Deep water soloing is the coolest.
Wednesday, Taylor and I put our brave hats on for our first DWS experience. We remain carless and navigationally challenged, but we eventually reached Cala Sa Nau via bus and taxi.
Cala Sa Nau is, per the guidebook’s description, “a small sandy cove, sheltered from the sea by two headlands, one of which is home to an exciting DWS venue.” That would be the Hupolup Kempf Cave, which features “hard and intimidating lines for the more daring deep water soloist.” The Virgin Area, on the other hand, houses several easy routes at a relatively low height. Guess where we climbed!
The hardest thing we got on was a 6a+ called Virgins Are Only Human, and the easiest was a fun 4+ called I Tell Thee. The highest these routes go is about 10 meters, making them a friendlier introduction to deep water soloing than the 18 meter stuff across the cove.
We expected to see other climbers at this crag, since it is a well known beginner spot but also hosts three-star classics like the 8a+ The Weather Man and the eponymous 8b Hupolup Kempf. But the only people we met were two lovely Austrians named Julia and Sebastian. I introduced myself by dropping our dry bag 20 feet into the ocean six inches from Julia’s face. She kindly fished it out and hung it from a well-placed jug as I sheepishly scrambled down to retrieve it. Fortunately, our sandwiches stayed dry.
There are two approaches to most problems in the Virgin Area: downclimb the 4+ Frogger, or swim. The Austrians were swimming, and down climbing is its own skill, so we opted for the sea start too.
It was fun to start problems from the water, but it also rendered our fancy new liquid chalk pretty useless. With the exception of Virgins Are Only Human, which begins next to the Unofficial Snack Ledge, there was no way to chalk up for any of these climbs — even if you swam the bottle over, there was no way to dry your hands once you reached the start. I’m sure we could have figured out the chalk-swimming beta if we’d really needed it, but we were essentially jugging up V0s.
And it was so fun! The whole experience felt pretty surreal. It was just the rock, my body, and the sea beneath me. The simplicity was beautiful.
And I wasn’t even scared. Given my lead-crying track record, I was somewhat worried about being crippled by the fear factor of climbing semi-high over the deep, deep sea. But once we got to the cala, it was just too awesome. But also weirdly not a big deal. Just climbing, you know?
I’m not sure why I wasn’t afraid. According to Google, 10 meters is equivalent to 32.8 feet. That seems like a lot to this little boulderer, but I never felt like I was that high up.
Then again, I wasn’t afraid of lead falls until I took my first bad one after a stupid foot/rope placement. So I suppose my fear is less about heights than I thought — maybe it’s more about trusting my gear.
In any case, I felt calm when I dropped into the sea. I knew there was only air between the rock and the waves, and I knew the water would catch me every time. Plunging into the Mediterranean felt safe, and feeling safe in a fall felt empowering.
There was a dark spot on the day, though: the trash. A lot of it floats in every afternoon, bobbing around in the clear blue water. We’ve been to some jaw dropping beaches this month, but all of them are full of litter. It’s painful to see such incredible beauty marred by evidence of mankind’s negligence. Taylor had the idea to bring a pool net on her next beach trip, and I think I’ll do the same.
We went back to Sa Nau on Friday, and this time we met a bunch of Spanish climbers. I conversed with them successfully! Putting that language minor to work. I was looking for more of a thrill this time and wanted to try some of the easier Hupolup Kempf climbs, but the waves picked up before we made it over there, so we decided to put safety first and leave.
We stayed in Palma today and took a bus to Porto Pi, hoping to check out some of Miquel Riera’s original psicobloc. Once again, the waves were too rough for comfort, so we ended up on the beach nearby. Hopefully we can climb there before we leave. Regardless, I can’t wait to come back to this island and really explore the climbing — I think I'll even bring a rope.