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Tells Us About Your Latest Trip!

10:35:54 PM

I let Richie know that I landed in Barcelona:

"Sweet mate. It's from the long distance ticket office. Fast train to Valencia. Should be 3 hours or so”

Once my train ticket booked, I SMSed back "Llegada Valencia Nord, 15:15, Tren 463" and the reply came straight away:

"2 easy. We meet you at the station. I hope u brought some endurance!”

I lied and said I did indeed bring some endurance but the truth was that I felt like a bloated pig after 5 days of Irish breakfasts and other wedding gourmandises. On a fast train to Valencia, I was finally getting to climb in Spain where I was to meet with Richie and Ainhoa. Love blossomed a while back in Blackheath and moved to the little village of Chulilla (tchoo-lee-yah), an hour drive west of Valencia. Ainhoa is a local climber and even wrote the guidebook for the crag. This should be good.

View over the village of Chulilla in the Valencian Community. Up on the hill, the 12th century moorish fortified wall.

Richie and Ainhoa have been enjoying this crag over the last few weeks. They live in a fun 5 storey house strangely fitted to climbers: up and down the narrow staircase. Those two have been getting used to the local style of climbing in the narrow serpentine gorge around the village. It hard to describe properly the scale and beauty of the gorge. Have a look at the following pictures:

The approach to the crag couldn’t be more idyllic. These walls are about 60 meters high, BTW.

This gives you and idea of the scale of the place. Yes, lots of routes, lots of bolts, lots of fun.

As Richie pointed out at some point, there is probably more routes here than in the whole of the Blue Mountains (no kidding). The opposite walls raise up to about 50 or 60 meters and most climbs make the best usage of it. Many routes run up 30 meters or more. The rock is solid but that's not saying much; when you have been climbing in the Blueys for too long, any rock feels solid, every hold feels bomber.

The climbing requires a lot of endurance and the grading reflects this. From my few days spent there, it seems that the grades are soft in the sense that they rarely depends of the "hardness" of any specific move but rather on the pump factor. I have climbed a 7a (24), which I didn't send but which, with a couple of breaks, felt easy-ish: I couldn't help thinking about Liptus (23) at Boronia that kicked my butt badly the last time I tried it a few weeks back with Radhika.

The end of a climbing day was approaching and Richie wanted to have another go at "El Bufa". Now to me, it was almost impossible to imagine having the oomph to get onto that climb twice but it didn't stop Richie. On the first go, he made it to the stalactite rest and launched onto the next 20 meters only to fail on the last clip. He came down dejected but went from "depression to elation" (his own words) when he ticked it on his second go. Ainhoa also had two goes and also sent it. The guidebook says 7c+/8a (29). They'll take 8a. The day ended in the parking lot at Chulilla with a bunch of local and Ozzy climbers over a giant paella: double send and paella - is there a better way to finish the day?

Richie clipping the anchor on “El bufa”, a long 30 or 35 meter 7c+/8a (29) climb. Tick.

You could spend lots of time in Chulilla. Lots. You could rent a small house for peanuts (200€/month) and try your luck on any numbers of 6s, 7s and 8s. When the day is over, you can walk back to Chulilla and enjoy a "tercio" (scooner) and indulge in chorizo "saucisson". A diet I recommend only for the good of your soul.

Piñon de Ifach

Probably because Richie knows that I love multipitches so much, he organise a day of climbing on the ocean near Calpe on the Alicante coast. The target: Piñon de Ifach. A superb outcrop overseeing the Mediterranean. Check it out.

Richie getting ready for the piñon awaiting in the background.

Our target was "Diedro UBSA" an easy 250 meter, 10 pitch route on the south face of the piñon. The route more or less follow a corner crack (hence the name) and is overall graded 5+. I would venture to say grade 17 or so but sparsely bolted and exposed. A delight. But since these guys are ticking 8a's, we took a small detour on a neighbouring route – "El paseo ecologíco" I believe–- to skip a small rappel and play on a 6b (21) for a while. Here are a couple of pics from that climb

Ainhoa on the 6b pitch of "El paseo ecologíco”. She made it look easy.

Myself of one of the last pitches of "Diedro UBSA”.

View from the top of the Piñon de Ifach. Life could be worse.

You see no tall tales, no conniptions. I didn't even have to lie about Alex or Dominik performances. Just a few days of fun climbing in Spain. I thought you'd like it, just as much as we loved the paella that Ainhoa’s uncle prepared for us after sending the piñon:

Hasta luego amigos.


8:59:58 AM
Great trip report François! Reckon I might have to put a few dollars aside for a trip to Chulilla (less for the climbing than the paella)
9:30:47 AM
Fark, looks wonderful.

12:15:03 PM
I have been distracted since this TR was posted, and finally got to savouring it just now; ... & a great read it was too!
Your writing style again did not disappoint, and the accompanying pics almost make me feel the warmth of the rock, the breeze off the water on the multipitch, and smell the food at the end of your day/s!

I also enjoyed your 'take' on the grading in use over there compared to Blueys climbing, as this gave me a local yardstick to evaluate from.

I assume most of the routes are oriented towards sport climbing with single ropes and lower-offs. Do you think the routes would be longer, indeed top-out, if standard ropelengths were longer, or doubles used?
Is there much done as trad & written up as such, there?

I celebrate with you (through your TR), the diversity and abundance of climbing, that the world has to offer, & thank you for posting up your TR.
4:59:28 PM
Thanks for your kind words M9.

I tend to hesitate when the time comes to write a TR about an overseas destination. Our Chockstone crowd seems more interested in the local scene – at least if I judge by the number of comments left on such reports. I do understand it though: Chulilla is a rather distant and unlikely destination for almost everyone even though as climberman says "Fark, looks wonderful".

As for your question, I think Chulilla is strictly about sport climbing. Also, the routes don't top out not because the height of the cliff face (probably lower than 60 meters here and there) but simply because the walk back in would take forever.

Cheers, François

6:17:08 PM
On 27/05/2014 f_ladou wrote:
>I tend to hesitate when the time comes to write a TR about an overseas destination. Our Chockstone crowd seems more interested in the local scene

Yes, the chocky crowd can include some harsh critics...

>As for your question, I think Chulilla is strictly about sport climbing.
>Also, the routes don't top out not because the height of the cliff face
>(probably lower than 60 meters here and there) but simply because the walk
>back in would take forever.
Thanks for the feedback, ... though I expect the odd abseil point would fix that situation.

Although I would regard myself as parochial, I am also happy to celebrate the international differences in the game we play, though I wouldn't want to see some of those 'norms' adopted here.

6:20:15 PM
Rad TR François. As has been previously mentioned your TR's are well written and a visual feast;)

I reckon no matter where people are climbing, a TR is a must. As is Paella...

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