My Journey to El Chorro and 100 8’s

After a great trip to El Chorro last year where I managed to get my first 8a onsight and my quickest 8b repeat I thought a short trip there this February would be a great idea to start the year off and quickstart my outdoor climbing for the year.

In October and throughout the winter I started bouldering a little more to build some strength in order to do some harder routes this year. With the amount of bouldering I was doing I felt a huge decrease in my fitness and I was beginning to get pumped pretty easily. Knowing this, I thought it would be great idea to head to Spain for a brief trip to buid my endurance back up and general fitness; El Chorro fitted the criteria perfectly… long routes, easy to get to and affordable.

Training for the trip didn’t go too well and I wasn’t able to get to the wall enough to build the required fitness but I did manage to get to Anstey’s for a few sessions which got me used to climbing on rock again. With the lack of endurance Charlotte and I headed to Spain with no real goals in mind but just the idea of spending the time there training and getting fit again. Onsighting and fast redpoints were on the agenda for the 6 day trip and I was psyched to get as many route done as possible. I had 10 grade 8 routes in mind for the trip but I wasn’t too sure whether to pursue this as it seemed a little too ambitious!

We arrived at our accomodation at around 6 last Tuesday and I managed to pursuade Charlotte to walk to the closest crag with me to do a route before it got dark in around 30 minutes. Charlotte finally gave in and we ran up to Las Encantadas where I decided to try an 8a+ called Mama Endika; without any time for a warm up I jumped straight on the route and continued to pull through the sharp crimps to reach the chains… Somehow I’d managed to get my first route of the trip done straight away; Mama Endika, 8a+, onsight! By now the light had pretty much faded so we had to finish there. I was so excited for the following day and had set an early alarm clock to get out early the next day. I woke up the followng day full of energy and psyche, Charlotte suggested trying to get 5 8’s done in a day as good training, I was keen and began trying as soon as we arrived at the amazing Poema de Roca cave at Frontales Medias. I got straight on Rima Libre, a cool looking 8a on tufas which I’d wanted to try on the previous trip here but never got the chance to get on. I went for the onsight but was denied when I threw for a non existent jug. It went quickly next go; next up was Thunder truck, 8a (or Thunder Struck, 7c+ depending on which guide you look at). This went pretty smoothly despite some wet holds I managed to pull through the huge roof and get the onsight. We then moved down the crag a little to grab an onight of an unnamed 8a. After that I tried to onsight Antidoto, a vertical 8a which has become quite popular recently and is regularly onsighted. I got through the crux but got spat off high up when I didn’t see a particular hold, I went for another go shortly after and came off one move further but then decided to strip it as it was quite sharp (and I was finding it hard)! We then finished the day with at Las Encantadas where I onsighted Deseo en Vida (8a) and Charlotte came very close to flashing Mama Endika (8a+) but only came off due to being scared. I didn’t manage to get the 5 8’s in a day but was pretty pleased at coming so close.

Last year on Trango

Last year on Trango

The following day was similar although I was feeling much more tired this time; I warmed up on Mama Endika, then headed up to Trango which is an 8b which I did last year and was keen to repeat and try an extension. After spending a while putting the draws in and figuring the moves again I did the 8b again but decided not to get stuck down with a project on the trip and just go and try other routes. So I finished off by onsighting XXL (8a) a long pumpy line high above the ground and then a nice fairly new line called La Cuca (8a) which follows a series of tufa’s with some pretty cool sequences.

I was feeling really tired now but still keen to get out and try some routes. Today I wanted to try a classic 8b roof called Shark Attack which has an amazing sequence with knee’s, toe and heel hooks everywhere. Before I tried this however I wanted to have a quick look at Kervala (8b), I’d wanted to save this for an onsight but knew I would only get more tired throughout the week so now seemed like the right time to go for it. I got on the route with little expectation and soon found myself clipping the chains without too much of a fight… I’m not saying it was easy but it just didn’t feel as hard as 8b should? It did kind of suit me fairly well so this could be why, or it may not be quite 8b… Either way it was a cool experience making this my 4th 8b onsight and gave me a little more confidence in my ability and personally signifies that I’m close having the endurance I did last summer.

Shark Attack came the next day on the first redpoint of the day and I have to say that this is one of my favourite route that I’ve ever done alongside Geminis in Rodellar! Shark was my 10th 8 of the trip which was quite surprising and a little unbelievable and now I was looking onto another goal which I’d had in mind for a long time but this felt even further off… I wanted to try and climb 100 8th grade routes within 2 years of climbing my first, with only 2 weeks until the 2 year deadline. At the start of the trip I would have had to climb 15 8’s to reach this objective and now I’d only have to do 5… 5 seemed like a long way off now though as I was exhausted and my skin was destroyed! It was worth trying anyway and the following day I managed to an 8a+ at Poema de Roca but as the darkness drew in I didn’t think I’d get another one done today and the only way to complete my goal would be to do 4 the following day which I was almost certain wouldn’t happen. We started walking back to the Olive Branch for some food but as we walked past Las Encantadas I noticed that there were more routes on the upper section which had a couple of 8a’s so we ran up there to try and get another 8a done. I decided to try one which looked a bit easier than the other! I went for the onsight and mainly through fear, a lot of fear of falling with big run-outs onto a slab, I managed to get it done, just! A bit further left there is a poor looking 8a called No me mires mal (which I believe is ‘I don’t look bad’ in Spanish). Feeling pretty psyched from the other route I thought I give this a go too, everything was a little rushed as we woudn’t have much light left but I thought it would be cool to try anyway. Somehow I dragged myself up this too, just about, this was even more sketchy than the other route but it didn’t matter, I’d done it! Now I just need to get 2 more the following day which I believed would be fairly easy to manage especially as there were a couple of 8a’s which I’d fallen off and not bothered finishing off…

I woke up the following morning feeling pretty rough, I was aching alot and I was pretty nervous about trying to complete my goal today. We went straight to Poema de Roca and I warmed up by bolt-to-bolting El Complot 8a+, it felt pretty wet but I went for a redpoint anyway. I put a lot of effort into this one go but it was just too damp and I couldn’t pull through the crux. So I then moved down to Antidoto the 8a which I’d tried earlier in the week and came close to onsighting, I thought this would go easily, I couldn’t have been more wrong! I tried to do it placing the draws but came off at the crux, I then continued to try the crux section in isolation but I couldn’t do it, over and over again I came off these moves and I just knew there would be noway I’d do it from the ground! The day was really getting on by now and I was already tired and out of water and food. My chances looked were looking very slim. I got my draws out of Antidoto and went over to a nice quiet area called Sector Suizo, there was an 8a there which I’d wanted to try earlier in the week and I thought it could be good for an onsight attempt. I got on the route and had do a 20 meter route with 1 bolt to get to the start of the 8a pitch; I arrived there looked up and felt a little uncomfortable about how loose the route looked! I went for it anyway and actually really enjoyed this route, pretty big moves mainly on good hold and a pretty good one for a first 8a onsight or flash for somebody too.

Blue skys last year!

Blue skys last year!

All I had to do now was 1 more 8 and that would be 100 within 2 years of doing my first! We were both exhusted now and we just wanted to head back for some food and sleep but I’d wanted to achieve this for a long time now and this was my chance to do it! There was a route I had in mind which was an 8b link between an 8a into an 8a+. I started up the route t put the draws in and had planned to take it easy and take on every other draw; as I got to the crux of the 8a I thought I’d just go for it and soon found myself past the crux and just resting for the Viejos Rockeros section of the route. I went for it and it was done! 100 8th grade routes! To me this was a big goal and I know that it isn’t a very big deal in the grand scheme of things especially compared to some of my idols such as Steve McClure or Adam Ondra who have hundreds more than me but personally it felt pretty cool and it was made even better by the struggle at the end!

Overall it was an amazing quick 6 day trip where I completely surpassed my expectations and managed to do 16 (1 was a repeat of one I did last year) 8th grade route which was the best training on rock I’ve ever done! So hopefully I’ll be feeling a little fitter when all the aches have gone.

Thanks to Charlotte for all the support on the trip as well as my sponsors Mammut and Five Ten! Also I’d like to say thank you to all the guys at the Olive Branch, I definitely reccomend that place, great accomodation and some amazing food! We didn’t get any photos this year so I’ve just used some from last year.

Thanks for reading!


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