El Chorro

Thursday, December 4, 2008

From Costa de Almeria, we boosted off down the A-routes towards Malaga. Unfortunately the A-route disappears into a winding road with intermittent sprawling coastal towns. Heading inland from Malaga, the landscape changes. After getting lost in the steep streets of Alorha, we manage to find our way to the international climbing mecca of El Chorro.

El Chorro is an incredible place. There is cliffs over 150metres high - Caves littered with tufas - sheer vertical face climbing or jug hauling powerfests - El Chorro has everything.

Plus, El Chorro has one of the most unique settings in the world. Large parts of the climbing is hidden inside an incredible gorge, only a few metres wide in places, and over 150metres high, its a formidable sight. To access the gorge, climbers must navigate a decaying concrete walkway- the infamous "Caminito del Rey", 70metres above the water at the bottom.

The evening we arrived, we ran into a couple of Kiwis we met in Siurana, Phil and Tom. They offered to show us some classic routes for the short stay we had. We went up to a Sector on the frontal crags, and did three amazing routes. We ran out of time to tackle the Caminto, but I'm definitly hoping to make a return to El Chorro one day.

Here are some photos;
El Chorro - The Gorge
'El Chorro', literally means 'The Squirt'. Apparently before the river was dammed upstream, in times of flood, water would come through the Gorge with so much force, it would 'squirt' out the opening with a considerable display.

El Chorro - Front Crags
The sector where we did a few routes, steep lines with tufas. Muy bien!

Caminito del Rey
Here you can see the Caminito del Rey, the aging concrete walkway climbers use to access some of the crags deeper in the gorge. The walkway was built nearly 100years ago as a surveilance and access for a water canal built in the gorge. The King came to lay the final stone at the opening, so they named the walkway 'The Kings Way'

Save El Chorro
Much of the climbing is only accessible via railway tunnels. Recently the powers that be made it illegal to use the railway tunnels to access the climbing deeper in the Gorge. With so many climbers visiting this region, bringing countless tourist dollars its amazing the authorities haven't considered the idea of providing safer access to the back crags.

Chillin' at El Chorro
This is the kind of relaxed, healthy glow you get from not working for 3 months (and climbing topless for two of them). On this day, it was about 25 degrees, two days later we drove into snow... Spain is a country of extremes!

And finally, a YouTube video of some dude walking the Caminito del Rey. Interestingly, he doesn't use any safety devices at all.


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