After Barcelona we headed off to Albarracin for what we thought was going to be a five or six day extravaganza on one Spain's few sandstone areas. We arrived late at night and had no idea where to go, so we followed the main road to some coordinates we found online. The first thing we saw were signs signifying that there was to be no camping despite the fact that we were told that car camping in the parking lot was a-ok. We weren't sure exactly what to do so we pulled into a small turnout off the road and set up camp, hoping that we would not be spotted from the road. The last thing we needed was to get harassed for wild camping during our last few weeks in the EU. We set the alarm for 7am, to assure that we would be out of there before any rangers came our way. Of course after we woke up the next morning to figure out where to go, we realized hat we had alternate GPS coordinates for the actual car camping area all along. We just didn't pay close enough attention to the guide. Those no camping signs that we saw everywhere were really for tents, as Spain is pretty chill when it comes to camping in your vehicle.
We arrived at the "camping" area for Albarracin at 8:30am the next day. It was shrouded in mist and a little rain came intermittently. Surprise, surprise...we were so used to this weather and hoped that it would clear up in a couple hours so we could at least hike around and check out the climbing. After a few hours of writing, reading, chilling, eating and playing some Scrabble, the weather looked a tiny bit better, so we headed out to see what this place was all about. We hiked around for two to three hours and got to see three of the surrounding areas.
When we had first pulled in to the back of the "lot", we parked next to a British van. We heard them making breakfast and chatting away, but we were so exhausted from our previous nights camping shenanigans that we didn't quite feel like socializing quite yet. While we were parked there chilling, eating, and Scrabbling they packed up and left. When we returned, they had as well and introduced ourselves. It turns out that Nick and Brit weren't Brits at all, but South Africans.
They even knew our friends Scott and Kaddi, Chris Kelk, and Micky Wiswedel. We became fast friends and they introduced us to two more couples, Shant and Claudia from Montreal and Norbert and Karin from Austria. They all became our new climbing buddies for the next ten days. As we have mentioned before, bouldering isn't just about the rock but it is about the people that you meet that truly make the experience something special.
The following day's weather proved to be a bit nicer. It wasn't perfect but there was no rain and you can always find some dry boulders if your willing to look hard enough. The eight of us plus 3 wee ones, Sierra, Micah and Jonathon, headed off to Arastradero, one of the largest sectors in Albarracin.
There was a roof there that several people wanted to try and we figured that roofs had the highest probability of being dry. There was even a little warm-up area behind the roof with some 5's for Corinne to climb. A couple hours later Shant and Steve decided to give El Varano a try; one of the classic 8a's of the area. Though Steve did not send El Varano that day, he conquered that problem several days later. This time we were climbing with a Polish couple, Pawel and Agata. Steve and Pawel had climbed and raged together in Rocklands in the summer of 2011.
On our third day in Albarracin, we were driving into town to grab a shower, we spotted none other than the illustrious Ivan Luengo. Ivan and Rosie were a couple that we climbed with in Rocklands earlier in the trip. Ivan was actually the one who helped Steve name his first ascent in the Big and Roof sector of the de Pakhyus bouldering area. It turns out that Ivan and Rosie actually moved to Albarracin in October, a short time after they returned to Madrid from South Africa. We had actually attempted to get in touch with them when we were in Madrid in September but to no avail. It was so crazy bumping into them on the streets of the small town of Albarracin! Unfortunately, we never were able to connect to boulder together while there. Though efforts were made, it just never seemed to work out. We would not be surprised if we see them again in the future. Probably in some other bouldering mecca of the world or maybe even upon our return to either Rocklands or Albarracin.
Over the next eight days, we visited a host of other areas in Albarracin. The weather was a bit warm and a bit humid but it didn't rain and after our experience in Font, we were in need of dry weather. November was turning out to be a true month of climbing and we were psyched since our trip was coming to an earlier end than originally anticipated.
Some of our faves from Albarracin include the El Molina del Gato, a bar with a river running through it; the Panaderia, home of the amazing round bread, muffins and chocolate rolls (these were to die for), the Carneceria, the morcilla might actually be one of the most amazing "sausages" we have ever eaten and lastly, the amazing farmers market every Wednesday. You could get some of the best Clementines we have ever had; 5 kilos for 3 euros!
The rock quality in Albarracin is similar to that of Red Rocks or Joe's Valley. The style is a wild blend of Bishop table top volcanic roofs and Font style top outs. It is a fantastic mesh of power and static climbing; dynamic throws coupled with slow delicate movements. While the grades are inconsistent and the Euros can't seem to travel more than 2 meters from a boulder before dropping trough, it is a wildly fun place to climb with beautiful scenery and a relaxed lifestyle.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfRI0ggIlgw&feature=youtu.be;rel=0] Myself and Nick cranking out El Varano, Techos Don Pepo (left), el Orejas de las Regletas and Zatoichi.
If you go to Spain for hard sport, take some time to visit the boulders too. Some of our favorite problems in Albarracin included el Varano, el Orejas de las Regletas, Seiscerrano, el Grimpa, Zatoichi, el Mito de la Caverna and Motivos Personales (sit).