Just a quick forward to say that Daisy and myself were testing the new Edelrid Ohm during our lunch break at the Castle and although wearing staff T-shirts, any views shared here are my personal views and independent of that the Castle may hold.
The Ohm was finally released and in the shop, last week. Having a massive (and underestimate in the video) 35Kg difference between us Daisy and myself went to test it out. We started with a few test falls on Daisy’s and my own preferred belay devices, Mammut Smart and Petzl GriGri2 respectively. We then did a few test falls to see if there was any marked or noticeable difference between having and not having the Ohm in place.
My Initial impression of the device was that it is heavy, it’s a big extra lump of metal to have to carry around. Loading the rope into the device pre-clipping was straight forward, but clipping the device to the first bolt (Edelrid’s method ‘A’ in the handbook) the correct way around would be something habit would get you used to, but took some thinking about the first time around. However, to have the device in place at the first bolt and then load the rope, to me, felt more natural and easier to get right (as long as you’re hanging off a jug).
Climbing with it didn’t prove any different to without it. It never short-roped (even when really snatching the rope up), felt like it was slowing me down, or creating rope drag. All positive points.
Now the real test: the falls. The Edelrid demo video (Watch It Here), showed the belayer, doing very static catches and being flung three or four meters up without the Ohm and only being stopped by the by slamming into the first quickdraw. Then with the Ohm in place, landing neatly on the wall only a meter or two off the floor. We had a similar weight difference but admittedly not quite as great but had nowhere near the same drastic results.
In our testing, I climbed to the eighth but only clipping the seventh draw (similar to the video), and dropping from the same feet and hand holds each time. Daisy was given enough time to be able to prepare for each catch as well. Daisy being much lighter than other climbers has never really had to give ‘dynamic catches’ as the difference in the weight has always been enough to lift her, but she normally stays soft and is used to getting her feet in front of her to land on the wall safely.
We went through and tested out the devices. The GriGri and the Smart both reacted as expected, similar to each other but the with GriGri giving a slight more aggressive catch. We then tested the Ohm with the GriGri and had Daisy start off by catching in her normal method. The first one we did gave me a super hard catch (the audio didn’t come out from my phones records, but I yelped). So after that, she jumped into the falls, for the sake of my back. This softened the fall, although the fall distances didn’t change much as a result of it. The second to last video clip is probably the most useful, this is the side by side of with and without Ohm in place. As you will notice, the difference is nowhere near as great as in Edelrid’s own video, but there is a notable difference, of a foot or so. So clearly doing something.
In the last clip, I really tested the Ohm’s strength: I climbed to the top missing the last quick draw and top anchor and took a whipper. The Ohm appeared to absorb some of the force as Daisy was stopped a foot short of the first draw. If the Ohm wasn’t in place, this would have resulted in Daisy hitting the first draw.
Daisy was super keen to get the Ohm before we had a chance to test it. Asking her how she felt after we’d finished playing, she didn’t feel like the Ohm did much for her. She didn’t find the device greatly reduced the amount of pull on her during a catch, nor did she feel any more reassured about catching much heavier climbers. Although we found some difference. we didn’t find it more useful, that a dynamic catch and an alert belayer could do without it, and struggled to understand the RRP of £110, other than a really expensive comfort blanket for nervous belayers, or climbers alike.
Albarracin is stunning. Heaped in history that dates back further than 133BC, to the times of the Romans where they had subjugated the locals. In the first century they built an engineering marvel: an 18km aqueduct, considered one of the most complex public works in Spain, there is, unfortunately, none of if it left to be seen any more.
The Moors had overran the area by the 12th Century, where it became know as the Sinyoría d’Albarrazín. In this time, the Moors, Jews, and nominal Christians, all lived together in peace, and it was believed this was the reason it enjoyed most prosperous period. Around the 13th century it was concurred by Peter III of Aragon, deposing the ruling family, the House of Azagra. by the 14th century the lands where officially part of the Kingdom of Aragon.
There is fortunately much to be seen of the old town. It now shows it’s age, but with charm and full of character. Streets so tights you could pass over the balcony to your neighbour a cup of sugar and not have to stretch. Shops and houses jutting out from the the hillside: above, below, and around each other, depending on the shape of the rock and when it was built.
I would highly recommend getting up to watch the sunrise from the top of the old defensive town wall and turrets, built in the 10th century by the Arabs, the views are just outstanding.
Situated just outside of town, is a huge rustic forest with great boulders and cliffs of sandstone bulging out in all directions, you don’t have to walk far from the carparks to find the bright red boulders of sandstone waiting to be climbed, walk a little future, and you will either find caveman paintings (helpfully signposted) and some of the most breath taking views across the valley (not so signposted).
The climbing is unique: although renowned for it’s big pocketed roofs, it is also great for slabs, traverses and bone down crimps, whatever takes your fancy. With most of the climbing a short walk from the carparks and climbing for all experiences right next door to each other. Awesome blocks, with some great lines, the grading is thought to be a little soft compared to the likes of Fontainebleau, as it’s consider less micro-technical and more gym-like (take from that what you will), but it might be your chance to bag a new personal best.
However, this is where I unfortunately run out of positive things to say of Albarracín. It seems the climbers are living up to their dirt bag name a little too closely! On that same short walk you are welcomed by flags of toilet paper, picked up by the wind and now flapping in the bushes and trees, follow your nose a little too closely and you will pick up on their sources. Tidy little piles of poo, dotted in and around the undergrowth (if available) and round the back of the old deserted farmer’s huts. The sad truth is that climber are neglecting the beauty of the place and basic 13th century hygiene, and it seems the town is beginning notice. On my first visit three years ago, staying in the two carparks closest to the sectors was tolerated and no one seemed to mind. Those who stayed were conscious of their actions, discrete, and buried their poop. Now parking is outright banned from 10pm to 7am. Ignorant of the change on the night i arrived in the dark I parked up in the carpark. I had not noticed the new and (in hindsight) very obvious signs (in English) stating not to park there. Very shortly after arriving and a not a minute after 10pm this some official pulled up, and suggested, in no uncertain terms, I should move on. There is now only one overnight spot for van dwellers, this is half way back to town. Too far to really want to walk into the sectors each day with boulder mat in tow, nearly 4km up the tarmac road, and just too far to want to walk into town for supplies, about 20 minutes down the tarmac road, forcing everyone to drive daily.
The location is an odd choice, visible from the town, a touristic stop of choice to enjoy the views of some spectacular sandstone cliffs, and there isn’t the tiniest shrub for privacy in sight. I’m not sure quite what the aim of the game was by forcing this to be the only overnight parking spot, maybe the landlord of the other carparks just had enough, maybe a committee hoped that because there was nothing to hide behind, and the ground compacted rubble, people would not feel the urge to go, but the opposite has happened. The bold go in the full view of daylight, the lesser-so-bold wait till the shroud of nightfall, all left on the surface and in plain view. More oddly, there is not even a bin. At the sector’s parking there are plenty, but in the designated overnight spot, not one. So if one wants to be a little more conscientious with his pooping habits not want to leave a mess, one is left with a choice of either trying to dig a hole in the rubbly stony hardcore ground or bag it up and carry the smell with one’s self all the way back to town.
To finish on a high note; the shop owners and town folk are all very welcoming. The prices make staying in Albarracín very affordable, there is a LIDL 40 minutes drive away in Terual for extreme budget prices, but I would high recommend eating out every so often, and buying local, as all the places are good value for money. As well as go and enjoy a coffee and beer or two, in some of the local establishments at again very reasonable prices. The climbing shop just before the campsite has all your needs, and at a surprisingly good price for such a small shop, it’s is full of knowledge too, if you unsure of anything. I would recommend the older guide book, not the newly published landscape one. As much as the new guidebook have all the new sectors and omitted the closed sectors, the pictures are terrible, and the grading (supposedly) of the routes has been changed to suite the author a mofo climber who is clearly bad at slabs. If you want the up-to-date grades check out the norop.es website. it’s all up to date on there.
Apart from the poo pooping on my fun, the 2 weeks I spent here have gone in a flash, I felt a pang of sadness leaving such a stunning place behind, and will be back soon for another great time, with great company.