El Torcal, Andalucia, Spain.
Rhona and I recently spent a couple of weeks in Spain, looking for adventure. We headed down to Tarifa to have a go at kite-surfing. Unfortunately, the local instructors seem to think that kite-surfing and a blind guy was not a healthy combination. Bummer!! We really fancied having a go at that!!
Anyway, we decided to head inland and do some low-level free-climbing, or scrambling. We headed off to El Torcal to see what was happening there. El Torcal is an amazing place, located about 40 minutes drive from Antequera, El Torcal is on top of a hill (or maybe I should say, a small mountain!) As you can see from the picture on the left, El Torcal has a unique landscape. There are lots of pillars of rock, varying in height from a couple of metres up to around 25 metres. Ideal to play on! The sun was baking down on us, so in shorts, t-shirts, trainers and our daysacks, we were off! We have both done a fair bit of scrambling in the past, and Rhona had recently been doing some work on the local climbing wall in Dundee. With this in mind, we knew our limits.
After walking a few hundred yards from the car park, we entered the main playground. There were so many places to climb, it was difficult to know where to start!
We started off with a couple of straight-forward scrambles, just to get our muscles warmed up and get our hands worn in. These were fairly low-level (about 3 or 4 metres off the ground). We practice different grabs, stretches, pulls, pushes and traverses. After about an hour of this, it was time for the bigger stuff.
Our next climb was to be about 10 metres high. A lot of climbers can stand at the bottom and work out their route. Being registered blind means I am unable to do this, and it is all about feeling your way around the rocks. I spend a lot of my time doing two steps up and then one step down. However, I have the advantage when it comes to reaching around a corner or on an overhang. I am so used to using touch, that this is how I climb anyway.
From the 10 metres we eventually made our way up to around 15 metres. Some people may say that this isn’t very high, but without ropes, harnesses, etc, it was high enough for us.
The last climb/scramble of the day was up a narrow crevice, about 1.5 metres wide and 15 metres high. By this stage, we had been climbing for around 3 hours, so our muscles were starting to ache, and the heat was getting to us. With few hand holds, and very little ledges, this climb proved to be a tough one. The upward climb seemed hard enough, but on the way down, I really struggled. I had very little strength left and very few places to rest comfortably. The last couple of metres were almost a drop. I was very glad to finish it! Maybe if this climb had been earlier, or if I had been fitter, it might not have seemed so tough. Oh well, maybe I’m not as fit as I used to be. I’ll have to get back in training!!
We had a great day and would recommend a trip to El Torcal if you are ever in the area.
We haven’t given up on the kitesurfing! If anyone out there wants to take the Blind Man out to play, give me a shout!