Why bother with Mallorca? That’s just for Sharma

The arch stands about 15 meters from the shore and if the ocean’s pull isn’t just right, you are stuck breathlessly swimming to the start. Arms flailing and feet heavy in my climbing shoes, I am no Michael Phelps. Swimming is probably my least favourite activity, falling a close second to pushups. I’ve been climbing for three years and Mallorca was my dream ever since I saw those tan arms and messy hair tackling the 9a. Having seen the 9a in life, I see that it has more than enough to defeat me, but it is not unachievable by man. One day I will be the first woman to do this, I tell myself. I will train, and I will move here, and I will never give up. Then my video will have twice as many hits as Sharma. Uh huh, my mother would say as I told her my dream. She doesn’t even know who Sharma is and probably not YouTube either.

There’s been enough climbing magazines that say why Mallorca is a number one climbing destination. Mostly they talk about Sharma and his insane strength climbing the 9a Es Pontas sitting underneath the watery arch.

But Why Mallorca?

It’s the ocean, of course. It’s blue. Who knew it was supposed to be blue? Check yourself UK costline and central Florida!  Let’s be serious: It’s the rock. Shoes wet, hands slipping, I can somehow still hold on as I traverse The Might of the Stalactite a 7a with huge pumping Stalactites (clearly) and technique that would blow a muscle puff’s mind. It’s hot. My hands are even sweating but I don’t fall. I finish and smile. A 7a flash!! Unheard of so far in my lifetime.

Each route hanging over the water as you solo presents a series of amazing holds. They are mostly huge jugs—the difficulty is the overhanging. It requires some muscles of course, but I found for the most part the Mallorca routes are about your endurance and technique to keep those muscles from failing and plummeting into the icy water. The limestone is mostly sharp when not a smooth stalactite, and although a piece is known to break off occasionally, the quality is unbelievable. Each route feels like a 5 star. There are some misses of course, but the majority renders only fun. There is hardly an irrtatingly high graded or polished boulder problem like you may find in Fontainebleau or the Peak District.

Who’s ready to buy another plane ticket? I’ll meet you there.

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Just get stronger, right?

It’s unavoidable. Once in a while we all take a break from climbing. Life gets in the way, injuries, as in my case, or just business, long jobs, travel. And what happens when we come back? It’s been about a month and since I started climbing again and the progress is slow, and the positivity is quick to fall.

There is nothing more frustrating then knowing you have the ability, but you just cannot muster the strength to climb something.

But you have to fail to improve.

But in my esteem to get back to where I was, or to improve, something about climbing became clear. With little of the strength at my will, it became obvious that body positioning played a huge part in the climbing. Now this is something everyone knows. Climbing is about technique. But it was a discovery more along the line that climbing is more about technique than I was willing to admit before. There seemed to always be a secret to a move that at first seemed too hard.

While people say strength + technique = is the key to climbing, I think I’ve discovered that the secret to climbing well, has little to do with strength, but body position, confidence, and most importantly, body awareness. Can’t say that I would be able to do a series of crimps on a 45 degree wall, but I could easily do challenging slabs, or some of the trickier Font problems that are more about how you approach them than how much you’ve trained.

For more specific tips on technique, see future posts.