Spain: Andalucia, El Chorro, and the South

I just returned home to Leavenworth following 6 weeks in Spain. Rather than go into various details about all the 8a routes I didn't quite send, and the boring minutiae of describing an individual sport climb, I'll just provide some information that will help everyone else who is thinking of going there. Which should be everyone who climbs. Spain is amazing, and pretty cheap. Check out DoYouSpain for cheap car rentals.

  • El Chorro
In mid-winter, and for climbers who wont have a car, El Chorro is a great place to go. It's located about 40mins (by car or by train) from Malaga, on the southern coast of Spain. We arrived via a ~5hr drive after renting a car in Madrid. There is a RENFE (Spain's rail system) station stop IN the tiny village of El Chorro, just a 5-20 minute walk from camping, hostels, and hundreds of pitches of limestone. Here are a few things to keep in mind about El Chorro.

Makinodromo Wall
  1. The climbing is not (on average) as good as the crags farther north. There are many, many exceptions which are amazing routes, but pitch-for-pitch it's not a as good as elsewhere.
  2. If you DO have a car, some of the better crags in Andalusia were Loja (awesome tufas, nice views) and nearby to El Chorro, Desplomilandia.
  3. The standout wall at El Chorro is the Makinodromo, which is a very long wall with a huge range of pitch styles and grades, basically from 5.11-5.14. Despite what the guidebook says, 100% of the climbers we ran into at this wall used the same (illegal) approach - walk along the trail track, through the train tunnel, for about 20 minutes from the station in town. When you have gone through 3 or 4 short tunnels, the wall is obvious up and the right. Expect 45 minutes to get there.
  4. DO NOT, under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES go to the crag "Archidona". Although the guidebook describes it as one of the world's premier venues for hard sport climbing, it has been fenced off and is now used to contain huge flocks of sheep. Since it's a giant cave with no exposure to rain or sun, and is now a giant barn with nobody to clean it, and it currently exists only as one of the world's premier manure piles.

  • Stay - We rented an awesome apartment (Jose - the nicest guy ever) with wi-fi, 2 bedrooms, and a rooftop patio for ~$200/week in the nearby village of Ardales, which has a few restaurants, groceries stores, and is  very near El Chorro, Turon crags, and Desplomilandia. The owner/rent is a very friendly guy named Jose ( or Joe, or Pepe) - and his bar (Joe's bar, next door) has free wifi and billiards.  People staying in El Chorro itself had good things to say about The "Finca" and the Olive Branch hostels.
  • Guidebook - The Rockfax El Chorro Guide has El Chorro beta and also has info for other great Andalusian crags.
  • Eat  - The best food in the area, without a doubt, is a few minutes toward Malaga from El Chorro/Ardales. It's a tiny family-run restaurant called Casa Fonda Pepa with a set daily menu and you will be served so much good food you will not know how anyone could eat it all. This is served in the afternoon (open from 2-4pm if I recall) - so go on a rest day, walk around the village of Carratraca, and buy the ~$10 lunch. It is across the street from the very famous (and well-signed) thermal baths in the town.
  • Rest Days -  Check out the 1000+ year-old ruins of the Muslim bandit, Bobastro - tour the huge limestone caves of Ardales, go to the beach or Picasso Museum in Malaga, or walk the unforgettable system of slowly-breaking stone sidewalks high above the river gorge - The Camino Del Rey


  1. Ahhhh...great photos. I never visited this place. Is it in Spain. The place is looking quite interesting. I would love to go on trip to Spain. Cheers!

    trip to spain

  2. The way you describe the accessibility and beauty of this climbing paradise in mid-winter is truly inspiring. Your insights about the ease of reaching El Chorro even without a car are extremely valuable, especially for fellow climbers who might be looking for alternative transportation options. if anyone's interested in getting rid of their unwanted cars around Caboolture, it's great to know there's a reliable option like unwanted best cash for scrap cars Caboolture to help them out. Keeping the environment in mind is essential, both in choosing sustainable travel options and responsibly handling old vehicles.