Hola! Hablas Ingles?

On the Camino Del Rey, The King's path, a via ferrata in one of the worst conditions I have ever encountered in my life.
Kelly on the bridge of the Camino Del Rey, The King’s path, a via ferrata in one of the worst conditions I have ever encountered in my life.

Apart from lots of good rock climbing in Spain, it is also well known as a winter destination for the Europeans. Climbers from all over Europe will nest themselves here during the winter months to avoid the bitter cold and take a break from work. From snowy Haute Provence we traveled more than 1800km towards El Chorro near Malaga in Spain.

Sunshine capital can be pretty windy high up but generally its pretty warm climbing in the sun, allowing topless climbing days.
Sunshine capital can be pretty windy high up but generally its pretty warm climbing in the sun, allowing topless climbing days.

El Chorro is a European climber’s escape for sunshine in the winter, being in the southern tip of Spain there are loads of warm days in the winter and really cheap cost of living. We arrived in El Chorro and found Krabi style tufas, huge pockets and steep – overhanging rocks.

Poema De Roca is a huge cave with routes from 6b - 8c on huge overhangs
Poema De Roca is a huge cave with routes from 6b – 8c on huge overhangs
Solarium Sector with high quality routes up to 7b. One of our favorite sectors with good rock and friction.
Kelly on Solarium in Solarium sector with high quality routes up to 7b. One of our favorite sectors with good rock and friction.

There are many south facing routes in the main climbing arena of Fontales Media, there you can find something for everyone from 5c – 8c+. This is truly a sports climbers paradise and we were enjoying the climbing just as much as the we were enjoying the sunny days.

Looking down at Africa, one of the hard trad multi pitches which we did not get to do after the premature end to our El Chorro trip.
Looking down at the start of Africa, one of the harder trad multi pitches which we did not get to do after the premature end to our El Chorro trip.

It was a short romance with El Chorro as our trip came to an abrupt end when 2 thieves stole from our car while we were climbing at Castrojo. Fortunately, after a short epic show down, we got most of our things back but unfortunately just a day in the police station and they were released. We had to leave El Chorro since it’s not very nice to put a knife on someone’s throat and threaten to kill them, isn’t it?

The little village of Chulilla
The little village of Chulilla

We rolled out of El Chorro and headed on to the next rendezvous point with team PMS in Chulilla. For some reason, there is very little you can find about this crag on the internet. It could be due to the lack of UK’s media presence or it’s more like a locals’ crag. Either way we decided to go despite not being able to book any reasonable priced accommodation or campsite in or near the village of Chulilla.

Team PMS leader Chee Meng on Paco El Thor
Team PMS leader Chee Meng on Paco El Thor in his Spiderman color outfit
Huge orange and grey limestone walls in the gorge
Huge orange and grey limestone walls in the gorge

Arriving at Chulilla, Kelly and I were stunned by the beauty of the gorge of Chulilla, walls and walls of orange limestone on every side of the gorge. There is even a wall that is 10m away from the carpark! It was significantly colder in Chulilla than in El Chorro and there was no campsite in sight in the village, in fact on a lazy Sunday evening there was nothing opened in the village except for 3 bars in the village square. After weighing our options we decided to stay in the climber’s refugio, El Altico, which was one of the cheapest options at that point of time.

Refugio owner and WC 2000 boulder champion Mr Pedro Pon making our stay in Chulilla an enjoyable one.
Refugio owner and WC 2000 boulder champion Mr Pedro Pon and Nuria making our stay in Chulilla an enjoyable one.
El Altico on top of the hill above the crag
El Altico on top of the hill above the crags

El Altico sits on top of the hill at the end or the beginning of the village (depending which direction you come from) It has a boulder room, swimming pool, coffee bar, kitchen and very good rooms and dorms. We love the place and think that it is a great accommodation if you are heading to Chulilla. There are also lots of apartments in the town square area, if you spend sometime walking around you will find a lot of Se Alquila (for rent) signs on the facade of the buildings. Depending on your bargaining skills, the same apartment can cost you 20 euros or 100 euros a night.

At Competicion sector with some crimp fest going on
At Competicion sector with some crimp fest going on

Here we began our 1 month worth of single pitch sports climbing, something that Kelly and I hadn’t been doing a lot lately. We decided to start our climbing block at a nearby old school crag near the parking lot, Competicion sector, which was a great place for flat or slightly steep routes typical of Chulilla.

Elisa reaching for the clip on Los Profesionales
Elisa reaching for the clip on Los Profesionales
Prickly pads and looking at one of the classic La Diagonal, 2 pitches which can be linked into one 65m pitch of 7a+. Superb!
Prickly pads and looking at one of the classic left leaning crack lines, La Diagonal, 2 pitches which can be linked into one 65m pitch of 7a+. Superb!

We spent some time in the first gorge at crags like Sexshop, Enfrenta and Lamentation Sector. It was great in the first gorge where there was sun on the wall on the south east side sometimes up to 3pm. We could wake up late and still warm up in the sun and as the sun set behind the gorge we would be climbing the harder routes in the shade which required more friction.

Signs pointing to the crags
Signs pointing to the crags
Cody on Catalobos in Enfrenta sector late in the day with the sun behind the gorge.
Cody on Catalobos in Enfrenta sector late in the day with the sun behind the gorge.
Bao Yan warming up in the sun at Sex shop
Bao Yan warming up in the sun at Sex shop
Shirtless winters were hard to come by and in Chulilla we had some! Alvin on Panza Con Panza at Sexshop sector
Shirtless winters were hard to come by and in Chulilla we had some! Alvin on Panza Con Panza at Sexshop sector

The 2nd gorge which is about 25mins walk away from El Altico, is where a lot of hard and good climbing are nested. Here is the mecca for climbers who love sent conditions 5 degrees or less sometimes. The north face of the gorge gets little or no sun and is perhaps the main arena for hard sports climbing in Chulilla. Climbers who climb 7c and above will find loads to do here and those who climb mere mortal grades will also find a few nice crags around here like El Oasis and Choreras. Kelly and I found these areas in the 2nd gorge a little too cold for climbing comfort and hence we climbed there only 3 times in the whole month’s stay.

A beautiful walk into the second gorge
A beautiful walk into the second gorge
Looking at a lot of climbing in the second gorge
Looking at a lot of climbing in the second gorge
Alvin on a cold windy day in Chorreras
Alvin on a cold windy day in Chorreras

4 weeks went by and we clocked in as much climbing as we could, trying to push our sport climbing grades a little higher in Europe. We love the face and slightly steep style of climbing in Chulilla and that could explain why we had climbed the hardest (in terms of grade) here as compared to anywhere else in the last 6 months. It was great to learn this climbing style and I’m sure it will help me a great deal when I’m in those tricky run out face situation on more serious undertakings!

That's me reaching for the thank god tufa after the crux
That’s me reaching for the thank god tufa after the crux
Kelly on staying on her feet at the crux of Culo De Herodes
Kelly on staying on her feet at the thin crux of Culo De Herodes
Sexshop, Enfrenta and Lamentaciones in the sun!
Sexshop, Enfrenta and Lamentaciones in the sun!
Farewell dinner for Team PMS, Team Canada and Qxadventures. =D
Farewell dinner for Team PMS, Team Canada and Qxadventures. =D

Some useful tips for climbing in Chulilla,

Guidebook – There is a Chulilla Guia De Escalada / Climbing guidebook for sale at the Tito’s bar in village center or at El Altico climber’s refugio.

You can also check out latest updates on grades and routes at El Altico where newly bolted sector are updated and display near the refugio’s cafe bar area.

Accommodation in Chulilla – Obvious and very good choice is El Altico and if you stay long term (more than 5 days) they give a good discount. If you are here for a month or so, it’s worth it to check out some apartments like Las Cuerva or La Muela Casa Rural. The internet price is a rip off and they could go pretty low on prices during off peak season during the winter.

There is also a van camping community in the main carpark with a public fountain although car camping is not encouraged.

Food – 40km away is a huge Carrefour and within the village square you could get loads of reasonable priced food and daily products.

Climbing – The routes in Chulilla are well bolted and long! Bring at least 20 quick draws and a 80m rope is just right for many routes!

You cannot say no to a view like this.
You cannot say no to a view like this.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s