1:15am. We've arrived! It's an amazing villa, the swimming pool has lights, and stuff... After landing in Palma... our so far excellent organisation fell apart as the OK-rent-a-car team get driven halfway to Palma to collect their cars, leaving Tetley (Team Berlingo) at the airport without a map.
Eventually we all gathered at Alex Bet's, paid lots of Euros, and drove in convoy through the night to our palace! La Casetaaaa
Love this villa, can't find the lights for illuminating the pool though. And sadly no food.... very weird to arrive at the equivalent of the hut and NOT eating loads of pasta! Anyway, pretty excited for the week ahead, especially Sa Compana, and swimming in the pool, and listening to Fiesta FM.
Our group of cavers headed out to what is probably - or at least what sounds like - the best cave to do in Majorca. Despite being tired from the day of travelling before, I was keen to go caving... and my enthusiasm was only slightly dampened by the long drive; long walk/scramble to the cave entrance etc. It was pretty late when we got to the entrance and so very hot. The first troubles arose quite soon after arrival when Tetley realised he had left behind his harness and chest harness and whatever else but he seemed unfazed as usual.
The cave itself was very cool, with really big chambers and lots of beautiful formations. The first couple of pitches were pretty friendly, because it was possible to casually walk down them and walk back up them again. Of course my technique being what it is I ended up spending most of the time shuffling along the rockface. After the end of the third pitch -- past the 'OK zone' labelled on the survey -- it became a little more involved; only because now the next pitch was longer and tighter with more rebelays etc. At one point I became a little tangled up but was happy that I was able to resolve the situation, along with help from Rhys.
From then on, we headed out. It was suggested that Rhys could derig, and he did so.
When we got out it was already dark. By this point, I was very tired and not best pleased to have the long walk back. Happily, there was beer waiting for us. Once undressing, I found that my t-shirt and trousers were drenched in sweat - something which I beared in mind (although the next day the problem wasn't repeated, suggesting Fra Rafel was a lot easier going).
Heading home, everything seemed perfect. There were no other cars on the road (only sheep), the album we were listening to finished just as we parked the car, and food was waiting on the table. A great first day!
First morning, predictable faffage at the breakfast table, what are we going to do? The forecast suggested go climbing while the weather was good. Deep water soloing on the S. coast or a good crag near the villa? Then inspiration! From the Rockfax climbing book, a cove with a beach and two grade 3+4 top 50 climbs... perfectto!
Great climbing! Nice rock, fairly high routes and a great day. Sharp limestone = sore fingers. Headed back via Malancor/Manacor/whatever to get coal and MORE WINE!
Awaiting food, smells good, and the arrival of the Sa Compana group. Life's goood in Mallorcaaa...
P.S. Caving tomorrow? Caving tomorrow!!
Everyone climbed 'El vigilant de la platja' at Cala Magraner after swimming in the sea/sitting around watching the greats of Jonny, Jan, Izi and Jana running up the cliff face. Sea as cold but great for splashing around in -- loved it, although all the fish were quick to swim away if you got too close. We spent yonks 'Janning around' on the way home in Manacor - a new descriptive term for whatever Jan does! Hopefully some good caving to come tomorrow as Tetley & co. (Clare Rhys, Sam, Maver) described Sa Compana to be bloody good. Fantastic day!
This was the trip I was most apprehensive about. We'd read CUCC trip reports about it being a canyon for the very experienced, the equivalent of a Grade 5, and Andy's ominous words of warning were running through my head: "This is a very serious undertaking - kind of like Quaking.... It's not something you can do as a caver on a day off - you need planning and proper equipment really...." The others also seemed suspiciously agreeable for us to be the guinea pigs.
After a morning of running around packing and navigating our way through the sea of cyclists on the drive there, we finally parked at our parking spot (opposite the Sa Colabra turn off) and got changed slowly. Tetley gave Rhys and Oliver a final chance to back out, warning them not to think that he knew what he was doing..
"Don't worry Tetley, I've never trusted you to know what you're doing", replied Rhys.
And so we set off. The first hour or so of the gorge was pretty dry, then the pitches and pools started coming in quick succession. A quick lesson to Rhys and Oliver on which ropes to abseil off (this was before we learned that double roping is much better!) and away we went. It was pretty sociable really, with two tackle bags of rope we kept up a rotation of sorts, with the ropes exchanging leads and everyone taking turns rigging. Spirits were high; the Indiana Jones theme was hummed by all, lots of bad singing by me, and better singing by Tetley... life was good.
In truth the canyoning itself was pretty benign -- easy pitch heads, good bolts, calm water to swim in. The greatest danger is perhaps the length of it, which makes the trip pretty committing, and how you’re constantly in and out of 2 degree celsius water. I was shivering for hours in my 3mm wetsuit; the less stupid wore up to 2 wetsuits and I was assured they had a much more pleasant experience.
Finally after hours of
1. abseiling into water 2. packing rope while treading water 3. swimming while muttering 'fucking hell, it's cold' under your breath 4. clambering out at the next pitch 5. greeted by a 'good to go?', before you're off rigging the next pitch 6. repeat
we made it to the bit of the canyon that's in an actual cave. This was really really cool. Instantly we all felt a bit more at home, and we knew we weren't far from the end. By this point the swimming in cold water had lost a bit of its novelty! It wasn't long before we were out of the cave, exhilarated and relieved at having completed the trip safely.
Next came a 4 hour walk out of the gorge back to the car, in which we were so desperate for water we picked up a bottle of unknown origin off the ground and drained it! Finally got back at the villa around 1:30am, where we found the others had had a barbecue earlier in the night, leaving us with... a frankfurter each (to be fair they did run out of charcoal prematurely)! We fried up some eggs and enjoyed a well earned sandwich.
We went to Falafel/Fra Rafel. Bit of easy route finding to get to the cave. Trespassed through some land, bit dodgy.
Cave entrance = massive tree covered hole, cool. Tried to rig first pitch, couldn't find way on. Jan went down the pitch and found the way on. Amazing cave, massive stals, really open + easy going. Second pitch -- a 60 degree slope down for 15m or so. Rigged off of a stalagmite natural. No rebelays. Third pitch - 140m?! The most obvious way on is to continue up to a large drop. Spent ~30/40 minutes faffing with Jan to no avail. Sam and Kate checked out a nice side passage.
We started to head back but after rooting around a small climb through some boulders we came across the proper way. Wasn't possible to continue down the pitch (no obvious rigging) so myself and Jan threw rocks down it and waiting for the sound of them dropping. It would be fantastic to go down to the bottom but the rigging was slightly disconcerting.
We bimbled out of the cave playing stal drums and derigging. Out for sunset + beer!
Fra Rafel is a nice cave, in a nice location. The entrance is overlooked by trees, the sing into the window is cool and the passageway + chambers big, the formations are numerous and quite weird!
The final pitch is really big and if a way could be found to the bottom this would be a v. decent trip. Otherwise it is a nice bimble (1.5 hrs?) When we got back to the car we chilled at the picnic area drinking beer and eating cake, nice.
Beware on the way of buses! We nearly got squished by a bus on a hairpin bend, lots of abuse shouted.
Myself, Clement and the Slovenians set out to an Eastern peninsula to tackle Penya Rotja. Took a wrong turn at one point and ended up at a military boundary! Jana spoke with a coach driver and so we found the car park, where an interested passerby asked if we were going climbing. Caving, we replied.
Finding the cave proved difficult - ~3km along a coastal path that alternated between sloping up and down. Ultimately we climbed upwards to a unique 'turret' (as the description said) or tunnel cut through the rock. Beyond this was a stony point at which the whole Northern peninsula could be seen before us. Here we wasted lots of time trying to find the route to the cave entrance, eventually heading down a scrambly, sleep slope and tracking back to the left, heading for the area below the turret. The slope was covered in hardy grasses which were totally evil but helpful handholds. One grass ent up my nostril with some force. I cursed and proceeded to bleed everywhere. Looking like some artime patient a bandage was shoved up my nose and son after we arrived at the cave entrance. Beautiful view, just like the entire walk!
After eating tuna and shortbread we changed into our gear and headed into the cave. Quickly we rued the temperature -- it was so damn warm we were all dripping with sweat whenever e did anything of note. Clement and I were swept along by a wave of Slovenian expertise and style, down down down into the depths of the cave. The first pitch was down a wall, leading to sloping chambers filled with stals and straws and all kinds of amazing formations.We faffed around taking photos at each point. Some expo-style rigging on the second pitch seemed a bit hairy to me but was fine in the end. Each chamber and shaft was more amazing than the last. At the bottom we found some weird spider/millipede-esque lifeform chilling on an impressive column structure and nearly lost our footing when it moved.
Striking back for the surface, slow and steady, we had a couple of minor inconveniences ith route-finding but nothing could stop us -- up, up, up we went. Izi freeclimbed the first pitch. Plenty of Slovenian banter saw us out of the cave in the lull just before sunset. We ate, changed and were grateful not to be in such a hot cave still! Progress back to the car was also slow in the fading light of day and finally in the dark of night -- the up and down of the path a welcome change from the upwards scramble back from the cave. Clement seems to be getting a grasp of Slovenian! Zoomed back to the villa, here showers and food awaited. Writing this now, I am knackered but satisfied. It has been one hell of a day, and one hell of a cave.
Today was pretty much a doss day. The morning was spent reading/lounging by the pool and several of us took a quick dip.
However! The afternoon saw most enthusiastic to do something. Tetley had designs on having a look at the fabled Roman amphitheatre. So, off we drove, initially following signs for the 'Auditori' however this turned out to be the cinema. We were then following signs for 'Fundasio' until we gave up (but what does Fundasio mean?!? It sounds fun :)) To great amusement, Jan had been following us even as we drove round car parks etc. He proved difficult to shake off: something to bear in mind. Perhaps.
We decided to park and have a look around the Roman town. It was quite cool to walk along the all and then we bought ice creams and Tetley bought a fridge magnet (although it was apparently not up to his usual standards). He then headed off to buy tobacco and whatever else those filthy smokers need.
Heading off again, we found a car park leading to, supposedly, the amphitheatre. There were some various ruins, but it looked as if one site was closed. Nonetheless, we headed off across a field, climbed up onto a wall and found the amphitheatre! It was a nice site and I was glad we had found it. AFter a break, we headed back, only slightly concerned that we were trespassing.. but we did see another person so we were OK.
Again we headed off to Port Pollenca, where Tetley knew of a walk we could do. This turned out to be really enjoyable -- really easy going and leading to an isolated little beach. Time was spent here generally looking around etc. I was a little shocked to stumble across a dead goat.
Heading the other way, I had a look at this little chamber in the rocks behind a metal door. There was lots of rubbish in there -- bath tub, plastic containers etc. In truth, the place was a little disconcerting. But the water looked so nice! It was even more pleasant when the sun started to stream down from the mountains. Walking back, I almost stepped on a little snake. Time was spent observing it before it wriggled off. To fill out my wildlife section, there was also a chained up poor dog. I actually felt a little concerned for it. And I don't like dogs. So we were the first ones to get back to the villa, after a chilled day where we did some worthwhile stuff later on.
After meeting with the climbing team at the Cap Formentor lighthouse for sunset, we headed down to the cave, a slot in rock right by the road, parked up by the cave Jonny set-off to rig while we ate Brie + bread in the car, after some time I swapped with Jonny and rigged down to the bottom, somehow avoiding any rub points, but using a dubious spit that I couldn't properly thread the bolt in. Rhys followed me and passed a sling. After derigging we enjoyed the lighthouse, moon and view of the sea before driving back. Oliver offering a good selection of Rhys is fat jokes, to which he had no comeback. We also shared some strange dreams: me Tounamis, Rhys losing teeth, Oliver brain transplants, Jonny burning people... !!
Our first piss up last night! 11 litres of wine and a bottle each of vodka and gin gone. Giggling fits all around. Now 0830 the next morning and everyone else is still in bed. Lazy bastards, eh?
A good night of blow-chatting!!
Woke up to learn that bad things had happened the night before to Sam and Rhys and that rope as being packed for Sa Compana. The drive to the cave served to embed a few songs in our heads. At the parking spot a Land Rover and another car were already in residence: Jan, in poking around, discovered a sleeping person in the back of the car.
Getting to the cave is a mission in itself -- An initial uphill scramble ripped my ankles to shreds thanks to the same lovely grasses I had met walking to Penya Rotja. This was resolved by putting wellies on but my legs feel like they have been whipped. There are several red welts on my arms also from the scrambling. The limestone is incredibly sharp. Looking into the ol at the top of the hill we had fun with a great echo, and thought we could hear the canyoning team bellowing back at us. Smatterings of rain accompanied the drive and walk, culminating in it beginning to chuck it down as we were changing at the entrance. We ducked into the covered entrance to finish changing.
Unlike Large Pot, Big Cave has not been named as such as a cruel joke. Sa Compana is massive -- and massively impressive. Each chamber is bigger than the last, the formations increasing in size to match. Having forgotten the rope for the third pitch we couldn't go all the way but that made the trip very pleasant (excluding the trek to the cave entrance and back of course). The pitches are especially nice on the way up as there is no full-on prussicking required, just walking up the wall. Jan tested the acoustics of the chambers with what sounded to me like choral pieces; Jonny made an ICCC cat out of mud in the penultimate chamber e reached, and suitable faffing over photos was done.
We returned to the surface in time to catch the fading rays of the sun, Jonny derigging. This left us to tackle the scramble in the dark though and the rocks were not kind -- Jonny sliced his knee open, a deep but clean cut that thankfully didn't fell him completely. We made it back to the car eventually and back at the villa Jana tended Jonny's wounds and it seemed to me that almost as soon as we got back people went to bed. But that's probably because I had a nice hot shower for some time.
P.S. the other cavers were from Sweden (with a Spanish guide or two?) Funnily we met them in the smallest, tightest part of the cave between the second and third pitches - the concept of actually caving after all the huge chambers had Jan and I very perturbed, but the appearance of these other cavers convinced us we were on the right track for the next chamber.
After slicing my knee open on the way back down from Sa Compana, I have taken to being an invalid.
We got lost in Alcudian hinterland, but later arrived at Ermita Vittoria where we donned our light + fluffy rucsacs, apart from Oliver who was carrying a small reservoir of water in his bag. Later we set off to the cave of doom, via the path of death...
I may be exaggerating the dangerousness of both cave + path to cave. When we arrived at the cave... someone had been there before, in fact there were some people in the cave. We briefly discussed if it was beneath us to do a cave that had been done before. We spoke to the other cavers and one of them gave us a map of the cave so we felt obliged to go in. But not before Oliver and I urinated at the entrance to mark it as our territory.
We fumbled our way down based on Tetley's description.
The formations at the bottome are impressive, the shear quantity of calcite that has oozed out of the roof to fill a chamber with a huge stal column, fluted, colourful with greenish, ochre, red colouring. We clambered around a lot trying to climb up above it. On the way back I explored another way and was confused by some stal that was all angled at 45 degrees...
We made our way out. Then after a chocolate break Olly and I went back in to explore the 'Sal de Ossos' which looked huge, sadly it was very low and a bit twatty. Before walking back Olly and I enjoyed a parting urination at the entrance.
On the way back we enjoyed the sunset from the viewpoint looking over the headland out to sea (there are two or three houses with roads connecting them, but no road is to the headland), we contemplated the view, the holiday and how cool it had been and life in general. I walked back slowly on my own in the twilight, leaving Olly to roll himself a cigarette and find his own way back. It was a beautiful walk with the bay and the silhouette of Formentor and wind in the trees, but assumed Olly could catch up. Not until I was nearly back to the car he came running out of the dark having got completely lost!
In summary: PENYA ROTJA HAS THE BEST WALK TO THE CAVE, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL VIEW FROM THE ENTRANCE, ONE CHAMBER WITH TONS OF CALCITE IN COLOURS, BUT IT IS A BIT TWATTY. TRICKY ROUTE FINDING 'COS IT'S ONE BIG BEDDING PLANE AND YOU NEED KNEEPADS!
BBQ-tastic night! 11 bottles of wine drunk, lots of meat consumed, lots of heavy metal music listened to.
SAILING IS FUCKING AMAZING!! THANKS TETLEY!
We woke up late and spent a very lazy morning eating. Somehow we got it into our heads that we were going to go caving with Clare and Tetley who had gone sailing. At two o'clock after hours of restless pacing and very nearly going to the beach they came back from their boating adventure. A surprisingly quick turnaround ensued and soon we were heading to Fra Rafel.
We found the cave without incident (unless you count a minor nosebleed from Rhys) and Tetley dove in to rig it. AFter abseiling from the trees and swinging into the entrance fo the cave we found a large sloping chamber.
Down a light slope took us past some bats in which none else appreciated) we passed a hand line and reached our target: the 100 metre pitch. Tetley got stuck in with rigging and succeeded by using a total of two hangers and inumerable naturals. The bottom was...
Rhys & Oliver
We headed to the coast near S'Horta to check out the fabled Deep Water Soloing at a place called The Virgin Area by Cala Sa Nav, supposedly it was the easiest routes! We arrived and it was spectacular! And scary! There was one other couple, one of whom was climbing a bit. We donned wetsuits and explored the entrance and exit routes. The cliff was 10m high and the water perhaps 5m deep and crystal clear, there was a slight swell washing up and into a cave beneath our feet. I clambered down the exit route, which was hairy enough, at the it was a step down into an overhang, then traverse and climb down to a ledge 2-3m above the water. I stood staring across the mouth of the cave trying to figure out the line of the climb on the other side and summon the will to jump in the sea! Eventually I went for it and then swam like mad across to the other side and clambered onto a semi-submerged slippery ledge. Standing as pretty tricky as the rock bulged out . I clung to the rock trying to find a way to start, after numerous attempts I couldn't get beyond the first move and my forearms were super pumped! I had to concede defeat and wim back to the exit route and climb back up the liff. I was bloody cold! After that Sam went exploring and traversing around the cliff bottom, after climbing down through a cave.
Afterwards we went back to the beach and snorkelled around a bit, which was awesome, I saw a few types of fish. And there was a bar serving coffee (and beer or spirits if you wanted!). It as a really beautiful place and only a few people there. Although in August apparently it is packed.