El Chorro

Sean on 7b+
Loads of photos can be found here - thanks Claire!
Since it's that time of year I'm sure I'm meant to talk about New Years resolutions and the like, but since I know that statistically most new years resolutions fail before the end of January, I'll leave it at that (suffice to say, if you're making a resolution, wait until February or March when the doom and gloom of January has worn off*!). My only resolution was to start the year off climbing so myself and a great gang bailed for the balmy weather of El Chorro for New Years. People keep telling me there can be epic rains and snow at this time of year there, I've been there twice and barely seen a cloud so I find it hard to believe :) Still though, in typical tradition I did make sure to climb at the shady crags for the week and a half, I'm not one for climbing in the sun - one of the fundamentals of climbing for saving skin!
In the end, about 8 days of climbing involved about 40-ish new routes climbed of all grades. Strangely, my favourite line of the trip was my hardest - this is pretty unusual. Example: my favorite line of 2011 was a seven (or was it six?) pitch 5+/6a at Orpierre - a third pitch of delicate smears, and a final pitch out a steep overhanging corner to a wild finish and a stunning belay above the valley floor. Just shows it's not all about the hardest grade to do the best moves.

This trip also reminded me absolutely about why I love going to different locations for climbing. I got to spend some time with some close friends from Sheffield, Holland and Moab (USA). I'd no idea any of them were going to be there but it's always cool to arrive at a crag in a random country and realize you know some of the people. Different perspectives, ideas, motivations, cultures all blend me into a better person. Of course, we gained some additional friends, this time Montreal (Canada) was the new location, Felix spent his whole time raving about the crag of Rumney (Dave Graham's old stomping ground) - it's now on my list of places to go.

As ever, routes were tried, everyone was going well. Most importantly, I think we all came back having learnt something and renewed motivation for the year. Am I motivated after the trip? definitely! bring on more activities - psyche!

* or else read this great article about writing training goals from Jack Geldard....
When one decides to start training, it is sometimes done with a rush of enthusiasm or psyche. This psyche is not self-discipline, and a distinction must be made between the two things. Your psyches tells you that you can train 6 days per week. Your psyche tells you that getting up at 6am and going for a run in the cold and dark mornings of January is totally within your capability. Basically, your psyche is full of shit. Even if that psyche can last for a couple of weeks, it most probably can’t last for long enough for you to finish a real training programme for climbing.

Ticking harder routes - get on them! and hold sizes

New Years Resolutions