Fear of Falling.

I haven’t posted in almost two weeks, but that’s because I have been on break. In Spain, they have random weekday holidays and instead of taking the day off, the entire country turns it into a four day weekend. Thus making it a bridge, and calling it a “Puente.” I’m not complaining because these random four day weekends never happen in the U.S.
That being said, this Puente I went to the south of Spain, just outside of Alicante. The town was called Pedreguer and is mostly a holiday destination for people who live in the U.K. The villa was in an area where most people rent out their homes during times they are not there. I’m not sure what site was used to find it, but it was rather cheap when split amongst five people. We also rented a car but even then it came to be about 20 euros a day, including the car. With food, which is already cheap, I probably spent no more than 200 euros for the week.
I left for Madrid Tuesday night and stayed the there for seven hours. When I first got to Madrid I went to two hostels looking for a place to stay but they were both full. Keep in mind this was at 10 pm and I was alone wandering around different parts of Madrid alone at night. My phone was at 3% so I was trying to find a random cafe or bar that I could use wifi and charge my phone. Shockingly, that was a lot harder than expected. Since I had stayed in Madrid before, I had somehow remembered how to get back to Las Musas Hostal and ate at a small bar around the corner.
I had texted some of my friends that had worked/lived in Las Musas. They were trying to help me out because I didn’t want to pay for a place when my train left at 7:45 am the next morning, They understood and basically helped me sneak into the basement and let me stay there. It was kind of sketchy because the bathroom was upstairs and every time I went to use it, I was afraid the receptionist was going to say something. Luckily they never did so I managed to sleep two hours in the basement of

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Early morning sunrise from the vila

the hostel for free– which was lucky.
Wednesday morning I took the train to Alicante, this was even more exciting for me because it was my first time on a train, EVER. The group of auxiliaries I was with slowly started to appear throughout the day and we finally were together at around 4 pm. We roamed the city a bit and found a grocery for small foods for the following day. The main reason being that it was a holiday and since we were staying in a small town, we weren’t sure if anything was going to be open. When we got to the villa we planned out the places we were going to climb the next few days, our own climbing experiences, and what times we were all leaving from Alicante Sunday since that was the place the car had to be returned.
I was initially scared to climb because this was my first time outside. I’m used to a gym and only bouldering because I typically don’t have a partner. Luckily, I was with a diverse group of climbers who had multiple levels of experience. But they made me feel comfortable and I was especially grateful they didn’t let me hold them back nor did they choose easy routes to take.
Alicaí
The first place we climbed we climbed was called Alicalí, which was about 15 minutes away from our villa. The walk-in wasn’t that tough because it was just off the side of the road.

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Izzy leading on one of the climbs.

For the most part the rock was pretty good to climb. We warmed up on a low 4 which was easy because it was like climbing a ladder.The second climb was a 5 grade. This one was more challenging for me because it had grips and holds I had never used before. When I finally finished, the feeling I had after was something that gave me the biggest high because I was able to overcome any self-doubt I had about myself. Unfortunately, those were the only climbs I was able to finish that day. The other climbs were about 6A or 6A plus, which is a more moderate route. That didn’t stop me from trying to see how high I could get. We stopped climbing around 5 pm which was when sunset was about to happen.

Gandía
The second day we drove half an hour to Gandía, which I will say was my favorite climb by far. The view had part of the ocean on one side and more mountains on the other. Plus it was in the middle of an orange farm which was kind of cool. We again were the first ones there so we able to find a good parking spot below.

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Derek on the other side of the tunne.

The hike up was 15 minutes and when we got to the top I realized I had forgotten my harness in the car, so I was lucky enough to go back down and get a good warm-up before we started to climb. When I returned, we started on a route that involved going through a small cave. It was an easy route but to get started was actually kind of difficult. However, once I started climbing it was easy to figure everything else.The inside of the cave was amazing because it went back a little bit and when you came through the top there was a small ledge you could sit on and just enjoy the view. It was a good halfway point to the top. The view at the top was beautiful and gave you a different perspective on the already stunning mountains. The second route was easy as well but it’s still a great feeling to figure out a route on your own without any help no matter the grade.

While at Gandía, we managed to have 6 climbs which would be the most we’d have all week. The other climbs we did were all 6 grade, a whole grade higher than the ones I had completed earlier. On the third route is when, for whatever reason, I got in my head and started to panic. I’m still not sure how it happened but I started to panic even though I was half-way up, and couldn’t finish the climb. For me, that had ruined my day because every other climb I was still mildly scared. We did three other routes and while I did try to climb them I didn’t get very high.

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Me on the ledge looking down.

However, the upside was that many people brought their dogs to climb with them so while everyone was climbing or belaying, I managed to play with everyone else’s dog. Which just made me miss my puppies back home.

Benimantell
This was our longest drive so we had a late start. This climb was in the middle of literally nowhere, and we did have to hike a bit. However, we later discovered that if we had parked up the road a bit, we wouldn’t have had to walk so far. The parking spots were so close to the climb and proved our theory that Spaniards don’t like to walk very far. At this point, we were all very tired, so I only did two climbs. The second was by far the longest we had done, it was 70 meters high.

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Erin cleaning the climb after all of us.

This was the one that I wanted to give up on because there was one spot that was extremely polished, and I couldn’t get a good foot gripe anywhere. Luckily Izzy, one of the girls on the trip, said to try going left. With that small piece of advice, I was able to scale the rest of the climb with no problem. It’s quite funny because I had just told my belay, Jen, to take me down because I was so fed up and tired. I didn’t climb much after that because I was physically exhausted from the rest of the week so I was okay exploring and meeting other climbers.
Plus I was thinking about this vegan restaurant we had planned on eating at, as a way to celebrate our last night together. The name of the restaurant was Gaia Abrir and was PURE vegan. We were the only ones there so we were able to talk to the owner/chef whose super passionate about veganism. She was this sweet woman from Scotland

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Banana banoffee.

named Sharon and ran it with her boyfriend who was from Hong Kong, but studied English in the U.K. They were super lovelily and catered to our oh-so dumb questions. I’m only mentioning this because she said they had just opened three months ago and I’m all about supporting local, especially when it comes to vegan/vegetarian restaurants. As an appetizer, we all split a vegetarian pait, stuffed avocado, and nachos. All of which were VEGAN. Izzy and I shared the cauliflower steak and the vegan curry. Which was to die for! As a group, we split dessert, banoffee, and that was the best thing I’ve had in awhile. Imagine a dance party in your mouth and every bite is a new surprise of what flavor you’ll have. There was graham cracker on the bottom and thick but creamy caramel on top. The ice cream was also vegan and made every bite that much more enjoyable.

That was how I spent my Puente, how would you spend yours? Or better yet, any great climbs where you’ve been? Let me know!

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