My long awaited trip to Europe has finally begun. There's been lots of travelling, eating, and sightseeing.
We're climbing in three places during our trip this fall: Mallorca, Albarracin, and Fontainebleau.
When we planned to visit Europe, Spain was one of our "must-see"s. I also figure that while in Spain I could probably make the trip over to the island of Mallorca to do some Deep Water Soloing.
After having spent a week in Mallorca and climbing 3 days I formed a pretty good opinion of the place and the experience. I was pretty exhausted from the heat and the sun to climb many more days than that. We climbed at Cala Sa Nau and Cala Barques. Cala Barques is great. You hike in to a beach (still not used to seeing topless girls, so strange) and then take a little trail up along the cliff to the climbing. The climbing is so much fun. Hike, down-climb, or jump into the water to begin your climb. I did 3 climbs and one down-climb. Cala Sa Nau is also beautiful. Less of a hike but the cliff has less lines.
Everyone knows I’m a boulderer. Always will be. That doesn’t mean that I can’t love deep water soloing as well. It’s an amazing experience and I had so much fun. I didn’t want to leave :) It almost makes me want to start sport climbing a little bit.
I’m sure everyone will feel a bit differently about it but I’ll try to explain how it feels to me by comparing it to how sport climbing feels to me. When I sport climb I generally enjoy myself. It’s fun going up higher and I enjoy the sense of travelling upwards and away from the earth. Doing easy moves (compared to bouldering, many sport climbing moves are easy) is nice and almost relaxing. Alternatively, the rope is annoying. I wonder if other boulderers feel this way but it feels very artificial or unnatural to have a rope attached. Also, I do find that while I am never afraid above my last clip I do not enjoy falling into a rope. It jerks and it is awkward. Also, I don’t enjoy the endurance / stamina factor of route climbing. I find it very annoying that I may fail at a move because I am fatigued and the constant assessment of my fatigue level (and the second guessing that goes along with it) is not something I enjoy. I do realize that I can train and those factors will be less of an issue, but I’m just telling you how I feel.
Deep water soloing resolves many of those issues. No rope is the biggest improvement. This removes the hindrance and makes the experience much more natural. Just you and shoes. Very much like bouldering in it’s minimalistic-ness. The falling is much better – just a quick smooth fall into the soft water. I was also never scared of falling so that helped.
Me, taking a fall
It also helps that deep water soloing in Mallorca is done on beautiful cliffs with nice approaches over warm water in great weather. It’s so ideal. I guess there’s some negatives – wet shoes and burning through chalk – but it doesn’t make a dent in the enjoyment factor.
Maybe I enjoyed myself so much because it’s also basically a new form of climbing for me. I do routes maybe once a year, so coming here and doing 3 days of routes brings a lot of excitement just because it’s different I’m sure. How would a sport climber feel? Maybe there’s no big difference to them. Maybe it’s the same just in hot weather with wet clothes?
Bouldering is very obsessive – kind of anal retentive. Small sequences with maximum attention to detail and execution. I know it is also like this on the difficult sport routes, but for me bouldering all the time it is very nice to come to Mallorca and have a small vacation from my climbing and my obsession over difficulty and details as well. I enjoy the Deep water soloing lifestyle. Lay on the beach a bit, sun tan, eat, do a few climbs and take a swim, return to the beach and take a nap, wake up and climb, etc. It’s great. I’d really like to come back with a bunch of my friends. I wonder if I had a cliff like Cala Barques where I lived if I’d boulder still?
Apparently Chris Sharma still comes to Cala Barques after all these years. He was climbing one day while we were there and Leanna managed to snap some pictures. He warmed up by climbing a 7a to 7c to 8a without a rest.
Chris Sharma, Daila Ojeda, and friends
When I think about the big picture of it all, I guess deep water soloing is just one step closer to the purest type of climbing – free soloing. That must be the ultimate type of climbing but I’m not about to venture there. Please comment everyone: Have you done any deep water soloing yourself? Do you like it? Do you plan on doing more? What was your experience like?