The small village of El Chorro, sitting at the base of the massive gorge, has become the focal point of climbing over the years. Local accommodation businesses have popped up aimed at catering for the specific needs of climbers and there is now a great choice of places to stay, ranging from large guesthouses to small self-contained villas and apartments.
The single and multi-pitch routes on offer and the grade range will satisfy all who are planning a visit. The routes range from world-class hard routes, through a vast selection of superb mid-grade pitches, to an ever-increasing number of sectors and whole crags that give climbers operating in the easier grades plenty of choices. As well as the plethora of single-pitch sport climbs there is an increasing number of multi-pitch fully-bolted lines, with a number of routes of up to around ten pitches across the grade range.
The region has much to discover beyond climbing. The coastal fringe is heavily developed for tourism, but the inland mountains are a total contrast, dotted with classic Andalucian villages that are excellent places to soak up some of the area's relaxed culture and eat at the many bars and restaurants. Conversely, the cities of Sevilla and Granada offer an opportunity to sample Spanish city life at its grandest.El Chorro's reputation for top notch sport climbing, stunning countryside and its near-perfect 'off season' climbing weather make it an ideal destination. Whether you are a first-time winter sun seeker or long-term visitor returning looking for something new to do, you will be assured of some great climbing and the opportunity to bask in the undoubted charm of this lovely part of the world.
Following the re-opening of the Caminito del Rey in 2015, the area has undergone a major boost as a tourist destination and the village is now a bustling centre. A consequence has been the restriction of climbing in some of the older climbing areas like the Lower Gorge itself, although luckily the increase in routes available elsewhere has more than compensated for this.
Since the publication of the last Rockfax guidebook in 2008, there have been significant changes to access in the El Chorro area, and further afield. The most significant is the closure of climbing in the gorge itself (both the upper and lower) following the refurbishment of the Caminito del Rey and its opening to the public. A review by the Andalucian authorities has now defined where climbing can and cannot take place, most significantly in and around El Chorro and at El Torcal. Below are the main points relating to access that climbers need to be aware of when visiting.
Driving on the 'Haza del Río' to Frontales and Escalera Arabe - The 'Haza del Río' is the track which goes from the bend by the water tank below Las Encantadas, below Frontales and Escalera Arabe and on to Serena. In the past this track has been used by climbers to get close to Frontales and Escalera Arabe in their cars. You may still see both visiting and local climbers' cars driving and parked on the track, but it is not allowed - you may get fined and it may damage future access for climbers.
Escalera Arabe - There are two fenced off areas on the east side of Escalera Arabe on sector Suiza and El Navigador Pillar. It is forbidden to climb in these areas because of protected flora. The fences are sometimes in disrepair, but this doesn't change the regulation.
El Corral East - The walls of El Corral East have a seasonal restriction due to nesting birds. No climbing from 1 March to 30 September.
Alan James - UKC and UKH
For most of the sport routes in this book, you will need around 12 to 18 quickdraws and a single rope. There are some very long pitches and extensions where you may need many more quickdraws, so take care to equip yourself properly.
Ropes - A 70m single rope is advised and an 80m is an even better option. A 60m rope may get you up and down many of the routes, but it is much safer to use a longer rope - there are a lot of pitches across the grades in El Chorro that are longer than 30m. The multi-pitch routes can mostly be abseiled on a doubled 80m rope (or two 50m ropes if that is your preference) but check the descent information carefully since there are exceptions.
Other Gear - Beyond these essentials, you may find tape useful for bandaging your fingers if the prickly rock starts to take its toll. For multi-pitch routes, a small sack with a water bladder and a long-sleeved shirt is a good idea. It is also strongly recommended that you wear a helmet.