Monday, May 31, 2010

Days 13-21: Three stars for the cave man and 10 meter falls!

Before Di arrived in Mallorca, I had two days to scour the island to find the best places to deepwater solo.

The dream to visit Mallorca was crafted immediately after watching Chris Sharma climb this arch. Regularly, I find the desire to live wild rather unresolved. Certain moments calm this conflict though. As Di and I swam up to the base of this climb, I certainly felt the satisfaction of making one dream come true…

Our base camp was a 3-star hotel with a balcony view of a quiet lagoon (found a screaming cheap deal online). We ended up swimming in this lagoon each morning as a wake-up routine. (I grabbed the following image from

Regarding the hotel experience, Di and I would like to thank Rita at Hotel Barcelo for making each entry into the hotel something to enjoy. We always had the pleasure of walking into her welcoming smile and sharp wit. You are a rock star Rita bonita! Thanks for hanging out with us lady.

Di and I headed to Cala Barques – comically known as beach 4 (a cousin to camp 4 at Yosemite) for the majority of our trip because the people we met there were as incredible as the climbing. On day 1 so many things happened. One of the most memorable events was meeting Cesar. I met him while he was playing the guitar outside of a deep cave near the beach. I noticed that he had an outstanding setup with tables and chairs inside the cave. So I commented on the d├ęcor. Before I knew it, Di and I were sharing a meal that Cesar prepared for us in his cave. After dinner, Cesar took a large group of us for a tour of the cave, which included cliff diving into a large water supply inside of the cave. He insists that all of us are part of "La Familia" and constantly refers to everyone in this manner. What a guy! The crazy thing is that he seriously lives year-round in this cave.

It was easy to meet people because everyone was really curious to try new things. For instance, there were people trying to learn how to juggle, slackline, and even perform crazy yoga postures at all times on the beach. Here's Di, the mac, giving yoga lessons:

Cala Barques is not only the best place to meet other climbers, but also the best place to deep water solo in Mallorca (at least that’s what I think). This place let us grow exponentially in more than just our rock climbing ability though. What I am about to write is probably common knowledge, but I was (as usual) not privy to this information. Beach nudity is not just accepted in this part of Europe, no, it’s more often than not a rather obligatory custom. The freedom to disrobe didn’t grab me as much as it did my climbing partner who surprised me (like a hilarious sister might do) with this daring send:

The funny thing was that she thought that she was only surprising me…=]. However, several other folks had stopped by while she was out of sight disrobing at the base of the climb. When she turned around to see the shocked look on my face, she was greeted by many other eyes than just my own. She was half way up the route so there was no hiding at all. Her American conservativeness only held her embarrassment for a few short seconds because I was the only one who knew how out of character this feat was for her. Everyone else just thought it was completely normal to climb without clothes. You gotta love Europe! So she went with it and just enjoyed the route. Way to go you crazy woman!

Deep water soloing can be quite unusual (I think that I just proved that fact). There were several unique challenges beyond the occasion sausage blast that I might get in my peripheral vision while walking across the beach. [FYI: I’m a new comer to nudity, but seriously, men are just not meant for it. Come on, eh? A disrobed chorizo is never pretty. I do like the liberated spirits though. I guess that you can’t have one without the other, but man, all of the twig and berries that I saw will certainly scar my retina’s forever!] This writing is getting long. I'll get back to the challenge of deep water soloing in a sec, but to keep your attention, here's a great video of Cesar:

The challenges of deep water soling are many. We were often swimming up to the cliffs with soaking wet hands and shoes, which clearly made the climbing more difficult. Another challenge for the harder routes was that we were never able to hang on a rope to figure them out. Finally, there’s that necessary huge fall thing. Sometimes the falls were 30 plus feet. The fall alone can make the easiest route seem like an extraordinary feat of self-preservation because you really have to land in the water correctly to avoid pain. All of these factors contributed to us finding ourselves climbing in an entirely new arena. However, our timidity soon disappeared, as each hold on the route was one point further along a maze of spectacular tufa climbing. The climbing was so fascinating that we would often forget about the looming splash into the sea. This thought of falling would only enter our minds moments before we knew the fall was coming. Once recognized though, this thought of falling consumes all of the mental energy that once directed the courage to move into the unknown. I love deep water soling for this reason because the fear of falling is so much more calculated than rope climbing. A safe flight from the cliffs down into the water requires a calm disposition. Any radical change in a mummy like vertical body position while falling into the sea will either knock the wind out of you or provide a nice bruise (all of which we witnessed or experienced ourselves). This climbing style truly displays the heart of the climber. Soloing above deep water became a beautiful dance with our passions and our fears. The idea of life feeling short, Soloman’s midst in the wind (biblical reference), seemed so impossible on these cliffs. Life seems endless when slicing a piece of concentration pie while clutching a dripping tuffa at 30 feet as these nerve racking moments seriously transform into centuries.

The best part of the trip may have been the dance parties in the car on the way to the crag each morning.

[Video of dance party to come]

Over several years of thick history, the friendship that Di throws my way is nothing short of feeling like family. It's awesome to have a curly haired twin that lives a mile away, travels the world with me, and makes me laugh until I cry! Thanks for not being a total butt head on our Mallorca trip Di!

We loved Mallorca so much that we actually extended our trip by 4 days. However, today we left this paradise and flew to Barcelona. We then high tailed it to one of Europe’s premier climbing destinations: RODELLAR!!! We love it here already. Photo updates will be a few days out because I lost my camera cable on the way to Barcelona. Shocker, right? I'll figure something out. Stay tuned.


  1. WOW you guys are having a blast, I soo want to be there!!!!
    Nice photo of Di on the cliffs!

  2. What vivid word pictures you do paint. :)