[Catch up with Heroes – Part One]
We were in Manzanares el Real for less than an hour when a keen local showed up, in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon, driving 45 minutes to meet us and show us around. Which was great and very helpful since La Pedriza is an extensive labyrinth of granite domes, small outcroppings and boulders. Finding the nuggets would be hard on your own; it’s kinda like a cross between Joshua Tree and Little Cottonwood Canyon.
It never ceases to amaze me how generous climbers are, no matter where you are in the world, to complete strangers. Our new friend, Aitor, took us to crags he’s no doubt been to hundreds of times yet with the greatest enthusiasm. He offered up new projects of his to Arnaud and patiently and encouragingly belayed me as I clawed my way up treacherous 5.10 slabs. When they said it was going to be slab climbing, they meant slab climbing – as in 60-80 degree slab climbing, as in holdless friction slab climbing. My pecs ached every night from the desperate squeezing required to adhere to the immaculate granite and my calves bulged like ripe pomegranates from footwork-intensive sequences.
[Combining my newly acquired slab skills with my Smith Rock arête upbringing, I tried this precarious line the last day in country. Notice that a typical day at the crag in Spain is quite similar to the scene in the U.S. There are plenty of dogs and top ropes, but the beta is more confusing. Stéph calmly advises in French, and the Spaniards excitedly animate in Spanish, but I’m unable to understand any of it.]
Stéph belaying me on a steeper (there were actually holds!) pitch at La Pedriza. The quaint little town of Manzanares el Real is below.
We summited every climbing day at Casa Roja with Stéph drinking tea and me drinking beer with the boys. Notice my beer is already empty. In one of my next TCL posts I will share the recipe for that amazing tapa Stéph is cutting.