3 Excuses NOT To Climb In El Chorro, Spain

You've booked flights and accommodation, bought a guidebook and packed your bags. And the weather forecast in your destination is turning over from "sunny" to "cloudy with a chance of showers". Sound familiar? In case your destination is El Chorro, here's a few tips on how and where you can get the most out of your climbing holiday, despite the weather.


Too wet?

Oh, no! It's raining (again)! Continuous rain is probably the worst weather condition when it comes to climbing. It's not fun to climb on wet rock and it usually takes a while for the crag to dry. Some routes with cracks or tufas might drip for several days (that's actually how tufas are formed). On the other hand, south facing walls can get dry really fast, if the sun starts shining and wind blows from a favourable direction. Some steep overhanging caves might not get wet at all, despite the heavy rain.

So, where to go climbing if it rains in El Chorro?
Poema de Roca is a good guess. 
It's a huge cave with many steep routes that stay dry even if it's drizzling. If it's been raining cats and dogs for several days, the water eventually reaches even the routes at the back of the cave, though. The route Poema de Roca (7a) seems to stay dry longest. In my experience, if everything else is wet, that route is your best chance to get some climbing done.

Poema de Roca

Luckily, most of the Frontales dries really fast. The vertical Albercones is probably one of the first places to dry, when it stops raining. Plus the access there is easy enough, so you don't have to walk up the slippery hill. If you are more keen on overhanging climbing, the routes Little Brown Baby (7a+) on Castrojo and Bienvenidos al Circo (7b) on Suizo also seem to dry really fast. Both routes are steep, so they don't get wet very easily, and they don't include any dripping tufas. LBB was one of the last projects my partner had in El Chorro. On the day he climbed it, the route right next to it was all wet, but LBB only had one or two slightly moist holds.

Too windy?

Southern wind can be tricky in El Chorro, since the whole great wall of Frontales is pretty much facing south. If it's windy, you probably don't want to go anywhere near the sector Castrojo, which is located right next to the famous Caminito del Ray. The access there is easy, but the gorge gives an extra boost to the wind and Castrojo is very much exposed. Instead, walk up the hill, towards the distinguishing cave of Poema de Roca.

As soon as you get to the sector Albercones, the wind starts to ease. If vertical climbing is your thing, you might as well spend some time there. There are some nice routes, but it takes a while to figure out which route is which. There are simply too many routes too close to each other. If you go further along the path, you can find some shelter at sector Suizo.
Suizo is probably the most sheltered sector on Frontales.
It's located in a sort of a corner with wind blocking walls on three sides. There's some nice vertical climbing on gray stone, but also some cool looking overhanging routes.

Suizo

In case the southern wind is strong and you have the opportunity to explore other crags near El Chorro, I suggest to find your way to Desplomilandia. The sectors there are in shade all day, but the north-facing walls definitely block the southern wind. There are many beautiful overhanging and vertical routes on yellow stone. Some of the routes also include cool tufas. It's only about 30 minute drive from El Chorro, has an easy access as well as a nice lakeside scenery. Make sure to check out the whole post about Desplomilandia before you go there! If you decide to stay in El Chorro, you might want to try out the sector Makinodromo. We never got there, but people seem to compliment the sector a lot. It takes a while to walk there, but it's also a north-facing wall.

Too hot/cold?

El Chorro is your go-to crag in the winter. You'll find some shade there too, but the whole of Frontales really heats up on a sunny day. Me and my partner spent last January and February there, since it was too cold everywhere else in the southernmost Europe. In the middle of winter and on cooler days in general, you're best off at Frontales. Depending on the temperature and wind, there are plenty of sectors to choose from. If you're up for some slab climbing, I've heard that there's lots of great climbing in Turon as well.

Climbing shoes might stick to the wall better on hot rock, but otherwise climbing in the sun can easily get painful. Your feet get swollen and hurt on every move, and your hands sweat making all holds feel equally slippery. Even if the route is only 15 meters high and the grade well below your maximum. When it gets too hot in El Chorro, my best advice is to move over to Desplomilandia. As mentioned before, it's a place well worth visiting. There are some north facing sectors in El Chorro too, but most of them seem to be a bit farther away from parking lots and accommodation. If it's too hot to climb in the sun, you'll probably be pretty sweaty before you find some shade.

There, now you have no excuses not to enjoy your holiday (and go climbing). El Chorro is a huge place. Even though me and my partner spent two months there, it feels like we only saw a fraction of the place. If you have a limited time there, try to explore as much as possible. You'll probably have more fun climbing, if you go by the weather and not solely by the guidebook recommendations.

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