Monday, 7 August 2017

The best thing for climbing you'll ever buy

I'm getting the hang of this clickbait title thing. Stay tuned for 'You won't believe what Sharma puts on his breakfast cereal.'

But seriously, let me tell you about the best  piece of climbing gear you'll ever buy. It's expensive but it'll up your game considerably. No, I'm not talking about buying a massive crashpad, overpriced chalk or magic shoes. A car. Get a car you idiot.

Vintage Galicia
The best piece of climbing equipment I ever bought was a 1991 Seat Ibiza. Wow, was that car in bad condition. Dents all over, an interior from the 1940's and the bonnet flapped ominously at speed.  I should have never even given her a second look. But she was in my price range: a cool 700 euros. Fortunately, her beauty was functional rather than aesthetic. In the end, that Ibiza took me all over: Galicia, Portugal, Tarifa, Santa Gadea and AlbarracĂ­n: my first big trip. I drove there alone in eight hours and slept in the back at -5 degrees. The poor thing could barely cough itself back to life each morning.

I can't overstate how reliable this car was for almost exactly two years, right up until it died. Flew back from weekend in Font, hopped in the car and while heading back to my pueblo, it uttered its final death rattle. Temperature needle in the red, beeping like an alarm clock. And that was it. Car was cheaper to scrap than fix: must have cost fifty euros when I scrapped it. RIP The Prestige. (named after the oil tanker that sunk of the Galician coast in 2002 and caused a massive ecological disaster, not the Nolan movie)

As soon as you know your old car is irrevocably dead, the panic starts. You can't go back to relying on other people. Other people suck. (#notall)  You've got boulders to do, trips to go on. You start scheming, looking around for anything with four wheels. Every day you're not on rock, your ability to rationalize a shit purchase increases. You imagine the endless trove of good condition second hand cars; 'previous owner was an old lady who only used it to go to church on Sunday.' They don't exist, but you convince yourself. You spend altogether too much time on second hand car websites. Something in your face marks you out as someone begging to be ripped off.

My second car was a massive error on my part:
a massive four door Peugeot from a shady dealer in Extremadura. It's air conditioning was broken and the fuel indicator stopped working after the first week. It handled like a boat, but what can you do? You're in the middle of the Spanish desert having accumulated a carful of shit. So you go to the grimy local car dealer and empty your account to buy a car that'll last you less than a year.  

At least this one had the good grace to die in the city. Got it towed, got the metro back home.  Please let it be something fixable. Nope. RIP Blue Ruin.

Blue ruin in the car park at AlbarracĂ­n

Brings me nicely to my current ride. a super modern Ibiza four door from 2002. I've had it for about a year and I've already replaced basically all of it. Catalytic converter last year and gear box and distribution (whatever that is) this year. That's not bloody cheap. Still, it's something at least. Despite the fact that it's comparatively new and modern, I live in perpetual fear of a breakdown that'd leave me stuck in the city again.

AWWWW! Only a two seater when fully loaded with crashpads

Driving also stresses me out. The M30 in Madrid is particularly ridiculous. Four lanes in rush hour, traffic merging from both sides, motorbikes and scooters weaving through it. Nobody indicates in this country. Not to mention the pollution. I tried to get into running last year, but you come back coughing your lungs up. It's impossible. It never rains in the summer and there's a toxic cloud that hangs over the city, You can see it as you drive back from the boulders, a constant reminder that we're all fucking the planet. Roll on teleportation. I'm not the type to drive for the sake of it, but it is what it is. Hybrids aren't cheap enough to be affordable and I'd rather go climbing, the unborn future generations can suck it.

So what's the lesson here? Cars suck. They eat money and shit pollution. They stress me out and have probably taken years off my life. We'll all have respiratory conditions in our sixties. Despite all this, it gets me to the damn boulders. I attribute 100% of my sends in the last four years to being able to fall off the requisite 500 times to actually get something done. So yeah, if you want to send, get a car. It's shit for the planet, your bank account and your blood pressure but you'll climb more and harder. A price worth paying?

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