Over the Christmas holidays, Sheena and I had the opportunity to climb in the massive and spectacular Cova Gran of Santa Linya.
Heading back to Santa Linya first day of the trip.
We had visited Santa Linya in 2013, but only for one day and I was psyched to spend an entire month there this time. I hadn’t done much climbing preparation for the trip and I didn’t expect conditions to be great so I didn’t really know what to expect out of the trip.
When we arrived I was pleasantly surprised to see the entire cave was dry. Not only was there dry rock, we enjoyed great weather with only a single day of rain out of 30. We had our mix of cold foggy days, windy days, and scorching hot days, providing a good mix of vacation temps and sending temps.
So psyched for dry rock!! Photo Sheena Stares.
I was also pleasantly surprised to climb really well right away. Usually I have an adjustment period to get used to a new area, especially after flying overseas and coming straight out of the gym. I was able to dispatch Rock Funk, 5.14a in the first week of the trip while checking out some of the harder lines.
The style of Santa Linya is steep steep STEEP! A huge variety of holds are featured, from jugs to monos, slopers, crimps, and tufas which definitely keeps things interesting. Overall, routes are more endurance oriented compared to Bow Valley routes which tend to have stopper cruxes.
The steepness! I'm not even halfway to the top of the cave at this point. Photo Sheena Stares.
I didn’t really have any particular goals entering this trip. I spent most of 2015 climbing in the low 5.14s, many of which were new routes. I really wanted to get back into the mode of projecting hard routes at the upper end of my limit. Santa Linya certainly has no shortage of these, with the highest concentration of 9a and up routes in Catalunya. Over the course of a month, I had the chance to try most of the routes in the Santa Linya cave; the line that ended up drawing my attention the most was Seleccio Natural, 5.14d.
Working the upper moves of Seleccio Natural, 9a. This is one of the best routes I have ever tried.
Alas, one month was not enough to put it down. Photo Sheena Stares.
We ended up climbing for 30 days straight which was one day off my longest streak. When climbing this many days in a row, I usually break it up with some easier days. However, at Santa Linya, with the grades checking in at 12d (warm-up) and up, this wasn’t really an option. I pretty much spent every day climbing 5.14 and was definitely exhausted by the end.
We stayed in Villanova de la Sal, a tiny village about 15 minutes drive from Santa Linya. This combined with a 3 minute flat approach, we were able to get from our apartment to first burn warming up in under 25 minutes, definitely a pleasant change from climbing in the Bow Valley!
We rented a 2 person apartment at Cal Ribero ( http://www.calribero.es ). We had to deal with a few complications with the booking but that was cleared up, the hosts were great, and it was a great place to stay for the apartment itself, the village, and the proximity to Santa Linya. We would definitely stay there again and would recommend it as a Santa Linya home base.
Our evening view from Villanova de la Sal.
We were also just over an hour away from Oliana where we spent 2 days climbing, 20 minutes from the nearest town and groceries in Balaguer, and half an hour from Terradets. Climbing everyday doesn't leave a lot of time to see the sights, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Overall, it was an amazing trip and I can not wait to go back!
Checking out La Lechion Ocho, 8c+ at Terradets on an "off" day. Photo Joe Kinder.