Monday, December 7, 2015

No more "oranges" after so many years!

Many years ago we had a couple of young American guys who camped, trying to think back I am sure it was 2003, so right back at the beginning. Odd to think its over 12 years ago, seems like only yesterday!

Anyway I digress! Well they came to us and said as they had a very tight budget and could we put them to work instead of them paying! We laughed and said" well I suppose so as we have lots of jobs ongoing". In the early days I remember we expected people to just keep working until all the jobs got done and we did have some horrible jobs to get sorted!

One quite well known early "orange" who painted alot! 
We met some guys camping in Font and they too came and stayed with us, lovely Lewis worked so hard with Rich to build the outdoor showers, Simon built us sleeping platforms, Pepe did just about everything we threw at him, Marijne helped to manage the place and so many many names I just can't list them all. " Two now live in American with 4 kids after meeting here along time ago!

A few years ago we decided to make it more formal and asked for only 2.5hrs each day stayed with us. Some said that was soft but when we had great workers that more than kept the place ticking over! We then allocated roles so even more formal!

The idea of "oranges" wasn't just to help to clean and look after the place though. They also created a nice atmosphere when the house was quiet and of course provided climber partners to single clients staying with us. Also in the early days it allowed me time off from the questions like "what is the best crag for 6a routes?" lol

How many "oranges?"
When we then started our house build 3 years ago having more hands to help seemed like a good idea and yes it was! In the early days like when we did the foundations it was amazing and a massive THANKS to everyone that helped on our house. All built with love and laughter....

Well after all this positive stuff why have we stopped the scheme as we know it!

I think the main issues was having too many all at the same time. This caused many problems, one been that as they had other "oranges" to climb with they became very insular and stopped interacting with the guests.

Also, even though we expected an amount of work to be done, many came with the idea that it was a holiday. Which of course it was, however that meant they would stay in bed until lunch time and then squeeze in the work and then want to go climbing!

Another issue was that they took up sleeping space and used the outdoor kitchen. Now don't get me wrong I am very grateful for the people that have helped us over the years. BUT when it caused me more stress to go around and clean up after "oranges" then we had a problem.

So now what? To be honest I am not sure what is the best way forward? We have a few "oranges" booked to come for this season but only one at a time which will be great for us and I do hope they don' get too lonely!

Once again a MASSIVE THANKS to the "oranges" that have gone before, we really could not have done as much as we have without them. More important we have made some amazing friends for life.

Watch this space and lets see what we come up with next season......

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Bulgaria here we come........

"Why have you moved to Bulgaria?" we said.

"Because it's cheap, and there's endurance horse racing, and it's cheap, and there's climbing!" she said!

"It's only cheap because no one wants to live there!" we said!

"Come visit then!" she said.

So we did!

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from an ex Warsal Pact country, poor roads, poor food rotten infrastructure maybe a suspicious population, were but a few of the thoughts to cross my mind.

Lets deal with the negatives first, the roads are bad. There must have been white lines at some point but little evidence exists to suggest so. Some of the pot holes are so big and deep they double up as extra parking spaces. Once you know the roads, you can drive like a local and avoid the holes on your side, and slow down when the holes are on the other side to avoid the oncoming traffic. (This is referred to locally as "redpoint driving.") The cars seemed to be less dented than Spanish ones, I never used the horn, didn't even hear a horn being used. So once you get used to it driving isn't a hardship.

Infrastructure does look a little shoddy around the edges, with many derelict government buildings dating back to the Cold war period. But this isn't really a bad thing either, in fact it's quite fascinating with some of the buildings and monuments being super impressive. 

Some may well feel it is worth a visit just to see these. We used trains and taxi's which were clean and punctual with friendly and helpful staff.

The language is tricky and roads signs are no exception, but once you know a few rules and are familiar with the new letters it's not so confusing, a little like reading code and perhaps being slightly dyslectic helps.

It was the first time I'd travelled outside of the English or Spanish speaking world in over ten years so not speaking a single word did feel weird. "Bunglish" and miming works well, and just about everyone was prepared to try and teach me new words, perhaps they were just doing for the comedy value!

At one of the properties we looked at the neighbours appeared suddenly and started assisting us with the hacking of vegetation to help us gain access, it did feel a little "Hansel and Gretal", but what a lovely old couple. The word of that day was "thank you" which translates to " Благодаря", I know how are you supposed to say that!

Ok whats the climbing like I hear you ask?

First crag was Vratza, this compact area has one of the only paper guide books to climbing in BG. You can order the book online, however we did order if using a friends address and a paypal account, I think if you email them and ask them to send to a UK address and then give them a credit card you could be ok. We did find on Amazon but was more expensive and I am not sure who much of the cut they take!

This is an impressive looking area and close the main airport of Sofia. Wizzair, Ryanair etc....

Roadside routes up to 300 metres and all grades. With just about everything you could image from super steep sport cliff, and easier sections, to super long almost alpine length mountain days.

Second crag, and I use the word loosely, we visited was Karlukovo which is more of a through cave than a cliff. Futuristic and as of last week BG's first 9a, but not by me! The cave has two sky lights which are rather famous and more tufas than a tufa factory! There are also routes of all grades which is nice to see at a hard crag.

The eyes!

Here is a link to a Petzl road trip page which shows how cool the thing is!

We visited many crags around Veliko Tarnovo area which is in centre of the country. We didn't realise that this area is "the Llanberis" of BG, except much prettier and with better restaurants, we didn't find the "Pete's eats" equivalent

Gaz and Rich enjoying the shade on a hot day!

Really looking forward to exploring a fascinating country, visiting existing climbing areas and developing some new routes. Watch this space for Orange House BG possibly!!!!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Not so many new routes. Yet!

The new route at Mundo Perdido didn't go quite as planned. The top of the first pitch has a very hollow sounding rock shield which is 5 metres tall and about 3 metres wide. The line I had in mind goes straight through the middle of it. I really didn't want to place a bolt in such marginal rock so I opted for a large run out instead! What could possible go wrong?

 I spent two days cleaning it and was happy that it would go at a high 7. Myself and Agustine Gomez had first go but the sequence through the steep fragile shield eluded us both. I think the fear factor was working us hard.

Trying to figure out the crux sequence through the shield.

The second pitch shed a large foot hold that narrowly missed Agust and sent me flying past him, can't remember the last time I took a fall greater than a factor 1.

Rich Mayfield on the crux of the first pitch.

I returned with Matt Warner a few days later, with the cunning idea of mostly avoiding the shield by climbing rightwards where the rock is more solid. I placed a high bolt in good rock.

I lead the first pitch at a surprisingly amenable grade of 7a+/b 28m. The second pitch goes at 6c+/7a and a looooong 44 metres of slightly overhanging crack and face climbing.   

Je Suis Charlie 72m   7a+/b

Agust on Fiesta de Sella 6c
I also climbed two other routes which we bolted last year but hadn't gotten around to leading. The Crow Eaters 6c+ and Feist 7a.

Topos to follow on the Miniguide page

I've also been spending some time climbing with Gaz Parry a little further North, new caves seems to be popping up all over the place.

The new route count for January is a lowly 3.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Soooooo many new crags and new routes for a New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! such a long time since the last post but I think facebook seems to be trying to take over the world and as much I hate to admit it, it is way too easy to put information on there instead of on this blog!

Our New Years Resolution is that we will update this blog more often and make it the first point for information about the new routing that is going on over here, and boy is it going crazy at the moment.

I have decided to set myself a personal goal (Rich) which will be to average one new route a week this year. That is a tall order, 52 new routes. That will about 650 bolt placements and 50 bolt gun charges.

Below is more information about, would you believe it, 4 brand new crags that I visited in under a two week period, for those climbers that have said "I have done everything I can on The Blanca" really need to come back and start again! I do not think Rockfax will reprint the current guide again for a few more years, so our website will the main information place for the new topos! Exciting times ahead.......

Mundo Perdido is a new crag above Sella, you will need to contact us for more details of the access, as its not past the climbing areas as you would imagine! The grade range so far is 6b to 7a, only 6 lines at the moment, but with the usual potential of hundreds more at every grade. The views are out of this world (hence the name, lost world!) and will feel very special as the approach will not be a walk in the park! lol

Rich Mayfield on the FA of Feist 6c+/7a a route Mike Robertson bolted last year
 but we ran out of time before we could climb it together.
Marijne having fun in the sun!
Below is a shot of us playing around on a highline, now that was a first and very scary....

Regaining the line after a fall not so easy and neither is standing up again.

Sector 45 Degrees is Gaz Parry's new crag and the scene for his first 8c+. This crag is further North, in the aea of Pego but still a great day out from staying with us in Finestrat. It has a few dozen routes at the moment which are mostly in the grade 7 and 8. You can read more about this here Gaz Parry . As soon as Gaz has sorted a topo we will sort out a link so you can see what the routes are.

What a great looking wall! 

Tom Bulger's first ascent of an 8a+ at sector 45.
Visit Tom's Blog

Pared Cereza. Good friends of ours Agustine and Ivan have been busy too with a new crag also near Sella. It has a dozen routes so far with a couple of projects in the low 8's, grade range from 4 to 8b ish. Again contact is for information if you want to visit.

Bover Dos, This new crag is not far from Boverdon near Gandia. Super steep climbing on truly massive holds. I am not sure who will be doing the topo for this new area, but I can certainly take people with me if they want to check it out.

Harriet Ridley pulling hard on perhaps the steepest 7b+ on the Costa Blanca at Bover Dos.
Brand New North facing Crag! No name at the moment!

I suppose for the majority of climbers these hard walls look great, but what I can hear alot of you saying is "what is there for me to climb?"

Well, for many years now we have been looking around for a crag that we can bolt with more easy lines, like Echo 1.5 I suppose! Echo is great for beginners, however the main problem is that when the sun shines even in the Winter it can get a tad warm, and when the summer comes its impossible really to climb there.

So the perfect crag would be North Facing and I suppose to please most people it would have a short walk in, and what about making it close to get to from The Orange House!

I am so happy to report that yes, it looks like we have found the perfect place and it was right under our nose all along, all we had to do was take a walk with the doggies and get closer to the rock to take a look.

Is the yellow stuff going to make for good climbing? We will soon see!

Sam climbing in fluffy gloves on weird features in the rock!
We think that these walls could have routes starting at 4s and right up to 7s. We are also talking about maybe more than 60 routes. Now that is alot of work to be done and we will need help. Anyone that would like to come and get involved please get in touch, we can provide bolts etc as the bolt fund still has funds. 


Monday, February 11, 2013

To bolt or not to bolt

Bolting "Wots a matterbooboo 6c"

OK so the ethic of the Costa Blanca is bolted sport climbs. The drill is red hot with 8 new sport lines from 4 to 6c+ grades to be confirmed! More lines have been bolted today by the Oranges!!!! A small traditionally protected section is also being cleaned with two 70m grade 4/5 routes so far.

Don't bear left 6a
Bear Sector, lines from the left are, Basically a bear 6c, Don't bear left 6a, project, Wots a Matterbooboo 6c and Bumptastic
New years day 5+

Basically a bear 6c

The grand clean up has finally finished with the help of a very large trailer. Three this full and eight smaller trailers full and one flat trye from running over some rubbish later and you can now see the trees. The place is starting to look like it should.

The clean up

The clean up fights back

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

More Work and LOADS of Wind and not from Rich!

We have now lived onsite for over 2 weeks. I can honestly say that it has not been easy, and that is mainly down to some fierce winds and not of the bottom type!

We spent a few nights in the van but after been kept awake been rocked quite violently we thought we would move into the small room downstairs for some piece and quiet.

That room is right next to the massive water tank in the corner of the house so that didnt last long either! We moved upstairs once we had a new window to let in some light and air!

Jonathan our long term "Orange"and Ben my youngest son spent some time with me painting the lounge and kitchen so we have a cozy place to sit at night and watch TV. Here are some before and afters shots.

After, with wood burner and all my crap!
Quite a bit of clutter

Check out the beams, and dogs sleeping in the sun

Old cupboard with doors

No doors and painted red inside. check out the beams again!
I must admit to enjoying the peace and quiet though, not a noise can be heard from anywhere, no barking dogs, no cars, no neighbours for miles. The drive to and from The Orange House is around half an hour on some horrible roads but I guess it worth it.

Rich has been busy bolting new routes up there and making good the new window at the front of the house. I will post more photos next week to show the changes as they go along.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

New Orange Farmhouse

It was a hot August day and nothing much to do apart from chill on the beach and read a book! Rich was very bored but just about hanging in, waiting for September when the climbers returned and he had people to play with.

Now I have always fancied a small studio apartment down on the beach front at Villa Joyosa and just did a quick google to fill some time, and it does not hurt to dream! The search was in Spanish and I asked to be shown houses for sale in Villa Joyosa, you can imagine my surprise when top of the links was for "milanucios" which is the Spanish "gumtree", and a small photo showed a mountain range that I thought I had seen before.

Passing the ipad to Rich to take a look he said "that is Sella, in fact I know that house, its up at Sector Final". "Hmmm" said I, "not really a beach front location". The following day I decided to look up the link again and suggested as we had nothing else to do why don't we take a drive up with the dogs and have a look around. Tony Pearson a friend was over from the UK for a short break and said he would come too, just for a nosy around of course.

Squeezed in the Rav, dogs and all, we set off up the road to Sella that we knew so well. Ignoring the private road sign this time, we continued past Sector Final and after a few new turns we took a left along an almond lined private path and met this view!

Truely breathtaking, we all said at the same time "we need to buy this house". A quick phone call to the agent and a meeting was arranged for later that day, Tony had a flight booked back to blighty that night so we had to move fast.

Little did we know that we would have to wait until December until we could finally sign, but it was a great belated Christmas present and we collected the keys on the 28th.

The house had been used for years as a weekend hunting lodge, the first thing we wanted to do was pull down the metal structure they had erected at the front, we wanted to let more sun into the house during the winter and will put up some nice shades when the summer gets here.

Metal in place, but not for long!
Half way through removal!

What a view?
More light was needed upstairs so we added 2 new windows, one at the front and one at the side. The original house was built without windows upstairs, just large openings front and back. This was as the upstairs was made to dry out the almonds, they would be laid out all over the floor and the wind would blow over them.

Was a door now a window

This was the old opening for the wind to dry the almonds, now a  window

The large pink building which at the moment is a garage and store room will shortly become an 8 person bunkroom with lounge and small kitchen. Camping will be available once we have sorted a shower block. Have you spotted how close the building is to the crag, you will not have to go far in a morning to go climbing......

Here are a few more random shots for the views which really need to be seen to be believed!