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Old Town, Siurana

The road trip continued and this time with the added assistance of our new TomTom we headed to Siurana in Spain, a climbing mecca with some 200 routes. Lemme tell you, I LOVE the Tomtom, it makes road trip driving with your honey and friends a much less stressful experience! No more frantic map reading or backtracking while driver yells at co-pilot, it's all smooth sailing. We arrived in Siurana around sunset and after checking out the campsite (owned by guide book author and local climbing whiz Tony Arbones available for purchase at the campsite and the Refugio) and its newly built cabins located on top of the beautiful butte, we decided instead to stay six kilometers downhill in Cornudella de Montesant at a family owned guest house. The camping area was pretty full due to a design group arriving from Petzl and we wanted a little more space. Instead, our new home had a great view of the scene and was located in the heart of the old village. Vineyards and olive orchards stretched for terraced miles around and provided great areas to run.

Siurana at sunset

We timed our arrival perfectly, the new Siurana guide book was coming out the next day, but while not much better than the older version, it did list a few new climbs. Another good option is the guide book Costa Daruada by Mark Glaiser and Emma Williams. The first day we climbed at Grau dels Masets and learned quickly that while amazing climbing, it took a lot of work and bush-wacking to get there. The sun was also a factor, and since no exposure was listed in the book, we tried out best to guess the shady spots. Siurana sits at about 700 meters and can be climbed year round, but fall reportedly has the best temperatures. At the end of each day we headed to the old town of Siurana and walked through the village to the end of the cliff to watch the sun set. The reds and oranges were reflected on all the rock walls around and each night it was a different experience, one more stunning than the last.

Each day started the same, breakfast around eight, deciding the day's plan of attack, pack up the lunches and climb by eleven. The callouses on our fingers were slowly growing stronger. A slight cold spell pushed our start time back to let the rock warm up. The only guests in the house we had become familiar with our hosts and one day we came home to a plastic soda bottle of wine on the table - freshly made Rojas along side some fresh sweet grapes and vegetables from the garden. They had just harvested the grapes and crushed the heck out of them in the family press in the garage beneath the guest house. The wine was strong and fruity and we fell asleep to the smell of fermentation trapped in the stone walls of the village.

Our guesthouse in Cornudella de Montesant

Siurana is so huge it takes a few days to get the lay of the land, but we finally found our footing at Can Gans di Onis, Ca l'Isabel, Primavera and Can Melafots - where we watched some tenuous climbers working on an 8b project. Halfway through our stay we headed to the beach, a short 45 minute drive to Cambrils - a great little town with an active port and great seaside restaurants full of Tapas and other Spanish seafood delights.

Melafots climbing area

The last few days passed quickly in a warm haze of orange and yellow limestone. We continued to climb with Florence and Andi, and Karoline and John, other fun friends we had chanced upon meeting in this climbers paradise. Dinners found us cooking together and sipping on the heady Rojas our hosts had made. In spite of cool temperatures overnight we had excellent weather. Soon work called and we hopped back in the car to head home determined to return to explore more of the excellent climbing Spain has to offer. Thanks to the TomTom it was a cool nine hours back to Chamonix and the blues and whites of the Mount Blanc Massive. For more pictures of the adventure, click here.


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