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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:01 am 
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Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2010 4:07 pm
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After Craig left Pau and I decided to go sport climbing one more day. I should add that we were very sad about his departure. This time we chose to go to El Vellon. This particular climbing area is pretty close to Patones a bit less than an hour north of Madrid. Like some of the other easy areas around Patones it is easy to get to and has a short approach (< 10 minutes). There are 6 different crags with probably about 100 named routes. Like the other places around Madrid the climbing is hard with the vast majority (90% or more) of routes above 5.10b.

Here's a standard view of the area in front of the monodromo walls:

First we climbed on the sector called Las Placas. We chose this because the easiest climbs in the area are all there. Here we climbed four routes that shared two anchors. This climbing was all slabs. Although the slabs are pretty low angle the holds are quite sparse and a lot of friction is involved. Here's what we climbed followed by a picture.

Las Placas:
Diedro patatin patatan - IV+ (5.8)
Chapas Tri Rock - V+ (5.10a)
El misterio de las zapatillas de Gaspar - V (5.9)
Una pirana en mi cama V+ (5.10a)


After some slabby climbing I wasn't super excited about doing more of it. Fortunately, most of the climbing in the area is vertical to very overhangy. A few Spanish folks on a different set of routes near by offered a top rope for a route that looks fun but has terrible protection. I couldn't say no. Lie backs and jugs on some slightly overhangy stuff. In the book it goes at 5.10c but that seems wrong to me.

Juegos de pasión: 6a+ (5.10 b/c)

It was on this route that I learned a new Spanish saying. While I very comfortably climbed the route a Spaniard said to Pau, "Porque no la abrio, la esta meando?" Translation: Why didn't he lead this, he's pissing on it. Apparently, in Spain, if something is easy to do the proper way to deal with it is to urinate while doing it.

We checked out one more section of overhanging goodness called Monodromo. While all of the routes in this section are intimidating to do their overhanging nature, most have lots of great holds. I lead a really fun 10b called "Vende pronto tu pescado." He did indeed sell my fish quickly. All of the other more moderate climbs in the area were occupied so I tried my hand at what I thought was a 10d that looked possible. It turned out to be an 11a and I took a few good lead falls at the crux and due to her size Pau learned how to fly. After multiple attempts I failed to get past the crux. I've never been so pumped climbing outside.

Some Spaniards next to me let me tie my rope up and climb their route to traverse to my anchor to repel and get the draws I left on route (which had been my plan in case of failure).

Vende pronto tu pescado 6a (5.10b)
Espaldas mojadas 6b+ (5.11a, fail)
Con ese arnés se te marca todo el cono - 6a (5.10b)



This area is really fun climbing and a great way to climb some overhangy stuff outside. I highly recommend it. Routes here are generously bolted to say the least. Note, it's near a pasture and smells terribly of manure. If you can't handle that I wouldn't recommend the place.

A few general notes. I have found Spaniards to be really wonderful when climbing outside. They always seem to offer a top rope or friendly company. It's great. More importantly, if you climb in Spain (sorry for making broad generalizations) make sure to check the hardware. I have been less than impressed by the safety practices of folks. I saw numerous people top roping directly off of the anchors/rap rings. Perhaps more people did that than not. This includes folks that were pretty solid climbers. Most of the hardware looked to be in great shape but I would recommend keeping your eyes out for it. Anchors at times are also set up a bit funny in that the bolts are at slightly different levels. It's probably best to bring an self-equalizing sport anchor or you might find yourself on a single manky bolt or something. I also say a few people fall and take big swings after failing to pull their ropes through when top roping. Perhaps they were still learning but keep an eye out for this if you are climbing in close proximity to other routes.

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