Jack: So, with the travel and all that, would you actually recommend going there for a normal climbing trip?
Steve: There is no doubt it is a very long way to go from here. But having said that, the venue itself is totally different to anything I've ever been to before, the peace and tranquillity and the 'feel', as well as the clarity of the air were something really special. Climbing isn't really just about climbing bits of rock, it's a way bigger picture, and Piedra Prada is in full colour.
Steve: I've been incredibly privileged to have been on nearly all of the rock trips since they started. As always, I'm continually surprised to be invited along, being unable to tick all, or in fact any of the required boxes that appear on the application form.
A/young, B/brilliant, C/cool and D/handsome
But fortunately I made it to this one, most likely from an administration error or Rocktrip clause that requires a random Brit to attend. I would have been gutted to miss this year as it was one of the best. And that is saying something considering Petzl have had their trips to Zillertal, Kalymnos, Mexico, China, The Red River and many other places.
I'd be hard pressed to say which was the actual best rock trip, all the trips have been to amazing places, and in terms of the actual climbing, well when we are talking about Kalymnos and the Red, as well as sport climbing in France, well it doesn't get any better. But this venue stands out for being unique and isolated. It feels very special. It feels like you have really been somewhere. It's not just a popular sport climbing destination.
Jack: Which climbers from this trip stood out the most?
Steve: Petzl have some truly top athletes on their team. But it's not just about numbers and comp results, it's about personality and motivation. Having the chance to climb with these dudes is one of the highlights of my year. One of the best things about the Rocktrips is that there isn't a competition, and the climbers from every level all melt into the scene, all just going climbing together, all equal in their goal to simply climb some good routes. This brings out the real climber and to see the likes of Dani Andrada just knocking out route after route, or Dave Graham figuring out a complex sequence at his limit or Daniel Dulac off yet again bolting some multi-pitch mission ground up...well you realise there is a lot of psyche out there.
Jerome Peuverau always stands out for me though, he's just so enthusiastic and motivated and never one to play an excuse card. He flashed 8c this trip so he's no punter.
Jack: Were there any big ascents?
Steve: Climbing seems to be so measured by numbers these days. On this trip there were no big numbers, no 9a's! But as an indicator of how things have moved on, Daniel Dulac bolted an outrageous F8c roof, and then within a few days about 6 people had done it including one flash. On sight climbing was what captured many here because there is simply so much to do and the routes look so cool!
Jack: How were you climbing?
Steve: I turned up with no expectations, out of shape and injured and with a dodgy knee from an operation on a torn meniscus just a few weeks ago. But it came good, and in just 5 days I managed a bunch of routes including 3 8b, 4 8a+, 2 8a and an 8b/+ all onsight (except one 8a+ flash). The 8b/+ was the last route of the trip and will stand out above every route I climbed, and above every route I've climbed this year. Totally at my limit, it was one of those "Climbing Moments". I was climbing really well, which is one of the mysteries of climbing. I still can't fathom how things fall into place sometimes. Most likely it was a summer of being desperate to get out and failing at every soggy rainy hurdle I simply exploded onto the rock!
Jack: Thanks Steve - and well done on the routes!