Mallorca Trip Report: Guide to a Deep Water Solo Adventure
After visiting the magical island of Mallorca for the first time in 2018, I decided that I had to return in 2019. The second time, I brought my other half with me so he could see the island I had come to love so much.
Barely Made It
The adventure began with a startling automated text message the morning of our departure.
“Due to government intervention, your flight to Barcelona has been cancelled indefinitely.”
In the week before the trip, riots had broken out in Barcelona. The overall function of the city was severely impaired and the protests centralized around the airport. I had been nervous all week that we somehow wouldn’t make it to Spain. My fears were unfortunately realized.
A few hours and some phone calls later, Michael and I had somehow cobbled together travel plans departing one week later only costing us about $200 in flight change fees on the part of Vueling, the local airline that would take us from Barcelona to Mallorca.
A week later, we were on a flight from Barcelona to Mallorca, ready to start our island climbing adventure.
After getting picked up by the Rockbusters crew, the same guide service I used in 2018, we were taken grocery shopping and to the Hippocampo hostel. The bathrooms had been fully renovated since 2018 and the rest was as lovely as I remember it.
After getting settled, we sat down to dinner with chef Erin Lingle (who runs a restaurant in DC that is regularly featured in the Michelin travel guide) then went to sleep before our first day of deep water soloing.
How I Packed
After last year’s trip, I came with some wisdom about how to pack. Here are my critical packing list items for deep water soloing:
- As many shoes as you can bring. I brought four pairs, some of them were pretty old/non-aggressive. It definitely helped to have a solid rotation of shoes so that you always have a pair that is completely dry.
- A dry bag. I didn’t have one the first year, but it was really nice to have to ensure your stuff stays dry around the crag. Also nice to have if you want to swim over to the start of the route and keep your shoes dry.
- Jackets. It got to be a little windy and soggy sometimes, so my favorite combination was to put my thin outdoor research rain jacket underneath my puffy. This allowed my puffy to keep me warm without drenching it in seawater.
- Pro-Bro tip: I saw a lot of guys bring two pairs of swim trunks out to the crags. Seemed like it was nice to be able to change into different trunks halfway through the day. Alternatively, you can be like the Italians and wear a speedo, which seems to mitigate some of the swim trunk issues. Do as you please.
How To Start the Routes
Many of the crags I visited in Mallorca required downclimbs to start the routes. For many people and sometimes myself included, the downclimbs are scarier than actually climbing the routes themselves.
However, keep in mind that the grades of the downclimbs are pretty low. Additionally, there is usually some sort of way to completely sit and relax before actually starting the routes. It is not as if the route is a combination of a downclimb and an upclimb of the routes.
This is not true for all of them however, some start with a convenient cliff edge or can be accessed by boat.
Obviously, the falls are the hallmark of deep water soloing. If you are planning to go on a deep water solo trip, I would recommend ensuring that you are comfortable taking falls while leading. Additionally, if you can take any of these falls while on steep, overhanging routes in the gym or outside, this is great mental preparation for a trip to Mallorca.
Rockbusters does a great job of taking you to good “warm-up” crags on day one to help you adjust to the ropelessness of deep water soloing. Mentally, I get better and better throughout the week. It fascinates me that usually my hardest sends seem to happen at the end of the week long trips. Despite increased fatigue, because I am very comfortable with trying hard and taking falls by the end of the week, I climb my best. I would love to see what I could do if I had time to spend a month there, but alas, duty calls and I can only get a week away from work.
- Getting heckled by Germans. Nothing like getting beta sprayed at you from two fat, German guys on a dingy.
- Halloween. The Hippocampo campground went from deserted to full of about 10 local families with their kids – all dressed up for Halloween and trick or treating at our hostel rooms. Sorry kids, all I had was protein Clif Bars!
- Sending Metrosexual and Bisexual. Since I had seen these two routes on my first trip, I knew I wanted to do both of them. They are located in the Cala Barques crag. Felt really, really cool to send 5.12 while deep water soloing.
Why Go Deep Water Soloing in Mallorca?
- Aesthetics and Vacation Quality. Let’s face it, most climbing trips do not boast the glamour of a beach bar on the approach to the crag, surrounded by gorgeous limestone cliffs and turquoise water. At best you are staying in a pretty nice cabin probably without cell service. At worst, you are in a tent clutching bear spray after you cooked dinner in the dark on a rock for two hours. Getting the vibe of a beach vacation with the exertion and thrill of a climbing trip is really nice.
- Projecting is extra hard. Projecting is hard when you deep water solo. There is no “working the moves”. Once you make it farther on the route than you have before, you need to take whatever beta your buddy gave you and make it go first try, lest you fall into the water for the 50th time. It can be extra frustrating, but I think it makes you a better climber overall – and the sends are very rewarding when they come.
- Improve your mental game. Taking falls on lead can be scary, getting yourself to be OK with falling into water is a different challenge. Though objectively, you know that falling is mostly ok (depending on how high you are…) getting your body and mind to believe it is a different story. Deep water soloing is a great challenge in convincing your brain to deal with risk. It is both thrilling and extremely satisfying.
So go on, get out there. Mallorca is a climbing trip you won’t ever forget.
If you have any questions about using Rockbusters as a guide service, feel free to shoot me an email. I have been on three trips with them and they have all been an amazing experience.
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Please note that if you decide to book a trip with Rockbusters and you book through the links in the above article, I get a small credit that helps keep this site up and running. However, I was not financially affiliated with them before adventuring with their guide service.. Rockbusters is a friend of this blog and they wanted to find a way to help me keep it running. Additionally, there are links to Amazon for the products that I packed, used and enjoyed. If you choose to buy any of them, at no cost to you, it gives this site a little kick back to the blog as well.