Luke and I started out in Siurana, where it was rainy and cold and we were jetlagged.
We drank lots of coffee.
Then we went to Margalef, where there are lots of little pockets in the rock that are really hard to hold onto. We were still jetlagged! We decided to go to Terradets, up north a bit.
Bruxes wall, Terradetes
Very beautiful place!
We climbed on the Bruxes wall in Terradets for a little over a week. The wall is like a massive wave frozen into limestone, dripping stalagmites called “tufas” that climbers pinch their way up. The climbing is strange and fantastic (and really hard)–long and demanding routes that are steeply overhung the whole way. We met tons of wonderful Brits there on vacation from the boredom of the British winter, something I could identify with.
While climbing in Terradets, we stayed at a hostel in the tiny town of Abella de la Conca, perched upon the side of a limestone mountain in the middle of nowhere, Catalunya.
Luke sits on eye-level with the birds in front of the hostel
The hostel itself is in a house that is probably older than the United States. It smelled old. Nothing was level and it looked like it was made out of building materials that actually looked like they came out of the earth, unlike any building I’d been in in the States. It was so comfortable and welcoming that we stayed in the area partly just to stay in this hostel.
The setting of the hostel is, likewise, remarkable. Valleys filled with farms spread themselves across the view from the hostel window, limestone walls jut out above the town’s streets, and wonderful rock climbing is only a 10 minute walk away. If you decide to walk an hour, though, you can be blessed by the sight of a series of giant limestone arches in the hillside above the town (which have climbing on them).
From the outside
And from the inside
Truly an awe-inspiring place. I felt lucky to find such a gem so far outside of a normal tourist’s path.
Luke and I got shut down by the routes we were trying at Bruxes wall, though, and decided it was a good idea to change up our locale, though. Our friend Em, who we met at the hostel in Abella, recommended Chulilla, a town outside of Valencia, a few hours south of our current location.
Look close–you can barely see Chulilla next to the huge limestone walls!
We were supposed to go to the island of Mallorca in a little over a week, but Luke and I said, “What the hell,” and drove a few hours south. We ended up liking Chulilla so much that we skipped our flight to Mallorca and just stayed for the rest of the trip.
This town was likewise home to a wonderful hostel called Altico. Perched on top of the cliff-line that abuts the town to the north, Altico is a windy, sunny hub of activity for climbers in the area. Within walking distance are hundreds of routes, grocery/bakery/climbing shops, and the climber’s bar (cracker thin, straight dope pizza on the weekends). This is a paradise for climbers.
The crew stares at the “pared de enfrente” crag on the wall adjacent to Altico
The climbing was varied and exceptional, as well. The cliffs face all different cardinal directions, so if one wall is too hot to climb on one wall because of the sunshine, you can just plan to walk to a different one. The routes can vary from short and powerful to ridiculously long (50+ meters) at all sorts of grades. Most of the roues we climbed were from 30-40 meters, though–bring your 80 meter rope for a trip to Chulilla! The climbing style was often vertical and crimpy, testing our endurance and, honestly, emotional strength (trying that hard for that long is tough). There are sections, however, of huge overhanging walls (read: difficult routes) and massive vertical tufas–something I’d never encountered. These vertical tufas make for incredible stemming and pinching for climbers of most skill levels; I warmed up on a 40 meter 6b+ (5.10d) tufa route one day, one of the most memorable climbs of the trip.
The people we met in Chulilla were wonderful as well. I had a blast speaking bad Spanish to our hosts (Pedro and Nuria) with Alan, telling awful jokes with Magda, having my photo taken too many times with Madis, and being giggled at by Hampus. Altico was a melting pot of European climbers: Poland, Estonia, Germany, France, the UK, Sweden, Finland, and many other nationalities represented themselves.
Alan, Madis, and Luke
I hope I can go again!
I’m back in Seattle for another month, though, so send me a message.