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Climbing in southern Spain

06:44 Kasia i Przemo 0 Comments Category :

Over the years of travels we usually found it pretty straightforward to find out when to move on. It's a mix of art, "good feeling" and experience to know when it had been enough, but long enough to get to know and feel the surrounding. But it not always works. Sometimes in excitement we rush into next destinations to find out it would be much more worthy to dive for longer into previous ones and sometimes we lock ourselves in place thinking that we should give it more time even though we feel we probably should go. But sometimes, like in Granada, something just force us to stay. 
We've had enough of Costa Blanca and decided to skip all the little places on the way and quite unusually took the highway to Andalusia.
We've stopped around Baza to drive around and explore amazing cave houses, which we've expected to be here and there, but didn't expected to find whole villages full of them! Some ruined, some extraordinary but very most of them habituated and lived in on everyday basis. For the night we've found - not very surprisingly - a hot spring, small pool hidden in the forest, just for us, to jump into it naked early in the morning to have a coffee while inside. And then we've arrived to Granada...

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First, we left the highway to drive through nicer little road which has been going through National Park. At some point we've passed amazing campsite in the middle of the forest so we have stopped to have a look. It's been really close to some cool climbing spots so we've thought that would be great base in great location but we've been told that we need a permit to stay there. Where can we get the permit? In Granada. So we went to Granada...
Arrived to tourist info, they've sent us to another one and there they've told us that we can get the permit in Pinos Genil, a town several kilometers away from Granada. But it was Friday evening. So we needed to wait until Monday. Fine, we thought, slightly overwhelmed and excited being in the middle of the big city after few weeks in very rural places. But Granada wasn't so good and probably felt unfriendliest city we've been in Spain, full of one day tourists and money-from-them oriented businesses where they simply don't even care about pretending of being nice. But there also been Sierra Nevada a stone throw away with amazing hiking trails so we've survived the weekend.

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On Monday morning we've showed up in town council of Pinos Genil. Just to be told that we are in a wrong place and we need to go to Sierra Nevada visitors centre, as this is them who look after permits. It wasn't far away so 10 minutes later, still determinated we've knocked on the door of the visitors centre. Guess what? They said it's wrong place! As the campsite we wanted to stay at is far away (15km) and it's in Sierra de Huétor (we knew that) and has nothing to do with Sierra Nevada. But the lady there was really nice and she felt determinated to help us. We've already started to fill the forms while she was making dozen of phone calls to finally be informed what she found out: we can get the permit, but only if we apply for it 10 days in advance. And to get straight ahead of question which arises - no, we didn't felt like spending another 10 days around Granada. We weren't disappointed either, somehow we've sensed it's going to end up like this so we've just jumped into the car and driver deeper into Andalusia.

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That way we've arrived to El Chorro. As one of the major rock climbing areas in Spain we've expected something of a life in there - cafes, shops, people around or at least some good grocery store. But none of it! In fact season in El Chorro is during winter as it's super hot in summer here and very most of the crags are in the sun, yet still there was just a basic little shop which has been closed for most of the day. No people around, at least on Monday - for the rest of the week there is lots of one day tourists coming to walk El Caminito del Rey. We decided to stay actually a few km away from El Chorro near crag called Desplomilandia. It all has been staying in the shade for most of the day and it's been many sectors with enough climbing for weeks. We've had really good time here, sending a few 6b and 6b+ and nearly getting through 6c+/7a as we've passed overhanging part with not too much trouble but we were completely shut down by slab with literally blank wall.
There was lake to swim after hot days climbing with peace and quiet to enjoy book and cup of coffee in the morning. But at some point we knew we've climbed most of the routes of our abilities and we felt it was just the right time to move on.

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The plan was to go to Grazalema National Park and as soon as we've entered there we have been greeted by amazing green landscape, rather looking Scottish than Spanish, thanks to lots of rain which didn't hesitate to greet us either. Rain and climbing doesn't usually go well together so sooner than later we were already on our way out towards difnitely dry Mérida.


We've stopped in Alange, several km from Mérida to climb on something totally new - quartzite! How weird climbing it was! We felt like early beginners again trying to hold onto rock with completely different friction, with so many slopers and so different style of climbing. We've really struggled to pull off a few 6a but managed to send a 6b too so felt a little bit relieved. Once days became getting hotter and hotter we've been slowly getting to Portugese border.

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We wanted to make one more stop before getting into deep summer Portugal mode and found amazing crag already on Portugese side in Serra de São Mamede called Caleiras de Cima. With parking literally just next to the crag but away from the road, full of greenery and with super good quality routes, amazing tufas and beautiful rock formations. That was probably one of the nicest crags we've been climbing but grades has been quite a tough ones, as we've placed our fingers on toughest 6b+ we've climbed! We have had a few days of really good climbing here from early morning until noon when shade was gone followed by the afternoons spent cooling off in the river... summer!

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So we have recently been posting always with some video at the end of it, but we cannot really keep up travelling and editing video in the same time, as there is simply not enough time for it all! So, we will need to wait for the next edited video, but instead this time we are attaching some short video with uncut onsight ascent of really nice 6b route from Caleiras de Cima. Enjoy :)!