7 am. The music at the clubs keeps getting better an better and more intense all the way until the lights come on at 6 am. Sweet. That is the same time, convienently, that the Metro starts to run again. Double sweet.

The next few days we spent catching up and hanging out in this amazing city. Barcelona is filled with incredible architecture, amazing places to see (Park Guell for instance) and stylish people. The Metro system is incredibly efficient and easy to navigate.

The four of us spent the day after Christmas with Meya and Barbara, two other lovely Catalyn beautiful people. I felt very lucky to have them invite us to their home for Christmas dinner. Quite a warm welcome. Quite incredible ladies.

All in all, not really the agro climbing stint in Spain that Ryan and I had in mind when we started out, but sweet none the less. These things you must take in stride and embrace the best of WHAT IS. Life is too short for complaining, for "should have this" and "Should have that" and all the worry of missing out on whatever. Be focused and go after what will bring you satisfaction, and be flexible as you enjoy the ride. And really - ENJOY THE RIDE!

In a few hours we head to IBIZA - an island off the coast of Spain. Its time to get our New Years groove on - and to face up - head to head - with the best dancers and trance DJS in the world. We're up for the challenge... Its GO TIME!

So, as we transitioned into the weekend,

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Stream of Consciousness Summary of the Last Two Weeks +

December 1: Hard Sport Climbing at Todra. Much 5.12 climbing.

12-2: Incredible Todra multipitch 6c +, crux final stemming pitch over the entire route

12-3: More sport climbing and Ryan sends Afrique Physique Project; we meet Zaid and travel to Sahara, Er Foud and Merzouga and desert kasbah:
WILD dreams in the Kasbah

12-4: I am attacked by a camel at start of trip. The camel ripped my wallet and crushed my Blackberry, nearly puncturing my back in the process. Yes, the Blackberry saved me from being eaten by the camel. More camel trekking through the Sahara! Stopped for lunch at Berber village and cous cous, camped under the stars in the desert, sunset hike, fireside drum jams, (Abdul and the Nomads drumming team debut)-amazing!

12-5: Sunrise Dune Walk, Writing in the sand, Part 6 of Get Motivated
Series: How to motivate a Camel. Travel out of the desert and back to Tineheir, dinner with very cool Spaniards.

12-6: Travel to Todra, climbing - long screamer fall (Tim).

12-7: Climbed 6 pitch route called the scorpion (6 B+) and then TIM SENDS AFRIQUE PHYSIQUE! 5.12A+/B redpoint!

12-8: More climbing at Petit Gorge, I buy Moroccan drums and a magic carpet! (Luggage getting a bit heavy) Overnight bus to Casablanca (yes, another overnight bus).

12-9: Arrive in Casablanca: chill day, continue to be harassed by Moroccan beggars, great seafood dinner, funky nightlife, random Piano Bar where I am kicked off stage.

12-10: Preparation for the training at the SOS orphanage and meetings:
Severine and Beatrice are amazing women.

12-11: SOS orphanage training (incredible!!!!) 15 Arabic managers and
educators learning and focusing on teamwork, communication and support for the ultimate benefit of orphan children. I present all day, Severine translates to the team, the team responds back and Alex translates to me.

I am still unsure if the girls were referring to me as "white devil" or not. (Obscure pet detective joke). Incredible energy. The participants completely embraced the training program. They even choose to stay 45 minutes longer for final challenges and action planning. Thank you to the whole SOS crew, and to Severine and Alex for the translation!

Post training we travelled to Marrakesh via train. One more night in Marrakesh....

12-12 Travel out of Marrakesh, Morocco and onto Barcelona, Spain!
Arrive in SPAIN, secure apartment and immediately head to FC Barcelona versus Stuttgard futbol match - stellar 3-1 FCB.

12-13: City walk, determine Spain is the land of fashion. Quite amazing really, everyone looks like they are out of a fashion catalog.
We went to climb at a climbing gym - informed of competition the following day and we register. Proceed to party Spanish style, which we determine to be very intense dancing until 6 am. People very friendly here, and they like to party, a lot.

12-14: AM power shop (yes, I actually I went shopping) and onto the Climbing comp! (Yes, this was after parting ALL NIGHT). I nearly won the competition (there were no American judges = rigged) Americans tricked into gulping glasses of Anise at dinner by Spanish climbing team (apparently all in one does NOT mean drink this down all at once, but means we are all together, like as one.) The Americans are given ceremonial keys to the CLIMB AT for their stellar performance at the disco post competition. Thanks to Ky, Barbara and everyone at Climb At! Barcelona for embracing the American style of sending.

12-15: Travel to Suriana with Leida, 7 times-running female Spanish climbing champion! Tim officially loses his voice due to competition exhaustion, sleep deprivation and 6 am discos.

12-16: Arrival to Suriana - magico! This might just be the best climbing in the world. Climbing at Suriana: warm-ups and the land of 7A+!!!!!!!!
I nearly onsight 7a+, one crux overhang fall...

12-17: Awake to snow! It never snows here apparently....

Key Travel Insights: Be open to "teachers" who may appear at any time.
The serendipitous occurs when you focus with intention. Be prepared to seize the moment. Maintain goals, release the outcome, and embrace the process. Failure is inevitable, it’s what you do when you do fail that determines your character. Acceptance is key to happiness. Remind yourself what is most important every day. Decide to make each day the best of your entire life. The Power of Now is easy when things are easy, true challenge is in times of conflict or difficulty. Choose to focus on gratitude, abundance, and giving, and you shall be rewarded. Seek and expect the best in every person you meet. Be yourself, not who you want people to think you are. Every action is based upon seeking an emotional state. Awareness of your seeking is key to enlightenment. You climb how you live, you live how you climb. Futbol and Music are the two global connectors for people anywhere. Seeking True North maintains complete relevance. Prepare, practice and passion are the pathways to freedom, beauty, and success in life.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Lots of new posts and some random pictures - check them out below!

Here are some pictures i thought you might enjoy...
Climbing in Spain

Ryan camel surfing

The camel that ate my wallet and Blackberry (I am not even joking).

Unexpected Motorcycling in the Back Country

The trip continued on through the mountains and the roads were extremely
unstable and rough. As we traveled, we came across a couple from
England who was on an old Russian BMW moto with a side car. They were
definitely struggling to navigate this backcountry travel. Just when we
were unsure of what the heck they were thinking being on this road, their
bike flipped over and the man was nearly crushed! We jumped out of the
jeep and righted the moto and side car. Gordon, the British guy, was in
shock and kept saying, “It looks like we bit off a bit more than we could
chew.... we got in a bit over our heads.” Ummmmm, yeah!

Ryan seized the opportunity to help out by riding in the side car to shift the weight, leaning way off to the sides to provide balance. That was what Gordon
needed to take it out of this difficult terrain. After a while Ryan took a
break and I rode with Gordon, helping him to keep the moto balanced
and maneuver through the hills. Quite the random adventure!!!

We finished the day passing through Dades Gorge. We spoke with local
villagers about other remote climbing areas. We hope to be able to check
out some of these areas before we leave. Morocco is packed with
incredible rock that has yet to be touched. Line after line with loads of
potential for new routes abound throughout this beautiful country...

A "Rest" Day with mountain villagers

Last night we shared dinner with Leif and Ky, our Norwegian friends, and they invited us to join them for a rest day. Today was quite the rest day! We spent the day on a 4 X 4, cruising over the back roads and pistes of Morocco. We traveled through small villages and brought plenty of supplies to give away to the mountain Berber village people and children.

The highlight of the trip was when Leif gave away a pair of his old climbing boots to a Berber man living with his family. He immediately invited us for tea with his family. These people were extremely poor and lived essentially under a burlap tent with what seemed like absolutely nothing.

As we sat for tea, the communication looked like this. We asked a question in Spanish to another guy, who was from Tangier, Morocco, who happened to be following close by and was with us for the tea. He then translated into Arabic the question to Hassan, our driver; Hassan then asked the village people the question in Berber, which is the mountain dialect. They responded in Berber; Hassan translated to Arabic, which was then translated into Spanish for us to understand! Quite the interesting chain of communication.

Apparently he had lived there, in that tent, with his family, for 17 years! They were content with the lifestyle and lived off the land in the mountains very simply. Ryan and I discussed this concept of living for quite some time. What purpose would it serve to have more when the simple existence is what this family knows and wants? To feel the sun and the wind; to live in the mountains for centuries in happiness. Who are we to say what is right or wrong way to live???? We shared tea and bread and Leif also gave an old climbing rope to him as another final act of kindness. Quite the amazing experience to share.

Pillar le Classique

After months and months of dreaming of climbing the mystical route that would begin in the heart Todra Gorge, the time is finally upon me. The original line of the gorge, established in 1964 by a French team, ascends the face of the most prominent pillar. It follows cracks and continues directly up the face of the Pillar, 1,500 feet to the summit. The route requires a "trad rack", which is comprised of nuts, cams and aliens, which we place in the cracks and rock face for our protection as we climb. We were even able to borrow a #4 camelot (a big piece) from the Norwegians, which brings a little added comfort, knowing we will be able to protect larger cracks... All that heavy luggage is paying off!

Ryan wins the roe-sham-boe and takes the "sharp end" or lead, for the first pitch of about 150 feet. A "pitch" in climbing terms is the length in which climbers advance in one rope length. It is typically between 100 and 200 feet in length. During a pitch, the leader goes first, placing gear in the rock to protect a fall. Once at the top, the leader makes an anchor and belays the follower up. The follower collects the gear that the leader placed on the way up as he climbs up to the leader. The climbers then typically switch roles, and the follower now becomes the leader for the next pitch.

The climbing is cold as we are not in the sun yet, and the first pitch is difficult. Ryan prevails through the crux with stemming and finger locks, all with nearly numb hands!

The second lead pitch is my turn, and we are in the sun now. The way to go is not exactly clear, as the crack that looks like I should be climbing appears very steep, dirty, and lacking in places to place protection. The only gear I can see is the ring of an old, rusted piton, probably placed in 1963!

I make the first moves and begin to stem, which is where you have your feet very wide on two opposing walls. One of the walls is very dirty, and I reluctantly clip the old piton ring. I have very little confidence that this will hold if I have a fall of any significance. "No falls, stay strong," I tell myself. The sun beats down, and beads of sweat roll down my neck as I crimp hard on the side wall and shift my feet up the dirty counterpart.

I am surprised this is so difficult and I begin to wonder if I am going the right way. Doubt begins to creep. My forearms flare, my heart pumps rapidly, and fear begins to rear its ugly head. I notice the physiological changes in my body, coupled with this familiar emotional state. I tell myself to breathe, and repeat my mantra: smart, smooth, and strong. I must continue on. My breathing keeps my physiology in check and my mantra keeps me mentally in focus with the task. Inch by inch, I make my way through the challenging crux, which leads to a beautiful diagonal hand crack. I feel at home jamming up the remainder of the vertical pitch to the belay ledge. Feelings of relief, happiness, confidence, and excitement flow though me. YES.

We still have 8 pitches to go! The climb continues up steep yet clean rock to a beautiful overhanging roof, which Ryan leads in style. We are getting into the groove now. Our belay transitions are fast and gear management is flowing smoothly. Pitch after pitch, we continue upward, overcoming consistent challenges while we shout words of support and communication to each other.

Pitches 8 and 9 are supposedly rated somewhere between 5.6 and 5.9 - so I decide to combine these pitches together for a long 230 foot pitch. (This turns out to be quite challenging, as I used up all of my gear, with difficult moves at the end of long run-outs (a run-out is the distance in between gear placements, which means the longer you "run it out," the bigger the distance of the fall becomes).

I create a natural anchor with the resources I have and bring Ryan up on belay, where the final pitch awaits. The last pitch looks beautiful and I liken it to a golden friction pitch (like on the Exum Ridge on the Grand Teton). Ryan climbs up and wonders out loud if we are off route because the climbing is supposed to be easy at this point. It's not. Ryan gets to the last exit move through a blank corner with very suspect protection, and he is stuck.

He searches for gear placements to protect the move. Nothing Ryan finds yield much confidence. The sun passes over the face and I remain ready in the shadowed belay ledge. This last move is a committing, hard face move, with no guarantee that the commitment will lead to better holds! Eventually, Ryan summons his courage and goes for it. He makes it through the move and we both are relieved. I follow the pitch and can see why this move caused such a dilemma! It turns out that one of, if not the most, difficult move of the whole climb was the final exit move off the face! I finish off the last pitch and soon we are on the summit celebrating the successful ascent of the Pillar le Classique!

We meander down a forty-five minute walk off trail through shepards and sheep and beautiful Moroccan Landscapes. At the base we meet Hassan, and share a glass of Berber Whiskey over tales of the ascent....

Todra Gorge

We check into Hotel Yasmina, a beautiful place overlooking a river flowing
through the middle of the gorge. As soon as we get settled, we head out to get onto the rock. Tourists drive by, snapping photos of us and we are happy to be moving and excited about what lies ahead...