Outdoor Sports

Review: La Foixarda Rock Climbing Tunnel, Barcelona

La Foixarda, #1. Barcelona, 2015
La Foixarda, #1. Barcelona, 2015

 

A climbing “tunnel”, you ask with incredulity?

Yes, indeedy, a tunnel.

It is located on Montjuic, in the city of Barcelona, in what was once a stone quarry. In fact, the stone to build the famous Santa María del Mar church came from this same quarry way back in the 14th century. The tunnel was a late 20th century addition built to access the area which now also includes a very pro rugby pitch and an indoor climbing gym, Climbat.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, before the 1992 Barcelona Olympic games, local climbers started to put up routes in the quarry walls as well as inside and on the ends of the concrete tunnel. In October of 2009, heavy rains caused a large collapse of the rock in the quarry, so the large sections of natural rock have been closed ever since.

Still, there is plenty here to play around on.

A few observations:

–It is pretty much all bouldering or sport climbing on very short (4 to 15 meters) routes. The low traverses are very popular and probably where you will start.

–You’ll likely find climbers here at just about any hour and any day of the week. You may even run into a possible climbing partner for a run out to one of the many nearby local crags.

–Being a tunnel, you can hang out and climb here even in inclement weather.

–They say there are some 80-90 possible climbs in and just outside of the tunnel, from 5a (5.7) to as hard as you like. You’ll find the route names and ratings in the little yellow squares here and there–if they haven’t been eroded beyond recognition. From the yellow box, climb straight up to the apex of the curved roof, then lower off the anchors.

–Most of the longer routes just outside the tunnel are on the artificial Disney-like cement that was used to cap and control the unstable natural rock beneath. Here, you will find glued-on and bolted gym holds as well as holds chipped directly into the concrete.

–With the passage of many, many feet over the decades, you’ll often find the holds polished down to a virtual verglas state–especially the foot holds on the low traverses along the 50-meter length of the tunnel. You will be using a lot more hand, finger and upper body than would normally be necessary otherwise.

–The “onda” is very grunge-urban with plenty of graffiti, the light noise of the passing traffic above, and the soundtrack beat from the odd portable boom box.

–For a completely different experience, try the Climbat climbing gym just a few hundred yards away on the same road.

For more… Click here for the photographic tour!

Profile of a Climber

From the Second Flatiron, there was just a short moment when there was a perfect profile alignment with a climber on the Third Flatiron as he or she finished leading the last pitch to the summit. Three other climbers can be seen on the belay ledge below.

This image was processed in Silver Efex Pro starting with the “Silhouette” preset. There is actually detail in the cloudy sky as well as in the rock, so I do have a more standard version of this picture–but this is the one I prefer.

Simplicity.

Third Flatiron. Boulder, Colorado, 2015
Third Flatiron. Boulder, Colorado, 2015

Buildering in Boulder

Buildering #2. Somewhere in Boulder, Colorado, 2014
Buildering #2. Somewhere in Boulder, Colorado, 2014

I have been trying to get my hands and forearms back in shape recently. Memories of The Yellow Spur on Redgarden Wall, I suppose…

I’m a pig compared to 35 years ago, but it’s still fun and I’m quite thankful I can still get out and do something on the rock.

Yesterday I popped over to a place we used to go for some quiet “buildering” (bouldering on buildings) to see if it still existed. It does. And the fresh chalk marks were proof that it is still being used, although I’m not sure of the official policy on the activity there.

It doesn’t take long to burn out your muscles on the sandstone–just a traverse or two back and forth (or much less, as is my case currently). It’s a great workout in a very secluded, but easy to access, area.

It’s location? I’m mum on that. If you are a climber or long-time local, you may recognize the location based on these images…I’ll just say it is in the heart of Boulder.

(If you go there, by the way, pick up some trash. The wind and inconsiderate partiers sometimes deposit extraneous debris in this hole-like locale.)

Buildering #3. Somewhere in Boulder, Colorado, 2014
Buildering #3. Somewhere in Boulder, Colorado, 2014