Peak(s):  Spain
Date Posted:  01/25/2011
Date Climbed:   10/01/2010
Author:  Glen
 Rock Climbing Spain  

Rock climbing Spain

October 2010


I thought for a while about wether or not to post a trip report about sport climbing in Spain on a web site designated for Colorado 14ers. The more I thought about my dilemma, the more I think that it is ok to post a very non-14er trip report.

The reasons for this report are:
as a record for myself to look back on,
as a resource for anyone planing a similar trip (lessons I learned, and things I would do different,)
because I sought out advice planing for this trip form and fell that it is only right to give back.

In early October I boarded an aircraft bound for Madrid Spain. I had an entire month of work off and couldn't wait to get out of the United States for a month devoted to rock climbing.
I had been planing this trip for almost a year, and to be honest with you I had very little planed when the plane took off. All I knew was, that I was flying into Madrid and had a flight home in 32 days. All I brought with me was one small back pack: rock climbing gear, a couple pairs of shocks and underwear, pants, shorts, a light weight jacket, a 40degree sleeping bag, camera, a euro rail pass, and a Spanish to English phrase book.

Once we landed in Madrid the reality of the trip set in. we were no longer in Colorado, the adventure had begun. we took the metro ( a very efficient system) from the air port to plaza del sol in the center of the city. We found a hostel, checked in, got a cafe con leche, and decided to explore the city.

The next day we headed south via the very efficient hi speed euro rail to Andalucia in southern Spain. After a quick change of trains and tickets we were off on a less than hi speed train bound for village of El Chorro.

The guide book is correct in saying that you do not need a rental car to get to, or climb in El Chorro, but the lack of a car does limit you to a much smaller area to climb.

Getting of the train you are greeted with views of 1500' cliffs standing tall above you. we found a nice looking camp ground on the north side of town that had bungalows for rent. We decided against tent camping for the much nicer bungalow with its own bathroom.
4 pitches above El Chorro

The week we spent climbing in El chorro was exciting to say the least. The 1st rout we did was may be the best of the week. A 5 pitch 5.10a known as Amptrax that rises above the village. It was a good start and felt good to be climbing on limestone in Spain. the real excitement happened the next day when the weather moved in. The rain was relentless, so we decided to take the train to the city for the day...but the train never showed up. the next day we realized we were running low on cash, and no where in town could you use plastic. So, day 3 we crossed our fingers that the train would show up, and it didn't. Thankfully for me my climbing partner was an ultra runner. With only an idea of how to get to the nearest town he headed out on dirt roads with our credit cards in search of an ATM. 5 hours later and 20 miles behind him he returned victorious.

We wrapped up the week exploring routs and sectors within walking distance to the town. I think the highlight was climbing routs off of the infamous camino del rey. The camino del rey is a 100 year old dilapidated walkway through a narrow gorge. The pathway is 500' above the river, there are holes in the brick every where, and with only a suspicious looking via ferrata cable system to clip into, it can be heady rout in itself.
camino del rey
El Camino del Rey

We said good bye to El Chorro and hello the next stop on our trip. Back to Madrid where my partner would meet his girlfriend who was coming out for 10 days. To be honest I wasn't all that thrilled to be the third wheel on a romantic European trip, so I started to see what options I had. I could get a flight to Mallorca for 75 euros for some deep water soloing, I cold head south to Morocco, Or east to Barcelona. I saw a post on mountain project from an Australian looking for climbing partners in Spain. Another climber form Colorado was doing the same thing, and sent me an e-mail. " Are you form Golden?" "and your in Madrid now?" Its funny how small the world really is. I am half way around the world, looking for a climbing partner for 8 days, and someone who lives only a block form me back in Golden Colorado is in Madrid doing the same thing.

I met up with my fellow Coloradan at the train station and immediately recognized him form town.

We took the Train from Madrid to Lleida in Catalonia. Once there I rented a cheep euro car and we headed out with only a slight idea of where we were going.

I had never heard of Margalef, and most the locals we asked hadn't either. At a road side bar we finally found someone who claimed to know of the village of Margalef. Thankfully they pointed us in the right direction. 2 hours later we were pulling into the 1000 year old village. Your options for habitation in margalef are limited to 2 choices. The refugie is one, and quite nice as far a refugies go, but option 2 was much better. A room, 3 course dinner with local win, and breakfast for only 30 euros, not bad! The climbing in Margalef is awesome!! Conglomerate limestone, with pockets of all sizes, and grades form 5.9 to 5.15. Its an amazing place. Margalef was so cool I had a hard time wanting to leave when the idea was brought up. I am glad I did because of where we went next.
Chris Sharma doing his thing

Driving on the narrow winding roads past vineyards and olive groves, we made our way towards a town called Mont Sant and Siurana.
streets of Siurana

I could of spent my whole trip in Siurana, and if I would of known what it was like I would gladly done so. Siurana is small old village next to a ruined castle perched on top of a small mountain with cliffs of three sides. The parents of the author of the hand drawn climbing guide to the area have a very nice camp ground located just north of the town. They have a very nice operation set up, if you want to tent camp they have spots with access to communal bathrooms and cook room. If you have a group and want a small cabin they have you covered. If your looking for a 2 bed apartment they have a few as well. And if your without a tent and need a place to sleep for cheep they have a few beds in an attic converted to a big room above their home.
Siurana centrales

The accommodations are sweet! Great food: Paella,tortilla espagnol, good beer: Estrella Damm, good people form all over the world there to climb, and the best part is its within walking distance to the most amazing limestone I have ever climbed.
A climber taking a whipper in Siurana
Climber on a 40m 8a in Montsant

I loved this place so much that when I met back up with my original climbing partner I demanded we return to Siurana. We spent the rest of our time enjoying Catalonia and Siurana before we headed back to Madrid and our flights home.
old castle in Siurana

Things I would do different

If I would ever return to Spain I would try to stay in one place. I would not try to see the whole country, I would only pick one area.

I would not get a euro rail pass, I would count on renting a car. Having a car is the way to go. you have the freedom of mobility.

Planing on renting a car I would bring more than one bag. with a car you don't have to worry about carrying all your gear everywhere you go, and finding a place to store it. I would bring a trad rack, and car camping supplies.

If I had another opportunity to go to Spain this is how I would do it: Fly into Barcelona, rent a car, drive to Siurana and car camp. From there I could climb the thousands of routs of Siurana, Mont Sant, and Margalef. On my days off climbing, I would consider renting a bike to ride the winding roads, or I could visit wineries, tour the roman ruins of Tarragona, or see the art and architecture of Barcelona. I would want at least three weeks for this trip.

I hope that you find this report useful or at least entertaining. if you are planning a similar trip here are some books I would recommend.

Rock Climbing Europe. by Stewart Green

Rockfax guide to Costa Daurada

Lonely Planet, discover Spain

Guia D'Escalades A Siurana by Toni Arbones

Guia De Margalef by Jordi Pou

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

 Comments or Questions

01/26/2011 00:17
Thanks for posting! Although I'm currently in winter ski mode, this is getting me pumped for summer climbing!

Brian C

Camino del Rey!!!
01/26/2011 02:24
Super awesome. I remember looking at photos of that a few years ago and thinking it looked nuts. Definitely gets me excited for climbing. Thanks for posting Glen.


Hell Yeah!
01/26/2011 03:38
So your trip reports have been Rio Grande Pyramid and an epic rock climbing vacation in Spain. Not too shabby. The appeal of travel and finding new, cool places.

01/26/2011 04:23
Ya I know I am not much of a trip repot guy, lordhelmut: I mostly live through yours. Thanks for all the Kudos, even though it is a bit un-seasonal


Most welcomed
01/26/2011 14:12
To me your report is most welcomed here. Especially in winter when the reports are kind of slim. It looks like the trip of a lifetime. Thanks for posting.


Thanks for posting
01/26/2011 16:03
Always nice to see different kinds of trips reports on here. Picture #9, Siurana Centrales, looks so much like the Shelf Road climbing area near Canon City that I had to take a second look.


cool trip
01/26/2011 19:27
thanks for posting! I sent you a PM with a few questions because I'm looking to do something similar in April.

Thanks for the support
01/27/2011 00:15
Yes if you climb in Margalef odds are your going to see Chris Sharma. Some of the hardest sport routs in the world are there because of him. And, yes it does look like shelf..but its hard to tell in pic 9, I would say those cliffs are 3times as tall. Thanks for all the support!!


01/28/2011 06:13
Thanks for posting Glen. Not going to lie, a bit jealous, but quite a cool experience I imagine!


01/28/2011 15:25
I wasn't into climbing when I studied in Spain. This shows me a side I didn't experience. Gotta get back there!

Ridge runner

What a trip!
02/01/2011 00:24
Glad to see you decided to put this report up. You sure made the most out of your vacation! And you got to meet Chris Sharma. Those pictures of Camino del Rey are crazy.


Sweet TR Glen!
05/02/2011 14:23
Nice to see this posted here. Great pics. That walkway on the side of the cliffs looks intense. And apparently you bumped into Sharma too? Glad to see the trip came together so well for you.


Awesome Glen!
05/09/2011 17:48
And you got to see Sharma in action!? EPIC!!!!

Dave B

06/22/2012 13:18
I greatly appreciate ”off-topic” trip reports. Well written and nice pictures, looks like an awesome trip!

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