Normally, when the cold weather arrives, I feel as if I'm one of the little geckos that sometime peek their heads out of the pockets in Margalef, taking refuge from the harsh climate. I grew up in the desert so naturally I seek out the sun. I either make plans to travel to a warmer area or head for the boulders. This year was different and thankfully with a group that's always psyched it was easy to stay motivated through the coldest months.

Jon Cardwell on Buma Ya (8c+)
Jon Cardwell on Buma Ya (8c+), Laboratory, Margalef. Photo: Isaac Caldiero

Dani Andrada and Andrea at the Laboratory. Photo: Chad Greedy

Dani Andrada and Chris Sharma have been leading the way, always climbing a muerte. Also, important to mention is Daila Ojeda, no different than the other Spanish machinas, who holds her own. I was impressed watching her climb Fish Eye, a monster of an 8c in Oliana, like it was a walk in the park. Chris broke out of the winter dormancy and climbed a variation to the First Round First Minute, calling it First Ley (9a+). Dani, who seems to never stop, even when the weather is cold, wet, humid, or hot, climbed numerous new-school testpieces during the winter: Ciudad De Dios, Open your Mind directa, La Ley Innata, Blanquita, Mind Control (9a, 9a+, 8c+/9a, 8c+, 8c+), and many more ... All under the radar and all whilst equipping new routes in Oliana and Margalef. Chris has also opened some new lines, specifically in Oliana: Xhaxi Raxi and a couple others, all in a different realm, waiting to be awoken sometime in the future. Dave Graham is also representing, making Picos Pardos (8b+) onsite and numerous other 8c redpoints in Oliana.

Dave Graham sending the 55-meter Fish Eye (8c) in Oliana. Photo: Nalle Hukkataival

Graham onsighting Cupata + Chupito 3 Euros (8b), Margalef. Video still: Jon Cardwell

As for me? Well, the motivation was high, even in the cold weather. However, a little over a month ago, after giving a try on Victima Perez in Margalef, I felt a weird ache in the palm of my hand. I brushed it off as ‘just being sore’ and continued to climb. After a couple more days I knew for sure something was wrong and had to hang up my shoes and rest. I spoke to one of my friends and many others and it turned out that I slightly tore a small muscle in my hand called the lumbricle muscle. It’s funny, after so much injury talk with many of my friends I never imagined that I would actually get injured. But there I was, in the middle of prime climbing and crew in Spain, unable to climb because of an apparent overuse and eventual failure of a small muscle in my hand. The first week was pretty difficult, but after that I started to embrace the rest and got to work. My first objective was to bolt a beautiful golden line in the middle of Oliana. There is an existing line in this part of the wall called Happy Hour (8a), but it ends a little before halfway, in a small roof. I decided to hike up and hang a rope to explore. I rappelled down and was psyched and surprised to find a barely there -- but definitely there -- sequence of small pockets, little edges, and slopers. I got my hooks out, pulled up a drill, and got to work. The process was amazing to me and I was psyched to explore the new fresh section of wall. I was even more psyched to see Dave go up right after and climb all the moves! It's possible and waiting! Loco Ojos (8c+,9a,9a+, 9b ????).

Graham sending Open Your Mind (8c+), Santa Linya. Video still: Seth Giles

Cardwell bolting a steep new line in Margalef. Video still: Chad Greedy

The rest has also given me some time to work more on a video project – a part of the multimedia company founded by Dave Graham called The Island. It’s all about climbers filming climbers, learning daily about cameras, good shots, capturing the ‘moments’, emotions, etc... It’s great being able to see the evolution in our work. Since I arrived in Europe last June, the entire process has been an awesome experience and the knowledge I’ve gained is invaluable. I cannot wait to start the post production. This, like the video work, will be a long and hard learning experience, but it’s something I look forward to.

Cardwell filming new boulders somewhere near Lleida. Photo: Nalle Hukkataival

Finally, not all is lost -- the hand is feeling great now! There is one more month left until I fly back to Colorado, and now that climbing is possible I’m more motivated than ever! Could this be proof that a good break is healthy for the motivation? I think so. It’s good to give your body a break from time to time, injured or not.

I’m looking forward to the rehabilitation in some friendly areas like Rodellar and Oliana until I leave on the 28th. I'm also looking forward to a great summer in Colorado. It’s been a few years since I've been in the states for summer, especially Colorado.

Salut to all you readers. Stay healthy and stay psyched!

- Jon

The future: potential in Margalef, Spain. Photo: Nalle Hukkataival


Great article!!

i had the chance to talk to the Island climbers on Facebook and we became good friends after a while. They daily talk about climbing, most of what they do is wake up have breakfast and go climbing, this lifestyle got me really super motivated to be surrounded even virtually by such motivated Elite Climbers! and yea, thanks to them i now train more than 2 days a week, 6 if it's possible. and i learned to focus on my passion and give it the number 1 priority.

it also happened that i had the same injury as Jon, and i personally believe that it happened to make us learn to warm up longer, stretch carefully, and to appreciate everything that is healthy in our body.

Also a good thing is to climb different styles, to put the main goal as "fun" instead of "performance" from time to time is really necessary.

i wish all the best for Jon, Dave, Chad, Nalle, Daila, Chris and Dani in everything they do.

i am looking forward to visit this amazingly wonderful part of Spain, to live for a period of time the lifestyle they lived :). i got really Syked to do it.

i hope one day, i will meet you Guys, and maybe you visit me in my country, Lebanon and work on Projects in the infinite possibilities of climbing in here

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