|Chulilla - New Year’s Eve|
Let’s clear one thing up once and for all. I am not world renowned for my delicate footwork, flexibility, stamina or cool head. It is therefore with a certain sense of dread that I booked a two week holiday in Chulilla - a venue that seems to consist almost entirely of 30+ m routes on vertical tufa, crimps and flowstone. I am pleased to announce that my fears were entirely justified! It’s almost as if someone purposefully designed Chulilla to frustrate and confound me. It’s flipping brilliant.
Every route is a similar experience for me. I begin with cat-like precision and focus, stepping from flowstone smear to small edge on the tippiest tip of my toes and breathing smoothly. At bolt one we can detect a certain tension in the legs and a smidgin of irregular breathing. By bolt two the wheels are visibly coming off. By bolt five my legs are vibrating visibly. Bolt ten sees me as a gibbering, violently shaking lunatic; feet spasming in the direction of footholds, forearms like balloons. By bolt eleven I’m silently muttering “Oh god, oh god” under my breath. At bolt twelve, if things are going really poorly I might let out a high pitched whimper. By bolt thirteen I am pretty much always hanging on the rope, unless by some chance the climbing eases before then.
I can see why this place has become so popular. The routes are extremely good. Sure, there’s some dodgy rock, but there’s so much of the stuff here there are plenty of absolute pearlers. The routes are loooong, which works well with the angle, as shorter vertical routes can often be insecure nightmares. Here the routes are technical, but not desperately thin. They are surprisingly continuous - rests either have poor hands, or poor feet. Basically, it’s sport climbing for trad climbers.
Which explains why I am rubbish. The game plan was to start on some 7c’s and 7c+’s, and get my eye in before moving onto harder fare. Sadly, my eyes have been so far out on stalks on these easier routes there’s little hope of moving onto anything harder in the near future. But I don’t think I’ve ever had as much fun getting shut down on a daily basis. Basically, Chulilla is brilliant.
Which explains why the whole world is here. I must remember not to grumble about this, as I am as much a part of the problem as every other climber here. However, I would strongly recommend coming slightly out of season. At the crag yesterday every single route had a queue on it, with the exception of a desperate 7c that only Ted Kingsnorth could love. It does make climbing a very sociable experience...
As a result it was nice to get out of Chulilla today and explore the countryside a bit, and feel like we were in Spain again. We visited a quality roman aqueduct just outside Chelva, with impressive tunnels cut through the limestone, and ate Serrano Ham sandwiches by the river. Tomorrow, we return to do battle with more sketchy 7c+’s. At least the bolts are close together...
|Jules in the tunnels, proving the Sun really does shine out of her arse.|
|The Peña Cortada Aqueduct, near Chelva|