I spontaneously joined my friend Alex and his roommates on a rock climbing day trip in the Basque country — without knowing where I was going or how long I'd be gone. I squeezed into a tiny car with Alex (UNC), Massi (Italy), Jorge (Mexico) and Massi's friend Juan (Pamplona) for the 20-minute drive to one of the lush green mountains that surround Pamplona. After a quick stop for coffee at the only bar in a tiny mist-filled pueblo on the way, we parked on the side of the road and started hiking up a foggy mountain slope.
After 10 or 15 minutes, the steep grade of dirt, rocks and underbrush ended suddenly in a vertical rock wall that ran several miles along the face of the mountain. We followed that to the left until the friends who were guiding chose the particular stretch they wanted to climb.
I tried to stay out of the way while the experienced climbers set up the gear. I enjoyed watching them scale the wall — and then I got to try! It was about 40 degrees F, so my fingers were close to numb, which made it a lot more difficult — but I still managed to make it to the top! :)
(The boys were geeking out about route difficulty classifications but I never really did figure out how hard mine was supposed to be. Probably somewhere between novice and medium.)
|me climbing (don't be fooled, this photo was taken with full zoom)|
|friends climbing to the height I reached|
|the foggy view into the valley|
|See the climbers on that stretch of vertical rock? There were a lot of people out climbing in spite of the damp cold|
|Alex attempting the hardest climb of the day|