When the wall comes down.

Eric climbing in Valdilecha.

Eric Oravsky climbing out of a canyon in Valdilecha, Spain.

I arrived in Valdilecha, Spain a couple days ago, and the first thing I noticed was the rock cliff patches that surrounded the town. After getting some directions from my couch surfing host I put on my Five Fingers and was off. It was a pretty hot day and I was happy to find that the cliffs hid more caves and canyons than I had thought from a glance. Climbing is made rather difficult by the amount of spiders and lizards on the walls and spelunking isn’t much easier with the large numbers of bats, wasps, and owls that dwell there. However, through some exploring I managed to find a spot that was relatively less inhabited, which probably should have been the first sign that something wasn’t right.

Believe it or not, I am a very cautious person at the core, which pretty much directly goes against everything that free solo climbing is. But, I make sure I have all the right conditions, that I am capable and 100% sure on my holds, and that the rock is secure. Apparently I need to review my checks on the latter part of that system because shortly after I took this photo, I loosed about a 1 ton boulder into the cave below.

After this photo I pulled up my camera and climbed the last couple meter over the edge of this canyon and into the next that was more cave like with a couple shelves going down into it. I hopped down the first two shelves without a problem before getting to a tricky spot where the floor dropped out into the underlying cave. I decided to go back up and take a look at the other side of the opening. I climbed up and hopped back onto the lowest shelf.

I felt my stomach begin to drop and my senses heightened quickly as what had looked like a shelf from three sides began to roll toward the opening of the cave. All those summers of log games on the Yellowstone paid off as I ran over the top of the rolling boulder and leapt to the next shelf hoping it wouldn’t be in the same situation. I didn’t hang around to find out how secure the higher shelf was as the boulder hit the cave floor with a surprisingly quiet but shaking crash on the floor. I clambered up the rim and sat down over looking the cave in order to reprimand myself before assessing the damage. I would definitely be leaving a trace today.

2 thoughts on “When the wall comes down.

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