Climbing in El Chorro

We have had another week or so of play in El Chorro, and to be honest it’s a week more than we expected when we first arrived. On our first week we only managed to climb a few single pitch routes due to a lack of a guidebook, and most of these were in poor condition with lots of polish. However after a little research we found a route called lluvia Del Asteroides, and his 250m multipitch made us see that we could get more out of the area and so we stayed.

There was some bad weather to contend with and so we had a days tourism on the Caminito Del Rey, and the following day we had a go at the Via Ferrata, which had a few bridges that were the highlights, although these are both covered in their own posts. Once the weather got better we were able to get on the rock and do what we came here to do!

The first sunny day and we set off for a route called Valentine’s Day, a 6a multipitch that we later learnt had three stars! The highlight of this route was the 6a pitch and I was happy to have the lead for this one. I really felt on my game and although the pitch was tough, I felt good working my way methodically from bolt to bolt. Once I reached the next anchor I realised I had not gained to much height and decided to link the next pitch, as it could not be that far to the final anchor. As it turned out it was quite a way and by the time I’d reached it, I’d maxed out the rope length and had significant drag, all was well though as I reached it with a centimetre to spare! This route needed abseiling and although there was another group a couple of belays below, it worked out perfectly as we both shared the largest belay on the face, and there was no awkward getting in the way of each other as can happen on routes like this.

We had a day or two off in between this, as Jess had work, although when we returned the weather was once again good and we set off up Amptrax. Somehow we were up at 8.30 and didn’t manage to start climbing until 11.30?? We were parked a ten minute walk to the foot of the route, however there was traffic on the route, and we sat for an age, waiting for the team ahead of us to move up, it was pointless chasing their tails as all the belays were hanging and were uncomfortable alone, never mind with a group sharing.

At first I thought they were slow, however when I started up, the pitch I was expecting to be a five turned out to be a little harder and a little more polished than I like, and this was how the route continued. Each pitch seemed a little harder than the grade given, jess led the next pitch and I struggled to haul myself up with the bag. Next was the crux pitch, it was supposed to be 6a, although I expected worse! I struggled to overcome each of the moves and the sustained manor meant that I needed to rest on the rope a few times to search out the correct line. By the time I was finished I was pumped and psyched out…only four pitches to go!

This was turning into one of those climbs where I was thinking straight, searching for holds and moves and finding nothing, eventually I made the moves on hard holds, only to look down and see a huge jug or hold that I could have used instead of the piece of crap I was on. This continued for the rest of the climb until I’d finished! The traverse pitch was led by Jess and although it was a bit balancy and I was uncomfortable, I felt better than the previous pitches, again I struggled to find the good holds…

The next few pitches were a bit of a rabble as I was past giving a shit and just wanted to get off the route! Not that it was a bad route, it was just a bad day for me, I was not on form and it was showing, even on the later easier pitches I climbed poorly.

It was such a reflection on form, when the next day I was climbing harder grades, although on more reasonably graded routes in sector arabe, I felt good and in the zone, an absolute opposite to the day before! Ticking off sixes all afternoon! As it turned out this was our last day in El Chorro before we decided to move onwards, we are thinking of going to Tarifa for some diving, although that depends on the weather and conditions, it would be nice to have a change in adventure!

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